Beyond ‘Interaction’: How to Understand Social Effects on Social Cognition

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (1):27-52 (2019)
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Abstract

In recent years, a number of philosophers and cognitive scientists have advocated for an ‘interactive turn’ in the methodology of social-cognition research: to become more ecologically valid, we must design experiments that are interactive, rather than merely observational. While the practical aim of improving ecological validity in the study of social cognition is laudable, we think that the notion of ‘interaction’ is not suitable for this task: as it is currently deployed in the social cognition literature, this notion leads to serious conceptual and methodological confusion. In this paper, we tackle this confusion on three fronts: 1) we revise the ‘interactionist’ definition of interaction; 2) we demonstrate a number of potential methodological confounds that arise in interactive experimental designs; and 3) we show that ersatz interactivity works just as well as the real thing. We conclude that the notion of ‘interaction’, as it is currently being deployed in this literature, obscures an accurate understanding of human social cognition.

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Author Profiles

Evan Westra
Purdue University
Julius Schönherr
Peking University

References found in this work

Participatory sense-making: An enactive approach to social cognition.Hanne De Jaegher & Ezequiel Di Paolo - 2007 - Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 6 (4):485-507.
Knowledge as a Mental State.Jennifer Nagel - 2013 - Oxford Studies in Epistemology 4:275-310.
Structures of agency: essays.Michael Bratman - 2007 - New York: Oxford University Press.

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