You love the clean mechanistic insights that experiments give you, but you want to study real people making real decisions in living breathing social systems. What do you do? In virtual worlds and other online social systems, you can get people in their element making real decisions, and, with the right question, you can also get decision environments that are as clean, simple, and controlled as in the lab. You also get lots of data. We’ll use three methods on three datasets to get three angles on social reasoning and collective behavior in the wild, using examples from online poker, NBA basketball, and the video game Minecraft.


Seth Frey is a cognitive scientist and computational social scientist and who specializes in the data science of online collective action institutions. He is an Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of California, Davis and senior affilate at the UC Davis DataLab. Before that, he was in the behavioral economics group at Disney Research, a part of Walt Disney Imagineering, where he used engineered social systems like web team sports, theme parks, video games, and economic games to study sociality. He earned his Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and Informatics at Indiana University in 2013 and his B.A. in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley in 2004. Visit his lab website https://enfascination.com/research or follow him on twitter @enfascination.