Network of Excellence in Internet Science

JRA6 Workshop report: majority of student attendees, popular disciplines psychology, evolutionary biology, economics

26th Human Behavior & Evolution Society: 30 July 2014 Introduction & Context: Human sociality, an evolutionary phenomenon that broadly translates as positive social affiliation, has been taking new forms of manifestation since the rise of the Internet and related technologies. We text our romantic partners, like our friends’ posts on social networking sites, send electronic cards to our relatives, to name only a few of the many new ways we initiate and maintain our social bonds. At the very beginning of the rise of these new technologies, many pundits worried about their effect on social relations. Soon we learned, thanks to the thorough work of the academic community researching human social behaviour, that these alarm calls were as well founded as those concerning the rise of horse manure on the streets of London some hundred years ago. Just as the changing technology did not affect that people had to get from A to B, it became clear that the rise of Internet as a social networking means does not necessarily mean that the nature of sociality changes. Or does it? Maybe human sociality is more complicated than travel. There is some early evidence suggesting that using multi-channel ICT communication as the dominant form of initiating and maintaining romantic or kin or friendship bonds may affect the nature of these bonds. Is this true? We decided that this question merits a closer look. In this satellite workshop of HBES 2014, we explored: 1. to what extent Internet affects human sociality rather than merely changing its manifestation; 2. whether the nature of our societies changes as a consequence; and 3. what the policy consequences are, if any.

The workshop program consisted of two keynote speeches, followed by a round table discussion and Q&A. Workshop keynote confirmed speakers: Professor Robin Dunbar (Oxford) Professor Chris Marsden (Sussex). Panel speakers: Dr Jacques Launay (OXF); Dr Rafael Wlordarski (OXF). Workshop committee chair: Dr Tamas David-Barrett. The workshop is supported by FP7 EINS grant agreement No 288021. Essay winner: Dr Charlotte Blease, Research Fellow in Cognitive Science/Philosophy, University College Dublin.

35 registered and present attendees: 22 provided disciplinary survey – 62% (very high rate due to simple survey, motivated audience). Economists: 3/22 = 14% Students: 59%

Disciplinary background (note total above 22 as multiple replies possible): Cultural/evolutionary/behavioral ecology  4; Economics  3; Psychology 3; Psychology + biology 2; Anthropology 2

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