What Is Social Neuroscience?

Abstract (Via Greg J Norman, John T Cacioppo2 and Gary G Berntson)

Social species, by definition, create emergent organizations beyond the individual that range in humans from dyads, families, and groups to cities, civilizations, and cultures. These emergent structures evolved hand-in-hand with neural, hormonal, and genetic mechanisms to support them because the consequent social behaviors helped these organisms survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too survived to reproduce. Social neuroscience is concerned with investigating these emergent structures and the underlying neural, hormonal, and genetic mechanisms that make them possible. As such, it represents an interdisciplinary approach devoted to understanding how biological systems implement social processes and behavior, and to using biological concepts and methods to inform and refine theories of social processes and behavior.


Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary approach to the study of complex social structures, processes, and behaviors. In particular, this field is concerned with the study of social networks, the individuals that create them and the neural, hormonal, and genetic mechanisms that allow for their existence. While the broad range of disciplines encompassed by social neuroscience presents a challenge for its practitioners, its ability to refine and calibrate the concepts at one level of analysis (e.g., social psychology) through the application of knowledge from another (e.g., neuroscience) can foster experimental tests of otherwise indistinguishable theoretical explanations, while simultaneously increasing the comprehensiveness and relevance of the work.

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23. January 2010 by Miguel Barbosa
Categories: Curated Readings, Psychology & Sociology | Leave a comment

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