Abstract book

Thursday, 18 May

16:00-18:00 Registration
18:00-19:00 Welcome Reception

Friday, 19 May

8:00-9:00 Registration
9:00-10:00 Bahador Bahrami: What is so great about working with stupid, useless people?
In The extraordinary and popular delusions and madness of crowds, Charles Mackay chronicled a colourful and prolific history of humankind's collective follies. Mackay's doubt about the popular belief that‘two heads are better than one’ has since then guided numerous disciplines interested in human collective decision-making from political sciences to economics and social psychology. Many studies have shown that together, we can do terribly and we can do terrible things. This raises the question why do we do things together at all? In my talk I examine the various motives for and benefits of collective decision making that go beyond wisdom of crowds.
10:00-11:30 Poster session & coffee break
11:30-12:30 Liran Samuni: Pathways to costly collective action in chimpanzees
Collective actions allow individuals to reach goals that are otherwise unattainable as single individuals and can promote the survival and wellbeing of group members, thereby offering an adaptive pathway to reach positive-sum outcomes. However, when the collective act inflicts costs to actors and results in a commodity that is available also to non-actors (i.e., public good), collective action becomes evolutionarily unstable. In such situations, free riding would be the optimal strategy – sitting aside and letting others assume the costs of participation while also reaping the benefits of the act. Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) exhibit some of the most remarkable examples of collective action in non-human animals during between-group conflict. Despite the high costs associated with this collective act, males and females coordinate their actions to protect their territory borders. Combining behavioral and physiological data, I examine the underlying mechanisms supporting chimpanzee collective action during between-group conflict. I demonstrate how between group conflict shapes within-group coordination, tolerance, and aggression and how the social relationships that individuals maintain within their groups inform contributions to the costly collective act. Finally, I explore the involvement of the highly conservative oxytocinergic system in mediating coordination and supporting collective action in the face of the between-group threat.


14:30-15:30 Arianna Curioni: Better Together: What motivates our decisions to cooperate?
Humans are the most motivated cooperative agents among any other species. We engage in collaborative activities to reach goals that we would not be able to attain individually.  But we often choose to cooperate when there is no instrumental advantage, whether it be monetary or reputational. How do humans decide to cooperate or not? From utility-based to evolutionary, motivational, and embodied decision-making, various models have been used to describe human cooperative decision-making process. In this talk, I will discuss how combining these different levels of explanation helps study human cooperative preferences and their implications for real-life decisions and learning. I will present my work on whether human adults and infants represent the costs and rewards of individual and cooperative actions differently, whether these cognitive representations are grounded on rational models of action, and some recent work on the role of expected risk and uncertainty in adults’ cooperative decisions. Finally, I will propose how my findings provide insights for designing artificial agents that collaborate with humans in real-life collaborative scenarios, such as industrial and rehabilitation settings.
15:30-17:00 Poster session & coffee break
17:00-18:00 Ophelia Deroy: Human collectives vs. hybrid collective: What changes?
Intelligent robots are far from being up to fully replace humans in the workplace, at home or on the streets. Humans still increasingly draw on smart systems to fulfil tasks formerly reserved to humans, and also tend to draw on their social cognition and interactive repertoire to do so. In this talk, I propose to consider this as an instrumental use of social cognition, and show how it conceptually, cognitively and neurally differ from the evolutionary social cognitive skills we use for genuine social interactions.

Saturday, 20 May

9:00-10:00 Bahar Köymen: Ontogeny of human reasoning and collaborative decision-making
Recent accounts highlight that reasoning is a fundamentally social skill enabling partners to produce and evaluate one another’s arguments to reach joint decisions, benefiting all parties involved. In this talk I will present series of studies in which young children produce and evaluate reasons (verbal as well as non-verbal reasons) with partners to reach joint decisions. The findings suggest that children as young as 3-year-olds are able to reason with others; they get better at reasoning in late preschool ages; and they eventually become very “strategic” reasoners at school ages. Overall, the results support the view that children's reasoning is a fundamentally cooperative enterprise aimed at making joint rational collective decisions.
10:00-11:30 Poster session & coffee break
11:30-12:30 Young Researchers' Presentations
Leoma Williams: Investigating group coordination in captive ravens (Corvus corax)
Alan Tump
: The importance of response time asymmetry in collective decision making
Jamal Esmaily
: Social stakes affect decision confidence

12:30-14:30 Lunch
14:30-15:30 Jennifer Misyak: The virtual bargaining framework for joint action, conventions, and language
Collective decision-making is pivotal to much phenomena that compose human social and cultural systems. Coordinated decisions support joint actions, and the formation of norms, conventions and complex societal structures. How is such social decision-making possible? Following work with colleagues, I outline an approach that we call ‘virtual bargaining.’ The theoretical framework of virtual bargaining provides a rational explanation, and highlights the intrinsically joint or distributed nature of the processes involved.
Of particular focus for this talk, virtual bargaining is considered as the underpinning for the decisions comprising human joint action, and the conventions instantiated through such actions (as coordinative solutions). Using the tools of game theory, albeit in a nonstandard way, virtual bargaining addresses the challenge of how social interactants can spontaneously - and even ‘instantaneously’ - choose and coordinate upon the same social equilibria, from among a vast space of possible conventions. Applications of this perspective have been explored across diverse domains, including, for instance, experimental games, automobile driving, and human communication.
Language requires joint action, and is governed by the complex layering and entrenchment of patterns of language use. Accordingly, in support of a foundational role for virtual bargaining, I discuss in further detail empirical studies demonstrating peoples’ abilities to jointly create ‘instantaneous’ communicative conventions, and even systems of such conventions, in a non-linguistic experimental paradigm.
15:50-17:00 Poster session & coffee break
17:00-18:00 Iain Couzin: The Geometry of Decision-Making
Running, swimming, or flying through the world, animals are constantly making decisions while on the move—decisions that allow them to choose where to eat, where to hide, and with whom to associate. Despite this most studies have considered only on the outcome of, and time taken to make, decisions. Motion is, however, crucial in terms of how space is represented by organisms during spatial decision-making. Employing a range of new technologies, including automated tracking, computational reconstruction of sensory information, and immersive ‘holographic’ virtual reality (VR) for animals, experiments with fruit flies, locusts and zebrafish (representing aerial, terrestrial and aquatic locomotion, respectively), I will demonstrate that this time-varying representation results in the emergence of new and fundamental geometric principles that considerably impact decision-making. Specifically, we find evidence that the brain represents space in a non-Euclidean way and that this aids in spontaneously reducing multi-choice decisions into a series of abrupt (‘critical’) binary decisions in space-time, a process that repeats until only one option—the one ultimately selected by the individual—remains. Due to the critical nature of these transitions (and the corresponding increase in ‘susceptibility’) even noisy brains are extremely sensitive to very small differences between remaining options (e.g., a very small difference in neuronal activity being in “favor” of one option) near these locations in space-time. This mechanism facilitates highly effective decision-making, and is shown to be robust both to the number of options available, and to context, such as whether options are static (e.g. refuges) or mobile (e.g. other animals). In addition, we find evidence that the same geometric principles of decision-making occur across scales of biological organisation, from neural dynamics to animal collectives, suggesting they are fundamental features of spatiotemporal computation.
18:00 Farewell reception
20:00 Party

Sunday, 21 May


Handy information

We invite poster submissions from
all areas of cognitive science.
About us
Introducing the DUCOG series, and
CECOG, the organizing association.