Past events


Workshop Dividnorm 2013

Epistemic variability: Cross-cultural studies


8 -11 October 2013



Reminder of the projects' overall goal: Studying sensitivity to epistemic norms in children and adults 1) by eliciting engaged, task-dependent self-evaluations, rather than by using verbal questionnaires, 2) by observing how norm conflict is adjudicated in various tasks and contexts. 3) Experimental evidence will be collected, applying, as far as possible, similar behavioral paradigms to test EN sensitivity in children of different age groups, and in adults, from Europe and Japan. Neurophysiological correlates will be collected in children (EEG) and in adults (fMRI). Finally, anthropologists will explore how epistemic norms work in a Madagascar rural group, where epistemic compromises are an essential key to long term kinship relations.

Goal of the 2013 workshop

This third annual meeting will offer each group an opportunity to present their ongoing research and preliminary results. Given that we are now starting our third year, however, we also need to discuss in detail how to conceive and organize the cross-cultural transfer of our experiments to Japan.


Programme :





Fabrice Clément & Stéphane Bernard, UNINE: "Relations between epistemic norms: Consensus, accuracy and fluency"

This presentation will focus on the relations between the epistemic norms of consensus, accuracy and fluency. Using trust paradigms, we will present experimental results about 1) a conflict between consensus and accuracy 2) a conflict between consensus and fluency.
1) In two experiments, we tested if 4- to 6-year-old children prefer to follow the testimony of an inaccurate consensus rather than the testimony of an accurate dissenter. Results showed that 6-year-olds trusted more an accurate dissenter than an inaccurate consensus, while 4- and 5-year-olds displayed the reverse pattern.

2) In three experiments, we tested whether 3, 4 and 5-year-old children trust more readily a fluent source (established by a repeated exposure procedure) than a consensual source. Results showed that all children did not trust more the fluent source than the consensual source. These results will be discussed in terms of relative weight of the consensus when it conflicts with accuracy or with fluency.


Laurence Conty, Julie Grèzes, Terry Eskenazi & Amélie Jacquot (LNC,ENS, Paris): The Neuroscience Group: Consensus in Metacognitive Evaluations


The objective of this project is to investigate the cognitive and neural correlates of sensitivity to consensus as an epistemic norm (EN) when reaching metacognitive evaluations. We are particularly interested in the relative dominance of consensus to other ENs, such as fluency. To that end, we examine the ways in which social signals influence individuals’ performance evaluations in contexts where these consensuality cues compete with other epistemic cues for the same metacognitive decision.

The first stage of the project aimed at building ecological stimuli and developing norm dominance paradigms to study normative conflict, particularly the dominance of consensus over fluency. Perception of another’s emotional expression or gaze direction is employed as forms of consensuality cues. We recruited these paradigms in a series of studies conducted by Benoît Montalan, Terry Eskenazi and Amélie Jacquot under the supervision of Laurence Conty and Julie Grezes.

The first set of studies we will present revealed that irrelevant social information automatically impacts metacognitive judgments. When presented as irrelevant for task purposes perception of another’s gaze direction could not be ignored and acted as consensual social information modulating the individuals’ evaluations. This effect was amplified when the gaze direction was presented as relevant for the task. The next set addressed the question of whether number of available social sources modulates the effect of consensus. We found that individuals’ evaluations are not affected by increasing number of social sources when the cues were presented as task irrelevant. However, a study currently in progress predicts that perception of group consent or dissent amplifies one’s sensitivity to social feedback when presented as relevant.

We will present a psychophysiological study, which explored the somatic markers of consensus on metacognitive evaluations. The results found an increase in zygomatic activity, which is associated with a positive subjective experience, in response to perceived consent compared to dissent. Interestingly, this modulation of zygomatic activity was observed only when the social source was presented as relevant. Consensual information expressed by an irrelevant social source failed to induce a differential zygomatic activity, even though the individuals’ metacognitive judgments were still affected.

Finally, we will discuss future directions and, in particular, how our protocols will be adapted for cross-cultural investigations.


Daniel Haun (Max Planck Research Group for Comparative Cognitive Anthropology): "Carving human nature at its joints: Comparative and cross-cultural studies of human behaviour"

I will first report on recent studies combining comparative and cross-cultural approaches. In the study of human behavior these combined perspectives can provide us with crucial insight regarding the dynamics of the developmental process. Behaviours can be common or rare across the great ape species, indicating a more or less stable root in humans’ evolutionary history. Furthermore, behaviours might be common or rare across human cultures indicating a weak or strong influence of contextual factors in individuals’ development. For example, some behaviors, such as the tendency to follow the majority when acquiring a new skill, are shared across a wide variety of great ape species, indicating a deep evolutionary history and do not vary substantially across human populations indicating a restricted impact of contextual factors. Other behaviors such as the ability to interpret other’s beliefs or desires are again highly stable across cultures, but occur in no other apes but humans. These kinds of patterns of variation across human and non-human populations are key in our attempt to understand the interaction between inherited predispositions and the acquisition of population-specific behaviours. In combination, cross-species and cross-cultural approaches, utilizing the methodological rigor and toolkit provided by modern experimental psychology, enables us to track not only the timing of the developing mind, but its dynamics – carving human nature at its joints.


