Thursday, 20 November 2014

10th Mind Network Meeting


On Saturday 4th October, the 10th Meeting of the Mind Network was held at University of York, organised by Louise Richardson. The meeting was supported by the Department of Philosophy at the University of York, and the Mind Association.

Dominic Gregory from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield opened the meeting with his paper ‘Perception and Imagery’. Gregory was interested in what he called ‘distinctively sensory representations’, which are imagistic representations standing in a special relationship to our sensory powers. Gregory tried to do two things in the paper. First, he gave an account of the contents possessed by distinctively sensory representations, so-called ‘distinctively sensory’ contents. Gregory offered an explanation of the way in which distinctively sensory contents depend upon sensory experience. Second, Gregory discussed the possibility that the dependency relations between distinctively sensory contents and sensory experience might also hold in the other direction insofar as some of our expectations thought crucial to our being able to see objects as external, have contents which are distinctively sensory.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Neural Correlates of the Optimism Bias

Bojana Kuzmanovic
My name is Bojana Kuzmanovic, I am a postdoctoral researcher working in an interdisciplinary setting at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine at the J├╝lich Research Centre in Germany. I am a cognitive neuroscientist/psychologist by training and my work focuses on person perception and emotional influences on decision making. Here I am going to discuss recent work on the emotional value of self-related optimistic belief updates.

Recently, Anneli Jefferson reported a behavioral study investigating the optimism bias by using a belief update paradigm inspired by Sharot et al. (2011). The findings show that when confronted with new information, people adjusted their initial risk estimates for undesirable future events to a greater extent when this information supported more positive outlooks than when it suggested a higher risk for future hazards (Kuzmanovic et al., under revision). Moreover, this asymmetry in updating was greater for judgments relating to oneself than for those relating to similar others, and was moderated by individual differences in trait optimism.


Sunday, 16 November 2014

3QD Philosophy Prize

Dear Imperfect Cognitions readers

If you have read a post you really liked on our blog in the last year why don't you nominate it for the 3quarksdaily Philosophy Prize? A few hours left to nominate!

Details here!

The Imperfect Cognitions Team

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Symposium on Theory of Mind and the Social Mind

Logo of The Human Mind Project
I'm Mattia Gallotti, Project Coordinator of The Human Mind Project. In this post, I report on a recent symposium entitled "Theory of Mind and the Social Mind". This was the third public event of The Human Mind Project and it took place on September 16th in the broader context of the 2014 annual meeting of the European Society of Philosophy and Psychology (ESPP) held in Noto, Sicily.

Led by Professor Sir Colin Blakemore, The Human Mind Project highlights the contribution of the arts and humanities to the study of human nature, and the importance of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the mind, integrating science and the humanities. In this spirit, the event - a symposium on “Theory of Mind and the Social Mind” - had presentations in social anthropology and neuroscience, by Rita Astuti (LSE) and Mina Cikara (Harvard), about how recent advances in the research on shared cognition and group behaviour can shed new light on corners of the debate on theory of mind that still await clarification.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Optimism Bias and Belief Updating

Anneli Jefferson
I'm Anneli Jefferson, Visiting Research Fellow at King's College London, and I'm interested in philosophy of psychology and ethics, particularly in issues at the intersection of these two fields.

People tend to systematically overestimate their own abilities and their likelihood of positive future outcomes and to underestimate the likelihood of negative outcomes. Most commonly, this optimism bias is measured at a group level. While it is clear that some people must be making overly optimistic judgments if, for example, 70% of people asked think that they are less likely than their peers to experience a car accident, it can be difficult to tell which individual person’s outlook is actually unrealistically optimistic.

In a recent study, Sharot et al. used an update paradigm to measure the optimism bias at the individual level. Participants were asked to rate their likelihood of experiencing various negative events and were subsequently confronted with the average likelihood of experiencing the respective events. All estimations were then repeated, so that participants had the opportunity to update their initial estimate. It turned out that on average, participants were more likely to update their estimate in response to information that was desirable than when they received information that was undesirable.