Instructor: Chuck Kalish          Office: 1067 Edsciences           Ph: 262-0840

This course will explore children's developing understanding of the social world.  There are many aspects to thinking about social content, we'll focus on three main topics: explaining people's behavior, understanding social institutions, and conceptions of human groups and types.  These topics will be discussed within the overall framework of children's developing theories of mind.  We will consider the origins of social cognition in infancy and explore how this cognition changes into adulthood.  Within this developmental approach, we will focus on the preschool years as the time when most of the crucial elements of social cognition appear. 

Requirements and Assignments

Seminar Papers: Each student will be responsible for writing a seminar paper once during the semester.  There will be 1-2 papers for each class period and students will sign-up for particular topics.  The seminar paper is a short (about 2 pages single-spaced) analysis of one of the papers we will be discussing in class.  The seminar paper is an analysis of the argument in the target reading. What is the author claiming? Why does s/he think this is an important claim? Finally, and not most importantly, did s/he make the case? The second point: Why should we care? is the most important focus of the seminar paper. This paper will form part of the basis for our in-class discussion of the question and will be distributed to all the participants.  Since the seminar paper is part of the required reading for the class period it must be available no later than 7:00 pm of the Wednesday before class.  The paper will be distributed using the Discussion section of the Learn@UW.  Authors will make brief presentations of their papers to the class.

Weekly Questions: Participants who are not presenting a project or seminar paper will contribute a question/comment each week; Although the content of the question is up to you, I would prefer a question or comment on the significance of the readings or topic. Like the seminar paper, some question or suggestion about the implication of what we are reading would be best. The purpose is to ensure that everyone does the reading and to provide me with some feedback. These questions should be posted to the weekly Discussion topic on Learn@UW.

3-Credit Presentation: Students taking the class for three credits will have the additional responsibility of an in-class presentation.  Students should work individually or in groups of 2-3.  This assignment involves making a presentation on a topic related to the class. I have a list of topics. If you would like to choose something else, you must check with me. You will assign a short reading, and distribute a seminar paper outlining the issues involved..  These presentations will be scheduled for the final classes of the semester.  Plan on about 10-15 minutes of presentation and 20-30  minutes of discussion.

Final paper: (due the Weds. after the last day of class).  This paper should take the form of a brief discussion relating some aspect of the class (broadly defined) to your own research interests/program of study  (also broadly defined).  In this paper I am looking for evidence that you have gotten something useful out of the class.  How might you approach your research differently in light of this class.  Have the readings generated any new questions or answered any old ones for you?  You might choose to write this paper in the form of a proposal for a research project.  For 2-credit students this paper may be fairly brief (5-7 pages double-spaced).  For 3-credit students I would like a more substantial paper (10-15 pages double-spaced).  Ideally this final paper would include material from your presentation.

Last, but most importantly: All students are expected to be active participants in in-class discussions.  Class participation is the primary requirement for the class. See me if you have any questions or concerns about your grade or your ability to participate in class discussions.

Text and Readings

All readings are available on the learn@uw site. If you have difficulty accessing or printing, please let me know.

1/26        What is social cognition?   

2/2          History & Big Picture 

Shantz, C. (1983). Social Cognition. In Flavell & Markman (Eds.) Handbook of Child Psychology.

*Tomasello, M., Carpenter, M., & Call, J. (2005). Understanding and sharing intentions: The origins of cultural cognition. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Vol 28(5), pp. 675-735.           

2/9          Theory of Mind

What is our commonsense understanding of the mind like?     

*Wellman, H. M. (1992). The child's theory of mind: The MIT Press. Chapter 4   

Gopnik, A., & Wellman, H. M. (1992). Why the child's theory of mind really is a theory. Mind & Language, 7, 145-171.          

2/16        Social cognition in infancy

What do infants know about the behavior of animate (social?) and inanimate (physical?) objects        

* Leslie, A M.; Friedman, O; German, T P. (2004). Core mechanisms in 'theory of mind'.  Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 529-533.

 Gergely, G. & Csibra, G (2003). Teleological reasoning in infancy: The na•ve theory of rational action. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 287-292.    

Woodward, Sommerville,  & Guajardo, (2001). How infants make sense of intentional action. ; In: Malle, Baldwin, & Moses. Intentions and intentionality: Foundations of social cognition. (pp. 149-169). Cambridge, MA, US: The MIT Press.

2/23        ToddlersÕ & Preschoolers' theories of mind

Why are false-belief and pretense so interesting?         

Wellman, Cross, & Watson. (2001). Meta-analysis of theory-of-mind development: The truth about false belief. Child Development, 72, 655-685. and commentary: to p. 707.

* Kavanaugh, Robert D.(2006).  Pretend Play and Theory of Mind.   In Balter, Lawrence; Tamis-LeMonda, Catherine S.; Child psychology: A handbook of contemporary issues (2nd ed.). pp. 153-166  New York, NY, US: Psychology.

