Early socio-cognitive development

Duty and desire – The development of folk psychological models for explaining human behavior

Contact: Joscha Kärtner & Nils Schuhmacher

How do we interpret and predict human behavior and how does this faculty develop across life, especially during early childhood? In recent decades, this fascinating question has intrigued many researchers in both developmental psychology and other disciplines such as cognitive science, philosophy of mind, and cultural psychology, and this has generated a great deal of empirical research and major conceptual advances in the field. Generally, socio-cognitive development can be defined as those developments that lead to an increasingly differentiated understanding of one’s own and others’ behavior in social context. In this line of research, we follow a cross-cultural approach that considers caregivers’ folk models of human behavior and the role these play in constituting socio-cognitive development. More specifically, we focus on the relative emphasis on duties and desires as motives for human behavior in different cultures and how these relate to socio-cognitive development.

Selected publications:

  • Kärtner, J. & Keller, H. (2014). Sozialkognitive Entwicklung im Vorschulalter. In C. Röhner, H. Sünker, R. Braches-Chyrek & M. Hopf (Eds.), Handbuch frühe Kindheit. Leverkusen Opladen: Barbara Budrich Verlag.
  • Kärtner, J. & Schuhmacher, N. (2014). Folk models of human behavior and sociocognitive development. ISSBD Bulletin, 66, 6-8.