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date: 15 November 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter discusses several issues important for understanding the evolution of social cognition, defined simply as the collection of skills that are important, and perhaps unique, to living in groups. These skills are not limited to but may include social recognition, recognition of social communication signals, like facial expressions, following gaze/perspective taking, and understanding others’ intentions. Social cognition can be fully understood through careful examination of the communicative patterns that occur between individuals, each with unique relationship history. In this view, social cognition is best described as a form of distributed cognition, an emergent property of unique relationships within a social environment.

Keywords: communication, emotion, facial expression, cooperation, empathy, theory of mind, homology, brain size, social function, social complexity, social affordance, primates, evolution, social cognition

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