Home > General Overview of the Competency Model > Modes of Cognitive Representation > The Social Mode > Literature Note - Social Modeling

Social modeling represents minds and social interactions among agents and supports comprehension of social situations, interpretation of narrative, and formulation of communicative goals. It is aligned with emotional intelligence (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2001) and reflects the principles of linguistic pragmatics (Mey, 2001; Ostman & Verschuren, 2005). Key elements include intentionality, perspective, and affect (Zwaan, 1999, 2004). Some text features indicate social elements, including voice, bias, point of view, tone, and stance.

Inferences about communicative intent depend on an underlying theory of mind (Wellman, 1990; Wellman & Gelman, 1992), which is implicated in ordinary social situations, in fictional narrative situations (Mar, 2004; Mar, Oatley, Hirsh, de la Paz, & Peterson, 2005; Mar, Djikic & Oatley, 2008), and when writers deal with audience and purpose. Causality runs from theory of mind to social behaviors (Jenkins & Astington, 2000). Neurologically, it is associated with mirror neurons that respond to purposeful motion and action (Gallese & Goldman, 1998; Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004).

There is evidence that disorders of theory of mind impact not just social comprehension, but narrative comprehension, pragmatic inference (including irony and metaphor), and written composition (Baron-Cohen, 1995; Hale & Tager-Flussberg, 2005; Happé, 1993; Happé & Loth, 2002; Langdon, Davies, & Coltheart, 2002; Leslie & Happé, 1989; Mitchell, Robinson, & Thompson, 1999; Peterson & Siegal, 2000; Winner, Brownell, Happé, Blum, & Pincus, 1998). However, this assertion was disputed by Martin and McDonald (2003). The same brain regions appear to support theory of mind, narrative interpretation (Fletcher et al., 1995; Maguire, Frith, & Morris, 1999; Vogeley et al., 2001), and narrative production (Braun, Guillemin, Hosey, & Varga, 2001), and are implicated in neurologically impaired narrative processing (Benowitz, Moya, & Levine, 1990; Rehak et al., 1992). This is consistent with the work of Surian, Baron-Cohen, and Van der Lely (1996), who found that autistic children perform at chance in detecting violations of Gricean conversational maxims, and with evidence of writing difficulties in autism (Asaro & Saddler, 2009; Griffin, Griffin, Fitch, Albera, & Gingras, 2006). Similar results obtain for ADHD students, who appear to construct simplified social representations (Milch-Reich, Campbell, Pelham, Connelly, & Geva, 1999) and also experience difficulties in writing (Barbro, Thernlund, & Nettelbladt, 2006). In short, social inferencing and theory of mind constitute a cognitive domain—a critical one focused specifically on what Bereiter and Scardamalia (1987) called the rhetorical problem space.

The kinds of inferences required as part of the social mode are usually conflated with other kinds of inferences in reading research, under the heading situation model (Graesser, Singer, & Trabasso, 1994; Kintsch, 1986). However, we wish to distinguish those inferences that form part of a system of reasoning about persons and personal interactions from those that form part of a more general conceptual mode, for reasons that will become clear when the literature for each is reviewed.

Asaro, K., & Saddler, B. (2009). Effects of planning instruction on a young writer with Asperger's Syndrome. Intervention in school and clinic, 44(5), 268-275.

Barbro, B., Thernlund, G., & Nettelbladt, U. (2006). ADHD and language impairment. European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 15(1), 52-60.

Baron-Cohen, S. (1995). Mindblindness: An essay on autism and theory of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Benowitz, L. I., Moya, K. L., & Levine, D. N. (1990). Impaired verbal reasoning and constructional apraxia in subjects with right hemisphere damage. Neuropsychologia, 28, 23-41.

Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1987). The psychology of written composition. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Braun, A. R., Guillemin, A., Hosey, L., & Varga, M. (2001). The neural organization of discourse: An H215O-PET study of narrative production in English and American Sign Language. Brain, 124, 2028-2044

Fletcher, P. C., Happé, F. G., Frith, U., Baker, S. C., Dolan, R. J., Frackowiak, R. S. J., & Frith, C. D. (1995). Other minds in the brain: a functional imaging study of 'theory of mind' in story comprehension. Cognition, 57, 109-128.

Gallese, V., & Goldman, A. (1998). Mirror neurons and the simulation theory of mind-reading. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 2, 493-501.

Graesser, A. C., Singer, M., & Trabasso, T. (1994). Constructing inferences during narrative text comprehension. Psychological Review, 101(3), 371-395.

Griffin, H. C., Griffin, L. W., Fitch, C. W., Albera, V., & Gingras, H. (2006). Educational interventions for individuals with Asperger's syndrome. Intervention in School and Clinic, 41(3), 150-155.

Hale, C. M., & Tager-Flussberg, H. (2005). Social communication in children with autism. Autism, 9(2), 157-178.

Happé, F. G. (1993). Communicative competence and theory of mind in autism: A test of relevance theory. Cognition, 48(2), 101-119.

Happé, F. G., & Loth, E. (2002). 'Theory of mind' and tracking speakers' intentions. Mind & Language, 17(1&2), 24-36.

Jenkins, J. M., & Astington, J. W. (1996). Cognitive factors and family structure associated with theory of mind development in young children. Developmental Psychology, 32, 70-78.

Kintsch, W. (1986). Learning from text. Cognition and Instruction, 3(2), 87-108.

Langdon, R., Davies, M., & Coltheart, M. (2002). Understanding minds and understanding communicated meanings in schizophrenia. Mind & Language, 17(1&2), 68-104.

Leslie, A. M., & Happé, F. G. (1989). Autism and ostensive communication: The relevance of metarepresentation. Development and Psychopathology, 1, 205-212.

Maguire, E. A., Frith, C. D., & Morris, G. M. (1999). The functional neuroanatomy of comprehension and memory: The importance of prior knowledge. Brain, 122, 1839-1850.

Mar, R. A. (2004). The neuropsychology of narrative: Story comprehension, story production and their interrelation. Neuropsychologia, 42(10), 1414-1434.

Mar, R. A., Djikic, M., & Oatley, K. (2008). Effects of reading on knowledge, social abilities and selfhood. In S. Zyngier, M. Bortolussi, A. Chesnokova, & J. Auracher (Eds.), Directions in empirical literary studies: In honor of Willie van Peer (pp. 127-138). Philadelphia, PA: Benjamins.

Mar, R. A., Oatley, K., Hirsh, J., de la Paz, J., & Peterson, J. B. (2005). Bookworms versus nerds: Exposure to fiction versus non-fiction, divergent associations with social ability, and the simulation of fictional social worlds. Journal of Research in Personality, 40, 694-712.

Martin, I., & McDonald, S. (2003). Weak coherence, no theory of mind, or executive dysfunction? Solving the puzzle of pragmatic language disorders. Brain and Language, 85, 451-466.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., Caruso, D. R., & Sitarenios, G. (2001). Emotional intelligence as a standard intelligence. Emotion, 1, 232–242.

Mey, J. L. (2001). Pragmatics: An introduction. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Milch-Reich, S., Campbell, S. B., Pelham, W. E., Jr., Connelly, L. M., & Geva, D. (1999). Developmental and individual differences in children's on-line representations of dynamic social events. Child Development, 70(2), 413-431.

Mitchell, P., Robinson, E., & Thompson, D. (1999). Children's understanding that utterances emanate from minds: Using speaker belief to aid interpretation. Cognition, 72, 45-66.

Ostman, J.-O., & Verschuren, J. (2005). Handbook of pragmatics online. Retrieved from http://www.benjamins.com/online/hop/

Peterson, C. C., & Siegal, M. (2000). Insights into theory of mind from deafness and autism. Mind and Language, 15, 123-145.

Rehak, A., Kaplan, J. A., Weylman, S. T., Kelly, B., Brownell, H. H., & Gardner, H. (1992). Story processing in right hemisphere brain-damaged patients. Brain and Language, 42, 320-366.

Rizzolatti, G., & Craighero, L. (2004). The mirror neuron system. Annual Review of Neuroscience, 27, 169-192.

Surian, L., Baron-Cohen, S., & van der Lely, H. K. J. (1996). Are children with autism deaf to Gricean maxims? Cognitive Neuropsychology, 1(1), 55-71.

Vogeley, K., Bussfeld, P.,Newen, A., Herrmann, S., Happé, F., Falkai, P., Maier…Zilles, K. (2001). Mind reading: Neural mechanisms of theory of mind and self-perspective. NeuroImage 14(1), 170-181.

Wellman, H. M. (1990). The child's theory of mind. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Wellman, H. M., & Gelman, S. A. (1992). Cognitive development: Foundational theories of core domains. Annual Review of Pschology, 43, 337-375.

Winner, E., Brownell, H. H., Happé, F. G., Blum, A., & Pincus, D. (1998). Distinguishing lies from jokes: Theory of mind deficits and discourse interpretation in right hemisphere brain-damaged patients. Brain and Language, 62(1), 89-106.

Zwaan, R. A. (1999). Five dimensions of narrative comprehension: The event-indexing model. In S. R. Goldman, T. Trabasso, A. C. Graesser, & P. W. van der Broek (Eds.), Narrative comprehension, causality, and coherence (pp. 77-110). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Zwaan, R. A. (2004). The immersed experiencer: Toward an embodied theory of language comprehension. In B. H. Ross (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Advances in research and theory (Vol. 44, pp. 35-62). Oxford, UK: Elsevier.

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