Social influence

Affect, motivation and regulation

Humans are social animals who empathize with, mentalize and influence each other’s mental states and behaviors in simple as well as complex social structures. Understanding this complex phenomenon of social influence is key to changing behavior is societal context. Social influence can be explicit, as is the case in attempts of persuasion or coercion. Often, social influence is more implicit during social interaction and communication. In such cases, we can rely on our ability to go beyond the information given to understand and influence each other. We aim to address how humans infer other people’s goals and habits in cooperative and competitive interaction settings on the basis of behavioral cues, such as eye gaze, facial expressions, and physical appearance and body movements. Studying social inferences of behavior is important to understand (1) how we perceive and value other people in terms of their goals and habits and (2) how their behavior can impact on the goals we set and the habits we establish.