Online Games Explore How Groups of People Behave

The Percepts and Concepts Laboratory at Indiana University is using simple online interactive games to investigate how people behave in groups. You can play the games with other people or with artificial intelligence bots, while the cognitive scientists collect data and try to develop agent-based computational models of the behaviour.

The University of Indiana Percepts and Concepts Laboratory’s interactive, online group experiments in the form of entertaining games include:

  • Forager: In this experiment, we are interested in how groups of people allocate themselves to resources. Your goal in a four-minute experiment is to pick up as many resources as you can by moving your icon with the arrow keys.
  • Spread of Innovations: This experiment explores how innovative ideas spread in a group. As you try to solve a puzzle, you see the solutions proposed by your neighbors, and they see your solutions.
  • Opinion Sharing: You rate things (e.g. faces, music, or paintings) and can see the ratings given by others. Over several rounds of ratings, does your group converge in its opinion or not?

In all of these experiment, you play with other humans when they are available or with artificial intelligence bots when no other humans are currently on- line. By playing our games, our group benefits because we collect data on how collective behavior in human groups emerges, and you benefit by:

  1. learning about current research questions and methods in the social sciences
  2. sharing an engrossing, communal experience with others people (or bots!)
  3. playing games that have deeper significance and more interesting dynamics than solitaire, tetris, or the typical fodder of on-line games.

The experiments will run on any computer that has Java 1.4 or later. If you like the experiments, please tell your friends — the more people who are in our virtual world at any time, the more fun it is (and the more data we collect).

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