Understanding rules: Cognitive and noncognitive models of social cognition (ESF/VR)

Project: Research

Project Details

Layman's description

Normativity permeates all dimensions of human existence. That understanding norms demands complex cognitive resources has been contested from theoretical, empirical and phenomenological perspectives. We investigate noncognitive models that explain normativity as residing in embodied socio-cultural practices. Norms are built into technology and artefacts and are acquired in emotional engagement.

Understanding rules: Cognitive and noncognitive models of social cognition is part of the international project Understanding the Normative Dimensions of Human Conduct:Conceptual and Developmental Issues (NormCon). NormCon investigates the understanding of norms and rules in domains that precede the development of higher-order mental abilities in children. The Swedish subproject is looking into the very foundations of normative understanding: Normativity is key to human conduct and permeates both collective and instrumental action. According to cognitive models, rule-following and compliance are intellectual achievements. Non-cognitive models challenge the orthodoxy of cognitive models of social interaction in terms of rational agents’ higher-order intentional states about themselves and other agents. From theoretical, empirical, and phenomenological perspectives, non-cognitive models contest that following a rule or complying with a norm demands complex cognitive resources. They explain normativity as residing in the embodied socio-cultural practices of a community. Norms and values are built into technology and artefacts in local contexts and are acquired in engagement, and the motivation to comply originates from the emotional experiences that norms evoke. In our project we assess the theoretical and ontological commitments of the cognitive and non-cognitive models against the background of developmental data and investigate the prospects for integrating the models.
Effective start/end date2011/01/012014/12/31


  • Swedish Research Council