Psychology Colloquium

Departmental Event

Start Date: Mar 11, 2022 - 09:00am
End Date: Mar 11, 2022 - 10:00am

Location: Logan Hall, room 125, and via Zoom

Dr. Daniel Sznycer, Oklahoma State University, will present Value Computation in Humans.


Valuing things comes naturally to us. But valuing things would be a forbidding task if we lacked the information-processing machinery that enables value computation and that needs to be understood. How does the human brain compute the value of things, events, states of affairs, and social partners? And what is a value, anyway? Things afford positive, neutral, or negative long-run effects on the replicative probability of the focal individual’s genes. At the most general level, values are internal estimates of those effects. In the first part of the talk, I will discuss shame and pride—social emotions which function to recalibrate the social valuations held by fellow group members. In the second part of the talk, I will focus on value computation. One wants to know: What features does a computational system need to be equipped with in order to value anything and everything that humans are known to value? (e.g., benevolence and self-expression, but also: water, rice, cassava, obsidian, shelter, double-entry bookkeeping, sleeping, normal blood oxygen levels, explanations, mates, offspring, etc.). I will sketch a functionalist theory and offer some data on this question.


Daniel Sznycer is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at Oklahoma State University and a member of the Oklahoma Center for Evolutionary Analysis (OCEAN). He conducts research on emotion, value computation, morality, and institutions. He has multiple lines of cross-cultural evidence on shame, pride, anger, compassion, and envy, and their roles in interpersonal relationships and society-level phenomena such as economic redistribution, the criminal justice system, and combat. His research has been published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Nature Human Behaviour, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, and Psychological Science, among other outlets.

Zoom link and information:

Password: loganhall