Mindreading is often considered to be the most important human social cognitive skill, and over the past three decades, several theories of the cognitive mechanisms for mindreading have been proposed. But why do we read minds? According to the standard view, we attribute mental states to individuals to predict and explain their behavior. I argue that the standard view is too general to capture the distinctive function of mindreading, and that it does not explain what motivates people to read minds. In order to understand why mindreading is evolutionarily adaptive, individually beneficial, and motivationally compelling, we need to include another level of explanation: the level of social relationships. I introduce a theory of the cognitive underpinnings of social relationships—the relational models theory of Alan Fiske. I outline the hypothesis that the function of mindreading is to shape social relations. I further hypothesize that mindreading is often motivated by social emotions. If mindreading serves r..