March, 14, 2023

16:00 – 17:00
Location: Ruppert D

Speaker: Poppy Watson (UNSW, Sydney)

Defining and Measuring Habits Across Different Fields of Research
Habits play an important role in our everyday behavioural repertoire but they are conceptualised and measured differently across different fields of research. I will briefly compare the way that habits are defined and measured by associative learning theorists, health and social psychologists and those interested in the development of motor skills. The associative or knowledge structures that form once a habit has been acquired also differ across these fields. Current experimental work aimed at uncovering elusive Stimulus-Response habits will be discussed.

March, 23, 2023

16:00 – 17:00
Location: Ruppert Paars

Speaker: Jan De Houwer (Ghent University)

Learning in Individual Organisms, Genes, Machines, and Groups: A New Way of Defining and Relating Learning in Different Systems
Learning is a central concept in many scientific disciplines. Communication about research on learning is, however, hampered by the fact that different researchers define learning in different ways. In this paper, we introduce the extended functional definition of learning that can be used across scientific disciplines. We provide examples of how the definition can be applied to individual organisms, genes, machines, and groups. Using the extended functional definition (a) reveals a heuristic framework for research that can be applied across scientific disciplines, (b) allows researchers to engage in intersystem analyses that relate the behavior and learning of different systems, and (c) clarifies how learning differs from other phenomena such as (changes in) behavior, damaging systems, and programming systems.

February, 7, 2023

XS grants from SSH Open Competition for six FSBS researchers.

January, 11, 2023

Bringing expertise together! Combating low literacy with Artificial Intelligence in the ELSA lab.

November, 29

Recent scientific contribution of GOALLAB in a modest attempt to stop the Corona crisis. “Keep your distance for me: A field experiment on empathy prompts to promote distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic” (in press).

See new publication

October 28, 2021

The department of Psychology at Utrecht University has an opening for a Post-doctoral (2-years + 1 year optional) position: Psychology and Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence. APPLICATION  DEADLINE Nov 9, 2021.

For more information, please visit the profile page of Henk Aarts.

March 2021

Josi Driessen and Henk Aarts received a grant from Programma Handhaving and Gedrag to study the following project:

The obedient brain/ Het gehoorzame brein

Regulations and law enforcement contribute to the prevention of undesirable behavior and thus play an important role in society. At the same time, restricting behavior through regulations undermines personal autonomy; after all, people are no longer, or to a lesser extent, allowed to decide for themselves what to do. Recent findings suggested that restrictions in personal autonomy have an impact on how we experience our own actions and their consequences. People who experience their own behavior as voluntary are more likely to recognize that they are responsible for their behavior. In this research project, we will investigate whether obedience to rules and enforcement can have unintended negative side-effects on how we experience our own actions and how this affects our behavior. In this research we will focus on questions such as: Will people experience their behavior as less voluntary if they obey the rules? What does this do to their feelings of responsibility? How do we find the right balance between enforcement, obedience and the experience of agency?

February 2021

Embodied AI: Virtual Humans and Social Robots #1

Monday 22 February 14:30 - 16:00

> Teams meeting

This event is the first of a series of events we plan to organize related with Embodied Artificial Agents, organized by Zerrin Yumak, Maartje de Graaf and Ruud Hortensius. It concerns the development, evaluation and societal impact of social robots and virtual humans that are capable of engaging in face-to-face social interactions with people using verbal and non-verbal behaviours. The theme of the first event is: “Understanding the Utrecht University case, what are the different viewpoints, challenges and opportunities?”

> More information

November 2020

Ruud Hortensius received a public engagement seed fund from Utrecht University for the following project:

Opa, oma, robot en ik / Grandpa, grandma, robot and I
While generations apart, children and their grandparents share a future with robots. In this project, they will start the conversation on the integration of robots in their social milieu. First, they will play an interactive quiz to explore the scope and limits of robots for social cognition. Next, they will develop sci-fi scenarios using a real robot to sketch future applications. Focussing on real interactions and the conversation with, not about, children and grandparents, this project will give this team the power to shape future research and their social lives with robots.

September 2020

  • NEW: “Postdoc position in the project “Empowering Human Intentions through Artificial Intelligence” at Utrecht University.
    Application deadline: 15 October 2020
    > More  information
  • Chao Zhang and Henk Aarts received a grant from the UU focus area Human-Centered AI! Interesting work ahead with Shihan Wang and Mehdi Dastani on human autonomy and autonomous AI.
  • The website of our multidisciplinary research and education program on human autonomy perspective of artificial intelligence has been launched: