Rineke Verbrugge, Trying to Facilitate Second-Order Social Reasoning in Games

This lecture is about higher-order social reasoning such as "Nina believes that you know that I know that Nina's thesis is not the only PhD thesis about learning that has 'limits' in the title" (there is also Niels Taatgen's PhD thesis "Learning without limits", University of Groningen, 1999), in which we make a third-order attribution to Nina. Previous research by Hedden and Zhang (2002) and Flobbe et al. (2008) has shown that such reasoning seriously deteriorates in complex social interactions. It has been suggested that reasoning in general can be facilitated greatly if an abstract logical problem is embedded in a context. This had not yet been tested for higher-order social reasoning. We presented participants with strategic games that demand higher-order social reasoning, embedded in the context of a marble drop game. Participants performed really well, that is, almost at ceiling. We argue that context may have had a facilitative effect on higher order social reasoning. Our new experiments with Hedden and Zhang's abstract matrix games seem to show that appropriate training may be even more important in aiding subjects to apply second-order social cognition in such games. This lecture is based on work with Ben Meijering, Leendert van Maanen, Hedderik van Rijn and Niels Taatgen in the Vici project "Cognitive systems in interaction: Logical and computational models of higher-order social cognition".