Original Article

Mind & Society

, Volume 5, Issue 1, pp 39-70

First online:

Cognitive/affective processes, social interaction, and social structure as representational re-descriptions: their contrastive bandwidths and spatio-temporal foci

  • Aaron V. CicourelAffiliated withDepartment of Cognitive Science, University of California Email author 

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Research on brain or cognitive/affective processes, culture, social interaction, and structural analysis are overlapping but often independent ways humans have attempted to understand the origins of their evolution, historical, and contemporary development. Each level seeks to employ its own theoretical concepts and methods for depicting human nature and categorizing objects and events in the world, and often relies on different sources of evidence to support theoretical claims. Each level makes reference to different temporal bandwidths (milliseconds, seconds, minutes, hours, days, months, years, decades, and centuries) and focuses on different spatio-temporal activities and controlled and non-controlled stimulus conditions. Biological mechanisms and environmental pressures for survival simultaneously created a gradual intersection and enhancement of cognitive/affective skills, cultural practices, and changes in collaborative social interaction and communicative skills. The evolution of a given level of analysis is assumed to have been incremental and overlapping. These innovative and independent ways humans have learned to characterize their brain or cognitive/affective and social/economic/political life often depend on unexamined, “representational re-descriptions” or cognitive/affective and socio-cultural devices and forms of communication that facilitate the depiction of practices and beliefs we attribute to respondents or subjects and research colleagues.


Representational re-descriptions Levels of analysis Brain development Cognitive/affective skills Cultural practices Social interaction Structural analysis Communicative strategies