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The 18th International Conference on Social Dilemmas

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The 18th International Conference on Social Dilemmas

Nikoleta Glynatsi

Nikoleta Glynatsi

SSI fellow

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The 18th International Conference on Social Dilemmas

Posted by s.aragon on 14 August 2019 - 9:44am Attendees of the 18th International Conference on Social DilemmasImage courtesy of ICSD.

By Nikoleta Glynatsi, Cardiff University, Software Sustainability Fellow.

The International Conference on Social Dilemmas (ICSD) is a cross disciplinary gathering of psychologists, philosophers, computer scientists and mathematicians. It’s focused on topics broadly related to social dilemmas, such as conflicts between narrow self-interest and collective well-being. This year’s ICSD was the 18th instalment of the conference and it took place in Sedona, Arizona from 3 to 7 June 2019. 

The conference

The main conference included 70 different talks covering a range of topics such as social dilemmas, ethics and morality, ethics and identity, gossip, trust and cooperation. There was a single stream and all the speakers were given a 15 minutes slot to present. I personally felt that both the single stream and the time given were great features of the conference. The single stream allowed me to attend all the talks and the talks were short and to the point. The conference also included two poster sessions where a total of 19 amazing posters were on display. 

The conference had two keynote speakers, Marco Janssen and  Anna Dornhaus. Marco spoke about the tragedy of the commons. Most specifically, he presented some recent insights on successful self-governance of shared resources. Anna gave a fantastic talk on insects’ cooperative behaviour, and what we, humans, can learn from their behaviour. 

A very detailed programme of the conference, including titles and abstracts, can be found on the conference’s website.

On the third day the conference held an exceptional memorial session  Celebrating the Life and Work of Toshio Yamagishi.  Toshio Yamagishi was a distinguished Japanese sociologist that passed away last year at the age of 70. Toshio was a regular attendee of the ICSD conferences and the people that knew him described him as an inspiring researcher, who was a wonderful mentor to both his students and collaborators. A great post about his life and work has been published on the website of social dilemmas.

Toshio Yamagishi presentationImage courtesy of Nikoleta Glynatsi.

Software and Open Data

Most of the projects presented at the conference included some type of statistical analysis. To my surprise, most of the speakers were R users and spoke highly of the power open source software and its community.

In social dilemma research one would ideally compare their experimental results with other publications, however, accessibility and open data appears to be an issue within the community. Most of the older studies never published their data. Moreover, some authors would still choose not to share their data even after being approached by other researchers. At the conference Daniel Balliet demonstrated the Cooperation Databank (CoDa) which is currently being developed by the Amsterdam Cooperation Lab (ACL). CoDA is an open access data bank that will aim to contain the entire history of research on human cooperation.


The International Conference on Social Dilemmas has been a fantastic conference and I would highly recommend it if you are interested in the social dilemmas' research field. The community was very welcomed and the single stream of the talks made it possible to catch up with the latest research happening in the field.

During the conference we got to see a demo version of CoDA but I can't wait to see the final product.  The databank most likely won’t solve the issues within the field, however, I believe that is an initial step towards open data taken by the Social Dilemma’s community.

I would like to extend my gratitude to the organising committee, Tamar Kugler, Poonam Arora and Ann Rumble! They really did organise a fantastic conference and a series of amazing social events. Such as pool parties, hiking, and swimming at the beautiful Crescent Moon Park and a visit to the Grand Canyon.

View of the Grand CanyonView of the Grand Canyon. Image by Nikoleta Glynatsi.
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