Social cognition online

Sheizaf Rafaeli, Daphne Raban, Yoram M. Kalman

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Computers are cognitive. Humans are calculating devices. Networks are connecting devices, not just fishing instruments. More people spend more time facing computer screens, connected to each other by means of networks. Via the computer and through the network people view their world, their social, professional, romantic, and familial connections. What are the social cognition implications of humans using networked computers? How does the online environment affect the way people perceive themselves and others? Moreover, how does this influence the way they perceive the computer and the network? We look at the issue of social cognition online in progressively increasing and wider contexts: how does the online environment influence the way we perceive ourselves, other individuals, social groups, and even the computer itself as a social being, as well as the whole network as a social environment. In these expanding concentric circles, we ask how social cognition has been affected by the move into the virtual, and try to outline the main directions current research is taking in these areas. We discuss two recurring and interrelated issues. One issue is the validity of the use of the'face-to-face'environment as an ultimate benchmark against which online activity is measured (Rogers & Chaffee, 1983). The second issue is the contrast between the deterministic view of technology as the creator of cognitive states, versus the social constructivist view which perceives technology as an enabler, a presenter of opportunities, leaving the individual and society the freedom to mold it according to their needs and wishes (Williams & Edge, 1996).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Social Net
EditorsY. A. Hamburger
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages34
StatePublished - 2004


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