Institut Jean Nicod

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The Experimental Philosophy Group

Groupe de travail  "Philosophie Expérimentale"

Contact: Brent Strickland


Past Sessions

September, 25, 10:00 am - 11:30 am

Experimental philosophy introductory meeting

This will be a preliminary meeting for this year's experimental philosophy group. The goal will be to introduce interested (and potentially interested) students, postdocs, and colleagues to our work. Very generally, Experimental Philosophy is an emerging field at the intersection between philosophy, psychology, and linguistics. It applies empirical methods (typically internet based experiments) to inform research on philosophically interesting topics such as morality, perception, language, and scientific reasoning.

Motivated members will be able to create and run their own studies, as well as receive feedback from the group as their ideas and work progress. We are open to working with students and researchers of all levels, and from a wide-variety of backgrounds including: computer science, philosophy, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, and sociology.

October, 9 10:00 am - 11:30 am - Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, Pavillon Jardin, 29 rue d'Ulm. Salle de réunion, RDC.
Paul Egré (CNRS, ENS) & Steven Verheyen (University of Leuven)
"Testing probabilistic accounts of vagueness"

In this talk we will introduce an existing probabilistic account of vagueness (Verheyen, Hampton, & Storms, 2010) and propose an extension (Egré, 2015). Both accounts are intended to capture individual differences in the decision to apply a vague predicate like TALL to a series of stimuli (e.g., figures of various heights). According to the original account these judgments are inherently probabilistic, with the probability determined by the distance between a stimulus’ and a participant’s positions along a latent dimension. This dimension represents the property the participants rely on to decide on the applicability of the predicate (e.g., height in the case of TALL). A stimulus’ position on the dimension indicates the degree to which the stimulus manifests the relevant property. A participant’s position on the dimension reflects the participant-specific degree to which stimuli have to display the property for the predicate to apply. It acts like a probabilistic threshold: the more the position of the stimulus surpasses that of the participant, the higher the probability that s/he will apply the predicate to the stimulus (and vice versa). The probability of applying the vague predicate thus monotonically increases in function of the latent dimension. In the original account, the shape of this function is the same for every participant; only its position along the dimension differs from participant to participant, allowing for individual differences in the extent to which the predicate applies. The extension proposed by Egré (2015) involves making the shape of the function person-dependent as well, allowing for differences between participants who perceive the transition from not TALL to TALL as a gradual one, and participants who perceive it as more abrupt. The purpose of the talk is to garner ideas about the optimal manner in which both accounts can be empirically compared and about the conditions (personal or situational) that might warrant differences in the shape of the applicability function.

Egré, P. (2015). Vague judgment: A probabilistic account. Manuscript submitted for publication.
Verheyen, S., Hampton, J. A., & Storms, G. (2010).  A probabilistic threshold model: Analyzing semantic categorization data with the Rasch model. Acta Psychologica, 135, 216-225.

Friday Oct. 16th 10am - 11:30 - ENS, 29 rue d'ulm, 235B
Katherina Helming (IJN),
"About looks and likes: Gaze Direction of Moral In-and Out-group Members as a Trigger for Distinct Interaction Evaluations".

The eye gaze direction displayed by others is information for which people are extremely sensitive and which influences social evaluations. For example, unfamiliar persons on photographs are rated as more attractive when they look at perceivers rather than look away (e.g., Ewing et al., 2010). Perceivers also like those who look at them more than those who look away (Mason et al., 2005). In contrast, averted eye-gaze leads to feelings of ostracism, aggression and low self-esteem (Wirth et al., 2010). It has been proposed that direct eye-gaze is evaluated as positive because it signals social engagement, while averted eye-gaze is evaluated as negative because it indicates disengagement.
However, such evaluations should change according to the context. There clearly are people we do not want to engage with, for example members of a moral out-group.
Moral values are a fundamental dimension along which people are categorized into “us” versus “them”. Indeed, moral group membership differs considerably from social categorization based on differences such as support for sport teams. For example, Parker et al. (2013) showed that group membership based on support for two different sport teams caused warm feelings for fans of the same team, but only less positivity towards those supporting the other team. In contrast, members of a moral out-group stirred negative feelings and were perceived as a threat.
Taken together, this predicts a reversed pattern of results for eye-gaze direction when participants are confronted with a member of the moral out-group: Direct eye-gaze should now be perceived as more threatening and less positive than averted eye-gaze. A first pilot study confirms this prediction. Results of a second experiment additionally measuring participant´s self-esteem and aggression tendencies will be presented and discussed.

