Social Offload­ing: Using online meth­ods to inves­ti­gate social­ly embed­ded dis­trac­tor suppression

Dr Miles Tufft — UCL

Behav­iours and their asso­ci­at­ed cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms do not exist in iso­la­tion, rather they are embed­ded in a world that is nat­u­ral­ly social, and rich in con­text. By exper­i­men­tal­ly recre­at­ing min­i­mal social con­texts, while main­tain­ing an accept­able degree of con­trol, I inves­ti­gate how high­er order social fac­tors such as social hier­ar­chy, inter­per­son­al syn­chrony, and group mem­ber­ship come to mean­ing­ful­ly shape implic­it cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms. With exam­ples from my recent stud­ies, using the pic­ture-word inter­fer­ence and spa­tial cuing par­a­digms, I will describe the online meth­ods we have used to reveal how social con­texts afford the offload­ing or sup­pres­sion of task-irrel­e­vant, dis­tract­ing infor­ma­tion (social offload­ing) in ways that are sen­si­tive­ly attuned to the social char­ac­ter­is­tics of dyadic inter­ac­tions. In doing so, I aim to share learn­ings on what is pos­si­ble when using online exper­i­men­tal plat­forms for social cog­ni­tion research, as well as offer­ing insights on the qual­i­ty and reli­a­bil­i­ty of col­lect­ing online chrono­met­ric data by com­par­ing lab-based ver­sus online stud­ies. I fin­ish by empha­sis­ing the impor­tance of re-world­ing par­tic­i­pants in mean­ing­ful con­texts to reveal the embed­ded­ness of behaviour.

Neil Kirk

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