Research Topic

Social cognition, motivation, and interaction: How do people respond to threats in social interactions?

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About this Research Topic

If we want to understand people’s responses to threats in social interactions we can distinguish between three levels of analysis:
On a social level of analysis we can describe people’s interpersonal behavior, on a cognitive level we can identify corresponding information processing ...

If we want to understand people’s responses to threats in social interactions we can distinguish between three levels of analysis:
On a social level of analysis we can describe people’s interpersonal behavior, on a cognitive level we can identify corresponding information processing mechanisms, and on a neural level we can specify neural systems, which underlie these processes.

In this Research Topic we want to present research connecting these three levels of analysis and propose their functional interconnection in social interaction.
We propose that threats in social interactions activate basic motivational processes, which manifest in neural processes related to behavioral inhibition vs. activation in a social situation. This shapes our attention to new information, and affects our cognitions about social identities, belief systems and worldviews. These changes in social cognition in turn affect people’s behavior in social interactions and lead to corresponding reactions on behalf of the interaction partner. Thus, we assume that people’s reactions to threat in interactions can be described as sequences of broader attentional processes resulting from basic motivational tendencies leading to specific social cognitions and subsequent behavior within social interactions. We can analyze this sequence in order to contribute to a better understanding of social interactions.

The three levels of analyses (social, cognitive, neural) shed light on social interactions from different angles:
On the social level we can analyze how the behaviors of the interaction partners mutually affect each other and how this is accompanied by specific cognitive, emotional and motivational processes. On the cognitive level we can analyze people’s perception of a social situation leading to attentional and reasoning processes with regard to their interaction partner/s, which may be accompanied by certain emotional and motivational processes and determines the behavior towards that partner/s. Finally, we can focus on the neural mechanisms underlying cognitive, emotional and motivational processes in social interactions.

INTERESTING TOPICS:
Contributors to the Research Topic should connect at least two of the three levels of analysis with each other. Interesting topics which may be addressed are:
- Mediating processes on various levels of analysis (e.g. neural mediators for social dynamics, emotional mediators for cognitive phenomena, etc.)
- Approach vs. avoidance motivation in interpersonal and intergroup behavior
- Promotion and prevention strategies in social interactions
- Perception of is-ought discrepancies and appraisal of these as threat vs. challenge
- Defense vs. growth reactions in social interactions/ open vs. closed mindedness
- Focus on the self vs. the other in social interactions
- Fundamental motives in social interactions, like striving for control, meaning, certainty, identity, belonging, immortality and their interactive influence on social cognition


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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