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An important shift is taking place in social cognition research, away from a focus on the individual mind and toward embodied and participatory aspects of social understanding. Empirical results already imply that social cognition is not reducible to the workings of individual cognitive mechanisms. To galvanize this interactive turn, we provide an operational definition of social interaction and distinguish the different explanatory roles - contextual, enabling and constitutive - it can play in social cognition. We show that interactive processes are more than a context for social cognition: they can complement and even replace individual mechanisms. This new explanatory power of social interaction can push the field forward by expanding the possibilities of scientific explanation beyond the individual.
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Can social interaction constitute social
Hanne De Jaegher
, Ezequiel Di Paolo
and Shaun Gallagher
Marie Curie Project DISCOS, Department of Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg, VossStrasse 4, D-69115 Heidelberg, Germany
Ikerbasque: Basque Science Foundation, Department of Logic and Philosophy of Science, University of the Basque Country
(UPV/EHU), Av de Tolosa 70, 20080 Donostia San Sebastia´ n, Spain
Department of Philosophy, Institute of Simulation and Training, University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL 32816-1352, USA
Humanities Division, University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, AL10 9AB, UK
An important shift is taking place in social cognition
research, away from a focus on the individual mind
and toward embodied and participatory aspects of social
understanding. Empirical results already imply that
social cognition is not reducible to the workings of
individual cognitive mechanisms. To galvanize this inter-
active turn, we provide an operational definition of social
interaction and distinguish the different explanatory
roles contextual, enabling and constitutive it can play
in social cognition. We show that interactive processes
are more than a context for social cognition: they can
complement and even replace individual mechanisms.
This new explanatory power of social interaction can
push the field forward by expanding the possibilities of
scientific explanation beyond the individual.
The interactive turn in social cognition research
Research in social cognition increasingly focuses on how
people act together and understand each other in inter-
active situations [13]. The role of interaction has also been
a central theme in developmental studies [47], and in
recent discussions in philosophy of mind [6,811]. In spite
of this trend, most investigations of social cognition still
concentrate on individual mechanisms and the observa-
tional perspective (in which one subject observes others
and tries to explain or predict their behaviour). They
consider mainly third-person aspects of social-cognitive
processes [12], although many have argued for the import-
ance of second-person, participatory capabilities [2,4,5,7,
10,11,1315]. Inasmuch as social interaction figures in
current accounts, it is typically viewed as the end goal
that individual cognitive functions should achieve (e.g.
through online or implicit mentalizing [16,17]), not as part
of the cognitive processes themselves.
In this article, we argue that investigating interaction is
central to understanding social cognition. This focus is not
meant to be normative, as if interactive explanations were
always preferable. Our proposal is rather that the role of
interactive and individual elements in social cognition
must be systematically re-evaluated. To this end, we pro-
vide a definition of social interaction and identify the
possible roles that it can play in social cognitive perform-
ance. These conceptual tools will facilitate the assessment
of the factors that shape social cognition and motivate
novel experimental designs.
Does social cognition research not already take social
interaction seriously?
We use social cognition as a general term to describe
cognition involving others, for example understanding
others’ emotions, intentions and actions and acting
Autonomous system: A network of co-dependent, precarious processes able to
sustain itself and define an identity as a self-determined system. The same
systemic relation can be found on many different levels. Examples include
living cells, immune networks, sensorimotor flows of neural and bodily activity,
habits, social institutions and so on.
Coordination: A non-accidental correlation in the activity of two or more
systems that are coupled at present or were coupled in the past, or are or were
coupled to another system in common, over and above what is expected from
their normal behaviour in the absence of such couplings. A typical example of
coordination between two people is synchronization of speech and bodily
movements during a conversation. A situation where two people not directly
influencing each other turn their attention to the same object at the same time
because a strange sound is coming from it, is an example of coordination
because of an external event.
Coupling: The influence between a system’s variables and another system’s
parameters. It can be mutual, for instance a person walking a dog held by a
Engagement: The qualitative aspect of a social interaction as it starts to ‘take
over’ and acquires a momentum of its own. This can happen for example in
conversations or contagious laughter. There can be coupling between agents
without engagement, for instance heat exchange between people waiting at a
crowded bus stop.
Individualist (or internalist) explanation: One that relies solely on individual
factors, for example neural mechanisms, and for which social interaction plays
no role, or at most a contextual role. Example: an interaction is judged to be
‘live’ by an infant, and not a playback of a previous interaction, by means of an
internal ‘social contingency detection’ module implemented in her brain.
