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6 Apr 2011
PSYC21 Final Notes
Lecture 6 Social Mind I
Prosocial behavior
Obstacles to
Insight from attachment theory that can prevent positive prosocial
eg: altruism and mindreading
Group practices
Biological constraints
Developmental constraints
t of
6 months: Babies cry when they hear others cry
Less than 2 years: Babies comfort peers and adults who are upset
Shows cooperative behaviors:
Perceptual role taking
Sense of personal identity
Internalized values
Cultural differences:
Whiting & Whiting, 1975: studied 3 to 11 year olds
Countries A: Kenya, Mexico, Philippines
Countries B: Okinawa, India, United States
Children from countries A showed more prosocial behavior (offering help and making responsible
suggestions) than children from countries B
Countries in group A have a higher % of women working, and so mothers are more likely to delegate
household responsibilities to chlildren
The practice of being useful on a daily basis may increase prosocial behaviors
related the childrens prosocial behavior to seeing how parents work everyday, they wanna be more
helpful around the house
Countries that value career achievement may decrease prosocial behaviors
Innate intersubjectivity: imitation
one of the primary ways that intersubjectivity manifests itself
you cant really imitate unless youre doing what someone else is doing
that involves being able to think about others states
involves a lot of diff behaviors
intended imitations
eg: actively imitating what other ppl are doing, or get someone to imitate you (that is the
beginning of real communication)
by imitating you are conveying that you understand what they’re doing
but once you send the signal to them to imitate you, that means smth is being exchanged
macaque babies can imitate too
Fxns of
imitation Emotionally charged
Communicative: Affirmations & acceptances
Nimexperience of how youre treated/ raised, can potentially affect how you understand the
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Imitation: Nagy & Molnar
infant imitated after a period of delay
like later on in the convo to try to convey smth
surprise of the behavior coupled with a physiological distinction b/w passively imitate (heart rate goes
up) or signal to your buddy (heart rate went down)
Heart rate increased during imitation, but heart rate decreased when infants spontaneously produced
previously imitated gestures
neonatal is new and more complicated that just imitating someone
children are also able to provoke and try to signal to the other person, info
they have a desire to be imitated by others, they can be the experimenter too
Meltzoffs assertions about cognition
reported imitation first in 1977
brain stem in infant was fully fxnal, but higher brain centres was not organized
rxns were assumed to be reflex
but when infants were able to imitate just blew everyone away
infant is matching perception of the other with their own internal rep of their own body
Recognition of self-other equivalences is the foundation, not the outcome, of social cognition
The acts of self and other are represented within a supramodal code
This provides infants w/ an interpretive framework for understanding the behavior they see
The bedrock on which social cognition is built is the perception that others are like me.
Questioning methodogical issues, Meltzoff (1977):
coder was blind to what infant has seen
True imitation vs. global arousal: imitation might just reflect excitement
learning Parents might train/condition their infants to imitate
Experimenters might demonstrate contingently
Scoring behaviorBehavior not distinct
influenced by whether coder knew what behaviors were demonstrated
general arousal = reflex
if you watch smth on a screen it takes you twice as long to imitate
Population: 6 infants (3 males and 3 females)
Age: Mean = 14.3 days
oBaseline: 90 seconds of the experimenter with an unresponsive face
oDemonstration of four gestures:
Lip protrusion
Mouth opening
Tongue protrusion
Sequential finger moving
Results: judged behavior varies as a fxn of the experimental condn
Greater tongue- protrusion by infants during the tongue- protrusion condn than during other condns
Greater mouth opening by infants during mouth opening condn than during other condns
What mechanisms do or dont explain imitation
Experimenter didnt appear to reinforce the infant
Parents indicated that they were not aware that infants could imitate in the first 21
days of life
behaviors dont matter as much as all the theories generated from the behaviors
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prior learning/ conditoning was ruled out by Meltzoff (1977)
experimenter was not encouraging the infant
(Lorenz and Tinbergen) in which each gesture is a fixed-action pattern that is released
by the corresponding adult gesture
The infants lack of stereotypy
The range in different types of behaviors
Visual &
Represented in a form common to both modalities
The infant can thus compare the sensory information from his own unseen motor
behavior to a supramodal representation of the visually perceived gesture
Then construct the match required
Thus, the imitative behavior is not innately organized & released
But rather is achieved by an active matching process & mediated by an abstract
representational systemwhich previously was not viewed as the starting point in
what infant is seeing out there, visually , can occupy some higher cognitive rep of the
infants own body
infant then sends top down msg to its motor
when it sees the tongue, some map in the infants brain is lit up, so at a sensory level
and motory level is activated, so they do the behavior
aka active inter-modal (AIM) mapping
Theories about neonatal imitation
mapping Active inter-modal mapping (Meltzoff & Moore, 1977)
Neonatal imitation
Representation of self and other
active refers to infants cognitive brain is perceiving whats going on out there
inter = b/w it and some other thing out there, able to rep in a specific modality, like
tongue protrusion is mapped on to infants brain, infant sees itself as doing that
same behavior
neonatal imitation is somewhat unique, there is a point where the infant stops
doing it and wont stick their tongue out anymore
there are several months where it just stops (comes back around 6 or 9 months)
if its innate, why would it suddenly just stop? It should be getting stronger and
provides room for another theory
mirror neurons becomes coupled with AIM theory
ASP systemAmodal sensory perception system (Baron-Cohen, 1996)
Sensory non-specific modality
Subcortical amodal perception
more of a phenomenon that occurs only in the infants
doesnt emphasize the ability of representing someone else
only in limbic region, not the higher cognitive centres of the brain
aka sensory non-specific modality
suggests that this could contribute to that simple form of neonatal contribution
makes it possible that theres one kind of imitation neonatally that uses diff
resources than what occurs when the infant grows older
Understanding others actions
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