Ewing, L., Rhodes, G., & Pellicano, E. (2010). Have you got the look? Gaze direction affects judgements of facial attractiveness. Visual Cognition, 18, 331-330.
Mason, M. F., Tatkow, E., & Macrae, C. N. (2005). The look of love: Gaze shifts and person perception. Psychological Science, 16, 236–239.
Parker, M. T. & Janoff-Bulman, R. (2013). Lessons from morality-based social identity: The power of outgroup „hate“, not just ingroup „love“, Social Justice Research, 26, 81-96.
Wirth, J., Sacco, D. F., Hugenberg, K., & Williams, K. D. (2010). Eye gaze as relational evaluation: Averted eye gaze leads to feelings of ostracism and relational devaluation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 36, 869-888.

Friday Oct. 23rd 10am - 11:30 - ENS, 29 rue d'ulm, 235B
Brent Strickland (Institut Jean Nicod, DEC)

We will be discussing the following new BBS article (currently under commentary): "Cognition does not affect perception: Evaluating the evidence for 'top down' effects." The article can be downloaded here:

People in attendance will be expected to have read (or at least studiously skimmed) the article. People should be prepared with at least 1 question and 1 comment about the article. There will be only a minimal presentation, and the group meeting will consist essentially in guided discussion. So preparing your questions and comments in advance will be important!

The goal will be to think collectively about many of the points raised in the article which include foundational issues in cognitive science (such as the separation between cognition and perception), but also some that will be of direct relevance to experimental philosophers working in other areas. These include topics like confirmation bias and task demands, which are of relevance to pretty much anyone carrying out experimental research.

A secondary goal of the discussion will be to generate new ideas for empirical research which could look at top down influences on perception. As an added bonus, we hope to convince some local vision scientists to also participate in the discussion.

November, 6, 10:00am-12:00
Video conference, in collaboration with Miriam Teschl's group in Aix en Provence.
Joel Fagot (CNRS Aix-Marseille)
Video Conference - Salle CRI 29 rue d'ulm
"Studies on primate cognition use either observational or more experimental laboratory procedures".

Abstract: Experimental procedures in laboratories are traditionally aimed at testing physical cognition. By contrast, studies on social cognition tend to prefer observational procedures in more naturalistic contexts. The main goal of this talk will be to present my recent attempt to both reconcile and combine these two approaches. In my laboratory, baboons living in social groups have a completely free access to several of operant conditioning test systems controlled by an automated RFID identification of the subjects. I will present the results of several studies demonstrating that the baboons' performance in cognitive tasks depends on a variety of factors in the social and non social domains. All these results will suggest a close continuity between physical and social cognition in baboons.

November, 13, 10:00am-12:00 - Salle de réunion, Pavillon Jardin, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005.
Marine Buon (Institut Jean Nicod)
"Do children really out-perform infants when using intentional cues for socio-moral evaluations ?"

Abstract: Intention is a crucial ingredient in social evaluation and moral judgment. For example, the recognition of whether an agent wanted to cause harm or inflicted harm by accident predominantly guides our (adult´s) evaluations of the agent´s character as well as judgments about the wrongfulness of his actions. In contrast, children do not distinguish harmful accidents from instances of intentional harm before the age of five and are unable to form a fully intent-based moral judgment before the age of 7/9 years of age. This is consistent with cognitive load studies which show that adults’ reliance on agents’ mental states depend on non-intuitive/costly mechanisms. However, recent experiments provide puzzling findings, showing that social evaluations of even 10-month-old infants were fully mentalistic.  Our goal is to review, discuss and reconcile these sets of contradictory findings by investigating what does distinguish infants and children’s moral competences.  We will argue that even thought the described discrepancy may be at least partially explained by experimental factors distinguishing infants’ and children studies (e.g.,  the nature of the stimuli presented, nature of the behavior asked), children’ moral (in)competencies are more likely to rely on a combination of environmental factors and biological predispositions. This conclusion allows us to deeply reconsider the very nature of adults’ moral intuitions and their link to infants’ early socio-moral evaluative abilities.