Interactive explanation: One that relies on social interacti on playing an
enabling or constitutive role. Example: an infant behaves differently in a ‘live’
interaction because the coupling is more dynamically stable and disposes the
infant to keep interacting as opposed to a playback of a previous interaction,
which is dynamically less stable and easier to disengage from.
Regulated coupling: Motivated changes that an agent makes to the constraints
and parametrical conditions that influence the coupling between the agent and
another system. The other system can be an agent that could itself be
regulating the coupling, in which case we speak of a ‘co-regulated’ coupling. A
simple example: moving closer to someone speaking in a low voice to hear him
Social cognition: General term used to describe different forms of cognition
about, or actions in regard to, agents or groups of agents, their intentions,
emotions, actions and so on, particularly in terms of their relation to other
agents and the self.
Social interaction: Two or mo re autonomous agents co-re gulating their
coupling with the effect that their autonomy is not destroyed and their
relational dynamics acquire an autonomy of their own. Examples: conversa-
tions, collaborative work, arguments, collective action, dancing and so on.
Corresponding author: Di Paolo, E. (
1364-6613/$ see front matter ß2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.tics.2010.06.009 Trends in Cognitive Sciences, October 2010, Vol. 14, No. 10 441
towards and with them in social settings. Social cognition
is more than figuring out the other. It involves understand-
ing others but also understanding with others [11,15].
‘Understanding’ in this context does not require a capa-
bility for verbalising reasons for actions, but rather a
pragmatic ability to act appropriately in a particular situ-
ation. Following embodied approaches [18,19], we take
social cognition to involve the know-how that allows us
to sustain interactions, form relations, understand each
other, and act together.
The current understanding of the role of social inter-
action in social cognition is limited. Most empirical
research in psychology and neuroscience focuses on indi-
vidual mechanisms in the absence of interaction (e.g.
functional imaging research typically examines passive
differential understanding of social stimuli [20] but see
Box 1 for exceptions). The importance of interactive pro-
cesses, however, has been highlighted in the study of
different forms of coordination in dynamical systems
approaches [3,21] and developmental studies [4,5,22] indi-
cating that complex coordination patterns result from the
mutual regulation of a social encounter.
However, it remains unclear how to incorporate such
findings. The prevailing view is that interactive patterns
figure in explanations of social cognition merely as inputs
to be processed by individual mechanisms (e.g. contingency
detection modules tuned to pick up social contingency [23]).
Thus, the study of processes of interaction remains on the
margins of the supposed central question that asks how
individual cognitive mechanisms work.
Another reason for not sufficiently examining the role of
social interaction is the lack of a definition. It is often un-
controversially assumed to signify no more than the co-
presence of more than one individual. A more adequate
definition is needed.
Defining social interaction; capturing engagement
Social interactions are complex phenomena involving
different dimensions of verbal and nonverbal behaviour,
varying contexts, numbers of participants and frequently
technological mediation. They impose strict timing
demands, involve reciprocal and joint activity, exhibit a
mixture of discrete and continuous events at different
timescales, and are often robust against external disrup-
tions. Essential to interaction is that it involves engage-
ment between agents.
The notion of engagement [7,14] is meant to capture the
qualitative aspect of social interaction once it starts to ‘take
over’ and acquires a momentum of its own. It also reflects
the way this experience is described in everyday language.
A definition of social interaction should capture these
intuitions concerning the engagement of at least two
agents in a complex co-regulated pattern. Engagement
can correspond to fluctuating feelings of connectedness
with the other whose meaning sometimes seems trans-
parent and sometimes opaque and of increasing and
decreasing possibilities for participation [11]. This experi-
ence sometimes turns into that of being taken up in the
flow of the interaction (e.g. getting caught up in an argu-
ment or a flirtation). Indeed, interaction with complex, but
not fully autonomous systems (such as virtual characters
or some social robots) can provoke an experience of engage-
ment. It is also true that engagement can occur without a
clear experience of there being another person (see Auvray
et al.’s experiment below). The reasons for these phenom-
ena deserve examination, but the phenomena would
remain obscured if we integrated the subjective element
directly into the definition. Thus, although these subjective
aspects are important, our definition needs to focus on
objective aspects, because only then can the link between
interactive patterns and the experience of interacting be
scientifically examined instead of assumed.
Our definition must capture the notion of an encounter
‘taking on a life of its own’ for this we draw on the
systemic concept of autonomy. Accordingly, we define
social interaction as a co-regulated coupling between at
least two autonomous agents, where: (i) the co-regulation
and the coupling mutually affect each other, constituting
an autonomous self-sustaining organization in the domain
of relational dynamics and (ii) the autonomy of the agents
Box 1. Methods for studying social interaction
Social interactions show some form of autonomy, or ‘take on a life
of their own’. This makes them difficult to study under controlled
conditions, but not impossible. It is crucial that experimental
designs do not prevent engagement from developing [28]. Although
several methods cannot guarantee this, there are some ways in
which a situation of engagement can be approached.
