Home > Strategies and Skill Development > Social Reasoning Strategy Families > Social Modeling

Social-modeling strategies are methods for keeping track of the actions and interactions of multiple agents with the world; as such, social modeling incorporates a complex of basic human abilities (tracking purposes of actions, conflicts between agents,or timelines of events). People have significant ability to represent ordinary social situations. Strategies for analyzing such situations, such as creating timelines, casts of characters, and a variety of other such techniques, provide people with richer metacognitive resources for understanding more complex social situations, including the communicative, rhetorical situations that form occasions for writing. The hypothesized development of these skills is presented in Development Table 2.

Social modeling is just as relevant to literature as it is to real life. Literary texts are characteristically representations of social situations; in their more complex forms, they involve manipulation both of a represented world and of the way the author presents it to the reader. This class of strategies and the associated interpretive skills support Reading Standard 3 from the Common Core State Standards.

Literature Note - Social Modeling
Literature Note - Social Modeling - Interpretation
Literature Note - Development of Social Expressive Skills for Written Text

Development Table 2. Hypotheses about Development of Social-Modeling Skills
Can interpret the action of others by imagining what one would do oneself in the same situation.
Thus, when reading, one may predict the comprehensibility and interest of a text by one’s own immediate reaction to it.
Can apply mental simulation strategies based upon the assumption that other people will act very much like oneself.
Can produce sentences or utterances that reflect one’s own motivations and purposes.
Foundational (fundamental literacies)
Can interpret the actions of others by applying general schemas that define prototypical patterns of social interactions.
Thus, when reading, one may assume that the purpose and content of a text is entirely that which would be predicted by the genre to which it belongs.
Can apply social prediction strategies that use prototypes and schemas to simulate how people may behave in a relatively small set of stereotyped, standardized situation types.
Can produce sentences and short texts that reflect conventional purposes for writing.
(text-based literacy)
Can interpret the actions of others by building and applying a different mental model for each person.
Thus, when reading, one may interpret a text by inferring what the author is attempting to accomplish and imagining how the audience is likely to react.
Can apply social simulation strategies that posit individual attributes for each participant in a social situation.
Can produce situationally focused texts that are aimed at and responsive to a specific occasion for writing.
(multiple perspectives)
Can interpret a text by considering multiple potential purposes and multiple potential audiences, thus raising the possibility that a text will give rise to multiple layers of meaning.
Can apply perspective-based strategies to simulate multiple participants in a discourse.
Can produce rhetorically focused texts that are designed to have different (but simultaneous) effects on different potential audiences.
(discourse communities)
Can interpret a text by considering its antecedents and precedents within a discourse community, thus raising the possibility that a text will have very different significance to members of that community than it will to outsiders.
Can model community structure and values and use these to simulate likely rhetorical moves within a discourse community.
Can produce texts that are finely tuned to the issues and concerns most of interest to particular discourse communities, without assuming particular individuals as the target audience.

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