In the second half of the talk I will attempt to account for the differences in cross-cultural variation between humans and other great apes by taking into consideration not only cognitive skills, but also social motivations. Some of the most intriguing differences between humans and other great apes can be found not in the things they can do, but in the things they prefer to do. For example, human children prefer to cooperate with another child over achieving an identical outcome by themselves. They seem to enjoy collaboration for collaboration's sake. Chimpanzees do not. Furthermore, human children show strong preferences with whom to cooperate, preferring similar over dissimilar others. Because of the resulting social benefits of being like others, children follow the majority, sometimes even against their better judgement. Other apes do not. These social motivations and their consequences, I argue create social dynamics that can contribute to an explanation of the exaggerated cross-cultural variation that is typical of the human species. 

Shinobu Kitayama (University of Michigan): "Connecting Culture, Brain, and Genes"

Cultural neuroscience is an emerging field of research that examines the interdependencies among culture, brain, and genes, with the ultimate goal of elucidating how the mind functions in varying socio-cultural contexts. By investigating both brain plasticity and genetic variability in differing societies and cultures, it seeks to overcome the nature-nurture dichotomy that has plagued social and behavioral sciences for so long. In the present talk, after a brief overview of the field, I will illustrate its potential by reviewing evidence for cultural variations in brain mechanisms underlying cognition (e.g., holistic attention), emotion (e.g., emotion regulation), and motivation (e.g., choice rationalization). Further, I will report our recent evidence on a gene x culture interaction effect in acquisition of cultural norms. A well-validated cultural difference in independent vs. interdependent social orientation is much more pronounced for members of different cultures who carry DRD4 gene variants linked to high dopamine signaling capacity compared to non-carriers of such gene variants. Directions for future research will be discussed. 

Barbara Müller,  Nike Tsalas and Monika Woehrle : "How does metacognition develop and what are its neural correlates?"

In the present talks, we focus on the development and neural correlates of metacognition in children and healthy students. The first two talks present studies that aim to investigate the influence of implicit metacognitive processes on decision making in social and learning contexts. The first research explored the way in which epistemic norms like accuracy and consensus influence information seeking behaviour and social decision processes in helping, sharing and playing in young children. The second talk will address developmental aspects in late childhood and adolescence, focusing on the interplay between metacognitive monitoring and control processes in learning situations. Finally, the third presented study employed EEG to investigate the neurocognitive underpinnings of Judgments of Learning in contrast to normal memory judgments in healthy adults.



Joëlle Proust (Institut Jean-Nicod, ENS, Paris): Metacognition & the evolution of communication


How variable is humans' sensitivity to cognitive norms such as fluency, consensus, truth, relevance, coherence or plausibility? This question can be illuminated by examining the evolution of communication. It will be hypothesized that a nonpropositional system of representations, first used in animal signalling, still plays a role in human communication, although the latter is based, in addition, on linguistically expressed propositional contents. On this view, both nonhuman primates and humans are able to represent affordances of a given gradient in a context, to guide their actions on the basis of these nonconceptual, embodied, "features", and to communicate them through gestures, interjections and, (in alarm calls and in speech), through intonation. A more specific prediction is that sensitivity to norms such as fluency and informativeness relies on similar nonconceptual features. The search for relevance, i.e., the tradeoff between ease of processing and informativeness, initially depends on this ancestral representational system. The flexibility and scope of human communication as compared to animal signalling, however, are made possible by predicative thinking, allowing sensitivity to additional norms to develop, through the use of a metarepresentational ability, and the associated types of concept-based reasoning. Social norms and usages, then, are playing a crucial role in channelling and enhancing epistemic sensitivity in culture-specific ways.


 Denis Regnier & Maurice Bloch (Institut Jean-Nicod, ENS, Paris): Are the Malagasy consensualists?

In this presentation I will argue that the Malagasy, although they are strongly attached to the value of consensus and often behave consensually, do not seem to be particularly ‘consensualist’ in their ordinary cognition. Ethnographic data on consensus in Madagascar and experimental work conducted among the Betsileo seem to show that there is no consistency between the high value that people attribute to the social norm of consensus and the limited role that consensus plays as an epistemic norm guiding their ordinary cognition. I will then use this case study to highlight some of the difficulties faced by the project of a ‘geography of thought’ (Nisbett 2003), particularly its reliance on the assumption that the social and the cognitive domains are most of the time consistent with each other.


