Prof. Dr. Albert Newen (Ruhr University Bochum) will give a talk at a joint RTG & CogSci Colloquium on Thursday, November 10th, at 12:15 (CET).
The talk will take place at Waldweg 26, room 6.103.
Title (updated): The person model theory: varieties of social understanding and the underlying cognitive abilities
Abstract: What exactly do we do when we try to make sense of the behaviour of other people? There are two standard theories on the market: the so-called Theory-Theory and Simulation Theory. Furthermore, there are some recent approaches like Interaction Theory and the Narrative Theory. All these theories have severe deficits given the variety of social understanding. So we are in need of a new alternative. I suggest the Person Model Theory. Person models are the basis for our ability to register and evaluate persons having mental as well as physical properties. I argue that there are two kinds of person models, implicit person schemata and explicit person images and both types of models can be developed for individuals as well as for groups. In addition to person models, we can also rely on situation models and a self-model to evaluate the behavior of others. With these tools at hand, we can at least distinguish three levels of understanding others, namely situational understanding, rule-based understanding and individual mind-set understanding. The core of the latter is the so-called Theory-of-Mind ability. In the final part of the talk, I will outline how the account of mental files is fruitful to characterize the development of types of social understanding.