The Expected Unexpected & Unexpected Unexpected

AbstractThe answers people give when asked to “think of the unexpected” for everyday event scenarios appear to be more expected than unexpected. There are expected unexpected outcomes that closely adhere to the given information in a scenario, based on familiar disruptions and common plan-failures. There are also unexpected unexpected outcomes that are more inventive, that depart from given information, adding new concepts/actions. However, people seem to tend to conceive of the unexpected as the former more than the latter. Study 1 tests these proposals by analysing the object-concepts people mention in their reports of the unexpected and the agreement between their answers. Study 2 shows that object-choices are weakly influenced by recency, that is, the order of sentences in the scenario. The implications of these results for ideas in philosophy, psychology and computing are discussed.

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