Social Information Integration: An Experimental and Computational Approach

2017.12.14 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Arndis Simonsen has been awarded a Carlsberg Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship in Denmark grant of 1,260,000 kr. for the project “Social Information Integration: An Experimental and Computational Approach”. The two-year postdoc project starts in March 2018 and will take place at the Interacting Minds Centre and the Psychosis Research Unit, AUHR.

Project Description

As we develop our own opinions through daily life and make big and small decisions, we are constantly exposed to multiple sources of information: advice and more subtle cues from colleagues, friends and family members, news, gossip and angry rants on social media. Evaluating these sources and their reliability, and integrating them with our own personal beliefs and decisions when relevant allows us to effectively inhabit a complex and ever-changing world, which escapes the scope of experience of any single individual. However, this process may fail us miserably: an information source might be trusted too much or too little leading to suboptimal information integration, with ramifying consequences. Examples of this could be the spread of fake news and their political impact or financial bobbles, at a societal level, or the development of delusions in patients with schizophrenia, at an individual level. Understanding the cognitive mechanisms through which we assess and integrate social information has clear repercussions for our ability to understand and intervene in such phenomena. This project aims at identifying key mechanisms of social information integration, by systematically combining experimentally elicited data and computational models across different social contexts. Specifically, I will investigate which forms of social information integration best capture social behaviours in normally functioning individuals across different situations, how such information integration varies between individuals and how it may break down, as is seen for instance in schizophrenia.     


Arndis Simonsen, Postdoc