Notes by Howard Gardner
This interview, of one of the most creative psychologists of her generation, illustrates the way in which psychological and neurological evidence becomes more differentiated over time. Fifty years ago, there were few scholars who believed that the processing of social/human information differed informatively from the processing of information relevant to inanimate entities. The situation began to change when David Premack and other scholars pointed out the specific characteristics of thinking about minds, especially other minds, and posited the emergence, in most humans around the age of four, of a ‘theory of mind.’ More popular writings, like Dan Goleman’s work on ‘social intelligence’ and ‘emotional intelligence,’ and my introduction of ‘interpersonal’ and ‘intrapersonal’ intelligences, supported the notion that thought about the human sphere is distinctive in many ways from thought about nonhuman or inanimate entities.
Rebecca Saxe updates this thinking by reporting that there are probably half a dozen or more structures that are dedicated to the processing of information about the social-psychological world. And she speculates that a deeper understanding of how we think about other persons might suggest powerful and effective routes toward a world that is more just and perhaps free of conflict.
To read the interview in its entirety click here.