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Highlights of the Research Results

Please find below a list of selected research results from all Centers of the Institute since 2011.

Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies

Titel:

Subsistence styles shape human social learning strategies

Cover nature human behaviour
© nature human behaviour
Center: 
Adaptive Rationality
Abstract: 

Social learning is a fundamental element of human cognition. Learning from others facilitates the transmission of information that helps individuals and groups rapidly adjust to new environments and underlies adaptive cultural evolution. While basic human propensities for social learning are traditionally assumed to be species-universal recent empirical studies show that they vary between individuals and populations. Yet the causes of this variation remain poorly understood. Here we show that interdependence in everyday social and economic activities can strongly amplify social learning. Using an experimental decision-making task, we examine individual versus social learning in three recently diverged populations of a single-ethnicity group, whose subsistence styles require varying degrees of interdependence. Interdependent pastoralists and urban dwellers have markedly higher propensities for social learning than independent horticulturalists, who predominantly rely on individual payoff information. These results indicate that everyday social and economic practices can mould human social learning strategies and they highlight the flexibility of human cognition to change with local ecology. Our study further suggests that shifts in subsistence styles—which can occur when humans inhabit new habitats or cultural niches—can alter reliance on social learning and may therefore impact the ability of human societies to adapt to novel circumstances.

Special Issue Feeling Communities

Titel:

Special Issue Feeling Communities

Cover The Indian Economic and Social History Review
© IESH
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

This special issue investigates the role emotions played and play in the creation of feeling communities in South Asia. The topics range from the central role, which appeals to compassion had in the creation of the Muslim community in the 19th century (Margrit Pernau), the contributions of novels to the mobilization of feelings and people in the 20th century (Christina Oesterheld), the way emotions were evoked through their performance in poetic gatherings and in sermons (Carla Petievich, Max Stille), the contribution of Telugu films played in mass mobilization through anger and compassion (Imke Rajamani) and finally the emotional world views of young men in Pakistan with jihadi affiliations (Amélie Blom).

Pernau, M. (Guest ed.). (2017). "Feeling communities [Special issue]". Indian Economic and Social History Review, 54(1).

How the twain can meet: Prospect theory and models of heuristics in risky choice

Titel:

How the twain can meet: Prospect theory and models of heuristics in risky choice

Artikel in Cognitive Psychology
© Cognitive Psychology
Center: 
Adaptive Rationality
Abstract: 

Two influential approaches to modeling choice between risky options are algebraic models (which focus on predicting the overt decisions) and models of heuristics (which are also concerned with capturing the underlying cognitive process). Because they rest on fundamentally different assumptions and algorithms, the two approaches are usually treated as antithetical, or even incommensurable. Drawing on cumulative prospect theory (CPT; Tversky & Kahneman, 1992) as the currently most influential instance of a descriptive algebraic model, the authors demonstrate how the two modeling traditions can be linked.

CPT’s algebraic functions characterize choices in terms of psychophysical (diminishing sensitivity to probabilities and outcomes) as well as psychological (risk aversion and loss aversion) constructs. Models of heuristics characterize choices as rooted in simple informationprocessing principles such as lexicographic and limited search. In computer simulations, the researchers estimated CPT’s parameters for choices produced by various heuristics. The resulting CPT parameter profiles portray each of the choice-generating heuristics in psychologically meaningful ways—capturing, for instance, differences in how the heuristics process probability information. Furthermore, CPT parameters can reflect a key property of many heuristics, lexicographic search, and track the environment-dependent behavior of heuristics. Finally, the authors show, both in an empirical and a model recovery study, how CPT parameter profiles can be used to detect the operation of heuristics. Pachur et.al. also address the limits of CPT’s ability to capture choices produced by heuristics. Our results highlight an untapped potential of CPT as a measurement tool to characterize the information processing underlying risky choice.

Pachur, T., Suter, R. S., & Hertwig, R. (2017). How the twain can meet: Prospect theory and models of heuristics in risky choice. Cognitive Psychology, 93, 44—73. doi:10.1016/j.cogpsych.2017.01.001

History of science and the emotions

Titel:

History of science and the emotions

Cover Osiris
© The University of Chicago Press Books
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

What new insights become available for historians when “emotions” are included as an analytical category? This volume of Osiris explores the historical interrelationships between science and its cultures and cultures of emotions. It argues that a dialogue between the history of emotions and the history of science leads to a rethinking of our categories of analysis, our subjects, and our periodizations.
The ten case-studies in the volume explore these possibilities and interrelationships across North America and Europe, between the twelfth and the twentieth century, in a variety of scientific disciplines. They analyze how scientific communities approached and explained the functions of emotions; how the concomitant positioning of emotions in and/or between body-mind-intersubjectivity took place; how emotions infused practices and how practices generated emotions; and, ultimately, how new and emerging identities of and criteria for emotions created new knowledge, new technologies, and new subjectivities; and vice versa.

