Lecture 5 – January 21
Obama was portrayed as a ‘superman’, the man who would bring change. He was
compared to Nixon and other great characters in American History. However, John
McCain tried to portray Obama as being like a ‘thug’ from Chicago (photograph
shown from Obama with black sunglasses). There seemed to be some weird
affection for Obama which was more appropriate for personal relationships.
One of Freud’s ideas based on sessions with patients psychotherapy
o patients would respond to Freud like he was one of their significant
others (i.e., if they had a harsh and judgmental father, would expect
him to act harsh and judgmentally and respond in that way to Freud).
Freud thought that something from a different relationship was
transferred to him.
Although started out as a concept of psychotherapy, it is now found in all sort
of relationships (student-teacher etc.). A lot of emotional stuff between
relationships can be transferred.
For a concept to influence us, it has to be stored somewhere in our memory. When
we know more about how our (social) knowledge is stored, we can start to
understand a little bit of how it gets activated and applied to new relationships.
How is social knowledge stored in memory, and how is it that it has these
kinds of influence on social perception?
We have a schema for all different situations (weddings, lectures etc.)
schema theory says that schema’s are made out of abstract knowledge that
is hierarchically organized. We gain expertise (abstract generalities) about
situations and persons.
The term ‘schema’ is often used loosely in the sense of ‘concept’, but this is
untrue. Formally, it can only be used in the sense of abstract knowledge
Cohen (1981): showed participants the same videotape of a woman having
birthday dinner with her husband.
o Casually mentioned the woman’s occupation beforehand whether
she was a waitress or a librarian
o He later asked people to remember as much from the videotape as
they could, and found that they were better able to recall info that fit
the schema/label of the profession they were told she had (waitress:
drank beer, owned her own bowling ball/librarian: she wore glasses,
she liked classical music)
Cohen’s study implies that social knowledge (and schema’s) influences our
attention toward certain things, inference we make, our memory, etc. This term ‘schema’ is often used loosely, to mean the same as concept,
category, knowledge structure...
Let’s look at some other forms of knowledge representation, and effects on
Specific instances in memory influence processing of similar stimulus,
typically called to mind by feature overlap with the stimulus (applicability)
things you look at trigger things that are associated with these things
o Subjects undergo unpleasant interaction with ‘experimenter 1’: come
across term birth order, ask what it means, and experimenter would be
very demeaning and condescending
o Then, subjects encounters two receptionists, one that kind of looks like
o Will visual similarity cause subject to make assumptions and react to
the receptionist with similar looks differently?
o Behavior was measured How many would walk towards one that
looked like experimenter, and how many would walk towards the other
one? (You would expect looks didn’t matter, so roughly 50% for every
receptionist in control condition)
• Control Condition: 55%
• Unfriendly Condition: 20%
This is an example of how a single experience, produces the kind of judgment
biases and behavioral effects….
Processing can be influenced by one exemplar, OR by many exemplars at
once someone new may not fit into just one category thus, all different
exemplars/categories are activated in perceiving this new person.
In our normal, social interactions we are influenced by episodic memories
(specific examplars) of times when we met a certain person as opposed to
Instead of only specific exemplars we also group together related info
according to prototype structures (family resemblance):
o central and peripheral members or features
o Think of a bird e.g., robin, pigeon, flamingo, penguin
o Think of features of a bird e.g., wings, feathers, beak, sings, flies
south for winter
i.e., if you’ve only been to 3 weddings, may have very strong exemplars that
influence your processing, but once you’ve been to 100 it starts to look like a
more elaborate category
Beverly Fehr (1984): characteristics of love/concepts of emotions and
relationships o From a list of various characte