© 2006-2011 Gwen Dewar, Ph.D., all rights reserved
“Social cognition” refers to the ways we perceive, think, and learn about people. Looking for information about how these abilities develop? In these pages, you’ll find articles about
- the opens in a new windowsocial abilities of newborns, opens in a new window what babies know about social dominance, and the ways that opens in a new windowinfant-directed speech helps babies decipher our emotional intentions;
- opens in a new windowpreschool social skills, and the behavior problems that sometimes arise when kids spend time in day care;
- opens in a new windowmind-minded parenting, an approach to childcare that may help kids develop opens in a new windowmore secure social relationships;
- evidence-based opens in a new windowsocial skills activities for children and teens;
- empathy, including opens in a new windowtips for teaching empathy and articles about the opens in a new windowneurological basis for empathy and the importance of opens in a new windowactively teaching empathy and empathic concern to our kids;
- helpful, “prosocial” behavior, and the opens in a new windowperils of offering kids material rewards for being kind;
- strategies for handling opens in a new windowaggression in children;
- opens in a new windowthe hot-cold empathy gap, a quirk of psychology that makes it hard for people to predict how others will feel;
- opens in a new windowbullying, including the opens in a new windowpsychology of “pure” bullies and the opens in a new windowmoral reasoning that kids use to justify their aggressive behavior; and
- opens in a new windowstereotype threat, a widespread psychological condition that can sabotage a child’s performance in school and elsewhere.
In addition, you can read about empathy, a key component of social cognition and moral reasoning. Empathy permits us to share the pain of another individual, and researchers have documented such “second hand distress” in a variety of creatures, including monkeys and mice (Langford et al 2006). Human children show signs of empathy from a very early age, but full-blown empathy doesn’t just “emerge” without any prompting from the environment.
Read about the opens in a new windowneurological basis for empathy, as well as the case for opens in a new windowactively teaching kids to think about the feelings of others. In addition, see these opens in a new windowevidence-based tips for fostering empathy.
References: Social cognition
Eisenberg N and Fabes 1998. Prosocial development. In W. Damon (ed): Handbook of child psychology, volume 3: Social, emotional, and personality development. 5th edition. New York: Wiley.
Langford DJ, Crager SE, Shehzad Z, Smith SB, Sotocinal SG, Levenstadt JS, Chanda ML, Levitin DJ, and Mogil JS. 2006. Social Modulation of Pain as Evidence for Empathy in Mice. Science. 312(5782):1967-70.
Warneken, F. & Tomasello, M. (2007). Helping and cooperation at 14 months of age. Infancy 11(3): 271–294.
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