Coordinate to cooperate or compete: Abstract goals and joint intentions in social interaction


Successfully navigating the social world requires reasoning about both high-level strategic goals, such as whether to cooperate or compete, as well as the low-level actions needed to achieve those goals. We develop a hierarchical model of social agency that infers the intentions of other agents, strategically decides whether to cooperate or compete with them, and then executes either a cooperative or competitive planning program. Learning occurs across both high-level strategic decisions and low-level actions leading to the emergence of social norms. We test predictions of this model in multi-agent behavioral experiments using rich video-game like environments. By grounding strategic behavior in a formal model of planning, we develop abstract notions of both cooperation and competition and shed light on the computational nature of joint intentionality.

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