We are part of the Institute of Sociology at the University of Bialystok. Our research concerns how human cognitive mechanisms and social systems work together to generate human social behaviour. The study of the evolutionary, cognitive and cultural basis of religious beliefs, practices and experiences is a particular research focus of the unit. Pursuing an interdisciplinary approach, we make use of a variety of methods from the cognitive and social sciences including psychological experiments, analysis of quantitative sociological data, ethnographic studies and computer modelling. At the same time, the unit carries out theoretical research aimed at explicating the conceptual foundations of various approaches as well as the interrelations between them and their empirical implications…
The Society and Cognition Unit is carrying out a number of research projects funded by the Polish National Science Centre (NCN) as well as international funding bodies. These range from large international projects that involve several researchers from the SCU and partner institutions to individual research projects pursued by junior researchers. Each of these projects makes it possible to grow the capabilities of the research unit by helping to bring in new people, with further novel projects proposed by researchers interested in joining the unit always under development.
The Society and Cognition Unit brings together a range of researchers from Poland and abroad as members and associates involved in its projects. The researchers come from a variety of scientific backgrounds and possess a broad spectrum of skills and research experience ranging from philosophical inquiry into the foundations of social sciences, through analysis of data from large scale sociological surveys and development of computer models of social processes, to ethnographic studies of human societies. These skills are brought together to study how human societies and human cognition shape each other. Apart from collaborating on a range of projects, researchers involved with the unit meet regularly to discuss each other’s work at the work in progress seminar the unit organises. This seminar is of particular significance to the doctoral students and research assistants that are also members of SCU, as it provides them with a way to participate in a very broad range of studies as well as giving them experience of how scientific debate functions at a high level.
The Society and Cognition Unit maintains links with numerous research institutions in a number of countries. Of particular significance is the long-term research collaboration that the SCU has formed with the Center for Modeling Social Systems in Kristiansand, Norway, with the aim of developing computer models of social processes. Further to that connection, SCU researchers maintain formal or informal research connections to centres in such countries as the Czech Republic, Denmark, USA and Bolivia, as well as regularly presenting their own research at international conferences throughout the world.
In the next few years, the Society and Cognition Unit will participate in the development of a full cognitive science lab at the University of Bialystok, which will extend the range of experimental studies that the researchers affiliated with the unit will be able to easily pursue as well as helping to teach the next generation in the use of such techniques.