Dror, O. E., Hitzer, B., Laukötter, A., & León-Sanz, P. (Eds.). (2016). History of science and the emotions [Special issue]. Osiris, 31(1).

On the role of psychological heuristics in operational research; and a demonstration in military stability operations

Titel:

On the role of psychological heuristics in operational research; and a demonstration in military stability operations

 European Journal of Operational Research
© EJOR
Center: 
Adaptive Behavior and Cognition
Abstract: 

Psychological heuristics are formal models for making decisions that (i) rely on core psychological capacities (e.g., recognizing patterns or recalling information from memory), (ii) do not necessarily use all available information, and process the information they use by simple computations (e.g., ordinal comparisons or un- weighted sums), and (iii) are easy to understand, apply and explain. The contribution of this article is fourfold: First, the conceptual foundation of the psychological heuristics research program is provided, along with a discussion of its relationship to soft and hard OR. Second, empirical evidence and theoretical analyses are presented on the conditions under which psychological heuristics perform on par with or even better than more complex standard models in decision problems such as multi-attribute choice, classification, and forecasting, and in domains as varied as health, economics and management. Third, we demonstrate the application of the psychological heuristics approach to the problem of reducing civilian casualties in military stability operations. Finally, we discuss the role that psychological heuristics can play in OR theory and practice.

Keller, N., Katsikopoulos, K. V. (2016). On the role of psychological heuristics in operational research; and a demonstration in military stability operations. European Journal of Operational Research, 249, 1063—1073.

Boosting medical diagnostics by pooling independent judgments

Titel:

Boosting medical diagnostics by pooling independent judgments

Artikel in PNAS
© PNAS
Center: 
Adaptive Rationality
Abstract: 

Collective intelligence refers to the ability of groups to outperform individual decision makers when solving complex cognitive problems. Despite its potential to revolutionize decision making in a wide range of domains, including medical, economic, and political decision making, at present, little is known about the conditions underlying collective intelligence in real-world contexts. The team of researchers here focuses on two key areas of medical diagnostics, breast and skin cancer detection. Using a simulation study that draws on large real-world datasets, involving more than 140 doctors making more than 20,000 diagnoses, they investigate when combining the independent judgments of multiple doctors outperforms the best doctor in a group. It was found that similarity in diagnostic accuracy is a key condition for collective intelligence: Aggregating the independent judgments of doctors outperforms the best doctor in a group whenever the diagnostic accuracy of doctors is relatively similar, but not when doctors’ diagnostic accuracy differs too much. This intriguingly simple result is highly robust and holds across different group sizes, performance levels of the best doctor, and collective intelligence rules. The enabling role of similarity, in turn, is explained by its systematic effects on the number of correct and incorrect decisions of the best doctor that are overruled by the collective. By identifying a key factor underlying collective intelligence in two important real-world contexts, the findings pave the way for innovative and more effective approaches to complex real-world decision making, and to the scientific analyses of those approaches.

Kurvers, R. H. J. M., Herzog, S. M., Hertwig, R., Krause, J., Carney, P. A., Bogart, A., et al. (in press). Boosting medical diagnostics by pooling independent judgments. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi:10.1073/pnas.1601827113

Bodies and Affects in Market Societies

Titel:

Bodies and Affects in Market Societies

Titel Bodies and Affects in Market Societies
© Mohr Siebeck
Center: 
History of Emotions
Abstract: 

How are bodies and affects formed in liberal market societies? And, conversely, what roles do affects and bodies play in the genesis and stabilization of and changes to market societies? These are the questions examined by the authors in several insightful and theoretically ambitious case studies. The collection aims to present new approaches from the History of Emotions, Affect Studies, Actor-Network-Theory and other fields, putting them to the test in the analysis of capitalist societies. These investigations – by sociologists, ethnologists and historians – will tackle developments in the USA, Europe and Australia from the 19th through to the 21st Century. They will also – via their analyses of issues such as speculation, industrial production, advertising and ethics – examine historical and contemporary phenomena, shedding light on emerging viewpoints on work, consumption, class and gender.

