The puzzle of social cognition. How can we fit together the pieces?

Ziegler, Fenja (2010) The puzzle of social cognition. How can we fit together the pieces? In: Workshop on Approaches to 'theory of mind': Perspectives from Philosophy and Psychology, March 2010, University of Lancaster.

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Full text URL: http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fass/faculty/event/3260/

Abstract

The study of mentalising has been dominated for the past two decades by two theories: simulation theory (ST) and theory theory (TT). TT postulates that we understand others’ mental states by applying a series of rules which form a folk psychological theory, whereas ST claims that we use our own mind as a model for understanding the decision processes of others. Whilst these theories are relatively easy to delineate at a theoretical level, it has proved frustratingly inconclusive to test them at the behavioural level. Neuroimaging techniques promised an exciting new avenue for distinguishing between ST or TT processes, but in a provocative critique, Apperly (2008) proposed that ST and TT cannot be distinguished at either the behavioural or neural level and no longer provide a fruitful framework for the study of mental state understanding. In examining Apperly’s argument, I find that ST and TT may not need to be abolished, but need to be sharpened in their formulation, such that they provide a constrainable and, most importantly, testable theory. In a recent hybrid model, we (Mitchell, Currie & Ziegler, 2009) have attempted to put forward such a framework which we hope provides a testable account of mentalising and its development. ST and TT allow us to put together disparate pieces of empirical evidence and provide a deeper understanding of the way our mental world connects with that of others.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Keynote)
Additional Information:The study of mentalising has been dominated for the past two decades by two theories: simulation theory (ST) and theory theory (TT). TT postulates that we understand others’ mental states by applying a series of rules which form a folk psychological theory, whereas ST claims that we use our own mind as a model for understanding the decision processes of others. Whilst these theories are relatively easy to delineate at a theoretical level, it has proved frustratingly inconclusive to test them at the behavioural level. Neuroimaging techniques promised an exciting new avenue for distinguishing between ST or TT processes, but in a provocative critique, Apperly (2008) proposed that ST and TT cannot be distinguished at either the behavioural or neural level and no longer provide a fruitful framework for the study of mental state understanding. In examining Apperly’s argument, I find that ST and TT may not need to be abolished, but need to be sharpened in their formulation, such that they provide a constrainable and, most importantly, testable theory. In a recent hybrid model, we (Mitchell, Currie & Ziegler, 2009) have attempted to put forward such a framework which we hope provides a testable account of mentalising and its development. ST and TT allow us to put together disparate pieces of empirical evidence and provide a deeper understanding of the way our mental world connects with that of others.
Keywords:theory of mind, simulation theory, theory theory, hybrid models
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C800 Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C830 Experimental Psychology
C Biological Sciences > C820 Developmental Psychology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Psychology
ID Code:5641
Deposited By: Fenja Ziegler
Deposited On:22 May 2012 21:16
Last Modified:22 May 2012 21:16

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