November, 27, 10:00am-12:00 - Salle de réunion, IJN, Pavillon Jardin, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005.
Christoph Witzel  (LPP, Université Paris Descartes),
"Cognitive effects on colour perception".

Abstract: Because colour is a fundamental visual attribute, colour vision may be considered as a prime example for the influence of knowledge and language on perception. It has been claimed that colour perception is modulated by the linguistic distinction between colour terms, e.g. between red and brown. A core problem of evidence in support of this claim is the control of purely perceptual factors when showing the effects of language. In an extensive series of studies, we investigated multiple ways, in which colour vision could be modulated through knowledge and language at different stages of perceptual processing. Taken together, all those experiments show that language does not influence low-level colour perception per se, but may affect the appearance of colours through attention and subjective appraisal. Due to these effects, colours look more different when they cross a linguistic boundary (e.g. between red and brown), and objects look slightly in their original colour when they are actually grey (e.g. grey smurfs appear bluish).

December, 3, 10:00am-11:30 - Salle de réunion, IJN, Pavillon Jardin, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005.
Roman Feiman (Harvard University)
"The logic in language: How all quantifiers are alike, but each quantifier is different".

Abstract: Quantifier words like each, every, all and three specify what relationships hold between the sets of entities, events and properties denoted by other words. When two quantifiers are in the same clause, they create a systematic ambiguity. “Every kid climbed a tree” could mean that there was only one tree, climbed by all, or as many different trees as there are climbing kids. Recent work in psycholinguistics (Raffray and Pickering, 2010) has shown that Logical Form representations can be primed -- that how people resolve one scope ambiguity will affect their resolution of another ambiguity with different noun content. This suggests that once constructed, mental representations of the relationships between quantifiers are abstracted from the specific sentence and can be reused.

We extend R&P's paradigm to look for deep representational similarities and differences across different quantifiers. Priming aside, we find very large differences in the overall biases of these quantifiers to take wide or narrow scope relative to a -- large enough to swamp many other factors that have been argued to drive scope ambiguity resolution (e.g. linear order, c-command, thematic hierarchy). Looking at the priming effects, we find systematic priming of participants' preferred reading within-quantifier, but not between-quantifier. We find that changing the verb between the prime and target sentence does not reduce the priming effect, suggesting the effect is not based on the overall similarity between the two sentences. We go on to discover one case where there is priming across quantifiers – when one number (e.g. three) is in the prime, and a different one (e.g. four) is in the target. We discuss how these findings relate to linguistic theories of quantifier meaning and scope ambiguity resolution, and to the division of labor between conceptual content and combinatorial semantics.

December, 4, 10:00am-12:00 - Salle CRI, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005.
Joint video conference with Miriam Teschl's group

December, 9, 16:00-18:00 - Salle du DEC, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005.
Martin Fortier (IJN)
“Supernatural thinking as probabilistic reasoning: Studying children’s selective learning from informants who exhibit supernatural powers”