Imaging studies tend to be restricted to noninteractive situations
because of their low time resolution [20]. However, they can
approach interaction through games in which participation is
simulated [17,42,43] or by studying self-involvement through
differential response to communicative vs. noncommunicative
stimuli [4446]. The use of virtual characters is a promising route
for exploring contingent stimulation, although it does not yet
amount to social interaction [47,48]. Dual EEG studies are more
suitable for studying fine temporal aspects of interactive coordina-
tion and their corresponding neural support [49,50].
Naturalistic studies can adapt techniques from conversation and
gesture analysis [5154] and measure degrees of coordination
between interactors to test hypotheses regarding cognitive and
affective aspects of engagement. For instance, Motion Energy
Analysis [55] has been applied to psychotherapy sessions to
measure bodily coordination between patient and therapist, finding
it to be a good predictor of subjective assessments of session
quality [56]. Similar links between coordination and affect have been
studied in developmental psychology [57].
Dynamical systems tools can be useful for analysing the structure
of interaction patterns [2,3,21]. Degrees of coordination can be
measured in different ways, and associated with the dimensionality
of systems involving several interactors, which can be estimated, for
instance, by Principal Component Analysis [3].Measuresof
influence between bi-variate time series [5860] could be used to
study intra- and inter-individual coordination between neural, bodily
and environmental variables.
Synthetic modelling techniques [61] can distil the essence of
complex experimental situations into simpler models that are better
suited to dynamical analysis, making it possible to generate novel
hypotheses. Di Paolo et al.’s [30] model of Auvray et al.’s study has
yielded predictions that were later verified [32].
The study of engagement can demand the development of second
person methodologies, in which the experimenter intervenes
directly as a participant in the interaction [7,14]. Such methodolo-
gies are challenging but potentially powerful, as long as they are
kept rigorous by complementary third person measures.
This variety of methods indicates that it is already feasible to
approach the study of social interaction. What remains to be seen is
which of these methods can be used to systematically assess the
roles of individual and interactive factors.
Opinion Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.10
involved is not destroyed (although its scope can be aug-
mented or reduced) (see [11], p. 493).
The notion of autonomy here means a self-sustaining
network of processes under precarious conditions
[11,19,24,25]: a self-sustaining identity. It applies here
both to the agents and the relational dynamics of their
coupling. Autonomy can happen on different levels (meta-
bolic, neural, cognitive and social) and different timescales,
and autonomous agents can interact at various levels.
Interactions are social as long as the autonomy of the
agents is not dissolved. If one agent becomes the sole
regulator of the coupling, as in the use of a tool, this is
no longer social interaction. The definition excludes such
cases, for example situations of strong coercion. Moreover,
mere co-presence or even some forms of coupling between
agents do not automatically guarantee a co-regulated, self-
sustaining pattern of joint activity. The definition also
excludes cases in which there is no mutuality, such as
remotely observing a social scene, the mere presence of
another, or the belief that another is present. Such situ-
ations are social in an obvious sense and have measurable
cognitive effects [17,26], but do not involve interactions. We
do not restrict social interaction to the human species. As
long as the terms of the definition can be verified, they can
apply to cross-species interactions or interactions with
robots that are autonomous in the sense intended.
The cognitive processes involved in social interaction
can be sophisticated. Even though social interaction seems
to come naturally most of the time, interactive processes
are not automatic and higher cognitive processes such as
reflection, imagination and self-monitoring can influence
Factors, conditions and constitutive elements
Towards a clarification of the possible explanatory roles of
social interaction, consider the collection of past and pre-
sent events, processes and relations that are observed with
a phenomenon X. We call this the set of circumstances, or
situation, in which X occurs. X could occur in different
situations, for instance different historical paths might
lead to an instance of X. Given a specific situation, some
elements in this set will play no role in the explanation of X,
whereas others will; we call the latter contextual factors.
Moreover, other elements will be necessary for the
phenomenon to occur; we call them enabling conditions.
And yet others will be part of the phenomenon itself; we
call them constitutive elements. Accordingly, given X, and
a particular situation in which X occurs:
Fisacontextual factor if variations in F produce
variations in X,
Cisanenabling condition if the absence of C prevents X
from occurring and
Pisaconstitutive element if P is part of the processes
that produce X.
