PSYC 215 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Long-Term Memory, Sarah Palin, Social Perception

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PSYC 215 – Lecture #4: Knowledge Activation
Happened last year to professor Baldwin:
Sitting in apartment with wife when hearing a loud noise, progressively getting louder; eventually
got loud enough to prompt a question, what is that? Two fighter jets then flew over the building
“Plane crash” or “air show”
He then perceived it to be a similar event to September 11
You don’t usually see air shows in large cities
This was near the time of the tragedy
Perhaps it triggered his mind about a past event**
Activation = retrieval of an element of social knowledge from long term memory
· Once knowledge is activated it can shape our attention, construal, memory, and behavior
· Results from interplay of relatively bottom-up (data driven; what is in front of you) and top-down
(knowledge-driven; ideas in mind based on experience) influences
Determinants Of Activation
· Does the person have the schema?
o A necessary condition
o Do you have that knowledge in your memory?
o Ex. Would not be able to understand unpredictable behavior of Sarah Palin
without knowledge of the concept “rogue”
§ One might otherwise depict her as refreshing
· Applicability = overlap or “fit” between the features of a stimulus and the features of some stored
knowledge
o The bottom-up aspect of knowledge activation and use
o Social perception typically feels like it is entirely driven by applicability
o However, social stimuli are often ambiguous
· Accessibility = activation readiness of stored knowledge
o Chronic accessibility
§ Higgins, King, and Mavin (1982)
· Assessed chronic accessibility by measuring words most used to
describe others
· 2 weeks later: story about a target person with characteristics
related to subject’s chronic and non-chronic dimensions
· Impressions and memory more weighted by relation to subject’s
chronic dimensions
§ Bargh and Pratto (1986)
· Assessed chronic accessibility through descriptions of others
· Stroop test with trait words, to assess how readily different
concepts get activated to capture attention
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