Social cognition is an aspect in social psychology which explores the interaction of human beings amongst themselves and the environment. Social cognition involves encoding of information, storage by the brain, and retrieval when there is need. Several cognitive processes are involved in the encoding, storage, and retrieval of social information.
The important aspects in the cognition process include “becoming aware, perception, reasoning, and judgment” (Goldstein 472). According to Goldstein, like any other person, a child’s memory possesses the ability to “encode, store, and retrieve information” (473). This memory helps them learn from their past experiences and build relationships as well. This paper will focus on the encoding process in the social cognition in children.
The rise of “cognitive psychology” in the end of 1960s and early 1970s saw the term social cognition being prominently used. Ever since, mechanisms have been developed to determine the role played by cognitive processes of behavior and thought in a person’s social world.
Cognitive theories were developed to establish how information is represented in people’s brains. Attribution theories and social identity theories were developed to further understand social cognition (Shantz 512).
Social cognition in children includes the basic cognitive processes that encode and decode information in the social world. Encoding involves the interpretation of messages both by the receiver and the sender. The encoding process in children allows them to convert perceived items into constructs that are stored by their brains and then retrieved later from the long term or short term memory (Greenwald 4).
The storage of information is mainly done so that the child can use it immediately or change the information accordingly. This is made possible by “the archiving of the stored items in the long term memory” (Goldstein 480). Encoding is a procedure in itself where the children transform what they have heard, seen, thought, and felt into the memory.
There are different methods through which children can encode information; the most common are shallow and elaborative encoding. Repetition of information in a child’s mind is said to be shallow encoding since it is stored in the short term memory.
For example, a child can keep on repeating the letters of the alphabet which helps him or her to store this information in the long term memory. Elaborative encoding is seen where the child is unable to remember something therefore concluding that they are not intelligent.
For this reason, children are usually encouraged by their teachers, parents, and the people around them to link, connect or associate incoming information with a certain event so that it can be stored in the long term memory for later use. Visual and image encoding is encouraged in such instances because it makes the information stick in the minds.
Children exhibit three types of encoding, these are: visual encoding, acoustic encoding, and tactile encoding (Mitchell 4912). In the visual encoding, children interpret messages of image and visual nature. According to Mitchell, “visuals and images are usually temporarily stored in the iconic memory where they are encoded into the long term storage which is permanent” (4912).
In acoustic encoding, the children interpret information in the form of words and sounds and any other information in audio form. These are then stored for later use or rather retrieval when the need arises as explained by Greenwald (4).
Tactile encoding involves the encoding and processing of a child’s feelings especially when they have been touched. Their neurons react to stimuli through the activation of synchronization of vibrations. Tastes and odors are also encoded (Greenwald 4).
In the past, social cognition was an approach in social psychology where information processing theories were studied but today the term is widely used in cognitive neuroscience. Disorders like autism are today studied with the help of social cognition. The encoding process in social cognition involves the interpretation of message, its storage, and retrieval when required.
Goldstein, E B. Cognitive Psychology: Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. Australia: Thomson Wadsworth, 2008. Print.
Greenwald, Ann. “Implicit social cognition: Attitudes, self-esteem, and stereotypes.” Psychological review 102. 1 (1995): 4. Print.
Mitchell, Jason. “Encoding-specific effects of social cognition on the neural correlates of subsequent memory.” The Journal of Neuroscience 24. 21 (2004): 4912. Print.
Shantz, Carlton. “The development of social cognition.” Social cognition 1. 1 (1995): 512. Print.