Emotion is the crux of our everyday lives, yet social cognition related to emotion has not been the focus of comparative study. The uniquely human aspects of social cognition of emotion can only be explored within a dynamic comparative perspective that embraces comparisons across species and across human cultures. We propose that four themes be considered in light of a new theoretical approach, which we call 'emotion cognition': (1) Positive emotion in comparative cognition; (2) Emotion and emotion regulation in the development of the self; (3) Emotion in communicative signalling; and (4) Emotion cognition and brain-behaviour relations. These themes are identified as important aspects of the social cognition of emotion. This approach links neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, and ethology, to address questions concerning the universality and uniqueness in human emotion cognition.
Keywords: primates, social cognition, positive emotions, laterality, self-awareness