Modularity and the social mind: Are psychologists too self-ish?

Robert Kurzban, C. Athena Aktipis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


A modular view of the mind implies that there is no unitary "self" and that the mind consists of a set of informationally encapsulated systems, many of which have functions associated with navigating an inherently ambiguous and competitive social world. It is proposed that there are a set of cognitive mechanisms-a social cognitive interface (SCI)-designed for strategic manipulation of others' representations of one's traits, abilities, and prospects. Although constrained by plausibility, these mechanisms are not necessarily designed to maximize accuracy or to maintain consistency with other encapsulated representational systems. The modular view provides a useful framework for talking about multiple phenomena previously discussed under the rubric of the self.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)131-149
Number of pages19
JournalPersonality and Social Psychology Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Evolutionary psychology
  • Self-presentation
  • Self/identity
  • Social cognition

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology


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