August Issue of Theory &Psychology : Implicit Mentalization, Intercorporeality, Affective Conjunctions, & More

The latest issue of Theory & Psychology has been posted online and contains many T & Pcompelling pieces, including works on Situated and Embodied Social Psychology, a critical Wittgensteinian investigation of methodological plurality, and a cultural-historical standpoint on subjectivity and Social Representation theory. We’ve compiled the abstracts here for your convenience:

Rethinking situated and embodied social psychology 

Wim T. J. L. Pouw, & Huib Looren de Jong

This article aims to explore the scope of a Situated and Embodied Social Psychology (ESP). At first sight, social cognition seems embodied cognition par excellence. Social cognition is first and foremost a supra-individual, interactive, and dynamic process (Semin & Smith, 2013). Radical approaches in Situated/Embodied Cognitive Science (Enactivism) claim that social cognition consists in an emergent pattern of interaction between a continuously coupled organism and the (social) environment; it rejects representationalist accounts of cognition (Hutto & Myin, 2013). However, mainstream ESP (Barsalou, 1999, 2008) still takes a rather representation-friendly approach that construes embodiment in terms of specific bodily formatted representations used (activated) in social cognition. We argue that mainstream ESP suffers from vestiges of theoretical solipsism, which may be resolved by going beyond internalistic spirit that haunts mainstream ESP today.


Grasping the process of implicit mentalization

Annette Sofie Davidsen & Christine Fogtmann Fosgerau

Mentalization has developed through different waves and its definition has gradually changed. Through this process mentalization theorists have not taken a particular position on the philosophical underpinnings of the understanding of others, except that Theory of Mind (ToM) is referred to as a commonsense and underlying theoretical basis. It is apparent that ToM does not explain all dimensions of Mentalization Theory (MT), especially implicit mentalization, and theorists do not account for how implicit mentalization can be captured in interaction. In this article we explain the divergence between MT and ToM and the lack of a philosophical basis for the process of understanding others in MT. We show that conversation analysis (CA) can be used to capture implicit mentalization in interaction. We argue that MT needs a theoretical and philosophical formulation about what constitutes intersubjectivity and the process of understanding others. We suggest that phenomenology could inhabit this space.


Intercorporeality as theory of social cognition

Shogo Tanaka

The main aim of this article is to revisit Merleau-Ponty’s notion of intercorporeality (intercorporéité) and elaborate it as a new theory of social cognition. As is well known, theory of mind has been the central issue in the field of social cognition for more than two decades. In reviewing the basic concepts involved in two major theories (theory theory and simulation theory), I make clear that both theories have been missing the embodied dimension because of their mind–body dualistic supposition. The notion of intercorporeality, in accordance with the recent interaction theory, stresses the role of embodied interactions between the self and the other in the process of social understanding. I develop this notion into two directions and describe the related process of social cognition: one is behavior matching and primordial empathy, the other is interactional synchrony and the sense of mutual understanding. Through these embodied interactions, intersubjective meanings are created and directly shared between the self and the other, without being mediated by mental representations.


Wittgenstein’s later philosophy and “pictures” of mixed-method research in psychology: A critical investigation of theories and accounts of methodological plurality. 

Gavin B. Sullivan

Wittgenstein’s philosophical method and later writings help psychologists to identify and work through “pictures” evoked and used in our linguistic practices especially when these representations appear to be self-evident and they promote fundamental misconceptions. This article applies Wittgenstein’s later philosophy to theories and accounts of combinations of quantitative and qualitative methods in psychology, many of which have now been extended to mixtures of qualitative methods with contrasting theoretical assumptions. In contrast to pragmatist, realist, and social constructionist stances, a Wittgensteinian approach examines metatheoretical and metamethodological pictures of methodological plurality in a treatment of issues that are traditionally explored in terms of epistemological, ontological, interpretative, and paradigm differences. Arguments that Wittgenstein’s work can strengthen existing forms of personal, methodological, and deconstructive reflexivity in psychological research practices are exemplified with a specific example of combining psychosocial and discursive qualitative methods.


A new path for the discussion of Social Representations: Advancing the topic of subjectivity from a cultural-historical standpoint

Fernando Luis González Rey

This article discusses a new approach to subjectivity from a cultural-historical standpoint and the possible links that this new definition could have with the theory of Social Representation (SR). One of the facets of this cultural-historical approach to subjectivity that makes this dialogue with SR theory possible is that subjectivity in this definition does not constrain individual phenomena. Rather, subjectivity as it is defined in this paper is a new ontological definition of human phenomena, whether social or individual, that brings into light the symbolical-emotional character of human phenomena. The concepts that shape Social Representation Theory as subjective configurations are discussed, as well as the consequences of this definition for the development of psychological theory. Social representation, as is assumed within the present paper, might be considered an important building block for the further advancement of a definition of subjectivity that is not exhausted by individual subjectivity.


Affective conjunctions: Social Norms, semiotic circuits, and fantasy

Maria Gurevich, Alexander T. Vasilovsky, Amy Brown-Bowers, & Stephanie Cosma

Postfeminist and neoliberal discourses that characterize sexual meanings, messages, and mandates in a contemporary Western context invoke choice, liberation, and mastery to propel a perpetually performing female sexuality. Agency and autonomy have been co-opted as robust scaffolding for regulatory regimes, such that practices of mandatory self-objectification and self-surveillance are rebranded as playful practices arising from a range of preferences. We plot several intersecting theoretical coordinates, along which sexuality is usefully traced: affect scholarship, Lacanian and post-Lacanian feminist psychoanalysis, and feminist poststructuralism. This is followed by two elaborated examples from an ongoing research project on sexual agency and desire among young women. Our analysis traverses these varied but interconnected theoretical frames, arguing for their joint usefulness in thinking about how sexual messages and ideologies permeate and persist across social and psychic spaces, with both resistance and recapitulation at work. We join a body of feminist scholarship directed at expanding epistemic and empirical conversations beyond sexual empowerment/oppression oppositions by addressing the ways social meanings, symbolic representations, affects, and fantasy about sexuality cohere in subjectivities.