How the Color Game’s players mastered the game

The posts on this blog explore the digital life of the Color Game, a gaming app launched by our lab. Our goal: documenting the evolution of a new language without words, and recording its birth in data. To find out more, visit colorgame.net.

The average number of correct trials for a set of 10 went from 4 to 7 in the last five weeks. The error bars represent variance. n = 17832 trials.

  Some newcomers to the Color Game doubt they will ever get the game. What do these weird symbols have to do with colours? How can I use them to communicate with others? And indeed, the symbols, at first, don't mean much. The point of the game is to build a shared language with other players, and it doesn't come easy at first. But don't worry: it gets better! ...

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“All options remain open” – or why would one signal a lack of commitment?

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump seem now set to meet, as planned, on the 12th of June on the island of Singapore. Many of us have watched with bewilderment the verbal jousting that has been taking place between the two figures ahead of this crucial summit. Each political leader, as well as surrounding Korean and American protagonists, provided their due share of grand statements and dramatic turnarounds. ...

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Are human toddlers unable to understand the aspectuality of a puppet’s belief that the bunny is not a carrot?

In an earlier post, I spelled out what philosophers and psychologists of mindreading call “the aspectuality of belief.” To understand the aspectuality of belief is to understand that a person can believe that Cicero was bald without believing that Tully was, if she does not know that Tully was Cicero — in spite of the fact that the state of affairs of Cicero’s being bald is no other than the state of affairs of Tully’s being bald. ...

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Introducing the Color Game

Last week, the Color Game, the first smartphone app specifically designed to study the dynamics of language evolution was launched by our team at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History. This blog will follow the development of the Color Game project. In this first post, we first take a closer look to its characteristics from the players’ point of view, and to the features that makes it a realistic playground for the study of language evolution....

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What does the infant brain tell us about human Theory of Mind?

Functional near-infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS) is a non-invasive technique that measures how light scatters differently on the surface of the brain as a function of brain activity. It is less powerful than functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), but it’s cheaper and more portable. A couple of recent studies by Daniel Hyde and his collaborators using fNIRS shed light on what has become a central issue in the developmental investigation of human Theory of Mind (TOM). ...

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No “Thank You!”

When beginning my fieldwork among the Dorzé of Southern Ethiopia many years ago, I thought that it would be better, at least initially, to be too polite rather than not polite enough.  I would say ...

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Children’s grasp of the aspectuality of beliefs: the Sefo task revisited

Understanding the aspectuality of belief is regarded by many leading developmental psychologists as a hallmark of full-blown theory of mind. As Hannes Rakoczy (2017, p. 692), who has devoted much work to the experimental investigation of early understanding of aspectuality, has recently put it, “crucially, aspectuality is not just an accidental or peripheral but an absolutely fundamental and essential property of beliefs and other propositional attitudes: there is no grasp of what propositional attitudes are without some basic grasp of their aspectuality.” ...

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Call for papers: Cultural Evolution

Palgrave Communications, the open access journal from Palgrave Macmillan (part of Springer Nature), which publishes research across the humanities and social sciences, is currently inviting article proposals and full papers for a research article collection (‘special issue’) on Cultural Evolution....

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Why do we flip coins ? Random draws as personal decision-making devices under uncertainty

- For my undergraduate, I was completely undecided between medicine and engineering. I liked both and could not make up my mind. - How did you decide? - I flipped a coin. Heads for medicine and tails for engineering. - You did not! - I did. The coin landed on tails and I heard myself thinking, “Let’s do best of three”. And that is how I realized what I really wanted. - By doing the best of three? - Of course not. There was no need anymore. I knew I wanted to do medicine.
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Rethinking ostension: (2) Attention manipulation

I believe we relevance theorists missed something important in considering ostension only in the context of what we called ostensive-inferential communication. Ostension, I want to suggest, is more diverse and widespread....

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