The fourth chapter argues that explanation may be the function of social cognition, aiding survival and driving human evolution. It explores the psychological literature on anthropomorphism—instances where people bring non-human agents and entities to life by engaging social cognition—and describes it as a type of ‘magical’ or imaginary thinking. It then contrasts this ability with dehumanizing people, describing the brain mechanisms enabling dehumanization, and the functions of withholding social cognition to people. It then considers extending social cognition to animals as a domain where the flexible nature of social cognition is revealed. Finally, it implicates explanation as a causal factor in intractable group conflict.
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