Atsushi Senju (Birkbeck, University of London): "East meets West: Effect of Cultural Backgrounds on the Development of Social Cognition".

Cross-cultural study is one of the unique way to assess the role of postnatal environment on the functional brain development in humans. In this year's talk, I will present several lines of cross-cultural studies from my team, as well as the other relevant literatures on the development of theory of mind.



Poster session (to be completed)


Baltazar, M., Grèzes, J., Picq, J.-L., Conty, L. How does eye contact induce self-awareness? An fMRI study

We have recently shown that the perception of a face with a direct gaze (that establishes eye contact) specifically led adult participants to accurately rate the intensity of their physiological reactions induced by emotional pictures. We thus demonstrated that human self-awareness becomes more acute when one is subjected to another's gaze. Here, we used fMRI to investigate the neural network involved in such an effect. In our protocol, we asked volunteers to rate the intensity of their own physiological reactions induced by the presentation of emotional pictures. Our objective was to investigate the influence of a contextual image that preceded each emotional picture on our participant’s behaviour: a cross, a face with averted eyes, and a face establishing eye contact. Crucially, we recorded participants’ skin conductance response (SCR) as an indicator of felt arousal. Our tests will focus on the correlations obtained between the SCR activity, the ratings and the BOLD signal recorded for each participant. We expect to find greater consistency between SCRs and ratings following the perception of eye contact as compared to other context conditions, as an indicator of greater self-awareness. We also expect eye contact to activate specific structures linked to self-awareness (e.g. insula). We recorded 34 participants and will present our preliminary results.


M. Harvey, J.X. Haensel, S. Konia, S. Morand Authors (Glasgow University): Influence of own-race bias on saccade programming

Numerous studies have repeatedly demonstrated a face advantage, showing that faces are processed more efficiently and faster compared to other stimuli in our environment. This long-standing result has also been explored in terms of high- and low-level visual properties of faces, revealing it to be unlikely that the advantageous processing could be explained on the basis of low-level feature differences such as luminance, contrast, or spatial frequency. In this study, we explored saccadic programming in relation to the own-race bias, a phenomenon describing superior performance to recognise own-race faces compared to other-race faces. Using an anti-saccade paradigm, twenty Caucasian and twenty Chinese participants were presented with images of Western Caucasian and East Asian faces, all controlled for low-level visual features. Participants were given a cue instructing them to either saccade toward the face stimulus (pro-saccade) or away from the image (anti-saccade). We found that Chinese participants produced significantly higher anti-saccade error rates for Asian compared to other-race faces, while Caucasians revealed prolonged saccadic reaction times for correctly performed anti-saccades when presented with Caucasian but not other-race faces. The own-race bias was thus demonstrated in an anti-saccade task, suggesting an involuntary saccadic bias towards own-race faces.


N. Harada1. 2, M.R. Longo1, E. Pellicano2: Self-Face Recognition in Adults with Autism

(1) Department of Psychological Science, Birkbeck College, University of London, (2) Centre for Research in Autism and Education, Institute of Education, University of London

Individuals with autism are most well-known for their difficulties in social interaction and communication. Much research has focused on the extent to which individuals with autism perceive the faces of others while little attention has been paid to how they perceive their own face.

Several authors have suggested that perceiving similarities between the self and others is crucial in developing social skills (e.g., Farmer & Tsakiris, 2012; Meltzoff, 2007). Based on this claim, we hypothesised that adults with autism would show a weak effect of ‘self-other similarity’ compared to typical participants who were matched for age, gender and IQ. The enfacement paradigm (Tsakiris, 2008) was employed to manipulate the perceived similarity between the self and other. In the experiment, while participants were watching the movie clip of an unfamiliar person being stroked on their cheek with a cosmetic brush, they were also touched on their cheek with the same brush by the experimenter. The seen and felt touches were either synchronous or asynchronous, allowing us to manipulate the extent to which the person in the video would be perceived as similar to the self. Before and after stimulation, participants performed a simple self-face recognition task with pictures of their own face morphed with that of the unfamiliar person. We measured the effects of stimulation on the perceptual boundary between the self and other as the difference between pre-test and post-test performance on the self-face recognition task. We also tested whether seeing one’s own face was different from seeing a familiar face, by using morphed pictures of an unfamiliar person with that of a famous celebrity.

Contrary to predictions, participants with autism showed a greater effect of self-other similarity, that is, a greater perceptual change after synchronous visuo-tactile stimulation compared to typical participants. The findings, however, were complicated by the fact that participants with autism showed a similar perceptual pattern in both self-face and familiar-face recognition while typical participants showed different perceptual patterns in the two conditions.

