Social psychology as a natural kind

Trends Cogn Sci. 2009 Jun;13(6):246-51. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2009.03.008. Epub 2009 May 6.


Although typically defined as the study of how people and groups interact, the field of social psychology comprises several disparate domains that make only indirect contributions to understanding interpersonal interaction, such as emotion, attitudes and the self. Although these various phenomena seem to have little in common, recent evidence indicates that the topics at the core of social psychology form a natural group of domains with a common functional neuroanatomy, centered on the medial prefrontal cortex. That self-referential, attitudinal, affective and other social phenomena converge on this region might reflect their shared reliance on inexact and internally generated estimates that differ from the more precise representations underlying other psychological phenomena.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Mapping
  • Humans
  • Internal-External Control
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Psychology, Social*
  • Social Behavior*