A contextual factor is simply something that has an
effect on X, and can be determined by observing how X is
changed when the factor is changed. An enabling condition
not only influences the phenomenon (therefore also being
contextual), but is also necessary (either contempora-
neously or historically) for X to occur. A constitutive
element is part of the phenomenon (it must be present
in the same time frame as the phenomenon). The set of all
the constitutive elements is the phenomenon itself. The
presence of these elements is necessary, and therefore also
What exact role (if any) an element plays in X depends
on how one chooses to describe and observe X. This imposes
a requirement of added precision on the case-by-case
description of the phenomenon.
The three roles follow a scale of increased specificity. For
instance, a change in air pressure can affect the process of
boiling water in an electric kettle, thus making it a con-
textual factor. An enabling condition, in turn, is required
for the phenomenon to exist, but it might not be constitu-
tive. Boiling water in an electric kettle requires the inven-
tion of such an appliance and a supply of electricity,
although these are not themselves part of the phenomenon
they are enabling conditions. In normal conditions, boil-
ing is constituted by an appropriate heat exchange be-
tween a metal plate and the water provoking a phase
transition from liquid to steam.
Using these concepts we can now examine the explana-
tory role assigned to social interaction in some examples.
Social interaction as contextual factor
Consider Murray and Trevarthen’s double TV monitor
experiment [27] in which 2-month-old infants interact with
their mothers via a live television link. When presented
with a recorded replay of their mother’s previous actions,
infants disengage and become distracted and upset. Repli-
cations of these results have eliminated explanations such
as infants’ fatigue [28,29].
On one explanation, the phenomenon (the difference in
the infant’s behaviour) results from the infant’s use of a
contingency detection module [23]. This module takes as
input the relevant aspects of the interaction (e.g. infor-
mation about the timing of one’s own and the other’s
actions) and outputs the integrated information as knowl-
edge about the presence or absence of social contingency.
On this explanation, the cognitive mechanism is not consti-
tuted by social interaction. If contingency detection
modules are considered innate, past social interactions
do not play an enabling role either. As input to this module,
interaction is only a contextual factor: variations in the
interaction pattern change the output of the module.
It is important to clarify that even though this is an
individualist explanation (because all the enabling and
constitutive elements are internal; see Glossary), it is
possible to imagine noninternalist explanations in which
social interaction nevertheless plays only a contextual role.
This would be the case if some external factor other than
social interaction plays an enabling or constitutive role.
For instance, a person who has recently lost his hearing
and speech is able to communicate with others using a
notepad and pen. This person can in this way ask someone
for directions in an unknown city. The reply he obtains has
an influence on his success in finding the way, but it can be
construed as only providing information: the interaction
here is no more than contextual. However, the notepad and
pen are necessary for the successful performance of the
task and therefore play at least an enabling role. In this
Opinion Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.10
case, the explanation is noninternalist and noninteractive.
By contrast, and by definition, if interaction were to play an
enabling or constitutive role (see examples below) the
explanation could not be internalist.
Social interaction as enabler of social cognition
An alternative explanation of the double video results
based on an evolutionary robotics model reveals an
enabling role for social interaction [30]. Artificial simu-
lated agents controlled by small dynamical neural net-
works moving along a one-dimensional space interact
with each other by repeatedly crossing their positions.
When the real-time movement of one of the agents is
replaced by a recording of its previous movement, the other
agent quickly retreats from the interaction (behaving ana-
logously to the infants when shown a recording of their
During normal interaction, both agents keep each other
in dynamic transient activity, which prevents them from
losing contact. They oscillate back and forth and repeatedly
stimulate each other’s sensors. This self-sustaining coordi-
nation is robust and resistant to significant amounts of
noise. However, when trying to interact with a recording,
this robustness is lost and a single agent is unable to
sustain the coordination pattern. Eventually it moves to
one side and disengages.
There is no internal module for detecting contingencies
in the agents’ neural controllers. Rather, it is a property of
the interaction dynamics (the difference in the stability of
the coordination pattern in 2-way and 1-way coupling) that
allows the agents to either sustain interaction or disen-
gage. Without interaction the necessary processes would
not function and the phenomenon would not occur, making
interaction an enabling condition.
The model suggests a new hypothesis for the double
video experiment: the infant’s involvement is partly sus-
tained by the stability of the live interaction and is lost
without it. If it were empirically supported (for instance, by
testing the infant’s susceptibility to external distraction
when engaged vs. disengaged from the interaction), this
would indicate that social interaction plays an enabling
role in the infant’s behaviour. Implicit support for this
hypothesis is found in a study that failed to replicate
the original results because it did not allow mothers and
infants to develop sufficient engagement before the intro-
duction of the replay [28,31]. This illustrates how our
definition of social interaction (that insists on the auto-
nomy of the mutually regulated coupling) can be used to
examine existing explanations and generate novel hypoth-
eses, making the presence of engagement (and not only
contingency) the appropriate independent variable.
