The Impact of Social Cognition on Emotional Learning

Andreas Olsson

in Associative Learning and Conditioning Theory

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199735969
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199894529 | DOI:
The Impact of Social Cognition on Emotional Learning

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This chapter discusses human emotional learning in social situations, bridging the research literatures on emotional learning and social cognition. It begins by relating basic research on social-emotional learning to everyday learning outside the laboratory and to clinical applications. Then, the chapter discusses the mechanisms underlying classical fear conditioning, which has served as a model for our current understanding of the formation of emotional associations. Next, the chapter reviews relevant findings from research on the neural bases of social cognition, the study of the perception and understanding of other individuals. These lines of research will show that the neural systems involved in emotional learning and social cognition are partly overlapping, highlighting important commonalities. This leads to a discussion about how social cognition can affect two specific forms of learning; observational fear learning in humans and other animals, and instructed fear learning in our species. Next, the chapter reviews recent work on the impact of social cognition on the learning to fear others. The chapter ends by discussing a recently proposed neural model of social fear learning that may help us to better understand how social interactions can shape the acquisition, expression, and modification of emotional learning from and about others.

Keywords: vicarious fear; Pavlovian conditioning; social learning; amygdala; mental attribution

Chapter.  16240 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Cognitive Psychology

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