The study of social cognition deals with people’s knowledge and thinking about psychological events—those that occur in others as well as in themselves—and with their conceptions of social relationships. With respect to knowledge of others, the focus has been on such events as others’ thoughts, feelings, intentions, and motivations, as well as perceptions of their personalities. In the realm of knowledge of self, attention has centered on the development of the individual’s notion of himself as distinct from others, on the growth of an image of the self—the self-concept—and on self-esteem. In the realm of social relationships, issues such as concepts of friendship, fairness, and authority, as well as conceptions of society and government, have been addressed. Thus a typical question asked by a researcher in the area of developmental social cognition has something to do with the way in which knowledge of others, of the self, or of relations between others, develops. When do young children realize that theirs is not the only way of viewing reality and that others may see the same events or problems quite differently? At what age can children recognize mirror images of themselves? How early can children understand that even if they are feeling happy others may feel sad? At what point do children understand that someone who carries out an act in order to get a reward or to avoid a punishment may not find that act intrinsically enjoyable?
KeywordsYoung Child Social Cognition Social World Person Perception Consensus Information
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.