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RESEARCH BLOG #8: “A Cognitive and Social Perspective on the Study of Interaction”

This article discusses the concept of “Mirror Games” and the way “individuals shape their own minds through looking into the mirror of others”—also known as Social Mirroring. Social Mirroring occurs through various modes of communication, and two basic requirements must be filled for it to take place: the functional and the social (Morganti, Carassa, Riva).

The functional element refers to the “operation of representational devices with mirror like properties,” or, the mirrors inside of an individual. The social element refers to “discourses and practices for using and exploiting inside mirrors within social interaction.” Social Mirroring is “how individuals come to understand and appraise their own conduct.” By mirroring themselves in others, an individual comes to “perceive and understand him or herself by understanding how their conduct is perceived, received, and understood by others.” A social mirror and an actual mirror’s common ground is this: “both help the individual to perceive themselves in the same way others perceive them.” This “notion of social mirroring is widespread in the social sciences,” especially in the fields of Cognitive, Developmental, and Social psychology (Morganti, Carassa, Riva).

The authors explore “the possible role of mirror like devices for self-recognition and social interaction;” in this context, a “mirror” metaphorically represents “close functional relationships between action perception and production.” Social mirroring contributes to self-formation and reformation; for this to occur, social mirrors within an individual’s environment must match “mirror-like representational devices operating inside their minds.”

This article supports the idea that video games mirror and shape our psychologies. If social mirroring occurs through various modes of communication, and we consider an MMORPG, for example, as the mode of communication, then the two basic requirements for socially mirroring to take place are fulfilled by one thing: video games. Simulation games and virtual environments demonstrate the functional element, or the “operations of representational devices with mirror-like properties” (Morganti, Carassa, Riva). These games reflect certain socially realities, even though they distort it through computer generated graphics that are designed to enhance and extend beyond reality’s limits. They are “representational devices.” Any interactive component to gameplay: PvP zones, Avatars, simulation games, etc… fulfill the social requirement. These all provide he “possible role of mirror-like devices for self-recognition and social interaction.” The mirror, in this context, refers to the “close functional relation between action-perception and production” (Morganti, Carassa, Riva);” this too works on the principles of Operant Conditioning. These games contribute to self-formation like Operant Conditioning in a social context. Individuals project their ideals onto their gameplay, the Avatars through which they communicate and interact specifically.

Morganti, F, A. Carassa, and G. Riva. “Enacting Intersubjectivity: A Cognitive and Social Perspective on the Study of Interactions.” Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2008. 165-174. Print.


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