Abstract: It has often been claimed that children are just like little scientists. Among others, Rousseau and Piaget were prominent proponents of such a view. Although this view has a certain grain of truth, it remains that recent studies in developmental psychology have amply proved it to be wrong. It now clearly appears that children learn a great deal not so much from self-experimentation as from other people’s testimony, and, as it turns out, children are endowed with quite impressive skills enabling them to determine whether an informant’s testimony should be trusted (Clément, 2010; Harris & Corriveau, 2011; Harris, 2012). For instance, selective learning tasks have established that children tend to trust more a testimony coming from their mother than from a stranger (Corriveau et al., 2009).
Selective learning paradigms consist in pitting a familiar (consensual, accurate, etc.) informant against an unfamiliar (non-consensual, inaccurate, etc.) one, and subsequently in seeing, in each of these cases, whether children trust more one informant or the other. One very interesting question is to know what children’s selective trust pattern should be when they are placed before an informant exhibiting supernatural powers and another one lacking such powers. This is precisely the question that Sunae Kim & Paul Harris (2014) have explored in a recent paper. Now, of course, a key issue is: how should we define what possessing supernatural powers is and how should we operationalise such a definition in an experimental setting?
After having briefly presented the state of the art on selective learning as well as Kim & Harris’s pioneering study, I will endeavour to show the following: the way magic, witchcraft, shamanism, animism and supernatural powers are defined in development psychology is quite problematic – if not totally irrelevant – to the extent that it has nothing to do with the corresponding anthropological phenomena that can be encountered in the real world (for an illustration of such an “off the point” definition of supernatural thinking, see: Subbotsky, 2000). Drawing upon both ethnographic evidence (e.g.: Evans-Pritchard, 1937; Favret-Saadda, 1980) and experimental research (e.g.: Legare & Gelman, 2012; Dessalles, 2010), I will show that supernatural thinking is not a matter of violating domain-specific intuitions but rather a matter of violating probabilistic expectations (which appear very early in infancy (Denison, Reed & Xu, 2013) and which seem to be cross-culturally shared (Olson et al., 2008; Fontanari et al., 2014)). Understanding supernatural thinking requires us to understand how probabilistic reasoning works rather than how core knowledge or intuitive ontologies work. Moreover, I will argue that evidence (e.g.: Boyer & Ramble, 2001; Boyer, 2003; Atran & Norenzayan, 2004) suggesting that domain-specific violations do play a role in supernatural thinking cannot do much to salvage the developmental psychologists’ usual definition of the supernatural, for, at best, this strand of evidence only applies to public representations and certainly not to (purportedly supernatural) events experienced in everyday life.
Once this theoretical background settled, I will present a cross-cultural experiment I am currently carrying out in collaboration with Sunae Kim in which we study children’s selective learning from informants who exhibit supernatural powers, and in which, crucially, supernatural powers are defined in probabilistic terms. I will first discuss the intricacies of operationalising such a definition; secondly, I will introduce the hypotheses – relating to both developmental psychology and cognitive science of religion – our study aims to test; and I will finally present preliminary results.

January, 8, 10 am - 12 pm. Salle Seminaire du DEC, 29 rue d'Ulm.
Video conference meeting.

Pascale Gygax (Université de Fribourg, Department of Psychology)
"Why mechanics are always thought of as men? When language creeps into social perceptions"

January, 26, 1pm-3pm - Salle de réunion, DEC, ENS, 29 rue d'Ulm 75005.
Hamadi Najib and Gloria Origgi,
"Reciprocity in symbolic exchanges. Does reciprocity influence the way in which we evaluate others?"

Abstract: It has been shown (Gould 2002; Podolny 2009)  that hierarchies of status ("who is better than whom" along a certain dimension) emerge dynamically through a myriad of act of deferential gestures and a series of mechanisms of social influence. Social influence, that is, the fact that some people are influenced by others in their allocation of status to a certain person, raises the asymmetry of the status hierarchies (the well known Mathiew effect already established by Merton in 1942). Gould and others (Manzo, Baldassarri, 2015) show that reciprocity balances this effect, that is, people prefer to defer to those who reciprocate, at least a little bit. A high status person (a leader, a professor) who never reciprocates has less chances to climb a hierarchy than one who reciprocates. The way in which asymmetry in hierarchy is compensated by reciprocity has been mainly studied through formal models. We present a possible experimental framework in which we can test the effects of reciprocity on “preferences adjustment” (Elster, 1983). We will test three conditions between evaluators and target subjects: parity, superiority and inferiority, and see if the fact that the target subjects reciprocate (that is, allocate deference) to the evaluators, influences’s the evaluation.

January, 29, 10:00 am - 11:30 am - Salle de réunion, DEC, ENS, 29 rue d'Ulm 75005.
Jérémie Lafraire (Institut Paul Bocuse) and  Camille Rioux (Center for Food and Hospitality Research, Paul Bocuse Institute, Aix Marseille University, PSYCLE EA3273,)

"Food rejections and categorization in 2 to 6 years old children"

