Chapter Nine: Social Cognition
Social cognition is the thinking processes and representations that are relevant to
the social world.
Orienting to the social world:
First signs appear around two months old aka the “Two month revolution.”
Lengthier periods of alertness, displays a social smile, shows a distinct
preference for scanning the human face, and exhibits a peak in crying.
By the age of three and four, children have a solid understanding of the categories
of living versus nonliving things.
Young infants are aware that looking at another person’s eyes provides valuable
information, not just about their internal feelings and thoughts, but also about
which information in the surrounding vicinity is worth attending to.
Involves looking at another individual for emotional cues in interpreting a
strange or ambiguous event. When placed in an unfamiliar situation, children
will typically look to their caregivers for some sort of emotional cue. The facial
expression the caregiver provides typically will influence the infant’s own
emotional response and subsequent actions.
Understanding other’s goals and intentions:
By making judgments about which behavior to emulate based on human
intentions, infants are focusing their processing of information on behaviors that
are relevant for their particular social and cultural environments.
Piaget argued that children were unable to recognize symbols until the end of the
sensorimotor stage (18 months) but other evidence contradicts this finding.
Before age one children already use hand gestures to stand for objects or
Understanding photographs and drawings,
Children do not quite understand photographs; when they are shown one they
react to it the same way as if it were the real object.
Example; if shown a picture of a baby bottle, the infant would put its
mouth on it.
They begin to understand them around nineteen months.
When shown two pictures of the same object but from a different angle,
infants will believe that the two pictures are identical. They also ignore
lightness and darkness in a photograph as well. Meta-representation refers to the progress in understanding the ways in
which images are created, the messages communicated by different design
elements, and an appreciation for the fact that representations can hel