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Social networks and cognition


Annual Review of Sociology


Organisational Behaviour

Publication Year



Social network analysis, now often thought of simply as “network science,” has penetrated nearly every scientific and many scholarly fields, and has become an indispensable resource. Yet, social networks are special by virtue of being specifically social, and our growing understanding of the brain is affecting our understanding of how social networks form, mature, and are exploited by their members. In this review we discuss the expanding research on how the brain manages social information, how this information is heuristically processed, and how network cognitions are impacted by situation and circumstance. In the process, we argue that the cognitive turn in social networks exemplifies the modern conception of the brain as fundamentally reprogrammable by experience and circumstance. Far from social networks being dependent upon the brain, we anticipate a modern view in which cognition and social networks co-constitute each other.

Available on ECCH


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