Recent debates over adults' theory of mind use have been fueled by surprising failures of perspective-taking in communication, suggesting that perspective-taking may be relatively effortful. Yet adults routinely engage in effortful processes when needed. How, then, should speakers and listeners allocate their resources to achieve successful communication? We begin with the observation that the shared goal of communication induces a natural division of labor: The resources one agent chooses to allocate toward perspective-taking should depend on their expectations about the other's (...) allocation. We formalize this idea in a resource-rational model augmenting recent probabilistic weighting accounts with a mechanism for (costly) control over the degree of perspective-taking. In a series of simulations, we first derive an intermediate degree of perspective weighting as an optimal trade-off between expected costs and benefits of perspective-taking. We then present two behavioral experiments testing novel predictions of our model. In Experiment 1, we manipulated the presence or absence of occlusions in a director–matcher task. We found that speakers spontaneously modulated the informativeness of their descriptions to account for “known unknowns” in their partner's private view, reflecting a higher degree of speaker perspective-taking than previously acknowledged. In Experiment 2, we then compared the scripted utterances used by confederates in prior work with those produced in interactions with unscripted directors. We found that confederates were systematically less informative than listeners would initially expect given the presence of occlusions, but listeners used violations to adaptively make fewer errors over time. Taken together, our work suggests that people are not simply “mindblind”; they use contextually appropriate expectations to navigate the division of labor with their partner. We discuss how a resource-rational framework may provide a more deeply explanatory foundation for understanding flexible perspective-taking under processing constraints. (shrink)
The language we use over the course of conversation changes as we establish common ground and learn what our partner finds meaningful. Here we draw upon recent advances in natural language processing to provide a finer‐grained characterization of the dynamics of this learning process. We release an open corpus (>15,000 utterances) of extended dyadic interactions in a classic repeated reference game task where pairs of participants had to coordinate on how to refer to initially difficult‐to‐describe tangram stimuli. We find that (...) different pairs discover a wide variety of idiosyncratic but efficient and stable solutions to the problem of reference. Furthermore, these conventions are shaped by the communicative context: words that are more discriminative in the initial context (i.e., that are used for one target more than others) are more likely to persist through the final repetition. Finally, we find systematic structure in how a speaker's referring expressions become more efficient over time: Syntactic units drop out in clusters following positive feedback from the listener, eventually leaving short labels containing open‐class parts of speech. These findings provide a higher resolution look at the quantitative dynamics of ad hoc convention formation and support further development of computational models of learning in communication. (shrink)
The hypothesis that there is a 1:1 correspondence between LTP and learning is simplistic, and the correlation approach to testing it is therefore too limited. The alternative hypothesis that LTP plays a role in arousal is consistent with activity-dependent neuromodulation, but ignores the Hebbian properties of LTP. LTP may involve both types of mechanisms, suggesting a possible synthesis of the two hypotheses.