Finding Social Understanding

Advancing our Knowledge

The Texas State community’s commitment to high-level research extends to even its newest members.

Sneha Pradhan conducts research with students.

Texas State offers resources to undergraduates interested in getting a jump on their career, including an in-house research publication, the Undergraduate Research Journal (TXSTUR), and competitive Undergraduate Research Fellowships. Sneha Pradhan is a junior in the Department of Psychology and was the recent recipient of a fellowship to study social dyads: pairs of people who share an interpersonal relationship. 

Sneha Pradhan
Sneha Pradhan

Sneha works in the Social Cognition Across Development Lab, founded in 2016 by Dr. Katherine Warnell. The team studies how children and adults think about themselves, other people, and social situations. The lab’s founding was auspicious for Sneha, who has a passion for studying social cognition and developmental cognitive neuroscience — the study of the developing mind and its functions.

She joined the lab team in summer 2017 and began developing her unique line of research. Sneha intends to pursue a Ph.D. and sees her work with the Social Cognition lab as a step on that journey. In her own words: “I would say that scientific research is extremely fascinating! It’s grounded in tangible evidence and objective knowledge which gives an objective understanding of our complex world.”

Because of her love of science, when she discovered a gap in our understanding of how people in social relationships think about and describe each other, she knew she had found an opportunity to do impactful work.

Dr. Katherine Warnell
Dr. Katherine Warnell

Sneha’s research will be asking the question “to what extent do two people who share a close interpersonal relationship describe each other using mentalistic terms?” Psychologists call this predisposition to consider the thoughts and feelings of others “mind-mindedness.”

Her project on the link between mind-mindedness within dyads and empathic accuracy is currently in the experimentation stage. The project will soon move to analysis, once they have collected enough data. The project focuses on how people in social relationships, such as best friends or romantic partners, describe each other and how accurate they are in perceiving others’ thoughts and feelings.

This research is crucial because a core foundation of human social interaction is our ability to consider other people’s mental states (i.e. thoughts, feelings and emotions), so mind-mindedness is at the core of social understanding.

However, individuals differ in how much they think about the mental states of other people, especially their social partners. Investigating this question may shed light on variation in mind-mindedness in individuals, how a person’s level of mind-mindedness relates to empathic accuracy toward their social partner and the overall quality of their social interaction.

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