Social Cognition. What is Social Cognition?. Our ability to predict, monitor and interpret the behaviours and mental states of other people Not being a psychic!. ‘Theories’. Babies Self Awareness Theory of Mind (Psychological sense of self) Selman’s Levels of Perspective Taking
Our ability to predict, monitor and interpret the behaviours and mental states of other people
Not being a psychic!
Subjective Self Awareness
Feeling full, warmth etc.
Objective Self Awareness
The realisation that other children and adults have beliefs, thoughts and emotions differing from his or her own
This is called Theory of Mind and seems to occur at around 4 years old
Not technically a theory it is a stage of development that there is a lot of research into.
Most research is from Baron-Cohen
Assessed by False Belief Tasks
Wimmer and Perner (1983) Maxi Test – develops around 4/5
Wellman et al (2001) Meta-analysis, taking into account different cultures – develops around 4/5
O’Neill (1996) – criticism of these tasks, ‘toy on the shelf task’ ToM present at age 2
False belief tasks could just be too complex in cognitive terms for those younger than 4/5 to pass. So the cognitive elements prevent us seeing how developed ToM is.
Any other methodological problems?
Language development is central to children developing ToM
Nature / nurture, ethics, culture
Gallese et al (1996) discovered this by accident when looking at the firing of specific neurons.
They found specific neurons in F5 area of Pre motor cortex fire when monkeys perform an action – grasping a cup.
The same neurons fire when a monkey observes someone else performing the action.
Lead to the question of whether this occurs in humans.
Cannot insert electrodes in the same way – unethical – use of fMRI.
Biological Theory of social cognition
Mirror neuron system is how we understand the actions and emotions of others, how we learn via imitation (social learning theory) and how we determine the intentions of other people.
Mirror neurons underlie development of ToM
Autistic children have a deficient Mirror Neuron System which is why they cannot develop ToM and thus causes Autism.
Can a mirror neuron system explain how we understand the behaviour and emotional states of other people? Phillips (disgust)
Does it underlie development of ToM
and link to autism?
How do we know if mirror neurons are
involved in understanding actions and
not just recognising them? Ulmita
Neurons fire as seeing action
Condition 1 – Monkey see’s human completing an action
Neurons fire showing they understand action is happening even though they can’t see it
Condition 2 – Monkey see’s human start action but completion is behind screen
Condition 3 – Monkey see’s human put hand behind screen (no action)
No neurons fire as no action has taken place
- Only looked at brain area not specific neurons