Grounding the Social Sciences in the Cognitive Sciences?

The workshop on "Cognitive Social Sciences-Grounding the Social Sciences in the Cognitive Sciences?" (here) is to be held at CogSci 2010 in Portland, Oregon, on August 11, 2010. This workshop is aimed at exploring the cognitive (psychological) basis of the social sciences and the possibilities of grounding the social sciences in cognition (psychology).



Cognitive sciences have made tremendous strides in recent decades. In particular, computational cognitive modeling (i.e., computational psychology; Sun, 2008; Thagard, 1996) has changed the ways in which cognition/psychology is explored and understood in many profound respects. There have been many models of cognition/psychology proposed in the cognitive sciences (broadly defined), leading to detailed understanding of many cognitive/psychological domains and functionalities. Empirical psychological research has also progressed to provide us with much better understanding of many psychological phenomena.

Given the advances in the cognitive sciences, can we leverage the successes for the sake of better understanding social processes and phenomena? More fundamentally, can the cognitive sciences (including experimental cognitive psychology, computational psychology, social-personality psychology, developmental psychology, cultural psychology, psycholinguistics, philosophy of mind, cognitive neuroscience, and so on) provide a better foundation for important disciplines of the social sciences (sociology, anthropology, economics, political science, ethics, as well as some "humanity" fields: religious studies, history, legal studies, literary studies, communication, and so on)?

Thus far, although very much a neglected topic, there nevertheless have been various efforts at exploring this topic. Some of the efforts were computationally motivated (see, e.g., Sun, 2006: "Cognition and multi-agent interaction", published by Cambridge University Press). Some other efforts are more empirical or theoretical in nature (see, e.g., Turner, 2001: "Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science", published by Oxford University Press).

There are both theoretical and practical rationales for developing "cognitive social sciences" (see Turner, 2001; Sun, 2006; DiMaggio, 1997; Tetlock and Goldgeier, 2000; Camerer, 2003). We contend that the social sciences may find their future in the cognitive sciences (at least in part), which may well lead to a powerful and productive combined intellectual enterprise. This combination or grounding may provide the social sciences with imaginative scientific research programs, hybridization/integration, new syntheses, novel paradigms/frameworks, and so on, besides providing the cognitive sciences new data sources and problems to address.

The presentation and discussion at this workshop may lead to a collection of major work in the form of a well edited book to be published by a major academic publisher.

Confirmed keynote speakers:
Pascal Boyer
Paul Thagard
Mark Turner

For regular oral presentation, please submit a paper of 3-8 pages, in the usual CogSci conference format (as specified at: ). Please email the submission to: rsun at rpi dot edu

For short oral or poster presentation, please submit an extended abstract of 1 page, in the usual CogSci conference format (as specified at: ). Please email the submission to: rsun at rpi dot edu

Submission Deadline:
February 15, 2010

Workshop Chair:
Ron Sun

Workshop Program Committee:
Ron Sun
Philip Tetlock
Paul Thagard
Paul Bello
Jun Zhang


Camerer, C. (2003). Behavioral Game Theory: Experiments on Strategic Interaction. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

DiMaggio, P. (1997). Culture and cognition. Annual Review of Sociology 23, 263-288.

Sun, R. (2006). Cognition and Multi-Agent Interaction: From Cognitive Mdoeling to Social Simulation. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2006.

Sun, R. (ed.), (2008). The Cambridge Handbook of Computational Psychology. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2008.

Tetlock, P. and Goldgeier, J. (2000). Human nature and world politics: Cognition, identity, and influence. International Journal of Psychology. 35 (2), 87-96.

Thagard, P. (1996). Mind: Introduction to Cognitive Science. MIT Press, Cambridge, MA. 1996.

Thagard, P. (2006). Hot thought: Mechanisms and Applications of Emotional Cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Turner, M. (2001). Cognitive Dimensions of Social Science. Oxford University Press.

Professor Ron Sun
Cognitive Science Department
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
110 Eighth Street, Carnegie 302A
Troy, NY 12180, USA

phone: 518-276-3409
fax: 518-276-3017



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