Institut du Cerveau et de la Moelle Epinière, ICM, Paris, France
On the adaptive fitness of the social sense: lessons from Bayesian Decision Theory
A defining feature of human social cognition is our insight that others' behaviour is driven by their beliefs and preferences, rather than by what is objectively true or good for them. In fact, a great deal of our social interactions is concerned with guessing others' mental states. But what are the specific computational processes underlying such "mentalizing", if any? Does their adaptive fitness depend upon the type of social interactions (e.g., competitive versus cooperative) agents engage in? Can one infer on the candidate evolutionary forces that acted upon mentalizing by comparing its sophistication across different (here: seven) primate species? How does this relate to the specific "cognitive style" of people suffering from autism spectrum disorders? These are the questions we address in this work, by combining computational modelling with experimental investigations of mentalizing in dyadic social interactions.