The influence of social norms and social consciousness on intention reconciliation

B. J. Grosz, Sarit Kraus, David G. Sullivan, Sanmay Das

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Research on resource-bounded agents has established that rational agents need to be able to revise their commitments in light of new opportunities. In the context of collaborative activities, rational agents must be able to reconcile their intentions to do team-related actions with other, conflicting intentions. The SPIRE experimental system allows the process of intention reconciliation in team contexts to be simulated and studied. Initial work with SPIRE examined the impact of environmental factors and agent utility functions on individual and group outcomes in the context of one set of social norms governing collaboration. This paper extends those results by further studying the effect of environmental factors and the agents' level of social consciousness and by comparing the impact of two different types of social norms on agent behavior and outcomes. The results show that the choice of social norms influences the accuracy of the agents' responses to varying environmental factors, as well as the effectiveness of social consciousness and other aspects of agents' utility functions. In experiments using heterogeneous groups of agents, both sets of norms were susceptible to the free-rider effect. However, the gains of the less responsible agents were minimal, suggesting that agent designers would have little incentive to design agents that deviate from the standard level of responsibility to the group.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1923
Pages (from-to)147-177
Number of pages31
JournalArtificial Intelligence
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported by National Science Foundation grants IIS-9978343, IRI-95-25915, CDA-94-01024, and IIS-9907482. It was completed when the fourth author was a student at Harvard University. Alyssa Glass and Michael Epstein helped to develop the SPIRE system. We thank Luke Hunsberger and Tim Rauenbusch for helpful comments on previous drafts.


  • Collaborative systems
  • Intention reconciliation
  • Teamwork


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