Rich Cognitive Models for Policy Design and Simulation

12 - 16 January 2009

Venue: Lorentz Center@Oort

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The conflicts in Afghanistan and Georgia, the contrasting views on energy issues

and the diffusion of the iPhone are just three random examples of the many

societal issues that are affected and determined by social interactions. Differing

dramatically concerning their impacts on human lives, these examples exhibit

remarkable similar social processes, such as the formation of norms, changes in

networks, shifting opinions and polarizations, to name but a few. An important

aspect of these processes is that previous interactions will be memorized as a

cognitive representation, storing both information on the issue as the position

other people take. These representations affect future interactions and the

valuation and processing of additional information. Hence a person who originally

was ambivalent on an issue, may take a particular stand after interacting with a

few people. Next this person may develop a preference for interacting with

people sharing a similar viewpoint, and develop negative stereotypes and

refuting information from people expressing a different perspective. This may

lead towards a strengthening of beliefs and even radicalization. Capturing such

social cognitive dynamics in scientific models seems relevant in understanding,

and possibly the management of issues as mentioned before.

In studying the dynamics of social interaction in a variety of fields, social

simulation has come about as a promising tool. Also cognitive models have been

developed to describe the processes of information handling. However, how

cognitions both determine and are shaped by social interactions is hardly being

addressed by these models. Recently the combination of cognitive models and

social simulation has gained more attention. This workshop is adding to this

development by discussing the state-of-the art in connecting scientific

approaches, identifying common ground between the different disciplines, and

setting a research agenda.


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