Social performance constituted by social interaction
An experiment by Auvray, Lenay and Stewart [32] shows a
constitutive role for interaction. Two blindfolded partici-
pants sitting in different rooms interact by moving a sensor
along a shared virtual line using a computer mouse. Every
time the sensor encounters an object on this line, the
participant receives a tap on the finger (all objects are
the same size and produce the same stimulation). Each
participant can in this way sense three different objects
(Figure 1a): a static object, the sensor of the other partici-
pant, and a ‘shadow’ object that copies the movements of
the other’s sensor at a fixed distance. Participants are
unaware of this connection between sensor and shadow.
They are told that there is a moving object controlled by the
other participant. Their task is to click on the mouse
whenever they judge that they are in contact with the
other participant.
Even in such an impoverished sensory situation, partici-
pants find each other and concentrate their mouse clicks on
each other’s sensors (65.9% of clicks) and not on the iden-
tically moving, but non-contingent shadow objects (23%)
(Figure 1b). We could postulate an individual capability for
recognizing stimuli as social based on their contingency.
However, this explanation is ruled out. An analysis of the
Figure 1.(a) Set-up for perceptual crossing experiment [32]. Both participants are
isolated, each controlling the position of a sensor along a shared virtual 1-D line
using a computer mouse (the ends of the line meet making it a circle). The squares
on each side of the line represent the objects that can be sensed by each
participant respectively. Objects are identical in size. When the sensor touches an
object the participant gets a tactile feedback on the finger (green circle). Each
participant can sense only three objects, a static one (black square), the sensor of
the other participant (red square) and a ‘shadow’ object that copies exactly the
movement of the other’s sensor at a fixed distance (blue square). (Copyright 2010
H. De Jaegher, E. Di Paolo and S. Gallagher. Licenced under Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 Unported []). (b)
Participants are asked to signal with mouse clicks when they judge they are in
contact with an object controlled by the other person. The distribution of clicks as a
function of the distance between the two sensors (thin line) shows a significant
peak at zero (sensor-sensor contact) as does the distribution of distances during
the interaction (regardless of clicking events) between the two sensors (thick line).
A small peak (arrow) at a distance of 50 pixels indicates response to the position of
the shadow object. Reproduced, with permission, from Ref. [32].
Opinion Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.10
clicks that follow each type of stimulation indicates that
participants individually cannot tell the difference be-
tween touching the other’s sensor and the other’s shadow.
Both events are followed by clicks with comparable prob-
abilities. The larger number of clicks on each other’s sen-
sors is explained by the higher frequency of sensor-sensor
encounters (52.2% versus 15.2% for sensor-shadow). The
higher frequency of sensor-sensor encounters, in turn, is
explained by the collective dynamics. Participants scan
objects in a back and forth pattern. This strategy helps
differentiate static from moving objects but by itself it
cannot differentiate between sensors and shadows: it can-
not detect contingency in the stimulus. Only when both
participants scan each other’s sensors crossing their
positions repeatedly does the situation stabilize. By
contrast, a situation in which one participant scans the
other’s shadow is an unstable disengaged 1-way coupling.
The other participant will move away because she is still
searching and there is no interaction.
Thus, participants consistently find each other’s sensors
in spite of their individual inability to tell the difference
between sensors and shadows (they sometimes even report
doubts about the presence of the other). Of course, indi-
vidual factors enable this social performance (e.g. imple-
menting a scanning search strategy), but they function the
same whether scanning sensors or shadows. The variation
in the number of clicks is attributable only to the differ-
ences in the stability of the coupling and not to individual
strategies. This experiment shows that the interaction
process is not only enabling but plays a constitutive role.
The phenomenon is a manifestation of the properties of the
interaction pattern.
