Social Cognition, Culture and the Self. An interdisciplinary investigation


The processing of social information belongs to the most complex cognitive capacities of humans, enabling us to live together in social communities. The symposium will focus on the everyday competence to form social impressions and understand others. This capability includes 1. the understanding of oneself on the basis of an explicit selfconstrual, 2. the understanding of others by processing their mental and bodily characteristics and states 3. the understanding of social encounters by adequately interpreting actions, communicative signals and social roles. Human communication is essentially embedded in cultural contexts and is shaped by it; at the same time it constitutes the cultural background shared by the interactants. The main goal of this symposium is to investigate the role of cognitive and cultural factors influencing self-construal, person perception and understanding of others. Thus we deal with the following leading questions: How do we understand other human beings, what are the best theoretical perspectives, what can we learn from cognitive psychology and neurosciences and what is the role of culture in the process of understanding oneself and others? In the recent development of social cognition it has become clear that we not only have to account for the observational stance towards other people but that we also have to systematically consider situations of online interaction with other human beings (2nd person perspective). The main aim of the symposium is to present the state of the art of some key topics of social and cultural cognition from the perspectives of philosophy of mind, cross-cultural psychology and social-cognitive neuroscience as well as to outline some paradigmatic lines for future research.

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