How the Mind Explains Behavior
Folk Explanations, Meaning and Social Interaction
By (author) Bertram F. Malle
How the Mind Explains Behavior by Bertram F. Malle
Book DescriptionIn this provocative monograph, Bertram Malle describes behavior explanations as having a dual nature -- as being both cognitive and social acts -- and proposes a comprehensive theoretical model that integrates the two aspects. When people try to understand puzzling human behavior, they construct behavior explanations, which are a fundamental tool of social cognition. But, Malle argues, behavior explanations exist not only in the mind; they are also overt verbal actions used for social purposes. When people explain their own behavior or the behavior of others, they are using the explanation to manage a social interaction -- by offering clarification, trying to save face, or casting blame. Malle's account makes clear why these two aspects of behavior explanation exist and why they are closely linked; along the way, he illustrates the astonishingly sophisticated and subtle patterns of folk behavior explanations. Malle begins by reviewing traditional attribution theories and their simplified portrayal of behavior explanation. A more realistic portrayal, he argues, must be grounded in the nature, function, and origins of the folk theory of mind -- the conceptual framework underlying people's grasp of human behavior and its connection to the mind. Malle then presents a theory of behavior explanations, focusing first on their conceptual structure and then on their psychological construction. He applies this folk-conceptual theory to a number of questions, including the communicative functions of behavior explanations, and the differences in explanations given for self and others as well as for individuals and groups. Finally, he highlights the strengths of the folk-conceptual theory of explanation over traditional attribution theory and points to future research applications.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780262633390
(229mm x 152mm x 19mm)
Imprint: Bradford Books
Publisher: MIT Press Ltd
Publish Date: 8-Sep-2006
Country of Publication: United States
Books By Author Bertram F. Malle
Other Minds, Paperback (March 2007)» View all books by Bertram F. Malle
One of the great challenges of social cognitive science is to understand how we can enter, or "read," the minds of others - that is, infer complex mental states such as beliefs, desires, intentions, and emotions. This book presents theories and empirical findings on this essential topic.
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Author Biography - Bertram F. Malle
Rosamond Rhodes, Ph.D., is Director of Bioethics Education at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a Member of the Doctoral Faculty of the Ph.D. Program in Philosophy at The Graduate School, City University New York. She is Editor of the APA Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine and was coeditor of Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate (Routledge, 1998).
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