Large language models meet cognitive science
LLMs as tools, models, and participants

July 26th, 2023

Sydney, Australia

A CogSci 2023 workshop

Large language models (LLMs) like GPT-3 are revolutionizing artificial intelligence, leading to breakthroughs in question answering, natural language understanding, and machine translation. Recent work in a variety of social science disciplines, including psychology, economics, and political science has demonstrated remarkable similarity between the behavior of LLMs and human decision makers. At the same time, AI researchers and engineers struggle to understand these systems, leading to practical challenges and ethical questions about fair and safe deployment.

This workshop aims to bring together researchers to discuss work on using psychological methods to understand LLMs and LLMs as tools for understanding humans. Along these lines, we have invited leading researchers from cognitive science, psychology, and machine learning to present their work on topics that include: When and why do LLMs exhibit biased behavior? How do these compare to human biases? What sorts of psychological tasks do LLMs struggle with? Can we use psychological theory to structure this search? And how does the knowledge encoded in LLMs differ from human knowledge?

We expect these topics to be relevant to cognitive, developmental, and social psychologists, behavioral economists, sociologists, linguists, philosophers, computer scientists, and AI safety researchers. We also believe that the theme of this workshop is especially relevant to this year's focus on "Cognition in Context". LLMs are rapidly being deployed in many industrial settings and products, and psychological methods may be key to understanding these models and improving their performance. Cognitive science may thus have a crucial role to play in the development of safe, robust artificial intelligence and systems, providing crucial guidance to government regulators and policymakers.


This workshop was a hybrid event with both in-person and virtual components. We first held a half-day in-person workshop during CogSci 2023 in Sydney. All in-person talks were recorded and released below along with pre-recorded talks from the virtual speakers.

We then held a virtual component, featuring an interactive town hall on Zoom discussing challenges opportunities for using LLMs for cognitive science. You can view a recording of this town hall below.

Virtual town hall
Speakers and recordings

Marcel Binz

Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics

Anna Ivanova

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Lionel Wong

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Gabriel Grand

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Robert Hawkins

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Celeste Kidd

University of California, Berkeley

Sydney Levine

Allen Institute for AI

Gary Lupyan

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Raja Marjieh

Princeton University

Andrew Perfors

University of Melbourne

Joshua Tenenbaum

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Taylor Webb

University of California, Los Angeles


Ilia Sucholutsky

Princeton University

Matt Hardy

Princeton University

Bill Thompson

University of California, Berkeley

Tom Griffiths

Princeton University

Reach out to with any questions.