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Daniel Sznycer – Value Computation in Humans

January 3 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

Valuing things comes naturally to us. But valuing things would be a forbidding task if we lacked the information-processing machinery that enables value computation and that needs to be understood. How does the human brain compute the value of things, events, and states of affairs? Things afford positive, neutral, or negative long-run effects on the replicative probability of the focal individual’s genes. At the most general level, values are internal estimates of those effects. Value information steers physiology and behavior in the right direction: approach apple; avoid enemy. Therefore, value computation is of paramount biological importance. In the first part of the talk, I will discuss shame, pride, and other social emotions. These emotions function to recalibrate the social valuations held by self and others. For example, shame functions to minimize the likelihood and cost of being devalued by others when negative information about the self spreads into the community. I will discuss findings my collaborators and I have published showing functionality and regularity in emotion across mass societies and small-scale societies and throughout history. The emotion–valuation nexus regulates interpersonal interactions. This nexus may also form the core of, e.g., justice-making institutions. For example, the shame laypeople report if they committed each of various offenses echoes the legal thinking of lawmakers—shame intensities retrodict the punishments provided for offenses by actual laws, including laws from radically unfamiliar cultures (e.g., the Tang Code, China CE 653; the Laws of Eshnunna, Mesopotamia ca. 1770 BCE). In the second part of the talk, I will focus on value computation. One wants to know: What features does a computational system need to be equipped with in order to value anything and everything that humans are known to value?—true friendship and self-transcendence, but also: water, rice, honey, obsidian, harpoons, the Cessna 172, fire, fire extinguishers, double-entry bookkeeping, sleeping, explanations, allies, mates, etc. I will present recent findings indicating accuracy and adaptive integration in value computation. For example, the subjective food value imputed to a hot dog reflects the protein and carbohydrate content of the hot dog (accuracy); the intensity of gratitude aroused if someone gave you a hot dog reflects the food value imputed to the hot dog (integration). Task analysis suggests many additional features are involved in human value computation, some of which have been mapped out (e.g., common neural representation of value) and some of which have not. More research is needed!

Details

Date:
January 3
Time:
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Categories:
,

Details

Date:
January 3
Time:
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
Event Categories:
,