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John T. Cacioppo

John T. Cacioppo is Tiffany and Margaret Blake Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Psychology, Director of the Social Psychology Program, and Co-Director of the Institute for Mind and Biology at the University of Chicago.

Titles by This Editor

People Thinking about Thinking People

Social neuroscience uses the methodologies and tools developed to measure mental and brain function to study social cognition, emotion, and behavior. In this collection, John Cacioppo, Penny Visser, and Cynthia Pickett have brought together contributions from psychologists, neurobiologists, psychiatrists, radiologists, and neurologists that focus on the neurobiological underpinnings of social information processing, particularly the mechanisms underlying "people thinking about thinking people." In these studies, such methods as functional brain imaging, studies of brain lesion patients, comparative analyses, and developmental data are brought to bear on social thinking and feeling systems—the ways in which human beings influence and are influenced by other humans. The broad range of disciplines represented by the contributors confirms that among the strengths of social neuroscience are its interdisciplinary approach and the use of multiple methods that bridge disciplines and levels of analysis.

Social neuroscience has yielded insights into such aspects of social behavior as social regulation, social rejection, impression formation, self-awareness, and attitudes regarding social groups. The studies in Social Neuroscience examine topics including the neural substrates of self-awareness and social cognition, theory of mind, cortical mechanisms of language processing, stereotyping, prejudice and race, and the special quality of social cognition.

This collection of essays by a group of distinguished social neuroscientists provides the reader with an engaging overview of this emerging multidisciplinary and collaborative field. In the twentieth century, the arbitrary barrier between neuroscience and social psychology was reinforced by the specialized knowledge required by each field and an emphasis on scientific work in isolation from other disciplines; the biological and social perspectives on mind and behavior developed for the most part independently of each other. Neuroscientists often considered social factors irrelevant or minimally important, while cognitive and social scientists tended to ignore biological constraints and mechanisms as leading to what they mistakenly thought of as reductionism. By the end of the twentieth century, however, as those working in both fields were spurred by the common goal of understanding how the mind works, systematic collaborations between neuroscientists and cognitive scientists had begun. These collaborative efforts have already helped unravel aspects of perception, imagery, attention, and memory.

These essays—by leaders in the field—reflect the range of disciplines engaged and questions addressed today in social neuroscience. Topics include maternal effects and chromatin modeling; "Oxytocin and the prairie vole: a love story"; pheromones, social odors, and the unconscious; and memory.

A full understanding of the biology and behavior of humans cannot be complete without the collective contributions of the social sciences, cognitive sciences, and neurosciences. This book collects eighty-two of the foundational articles in the emerging discipline of social neuroscience.

The book addresses five main areas of research: multilevel integrative analyses of social behavior, using the tools of neuroscience, cognitive science, and social science to examine specific cases of social interaction; the relationships between social cognition and the brain, using noninvasive brain imaging to document brain function in various social situations; rudimentary biological mechanisms for motivation, emotion, and attitudes, and the shaping of these mechanisms by social factors; the biology of social relationships and interpersonal processes; and social influences on biology and health.