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How is Human Social Cognition Special?

Humans cannot claim to be the only social animal. But is there something special about human social cognition? Here we argue that it distinguishes itself by its unique flexibility: In scope, as it can be extended beyond fellow living humans and withheld from them; in content, as it is revised over time, and in certainty; in process, as it follows bayesian inferences based on probability. Further, we posit that both the hyper-sociality of humans and some of its distinctive anthropological manifestations derive from this flexibility. This theoretical approach provides an alternative to content-based accounts of superior and distinctive human social cognition, and challenges the static ‘social-wiring’ hypothesis. Here, I present social neuroscience data consistent with this alternative hypothesis.