Coffee Chat with Tobias Gerstenberg

Today we hosted a coffee chat with new psychology professor Tobias Gerstenberg, who studies casuality in cognition, as well as counterfactuals and responsibility. Gerstenberg started off by detailing his journey to where he is now. As a native German, he initially attended university in Berlin, but later completed a MS and PhD at University College London. He then spent five years as a postdoc at MIT in a computational cognitive science group. 

Gerstenberg is excited to be at Stanford due to the cross-departmental collaborations that occur here, or, in some sense, the existence of SymSys at the faculty level. He interested in intersecting social psychology and AI with his own research and taking part in Stanford’s new Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence initiative

As the discussion about causality went on, Gerstenberg showed students the Heider-Simmel animation as an example of how humans infer social variables and attribute causality in very simple stimuli. Towards the end he also showed some examples of stimuli from his own research on intuitive physics, where study participants observe a falling ball hitting obstacles in a box. 

Written by Lucy Li