Modeling the Predictive Social Mind

Trends Cogn Sci. 2018 Mar;22(3):201-212. doi: 10.1016/j.tics.2017.12.005. Epub 2018 Jan 18.


The social mind is tailored to the problem of predicting the mental states and actions of other people. However, social cognition researchers have only scratched the surface of the predictive social mind. We discuss here a new framework for explaining how people organize social knowledge and use it for social prediction. Specifically, we propose a multilayered framework of social cognition in which two hidden layers - the mental states and traits of others - support predictions about the observable layer - the actions of others. A parsimonious set of psychological dimensions structures each layer, and proximity within and across layers guides social prediction. This simple framework formalizes longstanding intuitions from social cognition, and in doing so offers a generative model for deriving new hypotheses about predictive social cognition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Models, Psychological*
  • Social Perception*
  • Theory of Mind*