Reasoning about social choices and social relationships

Alan JernRose-Hulman Institute of Technology
Charles KempCarnegie Mellon University

Abstract

We study inferences about social choices---choices that affect people besides the chooser. Social choices depend on the relationships between the people involved: for example, whether they are friends, strangers, or enemies. We propose that these different social relationships correspond to different ways in which the chooser weights another person's utility relative to her own. We describe a probabilistic model of social reasoning that incorporates this notion of weighted utility, and evaluate it in an experiment in which participants made inferences about others' social choices. The results support our probabilistic model and expose some of the assumptions that people tend to make when reasoning about social choices.

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