Beyond learning fixed rules and social cues: abstraction in the social arena

J Call*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Abstr. is a central idea in many areas of physical comparative cognition such as categorization, numerical competence or problem solving. This idea, however, has rarely been applied to comparative social cognition. In this paper, I propose that the notion of abstraction can be applied to the social arena and become an important tool to investigate the social cognition and behaviour processes in animals. To make this point, I present recent evidence showing that chimpanzees know about what others can see and about what others intend. These data do not fit either low-level mechanisms based on stimulus-response associations or high-level explanations based on metarepresentational mechanisms such as false belief attribution. Instead, I argue that social abstraction, in particular the development of concepts such as seeing in others, is key to explaining the behaviour of our closest relative in a variety of situations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1189-1196
Number of pages8
JournalPhilosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B
Volume358
Issue number1435
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 29 Jul 2003

Keywords

  • theory of mind
  • social cognition
  • mindreading
  • social intelligence
  • chimpanzees
  • CHIMPANZEES PAN-TROGLODYTES
  • ORANGUTANS PONGO-PYGMAEUS
  • YOUNG CHIMPANZEES
  • HUMAN CHILDREN
  • CONSPECIFICS
  • COMPREHENSION
  • ATTRIBUTION
  • EVOLUTION
  • FOLLOW
  • STATES

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