Social cognition and the Naïve Utility Calculus

Social cognition and the Naïve Utility Calculus
Social cognition and the Naïve Utility Calculus

Humans have a unique ability to reason about other people’s unobservable mental life. By simply watching someone’s actions we can infer what they think and what they want, we can predict how they might act in the future, and we can judge their actions as praiseworthy or condemnable. This project seeks to understand the nature and development of this intuitive psychology from a computational perspective. We hypothesize that at the core of social cognition is a naïve utility calculus that enables us to reason about how agents behave as a function of the costs and rewards associated with different outcomes. Specifically, we aim to:

  1. develop a formal computational model of humans’ naïve utility calculus, to
  2. study how it develops, and to
  3. study how it influences our social evaluations.

Associated Research Thrust(s): 

Principal Investigators: 

Graduate Students: