University of Cambridge > > Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) > How we know what not to think (3pm start)

How we know what not to think (3pm start)

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  • UserDr Fiery Cushman (Harvard University)
  • ClockWednesday 24 February 2021, 15:00-16:00
  • Housevia zoom .

If you have a question about this talk, please contact David Young.

In the real world, there is far too much to think about. This is remarkably understudied in laboratory contexts, however, where the study of decision-making is typically limited to small “choice sets” defined by an experimenter. In these contrived cases an individual may devote considerable attention to each item in the choice set. But ordinarily we are often not presented with defined choice sets; rather, we must construct a viable set of alternatives to consider. I will present several recent and ongoing research projects that each aim to understand how humans spontaneously decide what actions to consider—in other words, how we construct choice sets. The main argument is that the kind of value representations relevant to choice set construction differ systematically from those used for choice itself. Additionally, I will present some evidence that moral norms play a surprisingly and uniquely large role in constraining choice sets and, more broadly, in modal cognition (i.e., reasoning about what is possible, likely, or desirable). This suggests a new avenue for understanding how morality influences our thought and behavior.

Dr Cushman is John L. Loeb Associate Professor of the Social Sciences at Harvard University.

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This talk is part of the Social Psychology Seminar Series (SPSS) series.

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