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Socialization: Insights from Social Cognition



Socialization is the process by which individuals are assisted to become members of their social groups. Findings from social cognition and cross-cultural psychology offer two major insights into the socialization process. First, basic social cognitive principles imply that the immediate environment functions as a socialization agent by activating and inhibiting knowledge structures and thereby shaping cognition and behavior. Second, because the immediate environment factors into cognition and behavior, socialization efforts should involve the modification of the environment for optimal effect. We discuss various examples of socialization through the configuration of the immediate environment, such as rituals and use of physical artifacts. Our review links basic social cognitive mechanisms to socialization processes, which are customarily treated at higher levels of analysis.