Reconsidering individual mechanisms
If social interaction can play more than a contextual role,
then this implies, minimally, a reassessment of individu-
alist explanations (Figure 2). At the very least, they need to
be complemented with an interactional component. Mirror
neurons, for example, could function differently in inter-
active contexts. Evidence already indicates differential
activation according to whether an interactive situation
presents conflict or not [33]. Combined with evidence for
their plasticity [34], this indicates that mirror neurons
could develop as a result of the agent’s skilful involvement
in social interaction rather than being the wellspring of
capacities for social understanding. Most findings on mir-
ror neurons do not arise out of interactive situations. Their
proposed functionality, such as for recognizing goal inten-
tions in others [35], needs to be re-evaluated in interaction
contexts. Their activity might even turn out to be epiphe-
In another case, an interactive perspective on the de-
velopment of selfother awareness can resolve apparent
mysteries that are hard to elucidate from an individualist
viewpoint. In infants, the gap between self-experience and
awareness of others as intentional beings can be bridged
by interactive elements. Reddy argues that at 2 months,
before evidence of shared attention, infants already
respond to being the object of another’s attention in
emotion-rich interactions [6]. Thus, social interaction fur-
nishes infants with know-how about others as bearers of
intentions, a step towards understanding others’
Maximally, if we take seriously the idea that inter-
action can enable and constitute social cognition, we can
conceive of interaction dynamics as, in some cases, deli-
vering the necessary cognitive performance. There is no
need to duplicate their effects by an individual mechan-
ism. For instance, stability of the interactive dynamics
could explain infants’ attention in the double video test,
with no need for contingency detection modules. More
strongly, in Auvray et al.’s [32] experiment, sensitivity
to social contingency as an individual accomplishment is
ruled out. Only the interaction process fully explains the
Conclusion: social interaction as explanatory tool
Resistance to interactive explanations may be partly due to
a false impression that interaction patterns are abstract.
They seem hard to pin down because they are not easily
associated with material structures such as brain regions;
but this is doubly misleading. Interaction dynamics do
have a measurable material basis and recruit not only
interacting bodies (including brains) but also elements of
social technologies and cultural norms (e.g. tools and toys
[36]). It is also misleading to conceptualize neural function
as less abstract given that it is increasingly understood as a
matter of complex relational dynamics ([3740]). There is
no reason to privilege skull-bound theories over what are
essentially explanations at the same level of concreteness.
We have illustrated the explanatory roles of social
interaction considered in general, without focusing on
features relevant to particular cases. Sometimes fluid
engagement enables a specific social cognitive task; some-
times, instead, a history of coordination breakdowns and
recoveries is the essential feature. Interaction could be
present, but a crucial feature such as fluency or asymmetry
might be absent, thus disabling or reducing social cognitive
Social cognition has noninteractive aspects (e.g. remote
observations of social scenes, reflection on others’ actions).
But even here, social interaction is likely to play an
enabling role in the processes involved, at least in a
developmental sense [7].
It is imperative to investigate the ways in which inter-
action dynamics influence, enable, or constitute social
cognition, using and expanding current methods (Box 1).
Candidate phenomena can be found in studies linking
Figure 2. Possible roles played by social interaction in social cognition. The dotted
line represents the point from which individual mechanisms need to be re-thought
in terms of the explanatory role of the interaction process. (Copyright 2010 H. De
Jaegher, E. Di Paolo and S. Gallagher. Licenced under Creative Commons
Attribution 3.0 Unported []).
Opinion Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.10
interpersonal coordination with social cognition
Previously, if thought to have an impact at all, the role of
social interaction in social cognition remained unclear.
With its definition and the clarification of its different
roles, unanswered problems in social cognition research
(Box 2) can benefit from a new explanatory tool, putting
social cognition back where it belongs: between individuals
and not only in their heads.
Many thanks to three anonymous reviewers for their suggestions, and to
Alan Costall, Vasu Reddy and the Arbeitsgruppe Pha
¨nomenologie und
Psychiatrie, University of Heidelberg for helpful conversations on the
ideas presented here. HDJ was supported by the EU Marie Curie
Research Training Network 035975 DISCOS: Disorders and coherence of
the embodied self.
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Box 2. Questions for future research
What are the characteristics of asymmetric interactions (e.g.
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What are the diagnostic and therapeutic implications of adopting
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understanding a film, passing false belief tests) develop? What is
the role of interaction in these capacities?
How do the autonomy of the interaction partners and of the
interaction process itself relate? How do social institutions and
cultural norms affect this relationship?
Opinion Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.10
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Opinion Trends in Cognitive Sciences Vol.14 No.10
... (i) El entendimiento/conocimiento que implica la apertura perceptual de la atención conjunta está constituido por la interacción social; una tesis heredada del enactivismo autopoiético (De Jaegher, Di Paolo & Gallagher, 2010;De Jaegher & Di Paolo, 2007) y: ...
... Martens y Schlicht (2017) problematizan a las teorías de la cognición social que proponen que ésta se constituye por la interacción social misma -en particular, tienen en mente las posiciones enactivistas como las de De Jaegher, Di Paolo y Gallagher (2010) o Dingemanse, et al. (2023). Pero antes de entrar de lleno en la objeción, y cómo esta se puede adaptar al caso de ACM, es preciso recordar brevemente de qué tratan las teorías de la cognición social basadas en la interacción. ...