Abstract: Food neophobia and picky/fussy eating behavior are presented as the two main factors responsible for children’s food rejections and reduction of their dietary repertoire. In the first part of my talk, I will review the key factors that are involved in food rejections during childhood. I will insist on a range of “cognitive factors”, such as food perception, mental representations, categorizations of food items, and emotions and feelings toward food. I will then briefly summarize the findings altogether to provide a comprehensive view of the factors involved in children’s food rejections. In the second part of my talk, I will present two outcomes of a PhD project I am co-supervising. The first outcome is the validation of a new scale that enables the assessment of food neophobia and pickiness, so as to fill an important gap in the psychometric assessment of French children food rejections. We concentrated on French children aged 2- to 7-years old, as no such scale exists for this young population.  I will show that this French Children Rejections Scale (FCRS) represents a valuable tool to study childhood food rejections and the efficiency of interventions aiming to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables, and sheds light on the nature and the extent of the relationship between food neophobia and pickiness, as well as on their developmental paths.  Then I will present the results of an experiment we conducted whose aim was to decipher the complex relationship between food rejections and categorization abilities in children from 2 to 5 years old. We compared the performance of children on a sorting task with their individual neophobia scores computed via the FCRS. In the categorization task, we varied two parameters food categorization seems to depend on: color and shape. I will show that the results we obtained speak in favor of the idea that children’s level of food rejection is a behavioral manifestation of the developmental characteristics of their food categorization system. The third part of my talk will be dedicated to an ongoing experiment whose aim is i) to replicate the results in favor of an existing relation between the degree of maturity of food concepts and the disposition to reject fruits and vegetables in young children and ii) to pursue the investigation of the functional properties of the early food categories through an induction/generalization task.

Friday February 5th, 10 am, Salle de Reunion du DEC
Brent Strickland (IJN) and Stephane Lucini (GREQAM, CNRS),
"Improving expert prediction for a better world"

Abstract: Policy and decision makers in the government, military, and industry are turning more and more often to the behavioral sciences in order to make informed decisions that accurately anticipate human responses to changes in policy, infrastructure, context, or supply. Thus decisions affecting large numbers of people depend either implicitly or explicitly on accurate predictions from social science experts. However, systematic evaluation of expert predictions and methods for generating predictions is often lacking (Tetlock, 2015). Here I discuss some recent work that seeks to fill this gap by (1) Comparing experts’ and non-experts’ abilities to accurately predict human reactions across a range of social relevant situations (2) Identifying methods of data collection and analysis that can maximize predictive accuracy amongst experts. These aims will be achieved by drawing on a unique mixture of methods from both cognitive psychology and economics.

Friday February 12th, 10 am. Salle de Reunion du DEC
Thomas Pölzler (Department of Philosophy, University of Graz, Austria
"How to Measure Moral Realism"

Abstract: Moral realists believe that there are objective moral truths. Discussions about this view have traditionally mainly focused on the metaethical issue of its correctness. Perhaps related to this issue, however, moral realism may also be approached from a psychological perspective. The most basic question in this regard concerns its instantiation. To which extent do (particular) ordinary persons believe in the existence of objective moral truths? In the last 15 years empirical psychologists have become increasingly interested in this question. Unfortunately, many of their experiments have turned out to be of rather low validity, i.e., they failed to adequately measure moral realism. My aim in this talk is to clarify and advance the methods of research on folk moral realism. In analysis of recent studies, I first develop general guidelines for measuring intuitions about the existence of objective moral truths. Then I suggest a concrete experimental design (based on how subjects interpret cases of moral disagreement) that I believe meets these guidelines to the highest possible extent. Hopefully, psychologists will use and further improve my design in future studies.

Friday February 19th, 10 am, Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, Pavillon Jardin, 29 rue d'Ulm. Salle de réunion, RDC.
Nicolas Porot (CUNY)
"New (preliminary) data on reference : Causal historical theories better predict usage than classical descriptivist theories".

Abstract: Traditionally, philosophers of language have relied on their own referential intuitions as evidence for (or against) theories of reference.  This practice has been called into question in recent years by experimental philosophers (Machery et al. 2004, Genone & Lombrozo 2012, Nichols et al forthcoming).  These studies tested the referential intuitions of non philosophers. But linguistic usage is a more direct and thus preferable form of evidence of reference relations (Marti 2009; Devitt 2011, 2015).  In a recent experiment run with Michael Devitt, we compared results of two tests of linguistic usage (an elicited production task, and a truth value judgment task) to those of a "traditional" referential intuition task.  The results tentative tenatively support causal-historical theories of proper names, and suggest inconsistency, for "Godel-Schmidt"-style cases, between speakers' usage of proper names in English, and their intuitions about the reference of those names.  I'll discuss the experiment and results.

