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Research Projects

The evolutionary Roots of Human Collaborative Problem-solving: Insights from Chimpanzees

Collaboration is ubiquitous to humanity. Most major human successes and discoveries would not have been possible without the capacity to put our heads together to solve new problems. Communication is critical to this ability: we are often able to engineer successful cooperation through sharing information with collaborative partners. Funded by the Templeton Foundation Diverse Intelligences Initiative, the aim of this project is to learn about the evolution of human collaborative problem solving by asking how one of our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, use communication for collaboration.

Funded by Templeton World Charity Foundation

New Economic Models in the Digital Economy – Big Data, Innovations and New Business Models

Decision-making is the essence of management. Mammoth amounts of data are being generated through society's interactions with technology, documenting stages of collective human decision making on a scale previously impossible to achieve. Such digital traces of individuals create new scientific and commercial opportunities in the digital economy. The goal of this £697K grant is to explore the opportunities that massive online information streams may offer to gain insight into early stages of collective decision-making. Members of the Behavioural Science GRP funded by this grant include Tobias Preis, Suzy Moat and Nick Chater.

Funded by EPSRC

Risk, Time and Society: The Behavioural Economics of Value

The Leverhulme Trust Award has been granted to a team of economists and psychologists in the Behavioural Science group of WBS and in the Department of Psychology to undertake a programme of work to understand how humans arrive at valuations of goods and services in the present and in the future. There are three principal areas of research:

  • How people evaluate alternatives involving risk and uncertainty.
  • How people make trade-offs between present and future.
  • How individuals' attitudes to time and risk and other social objectives feed into social policy.

Leverhulme Trust Research Programme Award

Cognitive and Social Foundations of Rationality

Rationality focuses on perhaps the key fault-line in the social and cognitive sciences. Many theorists, in philosophy, economics, artificial intelligence and cognitive science explain mind, behaviour, and their consequences for social phenomena, by rational explanation. Others, in judgment and decision making, social psychology, behavioural economics and the neurosciences, argue that people systematically violate rational principles, typically focusing on the influence of mechanistic, not rational, constraints on thought. This project aims to establish how, and to what extent, these viewpoints interact and how far they can be reconciled, by mathematical, computational, and experimental methods. This research programme will have fundamental implications both for scientific and normative questions. It will clarify the interplay of rational and mechanistic explanation of inference, learning, decision making, communication, and social phenomena; and will explore the cognitive underpinnings of our conflicting normative intuitions, helping to inform normative questions in ethics and political philosophy.

Funded by an ERC Advanced Investigator Grant