Social decision-making driven by artistic explore-exploit tension

Kayhan Ozcimder, Biswadip Dey, Alessio Franci, Rebecca Lazier, Daniel Trueman and Naomi Ehrich Leonard

March 2018.

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We study social decision-making in the rule-based improvisational dance There Might Be Others, where dancers make in-the-moment compositional choices throughout the performance. The dance is ripe for study: rehearsals provide a natural test-bed, communication is restricted to visual cues, and dancers' choices carry artistic risk. Indeed, we observe a key "artistic" explore-exploit tension in which the dancers switch back and forth between the exploitation of existing artistic opportunities and the riskier exploration of new ones. We investigate how the rules influence the dynamics using dance rehearsals together with a low-dimensional model generalized from evolutionary dynamics. We tune the rules to heighten the tension and introduce in the model a nonlinear fitness function and feedback dynamics for mutation rate to capture the observed temporal phasing of the dancers' exploration and exploitation. Using bifurcation analysis, we identify key controls of the tension and show how they can shape the decision-making dynamics.

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