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Social Cognition or Understanding Others: Social Cognition Activities

Thanks to which cognitive function are we capable of interpreting other people’s emotions? Can you identify the function responsible for understanding what others might think in certain situations? Or do you know why we behave in a socially appropriate manner in certain circumstances? We can do all this thanks to social cognition. Today, we introduce different activities for improving social cognition.

Social cognition: Definition

Social cognition is a set of cognitive and emotional processes through which we interpret, analyze, remember, and use information about the social world.

It refers to how we think about ourselves, about other individuals and their behavior, about social relationships, and how we make sense of all that information and behave accordingly

Social cognition and emotions

Thanks to this cognitive fu we are capable of interpreting our own emotions and other people’s emotions. In short, social cognition helps us understand other people, that is, it involves placing ourselves in their shoes and take their viewpoints into account.

Can social cognition be improved? Yes. Social cognition, as all cognitive functions, can be trained through cognitive stimulation.

Social cognition activities

  1. Emotion Recognition

This social cognition activity involves recognizing emotion from the depicted facial expressions and matching them to their definition. In this example, clients must choose what specific emotion is the woman feeling.

This cognitive stimulation activity enhances social cognition and reasoning.

2. Inferring Facial Expressions

In this second activity, clients must choose, among several options, the expression that best matches the hidden face shown in the picture.

What is the boy’s facial expression in the image below?

By performing this activity, adults train two cognitive functions: social cognition and reasoning.

3. Emotional Reaction to Situations

This activity involves matching the depicted emotional responses with the appropriate situation. In this example, clients must determine whether the old man’s facial expression is logical when he sees a stranger overhearing his granddaughter’s conversation or when he sees his shaved grandson combing his hair.

This exercise enhances social cognition, vocabulary, and reasoning.

4. Internal States

This paper-based activity for improving social cognition involves describing the internal emotional states of the individuals shown in the images by creating social stories or scripts.

In the example below, the man could react in different ways to what is shown in the picture. Clients must think about how the man feels in each situation and complete the sentences. This activity targets social cognition, expression, and reasoning.

5. Word-Emotion Associaton

This activity involves matching emotion words to facial expression.

This exercise focuses on social cognition, reasoning, and vocabulary.

6. Matching Emotional Reaction to Situation

This is the last social cognition activity that we are covering today. Clients must decide and justify whether the emotional reaction shown in the picture is congruent with the described situation.

For example, in the picture below we can see a smiling doctor. This doctor is telling a patient that the surgery that he/she is about to have is risky. Clients must deduce if the doctor’s behavior is normal or inappropriate.

This cognitive stimulation activity targets reasoning and social cognition.

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