ICT CogSci 2013

August 3, 2013

ICT virtual human and social simulation research will be presented at CogSci 2013 is the 35th annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, to be held in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, July 31 – Saturday, August 3, 2013.


Computational Models of Human Behavior in Wartime Negotiations
Speakers: David Pynadath, Ning Wang, Stacy Marsella
Abstract: Political scientists are increasingly turning to game-theoretic models to understand and predict the behavior of national leaders in wartime scenarios, where two sides have the op- tions of seeking resolution at either the bargaining table or on the battlefield. While the theoretical analyses of these mod- els is suggestive of their ability to capture these scenarios, it is not clear to what degree human behavior conforms to such equilibrium-based expectations. We present the results of a study that placed people within two of these game mod- els, playing against an intelligent agent. We consider several testable hypotheses drawn from the theoretical analyses and evaluate the degree to which the observed human decision- making conforms to those hypotheses.

Negotiation Strategies with Incongruent Facial Expressions of Emotion Cause Cardiovascular Threat
Speakers: Peter Khooshabeh, Celso DeMelo and Jonathan Gratch
Abstract: Affect is important in motivated performance situations such as negotiation. Longstanding theories of emotion suggest that facial expressions provide enough information to perceive another person’s internal affective state. Alternatively, the contextual emotion hypothesis posits that situational factors bias the perception of emotion in others’ facial displays. This hypothesis predicts that individuals will have different perceptions of the same facial expression depending upon the context in which the expression is displayed. In this study, cardiovascular indexes of motivational states (i.e., challenge vs. threat) were recorded while players engaged in a multi-issue negotiation where the opposing negotiator (confederate) displayed emotional facial expressions (angry vs. happy); the confederate’s negotiation strategy (cooperative vs. competitive) was factorially crossed with his facial expression. During the game, participants’ eye fixations and cardiovascular responses, indexing task engagement and challenge/threat motivation, were recorded. Results indicated that participants playing confederates with incongruent facial expressions (e.g., cooperative strategy, angry face) exhibited a greater threat response, which arises due to increased uncertainty. Eye fixations also suggest that participants look at the face more in order to acquire information to reconcile their uncertainty in the incongruent condition. Taken together, these results suggest that context matters in the perception of emotion.

Context Dependent Utility: Modeling Decision Behavior Across Contexts
Speakers: Jonathan Ito and Stacy Marsella
Abstract: One significant challenge in creating accurate models of human decision behavior is accounting for the effect of context. Research shows that seemingly minor changes in the presentation of a decision can lead to drastic shifts in behavior; phenomena collectively referred to as framing effects. Previous work has developed Context Dependent Utility (CDU), a framework integrating Appraisal Theory with decision-theoretic principles. This work extends existing research by presenting a study exploring the behavioral predictions offered by CDU regarding the multidimensional effect of context on decision behavior. The present study finds support for the predictions of CDU regarding the impact of context on decisions: 1) as perceptions of pleasantness increase, decision behavior tends towards risk-aversion; 2) as perceptions of goal-congruence increase, decision behavior tends towards risk-aversion; 3) as perceptions of controllability increase, i.e., perceptions that outcomes would have been primarily caused by the decision maker, behavior tends towards risk-seeking.


Virtual Humans: A New Toolkit for Cognitive Science Research
Time: Half-day (9:00 – 12:30)
Organizers: Jonathan Gratch, Arno Hartholt, Morteza Dehghani, and Stacy Marsella Overview: Virtual humans (VHs) are digital anthropomorphic characters that exist within virtual worlds but are designed to perceive, understand and interact with real-world humans. Although typically conceived as practical tools to assist in a range of application (e.g., HCI, training and entertainment), the technology is gaining interest as a methodological tool for studying human cognition. VHs not only simulate the cognitive abilities of people, but also many of the embodied and social aspects of human behavior more traditionally studied in fields outside of cognitive science. By integrating multiple cognitive capabilities (e.g., language, gesture, emotion) and requiring these processes to support real-time interactions with people, VHs create a unique and challenging environment with-in which to develop and validate cognitive theories. In this tutorial, we will review recent advances in VH technologies, demonstrate examples of use of VHs in cognitive science research and provide hands on training using our Virtual Human Toolkit. Learn more at