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Animal ThinkingContemporary Issues in Comparative Cognition$
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Randolf Menzel and Julia Fischer

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780262016636

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262016636.001.0001

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Social Knowledge

Social Knowledge

Chapter:
(p.267) 18 Social Knowledge
Source:
Animal Thinking
Author(s):

Keith Jensen

Joan B. Silk

Kristin Andrews

Redouan Bshary

Dorothy L. Cheney

Nathan Emery

Charlotte K. Hemelrijk

Kay Holekamp

Derek C. Penn

Josef Perner

Christoph Teufel

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262016636.003.0018

The social milieus of animals can be complex, ranging from almost completely asocial to monogamous pairs (no mean feat) to entire societies. To adapt to a constantly shifting environment of individuals striving toward their own goals, animals appear to have evolved specialized cognitive abilities. As appealing and intuitive as the idea of social cognition is, just defining it is difficult. We attempted to delineate social cognition, speculate on its adaptive value, and come to an understanding of what we mean when we talk about complexity. Transitive inference is presented as an example of a cognitive ability that is important for social animals, as is theory of mind. There are a number of challenges and debates in trying to determine what cognitive abilities different animals use to solve their social problems. This chapter discusses methodological approaches and issues needed to propel the future of research into social knowledge.

Keywords:   Strüngmann Forum Reports, social cognition, folk psychology, social cognition, theory of mind, empathy, symhedonia, transitive inference

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