Social Thinking


soc think logo

The concept of social thinking: it’s tied to social skills and academics

Social thinking is the process by which we interpret the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, knowledge and actions of another person along with the context of the situation to understand that person’s experience.

Social thinking...allows us to interpret the deeper meaning behind what others do in the world, and (if the situation calls for it) prompts us with how to respond.  

A person’s social thinking ability has a considerable affect on his or her relationships and success in school and at work.

 It affects the person’s social skills, perspective taking, self-awareness, self-regulation, critical thinking, social problem solving, play skills, reading comprehension, written expression, ability to learn and work in a group, organizational skills, etc. 

We practice social thinking all day long...For example,

  • At work – when we become aware that by loudly sipping our coffee we may be bothering our coworkers. 
  • At the grocery store - when we move our cart away from the middle of the isle so other shoppers can pass by. 
  • Watching TV – when we follow the story by understanding how the characters interpret and then influence each other. 
  • While driving - when we slow down upon sensing that another car will cut in front of us. 
  • When we’re on social media – to understand the intention of a message and its sender; for example whether it is to be friendly, sarcastic, flirty, compassionate, etc. 
  • In conversation – when we attempt to read the thoughts, beliefs, intentions, emotions, knowledge and actions of our conversation partner(s) and adapt our behavior to affect the thoughts they have about us. 

The same social thinking ability required to relate effectively to people around us is also essential for success in academics. Students must use social part of a group, stay on task, figure out the expected times to talk in class, and share space well with others in the classroom, cafeteria, and on the playground.

Improving a person’s social thinking begins with improving self-awareness. Only as individuals gain awareness of their own thoughts, emotions, and intentions can they become increasingly aware of the thoughts, emotions, intentions, and actions of others...

It all requires social thinking.