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Preprint of the article: Atención Conjunta Mediada y El Problema de la Circularidad del Entendimiento Social Constituido por la Interacción Social [Joint attention and the problem of circularity of the social understanding constituted by social interaction]
... Social cognition is a broad term used to encompass cognitive processes that involve interaction with others. This includes the ability to comprehend the emotions, intentions, and actions of others, as well as the capability to engage and interact with them in various social situations (De Jaegher et al., 2010). In turn, understanding of others and social situations helps in decision-making by providing valuable information and insights into the motivations, beliefs, and behaviors of others. ...
Introduction: Social knowledge is an important aspect of social cognition that pertains to broader knowledge of social concepts and norms. People with intellectual disabilities are more likely to experience mental health challenges, and it’s important to pay special attention to how comorbid condi-tions can affect their social cognition skills, potentially weak-ening these skills. Consequently, the present study seeks to compare social knowledge between two groups of adults in Bosnia and Herzegovina: those with intellectual disabilities and those diagnosed with a dual diagnosis encompassing intellectual disability and psychiatric conditions. An additional goal was to identify the factors contributing to social knowl-edge in these groups.Methods: The study sample included 62 adults with mild intel-lectual disability, divided into two groups based on their comor-bid psychiatric condition. We used a demographic questionnaire, Raven’s Progressive Matrices, Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (PPVT), MINI PAS – ADD scale, and The Social Knowledge Test to assess social knowledge and intellectual functioning. We compared the social knowledge scores between the two groups and identified the predictors of social knowledge in each group.Results: The results indicated that adult participants with dual diagnoses had lower social knowledge scores than those with intellectual disabilities only, even after controlling for intellec-tual functioning and verbal abilities. The predictors of social knowledge differed between the two groups, with age being the only statistically significant predictor in both groups. In individuals with intellectual disabilities, age and the presence of obsessive-compulsive disorder symptoms were important predictors of social knowledge, while in the group of partici-pants with dual diagnoses, age and PPVT were significant pre-dictors of social knowledge.Conclusion: This study highlights the importance of social knowledge in individuals with intellectual disabilities and dual diagnoses. The findings suggest that individuals with dual diag-noses may have a specific deficit in social knowledge that is not fully explained by their intellectual functioning or verbal abil-ities. Clinicians and educators should focus on identifying and addressing social knowledge deficits in individuals with dual diagnoses to improve their overall social functioning.
... Sociality neither needs to be an answer to the problem of representations nor an additional problem for representations; rather, it is an alternative way to cope with the problems representations are supposed to address. And this is so because social interaction is what radical enactivists consider social cognition (and possibly cognition tout court) to consist of (De Jaegher et al., 2010). At this point, critics might object that even radical enactivists do not rule out that representations may play a role in cognition, that they can still lie somewhere. ...
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The “scaling-up” problem concerns radical embodied cognition’s (REC) supposed inability to extend its explanatory reach beyond simple cognitive phenomena. This paper questions the problem’s main assumption, that is, the possibility of sorting phenomena according to their inherent cognitive complexity or representation-hunger. To do so, I focus on a class of phenomena whose degree of representation-hunger has been much debated: social phenomena (and their cognitive correlates). Some, like Clark and Toribio (1994), consider social phenomena the absolute top of representation-hunger, while others, like radical enactivists, conceive of sociality as a non-representational resource; two opposite views which demonstrate how hard it is to place sociality somewhere in a representational hierarchy. An exploration into two social disciplines provides reasons to question the tenability of the scaling-up problem in the case of social phenomena and hence in general. The long debate in social psychology over dual-process models of cognition suggests distinguishing between the complexity of a task and its putative cognitive requirements, therefore rejecting that form of cognitive-task essentialism inherent in the idea of representation-hunger. The recent encounter of radical enactivism with social theory provides, on the other hand, a non-representational explanation of institutional phenomena. In the end, the paper suggests that one of the following must hold: either the scaling-up problem is untenable in its traditional (hierarchical) understanding or radical enactivism has already scaled up to social phenomena, understood as the pinnacle of representation-hunger.
