Speaker: Prof Gergely Csibra (Central European University)
Topic: Developmental Psychology - Human infants infer social relations from cost-benefit analysis of observed interactions.
This week we have a very special guest from The Central European University - Prof. Gergely Csibra.
Observed social interactions between agents provide information not only about their individual dispositions but also about their social relations. I review recent studies demonstrating that when human infants observe actions of an agent that could potentially produce benefits or incur costs for another individual (the patient), they tend to include the patient in the representation of the event. We do not find evidence that the application of cost-benefit analysis to social interactions could be explained by infants’ tendency to morally evaluate, or to attribute social dispositions to, agents. Rather, infants seem to be concerned with the social relation in which agent and patient are embedded. For example, in conflict situations the succeeding actor is inferred to be dominant over the failing actor, whereas a giving action may be represented as part of an exchange among equal peers that invites reciprocation. Based on Alan Fiske’s theory of basic forms of social relations, I outline a proposal on how human infants could use cost-benefit analysis of observed interactions to infer the type of social relation the participating agents are likely embedded.
Professor Csibra’s research focuses on various aspects of cognitive development in human infants. He is broadly interested in infants’ visual processing, and in how they interpret observed actions in terms of goals and in their understanding of communicative signals. He has published widely in the worlds’ most prestigious scientific outlets, including multiple papers in Science, Proceedings of The National Academy of Science USA, and Psychological Science.