Social Cognition

Gordon B. Moskowitz

in Psychology

ISBN: 9780199828340
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
Social Cognition

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental Psychology
  • Health Psychology
  • History and Systems in Psychology
  • Educational Psychology
  • Social Psychology


Show Summary Details


Social cognition is concerned with the study of the thought processes, both implicit and explicit, through which humans attain understanding of self, others, and their environment. Its basic assumption is that the experience of the world is constructed by the perceiver, and that the mental representations one uses for assimilating and making sense of information develop over a lifetime of experience to provide a framework for organizing incoming information, creating expectations and predictions regarding future events, and (re) processing information stored in memory. Such cognition serves (1) as the foundation for social interaction, or in the service of producing appropriate action, and (2) to allow the individual to maintain a coherent understanding/narrative of the world despite an unending stream of stimuli, new experiences, and evidence that might contradict already existing beliefs. Social cognition’s research focus spans from higher-order cognition such as reasoning, ruminating, and deliberation among options to low-order processes such as perception, attention, categorization, memory (encoding, retrieval, reconsolidation), and spreading activation among concepts in networks of associated mental representations. Typical questions focus on how affect and motivation interact with the cognitive system in shaping the type of processing engaged in and the output of that processing, thus determining what we think and feel (and ultimately how we act). In this regard there is an emphasis on the data present in the external world (e.g., whether someone is displaying anger) as an influence on behavior, and on the inherent ability of the features embedded in stimuli to capture attention and trigger specific meaning (such as what combination of facial muscles aligned in a specific way convey anger to people from all cultures). However, perhaps more importantly there is an emphasis on the subjective nature of construing such data (whether we are prepared to perceive the person as displaying anger) and on how the bias to perception and judgment that is introduced from our affect, motives, emotions, moods, values, mind-sets, and prior learning impacts what we believe we see and how the current situation is interpreted. Thus, while what one thinks about a person and what goals one adopts when interacting with that person are influenced by how one categorizes that person (which is based on attention and memory retrieval), it is also true that attention, memory, and categorization are determined by goals, context, attitudes, values, etc. Recent research has introduced concerns with dissociating the implicit from the explicit components of social cognition, as well as understanding the neural basis for cognition relating to the social world, and how this may differ from non-social cognition.

Article.  33496 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Developmental Psychology ; Health Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology ; Educational Psychology ; Social Psychology

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.