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The purpose of this paper is to explore the cognition aspects of strategic planning in rural entrepreneurship. The research is a case study in Patuk sub-district, Gunung Kidul district, Special Region of Yogyakarta. Patuk Sub-district has great potential. Rural entrepreneurs can develop it. Cognition aspects are determinants for rural entrepreneurs. This research is qualitative research using a case study. The method in this research uses in-depth interviews and FDG. The result of the research is that the cognition aspect is one of the determinants of success in determining the strategic planing. With sufficient knowledge, rural entrepreneurs can develop the right strategic planning, so they can compete and survive. Unfortunately, their knowledge is limited. The cognitive aspect comes from the rural internal environment and the rural external environment The rural internal environment itself consists of rural communities where entrepreneurs are located.. The value adopted by rural communities has an impact on rural entrepreneurship. The external environment is a support system from outside the community. The rural entrepreneurs need a support system. For this reason, rural entrepreneurs need external encouragement. The external environment comes from the government and universities. The government provides support in the form of policies and programs that support rural entrepreneurs. Universities provide knowledge for business development
This chapter questions the causal-constitution fallacy raised against the extended mind. It does so by presenting our signature temporal thesis about how to understand constitutive relations in the context of the extended mind, and with respect to dynamical systems, more broadly. We call this thesis diachronic constitution. We will argue that temporalising the constitution relation is not as remarkable (nor problematic) as it might initially seem. It is (arguably) inevitable, given local interactions between microscale and macroscale states of (coupled) dynamical systems. We focus primarily on the metaphysics of the extended mind in this paper. However, we also show how our account of diachronic constitution has important implications for the metaphysics of dependence relations more generally as well as an emerging literature on inter-level explanations in the mechanistic framework applied to the discussion over extended, enactive and embodied cognition.
This essay introduces the 40th Annual Spindel Conference special issue on relational autonomy and collective intentionality. Autonomy is often discussed in contexts of individual intention formation and moral decision making. When we consider collective intention formation and the decision‐making practices of institutions, a number of questions can be raised: How does the individual autonomy of participants affect the collective process? How do such collective processes modulate the autonomy of the individuals involved? How do institutional decisions and practices affect individual autonomy more generally—in what way do they enhance or undermine autonomy? Is there a significant difference in how we answer these questions if we already think of autonomy as relational rather than in a traditional individualistic way?
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The theory-theory is not supported by evidence in the everyday actions of infants and toddlers whose lives a Theory of Mind is meant radically to transform. This paper reviews some of these challenges to the theory-theory, particularly from communication and deception. We argue that the theory’s disconnection from action is both inevitable and paradoxical. The mind–behaviour dualism upon which it is premised requires a conceptual route to knowing minds and disallows a real test of the theory through the study of action. Taking engagement seriously avoids these problems and requires that both lay people and psychologists be participants rather than observers in order to know, and indeed to create, minds.
This classic book, first published in 1991, was one of the first to propose the “embodied cognition” approach in cognitive science. It pioneered the connections between phenomenology and science and between Buddhist practices and science-claims that have since become highly influential. Through this cross-fertilization of disparate fields of study, The Embodied Mind introduced a new form of cognitive science called “enaction," in which both the environment and first person experience are aspects of embodiment. However, enactive embodiment is not the grasping of an independent, outside world by a brain, a mind, or a self; rather it is the bringing forth of an interdependent world in and through embodied action. Although enacted cognition lacks an absolute foundation, the book shows how that does not lead to either experiential or philosophical nihilism. Above all, the book’s arguments were powered by the conviction that the sciences of mind must encompass lived human experience and the possibilities for transformation inherent in human experience. This revised edition includes substantive introductions by Evan Thompson and Eleanor Rosch that clarify central arguments of the work and discuss and evaluate subsequent research that has expanded on the themes of the book, including the renewed theoretical and practical interest in Buddhism and mindfulness. A preface by Jon Kabat-Zinn, the originator of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program, contextualizes the book and describes its influence on his life and work. © 1991, 2016 Massachusetts Institute of Technology. All rights reserved.
The ability to coordinate our actions with those of others is crucial for our success as individuals and as a species. Progress in understanding the cognitive and neural processes involved in joint action has been slow and sparse, because cognitive neuroscientists have predominantly studied individual minds and brains in isolation. However, in recent years, major advances have been made by investigating perception and action in social context. In this article we outline how studies on joint attention, action observation, task sharing, action coordination and agency contribute to the understanding of the cognitive and neural processes supporting joint action. Several mechanisms are proposed that allow individuals to share representations, to predict actions, and to integrate predicted effects of own and others' actions.
Infants’ and mothers’ gaze during three sequences of live face-to-face interaction were compared to sequences where their interaction was set out of phase, by presenting either the infant or the mother with a replay of their partners’ behavior during earlier live interaction in a closed circuit TV setup. There was a significant interaction between sequence and foci of the infants’ gaze, reflecting that infants looked significantly more at their mother during the live than the replay sequences. The infants also looked significantly more at their mother than at other foci during the live but not the replay sequences, which suggests that neither infant fatigue nor memory traces of earlier maternal behavior can account for the findings. These findings support the idea that young infants are capable of distinguishing between contingent and non-contingent social interaction with their mothers.