The common image of a lone folk scientist laboring to make sense of a single agent's behavior is helpful but incomplete in its recognition of social context as it surrounds the perceiver and as it is reflected in the perceiver's folk theories. In this chapter, we review insights from social and cultural psychology that both confirm and expand the perceiver-as-scientist view. We proceed in three parts. First, we discuss how folk theories reflect social contexts as perceivers use them to understand groups, acknowledge norms, and perform other feats of inference that reflect a social work beyond a single target of perception. Second, we address how folk scientists perform in social contexts, examining important interpersonal factors and the intrapersonal mechanisms they affect. In our third section, we explore the important role of culture as it relates to both of the other themes. Perceivers are cultural members and cultures shape folk theories and folk theorizing. The image that emerges from these three related collections of observations is that of the social folk theorist, a model of the perceiver as a folk scientist embedded in social context and invoking folk theories of the social world.
Ames, Daniel, Eric Knowles, Michael Morris, Charles Kalish, Andrea Rosati, and Alison Gopnik. "The Social Folk Theorist: Insights from Social and Cultural Psychology on the Contents and Contexts of Folk Theorizing." In Intentions and Intentionality: Foundations of Social Cognition, 307-330. Ed. Bertram F. Malle, Louis J. Moses, and Dare A. Baldwin. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2001.
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