Current Directions in Psychological Science
social awareness, tamarins, mirror neurons, evolution
—Humans seem unique in their consideration of others’ goals, motivations, intentions, and needs. But the human form of social awareness did not spring from nowhere; certain mechanisms shared across primates formed the foundation from which these processes derived. A review of recent nonhuman primate research points to particular ancestral mechanisms, including an interest in images moving in synchrony with self, a mirror neuron system that responds in the same way to actions made by the self and by others, and inherited social tolerance that provided the bases for social thinking. Still there is a gap in tracking social awareness from these basic beginnings to the ability to think about self and other with respect to intentions and goals. Comparative and clinical work will fill in this gap and will map brain processes onto social thinking.
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Neiworth, J. J. (2009). Thinking About Me: How Social Awareness Evolved. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 18 (3), 143-147. Accessed via Carleton Digital Commons, Faculty Work, Psychology. https://digitalcommons.carleton.edu/psyc_faculty/2