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Spring 2016 Colloquium Schedule

November 3, 2015 – All colloquiums will be held in WGR 206 from 3:30-4:30pm with a reception following immediately afterward in WGR 308. Click on the tabs to see titles and abstracts for each speaker.

Mary Ann Dutton (new window), Georgetown University

Title: Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction and Trauma


Faculty host: Jennifer Woolard

Justine Cassell (new window), Carnegie Mellon University

Title: Making (Virtual) Friends and Influencing (Virtual) People

Abstract: In this talk I propose a particular sociocultural approach to the study of the so-called “social emotions” – intrinsically dyadic states such as rapport, friendship, intimacy, interpersonal closeness. I rely on this approach to describe the surface level observable verbal and nonverbal behaviors that function to evoke, deepen, demonstrate, and destroy these dyadic social emotions. I highlight the need for differentiating the observable behaviors from inferable underlying states by demonstrating how putatively negative behaviors may play a positive role in rapport. Finally, I describe some important roles that these often discounted aspects of human behavior play in learning, commercial transactions, and other facets of day-to-day life. Each step of this talk is illustrated by experiments that involve human-human and human-computer character interaction. I include novel approaches to modeling and generating behaviors for human-character interaction on the basis of the human-human corpora. And finally, lessons are drawn both for the study of human behavior, and the improved design of technologies capable of engaging in interaction with people over the long-term.

Faculty Host: Sandra Calvert

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Alex Martin (new window), National Institute of Mental Health

Title: Food for thought: How object concepts are represented the human brain

Abstract: Recent evidence from functional neuroimaging and neuropsychology provides strong support for viewing concepts as the product of highly interactive neural circuits grounded in the action, perception, and emotion systems. The nodes of these circuits are defined by regions representing specific object properties (e.g., form, color, and motion) and thus are property-specific, rather than strictly modality-specific. How these circuits are modified by external and internal environmental demands, the distinction between representational content and format, and the grounding of abstract social concepts will also be discussed.

Faculty Host: Chandan Vaidya

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Joanna Schug, College of William & Mary

Title: A socio-ecological approach to cultural variation in trust

Abstract: The ability to trust others, even those we have never met before, serves a very important role in facilitating many positive individual and social outcomes. However, trust tends to vary considerably across cultures. In this talk, I will discuss how (presumably) universal psychological mechanisms can interact with cultural norms and social-ecology to produce cultural variation in trust across cultures. I will present the results of a preliminary study using social survey data to show how cultural norms which regulate emotional expression may impact the development of trust on a national level, as well as the results of a cross-cultural experimental study employing economic games to examine mechanisms underlying cultural differences in the influence of synchronous behavior on trust behavior in Japan and the United States. Finally, I will discuss potential directions for future research.

Faculty Host: Yulia Chentsova-Dutton

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