Article Abstract

Larson, J. R., Jr., & Christensen, C. (1993).  Groups as problem-solving units: Toward a new meaning of social cognition.  British Journal of Social Psychology, 32, 5-30.

.   In this paper we take the position that cognition can be meaningfully understood at the group level of analysis.  We refer to group-level cognitive activity as social cognition, a term that we apply collectively to those social processes involved in the acquisition, storage, transmission, manipulation, and use of information for the purpose of creating a group-level intellective product.  In this context, the word "social" is used to denote how cognition is accomplished, not its content.  It is proposed that at least some cognition occurs in every kind of group problem-solving situation, though the amount and type depends on the specific problem-solving functions that need to be addressed in order to reach a problem solution.  We examine a number of these functions, and consider how they are served by various group member actions.  This analysis is informed (though not determined) by certain functional analogies that can be found between individual-level and group-level (i.e., social) cognition.  The benefits of adopting a functional orientation to understanding group problem solving are discussed.