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London Judgement and Decision Making seminars

The LJDM seminar series is supported by

University College London

City University London

Originally established at UCL in the early 1970’s as a weekly Cognition and Reasoning seminar, it later became an intercollegiate seminar on Language and Cognition in the early 1980’s. 

The name LJDM was finally coined in 1990, and the group has been running seminars under this name ever since, with lecturers and researchers in and around the UK meeting on a regular basis to discuss judgment and decision making, judgments of likelihood, reasoning, thinking, problem solving, forecasting, risk perception and communication, and other related topics.

If you would like to present your research to the group or to suggest a speaker, please contact the organizer, Neil Bramley (neil.bramley@ucl.ac.uk).

Unless specified otherwise, all seminars take place on Wednesdays at 5pm, in Room 313 at the Psychology Department, University College London (on the corner of Bedford Way, Gordon Square and Torrington Place, London WC1H 0AP). Map.

To get updates on the current schedule and weekly reminders of the seminars, please subscribe to the Risk and Decision mailing list.

All are welcome to attend.

Term 2 Seminar Schedule

January – March 2016

20.01.2016

Costly spatial preferences in strategic games: Battleships and Lotteries 

Stian Reimers

City University

In single-choice hide-and-seek games, the Nash Equilibrium strategy is for both players to choose locations at random. In practice, people often show systematic preferences for specific locations, which can lead to suboptimal performance. I discuss two areas of research showing this effect. In Experiment 1, four versions of a simplified Battleship game were played in a 5x5 array. Choices of hiders and seekers were positively correlated, giving the seeker an advantage. Participants additionally showed framing effects: In formally identical games, preferences varied depending on role as hider or seeker. Experience also had an effect: Participants who chose a particular location as hider were subsequently more likely to seek in that location, whereas participants who previously sought in a particular location were subsequently less inclined to choose that location as hider. In Experiment 2, we examined data from 2,000 draws of the UK national lottery, and found spatial preferences: number choices are affected by location on the entry playslip, a phenomenon which increases the number of people choosing the same numbers, reducing expected winnings. These findings were corroborated by a between-subjects experiment using different playslip layouts.

27.01.16

Patterns and evolution of moral behaviour: moral dynamics in everyday life.*

Albert Barque-Duran

City University

Recent research on moral dynamics shows that an individual’s ethical mind-set (i.e. outcome-based vs. rule-based) moderates the impact of an initial ethical or unethical act on the likelihood of behaving ethically on a subsequent occasion. More specifically, an outcome-based mind-set facilitates Moral Balancing (behaving ethically or unethically decreases the likelihood of engaging in the same type of behaviour again later), whereas a rule-based mind-set facilitates Moral Consistency (engaging in an ethical or unethical behaviour increases the likelihood of engaging in the same type of behaviour later on). The objective was to look at the evolution of moral choice across a series of scenarios, that is, to explore if these moral patterns (Balancing vs. Consistency) are maintained over time. The results of three studies showed that Moral Balancing is not maintained over time. On the other hand, Moral Consistency could be maintained over time, if the mind-set was reinforced before making a new moral judgment (but not otherwise).

*The results from “Contemporary Morality: Moral Judgments in Digital Contexts” will be presented too.

03.02.16

Optimal and suboptimal evidence integration in humans

Hannah Tickle

UCL / University of Oxford

A wealth of research suggests that human sensorimotor behaviour resembles that of an ideal observer, who combines reliability-weighted sensory signals to make optimal decisions. However, other studies show that when estimating of numerical magnitudes in descriptive scenarios, humans neglect information about sample size (i.e. reliability), leading to suboptimal decisions. I will describe two experiments in which humans compare numerical magnitudes in a psychophysical setting, using a modified urn-and-balls task.  Although humans gave more credence to larger samples, as an ideal observer would, they were biased to integrate information that is more “expected”, i.e. that occurs more frequently within an trial.  These effects were expressed in neural recordings made with scalp EEG.  I will interpret these findings in the context of a new limited-capacity model of perceptual decision-making.

10.02.2016

There will be no LJDM seminar this week.

This is due to an event clash with a half day seminar taking place at City University: http://www.city.ac.uk/events/2016/february/beyond-nudges.  A number of regular LJDM attendees (and the speaker) expressed an interest in attending this event so we have decided to postpone.

17.02.16

READING WEEK NO SEMINAR

24.02.2016

Overestimations of contingency: Applied implications and solutions

Fernando Blanco

University of Deusto (Spain)

In single-choice hide-and-seek games, the Nash Equilibrium strategy is for both players to choose locations at random. In practice, people often show systematic preferences for specific locations, which can lead to suboptimal performance. I discuss two areas of research showing this effect. In Experiment 1, four versions of a simplified Battleship game were played in a 5x5 array. Choices of hiders and seekers were positively correlated, giving the seeker an advantage. Participants additionally showed framing effects: In formally identical games, preferences varied depending on role as hider or seeker. Experience also had an effect: Participants who chose a particular location as hider were subsequently more likely to seek in that location, whereas participants who previously sought in a particular location were subsequently less inclined to choose that location as hider. In Experiment 2, we examined data from 2,000 draws of the UK national lottery, and found spatial preferences: number choices are affected by location on the entry playslip, a phenomenon which increases the number of people choosing the same numbers, reducing expected winnings. These findings were corroborated by a between-subjects experiment using different playslip layouts.

02.03.2016

Informational Principles in the Perception-Action Loop 

Daniel Polani

University of Hertfordshire

Ashby's Law of Requisite Variety (1956) and, in last years, especially its later rediscovery and extension by Touchette and Lloyd (2000, 2004) have indicated that Shannon information acts as fundamental "currency" constraining the potential organisation and "administration" of cognitive tasks. In particular, there is increasing evidence that decision processes in biological organisms in fact exploit the limits implied by aforementioned work, and their cognitive operation can therefore be subject to analysis with respect to information-theoretical optimality principles.

Under this hypothesis, many aspects of biologically plausible cognitive processing can be treated informationally, requiring only high-level constraints without having to specify detailed mechanisms. This gives rise to novel tools not only for high-level analysis of biological cognitive systems, but also for purposes of prediction and construction of biologically plausible artificial cognitive models.  The talk will give an introduction into the question and methodology and demonstrate its operation with a number of examples.

09.03.16

Title TBC

Sarah Smith

UCL

16.03.16

Title TBC

Marion Vorms

Birkbeck, University of London

23.03.2016

Virtual bargaining: A micro-foundation for social decision making and interaction

Nick Chater

Behavioural Science Group, Warwick Business School

How can people coordinate their actions or make joint decisions? One possibility is that each person attempts to predict the actions of the other(s), and best-responds accordingly. But this can lead to bad outcomes, and sometimes even vicious circularity. An alternative view is that each person attempts to work out what the two or more players would agree to do, if they were to bargain explicitly. If the result of such a "virtual" bargain is "obvious," then the players can simply play their respective roles in that bargain. I suggest that virtual bargaining is essential to genuinely social interaction (rather than viewing other people as instruments), and may even be uniquely human. The approach can be formalised with a generalisation of the Nash equilibrium, and the application of Nash's theory of bargaining. Nonetheless, the resulting account is very different from conventional game theory.

Archive (past seminars)

Download the abstracts (PDF)