Seminar Series

Inaugural Talk - Simulating human behavior, psychology envisioned as an engineering science

Computational models of human behavior are used in a wide range of artifacts. At a large scale, social simulations are being used, for example, to model people’s response to a natural disaster. At a medium-scale, models of human decision-makers are being used to study social technical systems such as the pharmaceutical drug supply network. At the highly detailed individual scale, virtual replicas of humans are being crafted. These virtual humans are facsimiles of people that can engage people in face-to-face interactions using the same verbal and nonverbal behavior people use. The designs of these various models heavily leverage psychological theories and data. Psychology and the social sciences, in turn, are increasingly using these computational artifacts as means to formulate, test and explore theories about human behavior. In this talk, I will first give a brief overview of my group’s work in social simulation and virtual humans. Then I will provide my perspective on the synergy between psychology and the engineering of these artifacts as well as illustrate this perspective using my group’s work on the computationally modeling of emotion.