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Definition

Social cognition is the study of information processing by a person in a social setting. It's a sub-topic of social psychology that concentrates on how people process, store, and apply information about other people and social situations. Most of the social signalling happens automatically and unconsciously between sender and receiver.

Social signals, like facial expressions of fear or anger, or eye gaze direction, are particularly important in infant development. A good example is social referencing - when infants come across a new object, they refer to their parents' facial expressions to figure out if they should approach the new object or not.

Akmanoglu, N. et al. (2014) Comparing video modeling and graduated guidance together and video modeling alone for teaching role playing skills to children with autism. (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Teaching play skills is important for children with autism. The purpose of the present study was to compare effectiveness and efficiency of providing video modeling and graduated guidance together and video modeling alone for teaching role playing skills to children with autism. The study was conducted with four students. The study was conducted by using adapted alternative treatments design. Four kinds of data were collected during the study: effectiveness, efficiency, social validity, and reliability. Both teaching methods were found to be effective in teaching target skills to children with autism. Results of the study were compared with the literature and some recommendations were addressed in the study. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved). (journal abstract)

Date:
January 2014
Volume:
49
Page/s:
17-31
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pedagogy
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
  • Well-being outcomes
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Brown, M. et al. (2017) Supporting the development of empathy: The role of theory of mind and fantasy orientation (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Theory of mind (ToM) and empathy are separate, but related components of social understanding. However, research has not clearly defined the distinctions between them. Similarly, related constructs, such as fantasy orientation (FO), are associated with better ToM understanding; however, little is known about how FO may provide a context in which both ToM and affective empathy develop. Children between the ages of 3 and 5 (N = 82) completed a battery of ToM, empathy, and FO measures. Results demonstrated a developmental progression from ToM to affective empathy: 3-year-olds were likely to have neither, 4-year-olds were likely to have ToM only, and 5-year-olds were likely to have both. Additionally, results indicated that FO predicted affective empathy above and beyond ToM ability, suggesting that children whose play is high in fantasy are more practiced than their peers in sharing emotions. These findings are discussed in terms of how children's propensity toward fantasy play may contribute to their social development.

Date:
January 2017
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
26
Page/s:
951-964
Synonyms:
  • Cross-sectional
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Buggey, T. et al. (2013) The Use of Self-Modeling to Promote Social Interactions among Young Children (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Video self-modeling (VSM) has been used to teach social skills to children with autism older than 4 years of age. Attempts to use VSM with younger children with disabilities have produced less than favorable results; however, it is unclear whether VSM could be used to promote social initiations by typically developing children. Thirty minutes of staged filming, in which the four typically developing participants were prompted to interact with a peer with autism on the playground and inside during center time, was edited into 2.5- to 3-min clips. Each clip took less than 2 [hours] to edit. Data were collected on frequency of solitary play, initiations, parallel play, and engaged play and were then analyzed in a multiple-baseline-across-participants single-case design. Visual analysis led to the conclusion that VSM did not affect the typically developing children's behavior. Limitations of the study and cautions for using VSM with very young children are discussed.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
Volume:
28
Page/s:
202-211
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Engagement
  • Parallel play
  • Peers play
  • Playground
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
  • Solitary play
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Byrne, R. (2016) Counterfactual Thought (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Please click on the link provided below to read the abstract.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2016
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
67
Page/s:
135-157
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Literature review
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Fawcett, C. et al. (2012) Mimicry and play initiation in 18-month-old infants (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Across two experiments, we examined the relationship between 18-month-old infants' mimicry and social behavior - particularly invitations to play with an adult play partner. In Experiment 1, we manipulated whether an adult mimicked the infant's play or not during an initial play phase. We found that infants who had been mimicked were subsequently more likely to invite the adult to join their play with a new toy. In addition, they reenacted marginally more steps from a social learning demonstration she gave. In Experiment 2, infants had the chance to spontaneously mimic the adult during the play phase. Complementing Experiment 1, those infants who spent more time mimicking the adult were more likely to invite her to play with a new toy. This effect was specific to play and not apparent in other communicative acts, such as directing the adult's attention to an event or requesting toys. Together, the results suggest that infants use mimicry as a tool to establish social connections with others and that mimicry has specific influences on social behaviors related to initiating subsequent joint interactions.

Date:
January 2012
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
35
Page/s:
689-696
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Experimental
  • Object play
  • Play with other adult
  • Social cognition
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Freeman, S. et al. (2013) Parent-child interactions in autism: characteristics of play (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Although the literature on parent-child interactions in young children with autism has examined dyadic style, synchrony, and sustained engagement, the examination of parental skill in sustaining and developing play skills themselves has not been targeted. This study examined the extent to which parents of young children with autism match and scaffold their child's play. Sixteen dyads of parents and their children with autism participated in this study along with 16 matched dyads of typically developing children. Both groups were administered a structured play assessment and were observed during a 10-min free play situation. Strategies of play were examined and results revealed that parents of children with autism initiated more play schemes and suggested and commanded play acts more than parents of typical children. They also responded to their child's play acts more often with a higher level play act, while parents of typical children matched/expanded their responses to their child. Parent imitation was also related to longer sequences of play. The findings can guide further research and play intervention for parents.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2013
Volume:
17
Page/s:
147-161
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Engagement
  • Free play
  • Object play
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Play assessment
  • Playful learning
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Gilpin, A. et al. (2015) Relations Between Fantasy Orientation and Emotion Regulation in Preschool (Journal Article)

