Cognition and Learning Essay

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Increasing of skills and knowledge and even knowledge of the society cannot be possible without social interactions. That is the basis of the social cognitive theory as it brings together attitudinal and cognitive effects. The major forms of continuous learning are via the environment, the web, media houses and social communications. The intensity of the effect this new knowledge would have on people is dependent on their individual mindsets. Social communication (as earlier stated) is a major way of increasing knowledge and deriving meaning from these. In this handbook, we have given a thorough breakdown of social cognition and the workings of social communication in its various forms. This topic is very useful for schools, service establishments, research institutes, the government, professional training schools, industries and firms among others. Even the military could benefit from this as it has employees who daily apply their cognitive abilities for various uses such as research.


Increasing of skills and knowledge and even knowledge of the society cannot be possible without social interactions. It is normal for humans to create a database of knowledge with details about themselves, their friends, accomplices and preferred social relationships. Social psychology only considers two forms of knowledge as relevant and these are attitudes and schemas (Kihlstrom & Cantor, 2010). As soon as these two knowledge bases are formed, humans are swift to classify situations and other people and do not actually consider if they are beneficial or not, worth pursuing or not and even whether they safe or not. Due to this, we cannot truly discuss the topic of social interaction and behaviour without considering the effect of these two knowledge bases. The difference in the way we read meaning to occurrences around us is based on our social cognition. Thus, it is common for different meanings to be derived by different people from similar occurrences, a pleasant phenomenon but one which is also the root cause of strife and anger. Social scientists have taken it upon themselves to identify the factors guiding human interpretation of events and surroundings and also, the reasons they attach to the actions of others.

Figure 1. Two functions of social interaction (adopted from Kreijns, Kirschner & Jochems, 2003)

The intensity of social communication among individuals is dependent on several factors. Some of these are their social companions, their social skills, the situations that draw their attention, the general social landscape, their wealth of knowledge about themselves, their mode of classifying occurrences and lastly the laid down guidelines which governs the different sectors of social relationships. Socialization is a physical act however the basic systems by which a person gets adequate familiarization of the social landscape and how he should relate with it are more mental and this is shown in Figure 1. These systems do not truly define a person's character in a situation similar to that of the conventional personality beliefs. Thus, cognition is perhaps the most important tool in discerning how an individual would initially react to an event and later respond to it (Kihlstrom & Cantor, 2010). It is also important in becoming familiar with character traits of people as well as their common mindsets.

Social Interactions Sub-Constructs

Cognitive development has a major driving force which is social communication. Educational studies have proved that scholars who work in groups are able to solve harder and more mental-demanding problems when compared to those who prefer to study by themselves (Clements & Nastasi, 1992). Whenever people carry out an act called reciprocal sense-making, they apply the tool of discussion in trying to find solutions, create processes or make sense of a situation. For students to apply this, they have to merge their ideas, efforts and actions together with others as doing differently i.e. Working alone will obstruct this social process causing it to become less productive and it leads to a much less cognitive development. These claims have been backed by several studies where experiments with students arranged into groups and made to work together gave much better learning experience, mental development and problem-solving abilities when compared to students made to work singly and individually try to win a prize (Clements & Nastasi, 1992; Mackie & Hamilton, 2014).

Figure 2. Social interactions and their potential.


The ability to comprehend is a basic measurement of a human's contentment with everyday life. This ability goes hand in hand with being able to read meaning to day-to-day activities and it is crucial for a person's peace of mind during his/her lifetime (Rahaman, 2014).
Some of the crucial activities which take place during comprehension are mental imaging, insight, reasoning and recollection. We are putting much emphasis on social actions due to their importance in our day-to-day activities. Several studies have examined the link between social communication or activities and comprehension (Cook & Black, 2012; Rahaman, 2014).

The sociocultural theory makes us understand that social communication is a crucial factor of cognitive growth as knowledge is passed from a more experienced person to the kids. Furthermore, the learning process, which takes place mostly at the basic level, involves freedom of a student in carrying out a function and finding solutions to problems on his/her own (Rahaman, 2014). The basic development level can be pictured as the gap existing between the ability of a student to solve problems individually and the ability to solve similar problems with an adult's supervision or working together with other better students.

This theory postulates that the knowledge acquired through social interaction gets internalized. For instance, a student can learn and apply the rules of a game by observing other students playing the same game. An increase in the knowledge gained by students can be observed in relation to increased exposure to social interaction. Students are able to solve problems with adult assistance or help from a peer in the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). In this circumstance, the less knowledgeable students learn from those with more experience (Rahman, 2014).

Figure 3. Social interaction effects on comprehension/cognition within a cultural model (adopted from Huang & Deng, 2008)

Despite the vagueness of the fundamental principles guiding social learning (Heyes, 2011), some factors have been touted as possibilities which include: learning resource flexibility, attention, and arousal (Kurtz et al., 2015).

i. Attention

Attention-grabbing stimuli are unique attributes of humans. Babies show an inclination to being attracted by face-like shapes in preference to jumbled images of faces or plain head-shaped stimuli, they also prefer erect representations of biological motion to inverted point-light ones (Kurtz et al., 2015). The very complex abilities of most adults to process face and human motion stimuli may not be unrelated to the inclination of infants to be attentive to human faces. A tendency to be attracted by biological rather than non-biological stimuli, and the advanced processing abilities for biological stimuli may elevate humans to the status of a germane source of information.

Figure 4. Attention, Exposure, and comprehension and how they relate.

ii. Arousal For a long period of time, arousal has been identified as an important faction in the strengthening of learning; a good example is the observation of increased information retaining when learning is immediately followed by the application of stimulation (Kurtz et al., 2015). An ambience of high arousal which enhances learning may be created by face-to-face teaching. The Skin Conductance Response (SCR) amplitude which is an arousal indicator is continuously adjusted while facial expressions are being observed in archetypal developing children and happy and sad faces are correlated to the greatest SCR amplitude. A likely explanation is that arousal is improved by emotional facial expressions at important stages of learning, and it enhances retention of information acquired.

iii. Learning Resource Flexibility

In the course of tutoring, teachers fix their gaze on the source of information, the learning infant attempt to also do the same. Tutors are able to observe infant feedback, and adjust their lessons appropriately in face-to-face learning environments. These sort of real-time modification is highly improbable, if not impossible when methods such as video and audio tape methods are utilized. It has been insinuated by the "cues-filtered out" approach that the strength of an interaction is significantly dependent on how many cues permitted by a particular teaching media (these cues may include wordless signals like flashes of the eyebrow, and verbal ones like intonation (Cook &Black, 2012). Face-to-face interaction because of the high amount of cues involved in it is considered a very efficient means of communication. Humans, coupled with being significant information sources are also very advanced systems of incentive delivery. The provision of incentives at important stages is a core attribute of successful human teachers. Also, social incentives (such as compliments or smiles) can provide more impetus than non-social ones for some individuals.

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