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Culture, interaction and the development of social and executive skills

Culture, interaction and the development of social and executive skills
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Presenter(s) Professor Charlie Lewis, Centre for Research in Human Development, Lancaster University
Seminar type Open Seminar Series
Location SEERC Conference room
Date and time 25/02/2010, 15:00-16:00
Website http://

Over the past twenty years much research has attempted to uncover the relationship between children’s grasp of mental states as a driving force of social interactions, under the banner ‘theory of mind’, and the development of cognitive processes that monitor and control lower level processes, known as ‘executive functions’. Most accounts of both skills assume that, first, their development occurs relatively independently of social processes and, secondly, executive skills promote the emergence of social understanding. This talk will question these views. It will draw upon our work with preschoolers showing different patterns in north-east Asia (Lewis, Koyasu, Oh, Ogawa & Short, 2009; Oh & Lewis, 2008), performing tasks in which there is a social component, in research designed to examine the dynamics of task performance (Towse, Lewis & Knowles, 2008). I will argue that we need a more integrated framework of these skills, in which the two processes, ‘theory of mind’ and ‘executive function’, should not be depicted as internal predispositions, but are dynamic social skills. My analysis draws upon a long tradition of theory within developmental psychology.

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