Situated Social Cognition
Social cognition refers to the mental representations and processes that underlie social judgments and behaviorâfor example, the application of stereotypes to members of social groups. Theories of social cognition have generally assumed that mental representations are abstract and stable and that they are activated and applied by relatively automatic, context-independent processes. Recent evidence is inconsistent with these expectations, however. Social-cognitive processes have been shown to be adaptive to the perceiver's current social goals, communicative contexts, and bodily states. Although these findings can often be given ad hoc explanations within current conceptual frameworks, they invite a fuller integration with the broad intellectual movement emphasizing situated cognition. Such an approach has already been influential in many areas within psychology and beyond, and theories in the field of social cognition would benefit by taking advantage of its insights.