We read minds to shape relationships

Philosophical Psychology 28 (5):674-694 (2015)
  Copy   BIBTEX


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..



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 86,605

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Embodied cognition and mindreading.Shannon Spaulding - 2010 - Mind and Language 25 (1):119-140.
Action, mindreading and embodied social cognition.Joshua Shepherd - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):507-518.
Signature Limits in Mindreading Systems.J. Robert Thompson - 2014 - Cognitive Science 38 (7):1432-1455.
A Critique of Embodied Simulation.Shannon Spaulding - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):579-599.
The motor theory of social cognition: a critique.Pierre Jacob & Marc Jeannerod - 2005 - Trends in Cognitive Sciences 9 (1):21-25.
Interacting mindreaders.Stephen Andrew Butterfill - 2013 - Philosophical Studies 165 (3):841-863.
Embodying the False-Belief Tasks.Michael Wilby - 2012 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 11 (4):519-540.
Interactionism and Mindreading.John Michael - 2011 - Review of Philosophy and Psychology 2 (3):559-578.
Social-affective origins of mindreading and metacognition.Philippe Rochat - 2009 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 32 (2):160-161.


Added to PP

98 (#152,091)

6 months
3 (#344,247)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Vivian Bohl
University of Tartu

Citations of this work

Interpretivism and norms.Devin Sanchez Curry - 2020 - Philosophical Studies 177 (4):905-930.
Belief in character studies.Devin Sanchez Curry - 2022 - American Philosophical Quarterly 59 (1):27-42.
The Relational Value of Empathy.Monika Betzler - 2019 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 27 (2):136-161.
The complementarity of mindshaping and mindreading.Uwe Peters - 2019 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 18 (3):533-549.

View all 14 citations / Add more citations