Mind & Society

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 81–92 | Cite as

The social functions of explicit coherence evaluation

  • Hugo MercierEmail author


Coherence plays an important role in psychology. In this article, I suggest that coherence takes two main forms in humans’ cognitive system. The first belong to ‘system 1’. It relies on the degree of coherence between different representations to regulate them, without coherence being represented. By contrast other mechanisms, belonging to system 2, allow humans to represent the degree of coherence between different representations and to draw inferences from it. It is suggested that the mechanisms of explicit coherence evaluation have social functions. They are used as means of epistemic vigilance—to evaluate what other people tell us. They can also be turned inwards to examine the coherence of our own beliefs. Their function is then to minimize the chances that we are perceived as being incoherent. Evidence from different domains of psychology is briefly reviewed in support of these hypotheses.


Dual process Coherence Epistemic vigilance Social mind 



I thank Jean-Baptiste André, Fabrice Clément and Dan Sperber for very helpful discussions on that topic and comments on this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Philosophy, Politics and Economics ProgramUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA

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