The impact of chess research on cognitive science

Şubat 2017 düzenlendi kategorisi Chess Psychology


Summary. Although chess research has not been a mainstream
activity in cognitive science, it has had a significant
impact on this field because of the experimental and
theoretical tools it has provided. The two most-cited references
in chess research, de Groot (1965) and Chase and
Simon (1973 a), have accumulated over 250 citations each
(SSCI and SCI sources summed), with the majority of
citations coming a decade or more from their publication
dates. Both works are frequently cited in contemporary
cognitive-psychology textbooks. Chess playing provides a
model task environment for the study of basic cognitive
processes, such as perception, memory, and problem solving.
It also offers a unique opportunity for the study of
individual differences (chess expertise) because of Elo's
(1965, 1978) development of a chess-skill rating scale.
Chess has also enjoyed a privileged position in ArtificialIntelligence
research as a model domain for exploring
search and evaluation processes.
Chess is a game with a very long history (see Hooper &
Whyld, 1984). I am taking an admittedly narrow view of
chess research in the interest of brevity, restricting discussion
to experimental research that uses chess in one of three
roles. The first role is as a subject of inquiry in its own
right, usually to look at skill in chess. The second is as a
convenient environment for the study of complex cognitive
processes such as perception, problem solving, and
memory. The third role concerns the use of chess playing
as a convenient environment for exploring and developing
theories about search mechanisms. Research fitting these
qualifications dates from the late 1800s and early 1900s
(e.g., Binet, 1893/1966, 1894; Cleveland, 1907), as de
Groot (1965) outlined in his classic book. On the other
hand, articles and books dealing with non-human chess
play and chess programs have a much shorter history (see
Berliner, 1978).
I apply three approaches to assess the impact of chess
research on cognitive science. The first is to look at the
objective measure of citations by scientists working in the
sciences and social sciences. The second is to look at
citations in textbooks in cognitive psychology. The third is
to make a more subjective assessment by reviewing some
of the central problems of cognitive psychology and artificial
intelligence and evaluating the impact of chess research
on them.
The impact of de Groot (1965) and of Chase and Simon
One way of assessing the scientific impact of a given piece
of work is to see how often it is cited in the Social Sciences
Citation Index and the Science Citation Index, two respected
sources of such information. The two most cited
publications directly concerned with chess are de Groot's
(1965) English translation of his earlier Dutch book
Thought and choice in chess, and Chase and Simon's
(1973a) article in Cognitive Psychology, "Perception in
chess." The pattern of citations can be seen in Figure 1.
Both works have enjoyed a substantial number of citations,
and more significantly, have seen an acceleration in
citations a decade or more after their initial publication. De
Groot's book, as of 1989, had about 250 citations, and
Chase and Simon's article about 350. A "citation classic"
accolade is usually awarded when a work has between 100
and 400 citations, depending on the size of the field of
inquiry, so these two works can safely be judged to be
classic ones. This is a rather remarkable achievement, considering
that chess research hardly qualifies as a mainstream
activity within cognitive psychology or general
psychology. (We examined the number of journal articles
published that had a main focus on some aspect of chess

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