Research Group
in Analytic Philosophy

Philosophy of Social Cognition

Duration: 2022 - 2026

Code: PID2021-124100NB-I00

All researchers

Jules Holroyd (Sheffield)
Katharine Jenkins (Glasgow)
Mari Mikkola (Amsterdam)
Susanna Schellenberg (Rutgers)
Susanna Siegel (Harvard)
Robin Zheng (Yale-NUS)


The focus of this research project lies at the interface between the philosophy and the scientific understanding of human social cognition, i.e., the study of how we perceive and understand socially relevant categories. It addresses key philosophical issues concerning social perception, social cognition, and social ontology.

The central idea is to examine the conceptual and empirical relationships among the perceptual and cognitive processes that underlie socially relevant mental representations and the nature of the social structures thus represented.

The general objective of this research project is to examine the conceptual and empirical foundations of human social cognition. The perception of members of socially relevant categories often unknowingly and unintentionally activates social knowledge. This automatic activation of social knowledge includes explicit and implicit attitudes and social stereotypes, which influence people’s judgments and behaviour. Therefore, the general hypothesis that drives this project is that an analysis of the conceptual and empirical underpinnings of our socially relevant mental lives needs to investigate the relationships between our mental representations of social facts—both at the perceptual and cognitive level—and the nature of such social facts. 

The project is structured around three general objectives:

1.     To provide a philosophical understanding of the processes of perceptual information relevant to human social cognition.

2.     To examine the role of social knowledge, and the concepts of which it is built, in the perception of and the behaviour toward members of socially relevant categories.

3.     To offer an account of the ontology of relevant social categories.

The project will be developed along three different dimensions: social perception, social cognition, and social ontology. 

Key words: implicit attitudes, social perception, social cognition, social concepts, social ontology