SINT - L'intelligence sociale: experiences et théories concernant les agents économiques




Which factors enable successful decision making, is a question equally pertinent to economists as it is to researchers in other social sciences.  Psychologists have long  stressed that successful decision - making cannot be attributed solely to cognitive intelligence, and that other forms of intelligence might be important. While many economic models are based on the assumption of an own payoff - maximizing rational decision - maker, these   assumptions have been put into question by an accumulation of insights from behavioral  and  experimental  economics. A number of skills and abilities have been suggested by economists and anthropologists that might need to be added to the rational actor model given human hypersociality and prosocial tendencies, including emotional intelligence, empathy, trust,  and  reading  subtle  signals  from  others.  The  recently  popularized  concept of social intelligence (or interpersonal or collective intelligence) combines many of these insights in a common framework (e.g. Goleman, 2007). The present project aims to systematically investigate the importance of social intelligence for economically relevant decisions, and determining economic outcomes. In doing so it will (1)  investigate  the  development  of  the  skills  needed  to perform  in a socially intelligent way, (2) study the importance of different facets of social intelligence in economic interactions, and (3) provide theory to guide our understanding and generate novel predictions of the mechanisms that create social intelligence in different groups. The project will use methods from psychology to measure social intelligence, social emotions,  and  the  detection  of  emotions and theory of mind; these methods will be complemented with observational, survey, and experimental methods from economics, political  science  and anthropology.
The project is thus interdisciplinary, as is necessary to advance our understanding of social intelligence across populations, individuals and contexts. The principal investigator (Hopfensitz) has a background in economics and affective sciences and the team combines a group of young researchers from experimental economics, political science, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, anthropology and logic. The present demand concerns financing through the ANR instrument: “jeune chercheur.” The project will help the principal investigator to develop an interdisciplinary project closely linked to the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse.
A structured investigation of social intelligence underlying economic decisions will enable us to improve economic models of decision-¬-making in a more psychologically grounded way but will also provide valuable insights to psychologists, political scientists and anthropologists. The selected ‘defi’ is therefore the ‘défi de tous les savoirs.’ The challenge of the research topic is not as much the challenge of a changing society (as for example in the Defi 8: innovative societies) as the challenge to reconcile insights from different disciplines into a common theoretical framework. Insights from the project will be valuable to the academic community, but will be also used in communications with the general public. The project might further lead to insights relevant to policy makers given the current increased interest in nudges and how subtle social signals might be used to nudge citizens and consumers.

Project : 2015 – 09/2021


Contact in TSE : Astrid HOPFENSITZ