The enhanced effect of synchronous visuo-tactile stimulation in autism may be explained by the finding that participants with autism perceive their own face in a similar fashion as to that in which they perceive familiar faces, which may increase their susceptibility to the effects of synchronous stimulation. We speculate that processing self-related information and processing other-related information may share common mechanisms in autism, in contrast to these processes in typical development.






"Expressivism and Epistemic Normativity"


May 9-10, 2012

Location: Centre de Recherche des Cordeliers, 15 rue de l’École de Médecine, 75006 Paris
Organizers: Joëlle Proust & Anne Coubray (Institut Jean-Nicod)
Speakers: Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij (University of Copenhagen), Simon Blackburn (Cambridge University), Matthew Chrisman (Edinburgh University), Allan Gibbard (University of Michigan), Hannes Leitgeb (LMU München), Seth Yalcin (UCBerkeley).
Respondents: Jérôme Dokic (EHESS, IJN), Igor Douven (University of Leuven), Paul Egré (CNRS, IJN), Friederike Moltmann (CNRS, IHPST), Joëlle Proust (CNRS, IJN), Isidora Stojanovic (CNRS, IJN).
Description: Expressivism is the view according to which  normative utterances and thoughts, whether moral, aesthetic or epistemic, do not describe reality, but are rather the expression of practical attitudes. Such an analysis of normative utterances and thoughts in “non-cognitive” terms, as conative mental dispositions of agents, offers a promising way of naturalizing normative judgments. For philosophers of mind, this approach has the additional merit of emphasizing the difference between metacognitive predictions and metarepresentational judgments: while the latter aim at reporting mental states, the former are the product of evaluative attitudes, aimed at expressing the confidence of an agent/thinker in her cognitive dispositions. As a general theory of normative statements, however, expressivism runs into difficulties, such as the problem of truth-functional composition. The goal of the workshop is to foster interaction between defenders and critics of expressivism, to examine whether this view necessarily leads to a relativist or irrealist conception of norms, and, finally, to analyze the difficulties involved in integrating it into a general theory of epistemic normativity.



Dividnorm Opening Workshop

September 28-30, 2011


Wednesday September 28


Session 1:  9h30-12h30 (with a 20 mn pause in the middle) Presentation of the project (Joëlle), main hypotheses and concepts. General discussion

Session 2: 14h-18h (with a 20 mn pause in the middle), Development Munich: Updating on existing research (inside/outside group), presentation of the experimental research envisaged (Beate, Markus). Invited speaker: Susanne Kristen. General discussion


Thursday September 29

Session 3:  9h-13h (with a 20 mn pause in the middle),Development Neuchâtel: Updating on existing research (inside/outside group), presentation of the experimental research envisaged (Fabrice, Stéphane). General discussion.

Session 4: 14h30-18h30 (with a 20 mn pause in the middle), Neurosciences ENS: Updating on existing research (inside/outside group), presentation of the experimental research envisaged (Laurence, Julie, Benoît, Atsushi Senju; Etienne Koechlin as a guest speaker). General discussion


Friday  September 30

Session 5: 9h-13h (with a 20 mn pause in the middle), Anthropology ENS/LSE: Updating on existing research (inside/outside group), presentation of the field research envisaged, with its possible experimental extensions (Maurice, Denis). General discussion

Session 6: 14h30-17h (with a 20 mn pause in the middle), Philosophy ENS: Updating on existing research (inside/outside group), presentation of the conceptual research envisaged (Joëlle, Anne). General discussion.

17h-18h: Various topics to be discussed: transferring experiments to Japan,  shared use of Dividnorm website, conference/workshop scheduling etc.





Dividnorm Second Annual  Workshop Program: Seeon (Germany, 22-24 October 2012)


October 22, 2012
Consensus and self-representation
Neuroscience Group: Julie Grèzes, Laurence Conty, Benoît Montalan Matias Baltazar, Amelie Jacquot
Coffee Break
Neuroscience group continued
Accepting in social contexts in rural Madagascar: consensus versus accuracy
Denis Regnier

October 23rd
Metacognitive monitoring and control processes in metacognition: Some insights from a developmental perspective Invited Talk: Asher Koriat
Coffee Break
Implicit and Explicit Metacognition: Developmental findings
LMU Munich Group: Markus Paulus & Beate Sodian Lunch LMU Munich group continued

Understanding children’s mind through a robot: Challenge of the
Developmental Cybernetics
Shoji Itakura

Development of Spontaneous Social Cognition: Infancy, Autism and Cross-cultural Study Atsushi Senju

October 24th
On the epistemic and the strategic components of acceptances
Joëlle Proust

Towards the neurobiological basis of collective decision making
Invited Talk: Bahador Bahrami

Theory of mind and social cognition: an inseparable couple?
Fabrice Clément

Relations between epistemic norms: Fluency, accuracy and consensus
Stéphane Bernard

Poster Session & Closing Dinner