3/2          Evaluating social communications

Why do children listen to what others tell them? Who do they believe?

Sabbagh. M. & Baldwin, D. (2001). Learning words from knowledgeable versus ignoratnt peakers: Links between preschooersÕ theory of mind and semantic development. Child Development,72, 1054-1070.

*Clˇment, F., Koenig, M., & Harris, P. L. (2004). The ontogenesis of trust. Mind and Language, 19, 360-379.

Siegal, M., & Surian, L. (2004). Conceptual development and conversational understanding. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 8, 534-538

3/9   Theories of Motivation: Personality

What do people want? 

Kalish, C. W., & Shiverick, S. M. (2004). Children's reasoning about norms and traits as motives for behavior. Cognitive Development, 19, 401-416.

* Terwogt, M M; Rieffe, C (2003).. Stereotyped beliefs about desirability: Implications for characterizing the child's theory of mind.  New Ideas in Psychology, 21,69-84.

Yuill, N. (1997). Children's understanding of traits. In S. Hala (Ed.) The development of social cognition.      NY: Psychology Press

3/16        Stereotyping & Social Judgments

How might theory of mind relate to stereotyping?       

Gelman, S & Heyman, G. (1999). Carrot-eaters and creature-believers: The effects of lexicalization on children's inferences about social categories. Psychological Science, 10, 489-493.    

 Levy, S R.; Plaks, JE., & Hong, Y (2001). Static versus dynamic theories and the perception of groups: Different routes to different destinations. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 5, 156-168.

*  Abrams, D; Rutland, A. & Cameron, L (2007). Older but Wilier: In-Group Accountability and the Development of Subjective Group Dynamics. Developmental Psychology,  43,134-148

3/23        Types of people- Social categories

Is TOM all there is to understanding people?  

* Hirschfeld, L A. (2006).  Who Needs a Theory of Mind? In: Viale, Riccardo; Andler, Daniel; Hirschfeld, Lawrence (pp 131-159).  Biological and cultural bases of human inference. ; Mahwah, NJ, US: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Watson, M. W. (1984). Development of social role understanding. Developmental Review, 4, 192-213.     

Kashima, Y; Kashima, E; Chiu, C-Y (2005). Culture, essentialism, and agency: Are individuals universally believed to be more real entities than groups?   European Journal of Social Psychology, 35,. pp. 147-169.

3/30 SRCD No Class

4/6 Spring Break

4/13        ŅSocietal CognitionÓ

What are the supra-personal social structures that children need to learn about?

Berti, A. E. (2005). ChildrenÕs understanding of politics. In M. Barrett & E. Buchanan-Barrow (Eds.) ChildrenÕs Understanding of Society. (pp. 69-101). New York: Psychology Press.     

Bowes, J M.; Goodnow, J J. (1996). Work for home, school, or labor force: The nature and sources of changes in understanding.   Psychological Bulletin, 119, 300-321.

*Hatano, G. & Takahashi, K (2005). The development of societal cognition: A commentary. In M. Barrett & E. Buchanan-Barrow (Eds.) ChildrenÕs Understanding of Society. (pp. 287-304). New York: Psychology Press.      

4/20        Conventions & Intentions

Construction of social reality: What allows children to inhabit a world built of social conventions?

*Rakoczy (in press). Play, games, and the development of collective intentionality. In C. Kalish & M. Sabbagh (eds.) Conventionality and Cognitive Development, New Directions in Child and Adolescent Psychology V 115.

Kalish, C. W.., & Sabbagh, M. H. (in press) Introduction In C. Kalish & M. Sabbagh (eds.) Conventionality and Cognitive Development, New Directions in Child and Adoolescent Psychology V 115.

Komatsu, L., & Galotti (1986). ChildrenÕs reasoning about social, physical, and logical regularities: A look at two worlds. Child Development, 57, 413-420.

4/27        Rule following

Peterson, L, (1982).,  An alternative perspective to norm-based explanations of modeling and children's generosity: A reply to Lipscomb, Larrieu, McAllister, and Bregman.   Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, Vol 28(2), Apr 1982. pp. 283-290

*  Kochanska, G; Aksan, N. (2006). Children's Conscience and Self-Regulation. Journal of Personality,74, 1587-1617

Lagattuta, K H (2005). When You Shouldn't Do What You Want to Do: Young Children's Understanding of Desires, Rules, and Emotions.   Child Development, 76, 713-733.

5/4 Presentations

5/11 Presentations/Summary



            ChildrenÕs understanding of emotions

            ChildrenÕs conceptions of race/ethnicity

            ChildrenÕs conceptions of gender and gender roles

            ChildrenÕs understanding of ownership and property

            ChildrenÕs understanding of economics

            Development of critical thinking and relativism

            ChildrenÕs conceptions of authority