Devitt, M. ‘Whither experimental semantics?’ Theoria 27 (2011): 5–36. Web.
Devitt, M. “Testing Theories of Reference”, in Haukioja, J. (ed), Advances in Experimental
Philosophy of Language. (2015). London: Bloomsbury Academic Plc
Genone, J, and T. Lombrozo. "Concept Possession, Experimental Semantics, and Hybrid
Machery, Edouard, Ron Mallon, Shaun Nichols, and Stephen Stich. "Semantics, Cross-Cultural
Style." Mind and Language, 1972–2010 Collected Papers, Volume 1 (2011): 320-31. Web..
Machery, E., C. Y. Olivola, and M. De Blanc. "Linguistic and Metalinguistic Intuitions in the Philosophy of Language." Analysis 69.4 (2009): 689-94. Web.
Martí, G. ‘Against semantic multi-culturalism’. Analysis (2009): 69, 42–48.
 Nichols, S., Pinillos, A. and Mallon, R. (forthcoming). ‘Ambiguous reference’. Mind

March, 11, 10:00 am - 11:30 am. Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, Pavillon Jardin, 29 rue d'Ulm. Salle de réunion, RDC.
Smadar Bustan (University of Luxembourg),
"Measuring Human Suffering: the difficulties of merging phenomenological and experimental perspectives".

In order to better evaluate human pain and its related suffering, our two research groups in Germany and in Luxembourg have been conducting combined phenomenological and experimental studies for the past 4 years in the context of the international project PASCOM (“Pain and Suffering: from philosophical concepts to psychobiological mechanisms”)( The aim of my talk is to demonstrate how this integrative approach merging philosophical, psychological, and neuroscientific approaches allow for better assessing these ubiquitous but still opaque human phenomena. Pursuing our newly tested approach, I will show how we propose to measure human suffering. Philosophically, I first provide a definition of suffering that is encompassing enough but at the same time useful in medical and experimental contexts studying the relation between pain and suffering. Scientifically, I will show how we propose to resolve the methodological split between phenomenology and science for insuring a common standard in relevant scientific and clinical expertise. I will also explain how I intend to test this pioneering approach in the medical context with chronic patients in Paris.

April, 1, 10am - Visioconférence - Salle de réunion, DEC, ENS, 29 rue d'Ulm 75005
Nobuyuki Hanaki (University of Nice)

Title: From Anomalies to Forecasts: Toward a Descriptive Model of Decisions under Risk, under Ambiguity, and from Experience
(based on research with Eyal Ert, Ori Plonsky, Doron Cohen, and Oded Cohen)

Abstract: Experimental studies of choice behavior document distinct, and sometimes contradictory, deviations from maximization in different settings and experimental paradigms. Specifically, different behavioral phenomena emerge in decisions under risk and decisions under ambiguity, in decisions from description and decisions from experience, and in choices between binary gambles and choices between multi-outcome gambles. Previous research addresses these distinctions by proposing different models that assume different processes and rely on different theoretical approaches to capture the different anomalies. This paper evaluates an alternative solution by developing a general model that captures the coexistence and relative importance of the contradicting tendencies shown to emerge in different settings. Three steps were taken to reduce the risk of overfitting the data. First, we replicated 14 classical anomalies in one experimental paradigm. Next, we studied 60 problems randomly selected from a space that includes all problems examined in the replication study. Finally, to exclude arbitrary selection of feasible models, an open choice prediction competition was organized. The organizers (the first three co-authors) presented their favorite model and challenged other researchers to develop better models. Models were evaluated based on their predictions of 60 new problems. The results suggest that the classical “pre-feedback” phenomena are replicable, but that feedback eliminates most of them, and instigates the choice of the prospect that minimizes the probability of regret. The models that best capture the results assume: (a) high sensitivity to the best estimates of the expected values, (b) the use of several feedback-dependent heuristics, and (c) reliance on small samples.

May, 9, 10:30 am - 12:30 am - Salle de réunion du DEC, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm 75005.

Andreas Falck (Lund University)
"Sharing and taking perspectives"

Social attention involves the automatic reorienting of attention to the attentional targets of others. Attending the same information as someone else, at the same time, implies sharing a perspective in a basic sense. A theory of perspective-taking, however, must be able to account for situations in which perspectives are not shared (e.g. false-belief tasks, FBTs). I argue that the explanatory burden of presumptive theories of perspective-taking can be reduced when taking into account how social attention helps us share perspectives. I exemplify this with data from three experiments, in which sharing a perspective with the experimenter improves three to four year old children’s performances on a (nearly) standard verbal FBT, compared to not sharing a perspective, provided that the experimenter is an observer of the story and not simultaneously a narrator. Proximate mechanisms are discussed, in light of their implications for theories of perspective-taking.

Friday, June 3rd.
Video-seminar. 10 am. Salle de reunion du DEC, ENS, 29, rue d’Ulm 75005.
Andrej Svorencik (University of Mannheim, Germany)
 "The Experimental turn in Economics"

June 10, 10:00-11:30 - Institut Nicod, salle de réunion RDC.

Xiaochen Liu (Institut Jean Nicod)
"Lay intuitions in Gettier Cases"

What is the difference between knowledge and mere belief? In traditional philosophy, knowledge is defined as justified true belief (JTB theory of knowledge). However, American philosopher E. Gettier designed several counterexamples to the classical theory. Gettier cases have convinced the majority of philosophers to rethink of the traditional theory. Prior empirical investigation of these cases has raised questions about whether lay people generally share philosopher’s intuitions about a Gettier scenario. We report two experiments evaluating lay people’s knowledge judgments in Gettier scenarios. Contrary to Gettier intuition, participants attribute knowledge for Gettier cases and the attribution is not token-sensitive.

June 15, 10:00-11:20 - Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm, Salle de réunion, RDC.
Xiaochen Liu (Institut Jean Nicod)
"Core Cognition and language learning"

Manali Draperi (Lapsyde)
"Does attribution of false belief require inhibiting one’s own perspective ?"

The theory of mind, the capacity to attribute mental states to others, is thought to be acquired around the age of four. The first studies have concluded that four-year-olds children have a theory of mind by testing them with false belief tasks. However, some studies have shown adults’ difficulties in some false belief tasks. This difficulty may reflect the implication of the inhibitory control, which may be necessary to adopt one’s perspective. This study tested adult participants on two false belief tasks with a negative priming, to investigate the role of inhibition in false belief attribution. One task showed that in way to attribute false belief, one needs to inhibit his own perspective. These results will be discussed in the frame of a dynamic and non linear model of development, highlighting the importance of the inhibitory control in the acquisition of some capacities.

June 15, 10:00-11:20 - Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm, Salle de réunion, RDC.
Xiaochen Liu (Institut Jean Nicod)
"Core Cognition and language learning"

Manali Draperi (Lapsyde)
"Does attribution of false belief require inhibiting one’s own perspective ?"

The theory of mind, the capacity to attribute mental states to others, is thought to be acquired around the age of four. The first studies have concluded that four-year-olds children have a theory of mind by testing them with false belief tasks. However, some studies have shown adults’ difficulties in some false belief tasks. This difficulty may reflect the implication of the inhibitory control, which may be necessary to adopt one’s perspective. This study tested adult participants on two false belief tasks with a negative priming, to investigate the role of inhibition in false belief attribution. One task showed that in way to attribute false belief, one needs to inhibit his own perspective. These results will be discussed in the frame of a dynamic and non linear model of development, highlighting the importance of the inhibitory control in the acquisition of some capacities.

June 29, 10:00-11:20 - Institut Jean Nicod, ENS, 29, rue d'Ulm, Salle de réunion, RDC.

Patricia Mirabile
"Studying replication biases in developmental psychology".

This research project seeks to inquire into the causes that might influence the replicability (or reliability) of a given scientific finding. We theorized that two types of causes should be taken into account : causes that allow for the expression of bias (such as confirmation or experimenter's bias) and causes that produce more error (or noise). Furthermore, we formulated that causes that are a source of bias would produce in general higher effect sizes, whereas causes that are a source of noise would produce in general more heterogeneous effect sizes. We decided to focus on the domain of developmental psychology and identified 3 methodological factors as possible sources of bias or of noise : the way the stimuli were presented to the infant, the way the infants' reactions were coded and the ratio of tested infants excluded from the data. I will present the results of the analyses I performed on a set of 11 meta-analysis to test whether the factors we identified as sources of bias (stimuli presentation method) or of error (coding method and exclusion ratio) are indeed correlated with variations in effect sizes.

Pauline Armary
"A controversy in Theory of Mind: Knowledge vs. Belief"

We will show some good evidences toward a knowledge-first theory of mind. In particular, we will present some work on adults that reveals they process more easily statement about other's knowledge than about other's belief. That effect isn't influenced by word's frequency as one could have feared. But we would argue that those results could be explaned by a difference between a first person perspective and a third person perspective, which reduces our claim in the priority of knowledge over belief.