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What is social about social perception research?

Teufel, Christoph, Von Dem Hagen, Elisabeth, Plaisted-Grant, Kate C., Edmonds, James J., Ayorinde, John O., Fletcher, Paul C. and Davis, Greg 2013. What is social about social perception research? Frontiers in Integrative Neuroscience 6 , 128. 10.3389/fnint.2012.00128

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Abstract

A growing consensus in social cognitive neuroscience holds that large portions of the primate visual brain are dedicated to the processing of social information, i.e., to those aspects of stimuli that are usually encountered in social interactions such as others' facial expressions, actions, and symbols. Yet, studies of social perception have mostly employed simple pictorial representations of conspecifics. These stimuli are social only in the restricted sense that they physically resemble objects with which the observer would typically interact. In an equally important sense, however, these stimuli might be regarded as “non-social”: the observer knows that they are viewing pictures and might therefore not attribute current mental states to the stimuli or might do so in a qualitatively different way than in a real social interaction. Recent studies have demonstrated the importance of such higher-order conceptualization of the stimulus for social perceptual processing. Here, we assess the similarity between the various types of stimuli used in the laboratory and object classes encountered in real social interactions. We distinguish two different levels at which experimental stimuli can match social stimuli as encountered in everyday social settings: (1) the extent to which a stimulus' physical properties resemble those typically encountered in social interactions and (2) the higher-level conceptualization of the stimulus as indicating another person's mental states. We illustrate the significance of this distinction for social perception research and report new empirical evidence further highlighting the importance of mental state attribution for perceptual processing. Finally, we discuss the potential of this approach to inform studies of clinical conditions such as autism.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited and subject to any copyright notices concerning any third-party graphics etc. This document is protected by copyright and was first published by Frontiers. All rights reserved. It is reproduced with permission
Publisher: Frontiers Research Foundation
ISSN: 1662-5145
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Date of Acceptance: 18 December 2012
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 07:55
URI: http://orca.cf.ac.uk/id/eprint/69820

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