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There is little consensus on what the term ‘social group’ means. One prominent view in Developmental Psychology and Philosophy emphasizes social attention and joint action without considering the nature of social goals (partner’s selection, rank acquisition). A social group for Simmel and joint action theorists is the result of reciprocal actions of two agents. In that perspective (which I will call the Simmelian hypothesis) joint mutual action is a constitutive mechanism for generating both dyads (pair bonds) and larger groups. The other, dominant in Behavioral Ecology and Ethology, focuses on affiliative behavior (coalition) and the monitoring of multi- level social relationships. A social group in that view (the bonding hypothesis) is based on partner selection, social goals and relationships assessment. Can the opposition between the two views be relaxed or do they imply intrinsic divergences on group patterns and social skills that underlie human social bonding? I will show that the two approaches focus on distinct features when they characterize the group patterns and social skills involved. However I shall suggest that there are no necessary conflicts between the two views as coalitions bear upon joint cooperative actions. I propose that part of the difficulty with the Simmelian hypothesis has to do with the prominence given to cooperation over coalition and the neglect of social monitoring.
Pour citer cet article :Conein Bernard (2007/2-3). Group Patterns, Joint Action and Social Cognition: the Simmelian Hypothesis. In Clément Fabrice & Kaufmann Laurence (Eds), Culture and Society : Some Viewpoints of Cognitive Scientists, Intellectica, 46-47, (pp.207-220), DOI: 10.3406/intel.2007.1285.