Lasana T. Harris, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Experimental Psychology, University College London
Title: How is Human Social Cognition Special!
Abstract: Humans cannot claim to be the only social animal. But is there something special about human social cognition? Here we argue that it distinguishes itself by its unique flexiblity: In scope, as it can be extended beyond fellow living humans and withheld from them; in content, as it is revised over time, and in certainty; in process, as it follows bayesian inferences based on probability. Further, we posit that both the hyper-sociality of humans and some of it distinctive anthropological manifestations derive from this flexibility. This theoretical approach provides an alternative to content-based accounts of superior and distinctive huma social cognition, and challenges the static 'social-wiring' hypothesis. Here, I present social neuroscience data consistent with the alternative hypothesis.