Looking for a class to take in Spring 2016?

Sign up for COGS 160 D00

Social Cognition: A developmental and evolutionary perspective

Section ID #869003

TuTh 12:30pm – 1:50pm, 4 units, in WLH 1128B

with Prof. Federico Rossano

Humans are social animals but so are many other animals (we’ll consider great apes, dogs, birds). Yet humans appear to be more cooperative with each other, spend more time interacting with others and seem capable of more sophisticated social manipulation than other animal species. So what is special about human social life? What kind of novel cognitive problems arise once we begin spending extended amounts of time with others and living in bigger groups?  What socio-cognitive abilities have to be in place so that we can cooperate and avoid constant fighting over limited resources?

This course introduces the building blocks of social cognition, in a comparative and evolutionary perspective but also in a culturally sensitive way, with a  focus on how children develop these abilities and are socialized into key practices for social living. We start by examining the development of gaze following and voice following, the capacity to engage in joint attention and to communicate through gestures, specifically, pointing, during the first and second year of life. We then explore the role that human prosocial tendencies play in our capacity to carry out social lives and care for others, the complexity and importance of imitation for cultural transmission and how group mentality and group biases emerge. We then discuss how cultural transmission relies on conformity, normativity and on collaboration to construct and sustain social institutions. Finally, we address how concerns such as fairness, procedural justice and ultimately our moral compass develop and to what degree they differ between human and non-human animals.

Any questions regarding the course can be directed to Dr. Rossano at frossano@ucsd.edu.

***Contact your major department for questions about course applicability to your major.

Contact Thanh Maxwell at tmaxwell@ucsd.edu for enrollment process.