Cognition as compression:

By the 1980s, researchers in the Engineering departments of the University of Leeds, UK hypothesized that 'Cognition is a form of compression', i.e., cognition was an economic, not just a philosophical or a psychological process; in other words, skill in the process of cognition confers a competitive advantage. An implication of this view is that choices about what to cognize are being made at all levels from the neurological expression up to species-wide priority setting; in other words, the compression process is a form of optimization. This is a force for self-organizing behavior; thus we have the opportunity to see samples of emergent behavior at each successive level, from individual, to groups of individuals, to formal organizations, to societies.

Cognition as a social process:

In multiple observations, some dating back to antiquity, language acquisition in human children, fails to emerge unless the children are exposed to language. Thus 'language acquisition' is an example of an 'emergent behavior', which in fact requires a narrow, yet evolutionarily reliabliy occuring, set of inputs. In this case, the individual is made up of a set of mechanisms 'expecting' such input form the social world.

In education, for instance, which has the explicit task in society of developing child cognition, choices are made regarding the environment and permitted action that lead to a formed experience. This is in turn affected by the risk or cost of providing these, for instance, those associated with a playground or swimming pool or field trip. The macro-choices made by the political economy in effect will be extremely influential on the micro-choices made by the teachers or children. So at least on this level, there is feedback between the economic choice and the psychology of the activity.

In social cognition, face perception in human babies emerges by the age of two months.

Cognition in a cultural context:

One famous image, Earthrise, taken during Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to the Moon, shows planet Earth in a single photograph. Earthrise is now the icon for Earth Day, which did not arise until after the image became widespread. At this level, an example of an 'emergent behavior' might be concern for Spaceship Earth, as encouraged by the development of orbiting space observatories etc.

Other concepts which seem to have arisen only recently (in the last century) include increased expectations for human rights. In this case, an example of an 'emergent behavior' might perhaps be the use of the mass media to publicize inequities in the human condition, perhaps using highly portable cameras and telephones.

Example of emergent organization:

It is possible to find other examples of critical mass necessary to develop a concept. For example a nascent coalition of individuals might fail in the implementation of some agreement among them; but in the words of Ward Cunningham, the inventor of the Wiki-wiki Web:

I thought there would be failure modes, but I wasn't surprised that communities found ways around them. I thought it was important that when the organization proved to be wrong, people could reorganize on their own, that organization could emerge.
In other words, when the organization adapted, the concept adapted and survived the incipient failure mode.