Knowledge in Connection: A Cognitively Grounded Social Research Approach to Understanding Change in People’s Knowledge Representations During Social Interaction

By Tomas Zwinkels, Gilles de Hollander and Tom Aizenberg.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In this paper knowledge from sociology, cognitive psychology and artificial intelligence is integrated to develop a cognitively grounded social research approach to study changes in people’s views during social interaction. To illustrate this approach a study is described that tests the ‘thesis of harmonization’. This thesis states that the cognitive representations of people move towards more homogeneous views under the influence of social interaction. It was found that a group discussion about ‘Lord of the Rings’ led to an average increase of 100% in the homogeneity of associations considering Lord of the Rings. Furthermore, a continuing effect was observed: two weeks after the experiment the homogeneity increased with another 53%. The complete increase in homogeneity in comparison to just before the discussion was 180%.
It is proposed that, in addition to this experimental approach, it could be rewarding to test the validity of cognitive memory models in a social context, as they could give more insight in the socio-cognitive processes that take place during group discussions. Following this line of thought, we introduce the idea that the exchange of knowledge might be studied using connectionist semantic memory models as agents in a multi-agent model of social interaction.

Keywords: Connectionism, Symbolic Interactionism, Constructivism, Group Discussions, Computational Modeling

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 3, Issue 7, pp.71-78. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 655.295KB).

Tomas Zwinkels

Undergraduate Student, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS), University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam, Noord Holland, Netherlands

Gilles de Hollander

Undergraduate Student, Institute for Interdisciplinary Sciences (IIS), University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam, Noord Holland, Netherlands

Tom Aizenberg

Undergraduate Student, Institute for Interdisciplinary Studies (IIS), University of Amsterdam (UvA), Amsterdam, Noord Holland, Netherlands


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