Author's School

Arts & Sciences

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Additional Affiliations

Psychological & Brain Sciences

Document Type


Publication Date


Originally Published In

Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science, 2(6), 608–620.


Events are central elements of human experience. Formally, they can be individuated in terms of the entities that compose them, the features of those entities, and the relations amongst entities. Psychologically, representations of events capture their spatiotemporal location, the people and objects involved, and the relations between these elements. Here, we present an account of the nature of psychological representations of events and how they are constructed and updated. Event representations are like images in that they are isomorphic to the situations they represent. However, they are like models or language in that they are constructed of components rather than being holistic. Also, they are partial representations that leave out some elements and abstract others. Representations of individual events are informed by schematic knowledge about general classes of events. Event representations are constructed in a process that segments continuous activity into discrete events. The construction of a series of event representations forms a basis for predicting the future, planning for that future, and imagining alternatives.

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Psychology Commons