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Patterns of imitation and innovation in collective behaviour

This talk will be given by Robert Goldstone, Distinguished Professor in the Psychological and Brain Sciences department and Cognitive Science programme at Indiana University.

About Professor Goldstone

Professor Goldstone's research interests include concept learning and representation, perceptual learning, educational applications of cognitive science, decision making, collective behaviour, and computational modelling of human cognition.

He won the 2000 APA Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology, and a 2004 Troland research award from the National Academy of Sciences. He was the executive editor of Cognitive Science from 2001-2005, and Director of the Indiana University Cognitive Science Program from 2006-2011. He has been elected as a fellow of the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the Cognitive Science Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

About the talk

We have developed internet-enabled experimental platforms to explore group patterns that emerge when people attempt to solve simple problems while taking advantage of the developing solutions of other people in their social network. I will describe imitation and innovation in low-dimensional, spatial environments, and then extend this approach to high-dimensional and more abstract solution spaces.

Our human experiments and computer simulations show that there is a systematic relation between the difficulty of a problem search space and the optimal social network for transmitting solutions. People tend to imitate high-scoring solutions, prevalent solutions, solutions that become increasingly prevalent, and solutions similar to one’s own solution.

In a real-world extension of this work, we study how parents in the United States name their babies. Using a historical database of the names given to children over the last century in the United States, we find that naming choices are influenced by both the frequency of a name in the general population, and increasingly by its "momentum" in the recent past.

More broadly, we consider collective patterns of diversity, problem space coverage, and group performance that arise when people interact – patterns that group members often do not understand or even perceive.

Date Monday, 17 December 2018
Time 12:00pm - 1:00pm
Audience Public
Event Category Sciences
Event Type Seminar
LocationWilliam James Seminar Room 103, William James Building, 275 Leith Walk, Otago Campus
Contact NameJoanna Ling
Contact Phone64 3 479 7631

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