Relational Schemas and Insecurity: Possibilities for Change
Much of social and personality psychology involves “where do I fit in with and how do I relate to” the
“Insecurity” in attachment and self-esteem are arguably at the core of lots of problems
Insecurity involves implicit processes as well as explicit
o Sometimes it’s quite explicit – we’re aware of why we feel this way
o SELF-Schema linked to OTHER-Schema
Unworthy SELF <==> Critical OTHER
o Linked via INTERPERSONAL SCRIPT
Expectancies of how things will paly out
Unworthy SELF <==> Critical OTHER
IF I fail… THEN he will reject me
o Shapes and is maintained by various cognitive processes
o If you have an expectancy of some kind, you’re going to pay attention to things that fit with and
confirm his expectancy
o Visual Probe Test
Shown a series of trials – fixations and then a probe
Your job is to identify the probe – where and what is the probe?
You’re shown faces on each trial – do the faces change your ability to identify the probe?
A scowling face vs. a neutral face
The idea here is that if your attention is drawn to one of these faces initially, it may
influence your ability to quickly recognize the probe
A probe that replaces a frown – your attention is drawn there
Measuring in milliseconds – how quickly you can identify the probe when it replaces a
Rejection bias: relative quickness of identifying targets that replace a frown
That is to say, is your attention drawn to scowling faces?
The faces are shown for no longer than a half a second and then the probe is shown –
what catches your attention?
o In one study: VPT Rejection Bias as a function of Self-Esteem and Experimental Condition
Measure of rejection bias
People with low self-esteem show more of this bias towards frowning faces than do
people with higher self-esteem
Start with an expectancy and within a half a second your attention is being drawn to
frowning faces – the point is that there are other people there who are warm
The question is how do you filter out these scowling people?
You start with the expectancy that people are going to reject me and then the scowling
faces are noticed because you’re biased
An implicit measureof insecurity –shows thecognitivereaction to this insecurity
Can we do anything about information processing tendencies that underlie insecurity?
o Therapy – addresses many social cognitive steps
o Other social cognitive interventions? (i.e. can something like priming address this?) Recall thePriming Studies
o Priming techniques
Subliminal primes of faces, names
Also produces effects on Lexical Decision
Positive impact of acceptance schemas
Possibilities for Change
o Repetitive priming may help in some way – create a change in the way that people think about
things – hasn’t been that successful in the lab
o Other ways of training peoples’ way of implicit cognition?
o i.e. Tetris – is difficult at first and take time to change
Starts to influence thinking outside the context of the game – i.e. parking
The idea is that you’re doing the same mental operation -- instead of mental rotation
operation practice but mental operation more related to the social cognition
o Cued Activation
Trigger or cue a schema?
Can you create these cues in the laboratory?
Example of Professor Baldwin’s friend who was relaxed by the sound of a vacuum. He
vacuumed and recorded the sounds and played it back when he was feeling stressed.
Social Anxiety, Baldwinand Main, 2001
A study that tried to create a cue
Bogus computerized questionnaire
o “compare your answers to socially desirable” – Said to the participants:
Sometimes when people fill out these questionnaires they want to know what
others would think
o Gave them feedback as to whether their answers were desirable or not
On some trials they would get a set of smiling faces
On other trials they would get negative feedback – frowning faces
The faces were meant to reflect acceptance/approval or
Didn’t matter what they said everyone got the same feedback and an
equal number of smiles/frowns
o Conditioned our subjects so that they would hear one tone sequence, and the
row of smiling or frowning faces – trying to condition a stimulus for acceptance
o Did this for 10 minutes and 10-15 approval/rejection trials
o CS-Acceptance, CS-Rejection
o Lexical Decision with Tones on each trial
o What happens when you play the tones later? You’ve create the cues and is this
is going to have i