Abstract:

Research Findings: Emotion regulation is a strong predictor of both short- and long-term peer relationships and social competence and is often targeted in preschool curricula and interventions. Pretense is a natural activity of childhood that is thought to facilitate the development of socialization, perspective taking, language, and possibly emotion regulation. This study investigated whether fantasy-oriented children, who engage in more pretense, demonstrate higher levels of emotion regulation. Prekindergartners (n = 103) and teachers were given a battery of measures assessing children’s emotion regulation, fantasy orientation, theory of mind, and language. Results from hierarchical regression analyses indicated that children’s proclivity toward fantastical play (their fantasy orientation) uniquely predicted 24% of the variance in their emotion regulation skills over and above typical predictors: age, theory of mind, and language skills. That is, children who participated in more fantasy pretense demonstrated better emotion regulation skills than their peers. Practice or Policy: The present study suggests that future research, curriculum, and interventions should focus on targeting fantastical pretense to assess causal mechanisms of emotion regulation development. Teachers and parents should encourage children’s fantastical pretense, as research suggests it may be an important contributor to the development of critical socialization skills such as emotion regulation.

Date:
January 2015
Publisher or Journal:
Volume:
26
Page/s:
920-932
Synonyms:
  • Affective behaviour
  • Correlational
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline:

Hobson, J. et al. (2013) The relation between social engagement and pretend play in autism (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The focus of this study is the nature and concomitants of pretend play among young children with autism. Age- and language-matched children with autism (n= 27), autism spectrum disorder (n= 14), and developmental disorders without autism (n= 16) were administered the Test of Pretend Play (ToPP; Lewis & Boucher, 1997), with an additional rating of 'playful pretence'. As predicted, children with autism showed less playful pretend than participants with developmental disorders who did not have autism. Across the groups, playful pretence was correlated with individual differences in communication and social interaction, even when scores on the ToPP were taken into account. Limitations in creative, playful pretend among children with autism relate to their restricted interpersonal communication and engagement.

Date:
January 2013
Volume:
31
Page/s:
114-127
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Correlational
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Research discipline:

Hobson, J. et al. (2015) Symbolizing as interpersonally grounded shifts in meaning: social play in children with and without autism (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The aim of this study was to examine the relation between symbolic play and communicative engagement among children with and without autism. Our predictions were firstly, that in moment-by-moment interactions during semi-structured interactive play with an adult, children with and without autism would tend to show shifts in meanings in symbolic play when engaged in coordinated states of joint engagement (events involving 'sharing-of-meaning'); secondly, that across atypically developing participants, sharing-of-meaning would (a) correlate with scores on a standardized test of pretend play, and (b) be inversely correlated with scores on the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule; and finally, that participants with autism would contrast with matched developmentally delayed participants in manifesting lower levels of joint engagement, lower levels of symbolic play, and fewer shifts in symbolic meaning. Each of these predictions was borne out. The intimate developmental relation between social engagement and symbolic play appears to be important for explaining the developmental psychopathology of autism.

Date:
January 2015
Volume:
45
Page/s:
42-52
Synonyms:
  • Atypical development
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Language
  • Pretend play
  • Social cognition
  • Social play
  • Social-emotional
  • Symbolic play
Research discipline:

Hoicka, E. et al. (2012) Early humour production (Journal Article)

Abstract:

The current studies explored early humour as a complex socio-cognitive phenomenon by examining 2- and 3-year-olds’ humour production with their parents. We examined whether children produced novel humour, whether they cued their humour, and the types of humour produced. Forty-seven parents were interviewed, and videotaped joking with their children. Other parents (N= 113) completed a survey. Parents reported children copy jokes during the first year of life, and produce novel jokes from 2 years. In play sessions, 3-year-olds produced mostly novel humorous acts; 2-year-olds produced novel and copied humorous acts equally frequently. Parents reported children smile, laugh, and look for a reaction when joking. In play sessions, 2- and 3-year-olds produced these behaviours more when producing humorous versus non-humorous acts. In both parent reports and play sessions, they produced novel object-based (e.g., underwear on head) and conceptual humour (e.g., ‘pig says moo’) and used wrong labels humorously (e.g., calling a cat a dog). Thus, parent report and child behaviour both confirm that young children produce novel humorous acts, and share their humour by smiling, laughing, and looking for a reaction.

Author/s:
Date:
January 2012
Volume:
30
Page/s:
586–603
Synonyms:
  • Developmental outcomes
  • Humour
  • Parent/Guardian play
  • Social cognition
  • Social-emotional
Relevant age group/s:
Research discipline: