This is a graduate seminar for Ph.D. students interested in behavioral science. The course will be divided into two parts.
The first part of the seminar, taught by Professor Todorov, is about the theoretical and practical limits of predictability in complex social systems and our failure to appreciate these limits. We will start with fundamental issues of representation and prediction, including deep neural nets, and attempt to outline conditions under which long-term prediction is not possible, or at the very least severely limited. Then we will focus on empirical studies, simulations, and models documenting potential sources of our failure to appreciate predictability limits. These sources, including overinterpreting the outcomes of random processes, “biases” in thinking, and biased samples of experience, not only impede accurate forecasts but also lead to inflated beliefs in the predictability of complex social outcomes.
The second part, taught by Professor McGill, will cover topics related to product anthropomorphism, brand relationships, artificial intelligence, and dehumanization in consumer contexts. These topics, which are connected via conceptualizations of “humanness,” are active and interesting in their own right but also provide an opportunity to introduce different approaches to research in the consumer behavior literature.