Survey of contents
Christoph Conrad/Anne Schmidt: Introduction – Thomas Welskopp: Sons of Vulcan. Industrial Relations and Attitudes towards Work among German and American Iron and Steel Workers in the 20th Century – Peter-Paul Bänziger: What Makes People Work: Producing Emotional Attachments to the Workplace in Post-WWII Western German Vocational Schools – Alexandra Michel: The Bodily Structuration of Knowledge Work: A Twelve-Year Ethnography of Wall Street Bank Socialization Practices and their Diffusion – Alexander Engel: The Exchange Floor as a Playing Field: Bodies and Affects in Open-Outcry Trading – Fiona Allon: The Wealth Affect: Speculation as Everyday Habitus – Susan J. Matt: From Sin to Economic Stimulant: Envy's Changing Place in American Capitalism – Franck Cochoy: On the Marketization of Curiosity: The Shop Window as a “Captation” Device – Anne Schmidt: From Thrifty Housewives to Shoppers with Needs: On a Capitalist Education Program

Schmidt, A. & Conrad, Ch. (Eds.). (2016): Bodies and Affects in Market Societies. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. ISBN 978-3-16-152776-0

Repeated structural imaging reveals non-linear progression of experience-dependent volume changes in human motor cortex

Titel:

Repeated structural imaging reveals non-linear progression of experience-dependent volume changes in human motor cortex

Articel Cerebral Cortex
© Cerebral Cortex
Center: 
Lifespan Psychology
Abstract: 

Evidence for experience-dependent structural brain change in adult humans is accumulating. However, its time course is not well understood, as intervention studies typically consist of only two imaging sessions (before vs. after training). We acquired up to 18 structural magnetic resonance images over a 7-week period while 15 right-handed participants practiced left-hand writing and drawing. After four weeks, we observed increases in gray matter of both left and right primary motor cortices relative to a control group; three weeks later, these differences were no longer reliable. Time-series analyses revealed that gray matter in the primary motor cortices expanded during the first four weeks and then partially renormalized, in particular in the right hemisphere, despite continued practice and increasing task proficiency. Similar patterns of expansion followed by partial renormalization are also found in synaptogenesis, cortical map plasticity, and maturation, and may qualify as a general principle of structural plasticity. Research on human brain plasticity needs to encompass more than two measurement occasions to capture expansion and potential renormalization processes over time.

Wenger, E., Kühn, S., Verrel, J., Mårtensson, J., Bodammer, N. C., Lindenberger, U., & Lövdén, M. (2016). Repeated structural imaging reveals non-linear progression of experience-dependent volume changes in human motor cortex. Cerebral Cortex. Advance online publication.
doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw141

Masked morphological priming in German-speaking adults and children: Evidence from response time distributions

Titel:

Masked morphological priming in German-speaking adults and children: Evidence from response time distributions

Masked morphological priming in German-speaking adults and children: Evidence fr
© Frontiers
Center: 
MPRG "Reading Education and Development (REaD)"
Abstract: 

In this study, we looked at masked morphological priming effects in German children and adults beyond mean response times by taking into account response time distributions. We conducted an experiment comparing suffixed word primes (kleidchen-KLEID),suffixed nonword primes (kleidtum-KLEID),nonsuffixed nonword primes (kleidekt-KLEID), and unrelated controls (träumerei-KLEID). The pattern of priming in adults showed facilitation from suffixed words, suffixed nonwords, and nonsuffixed nonwords relative to unrelated controls, and from both suffixed conditions relative to nonsuffixed nonwords, thus providing evidence for morpho-orthographic and embedded stem priming. Children also showed facilitation from real suffixed words, suffixed nonwords, and nonsuffixed nonwords compared to unrelated words, but no difference between the suffixed and nonsuffixed conditions, thus suggesting that German elementary school children do not make use of morpho-orthographic segmentation. Interestingly, for all priming effects, a shift of the response time distribution was observed. Consequences for theories of morphological processing are discussed.

Hasenäcker, J., Beyersmann, E., & Schroeder, S. (2016). Masked morphological priming in German-speaking adults and children: Evidence from response time distributions. Frontiers in Psychology, 7: 929.
doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2016.00929

Children Adapt Their Questions To Achieve Efficient Search

Titel:

Children Adapt Their Questions To Achieve Efficient Search

Children adapt their questions to achieve efficient search | Cover page
© Cognition
Center: 
Adaptive Behavior and Cognition
Abstract: 

One way to learn about the world is by asking questions. We investigate how younger children (7- to 8-year-olds), older children (9- to 11-year-olds), and young adults (17- to 18-year-olds) ask questions to identify the cause of an event. We find a developmental shift in children’s reliance on hypothesis-scanning questions (which test hypotheses directly) versus constraint-seeking questions (which reduce the space of hypotheses), but also that all age groups ask more constraint-seeking questions when hypothesis-scanning questions are least likely to pay off: When the solution is one among equally likely alternatives (Study 1) or when the problem is difficult (Studies 1 and 2). These findings are the first to demonstrate that even young children dynamically adapt their strategies for inquiry to increase the efficiency of information search.

Ruggeri, A., & Lombrozo, T. (2015). Children adapt their questions to achieve efficient search. Cognition, 143, 203–216. doi:10.1016/j.cognition.2015.07.004