A History of Social Neuroscience

Authored by: John T. Cacioppo , Gary G. Berntson , Jean Decety

Handbook of the History of Social Psychology

Print publication date:  December  2011
Online publication date:  October  2012

Print ISBN: 9781848728684
eBook ISBN: 9780203808498
Adobe ISBN: 9781136668999


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Psychological research during the 20th century championed psychoanalysis, behaviorism, and the cognitive sciences—all of which emphasized individualism. This research focus mirrored Western society, which saw advocates of individualism, such as Ayn Rand, Richard Dawkins, and Milton Friedman, elevated to celebrity status. In this context, it is easy to forget that humans are obligatorily a social species who, by definition, create emergent organizations beyond the individual—structures ranging from dyads and families to groups, communities, and cultures. These emergent structures evolved hand in hand with neural, neuroendocrine, cellular, and genetic mechanisms to support them because the consequent social behaviors helped these organisms survive, reproduce, and care for offspring sufficiently long that they too reproduced. Social neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field of research that has emerged over the past two decades to investigate these mechanisms and the social structures, factors, and processes with which they interface.

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