January 27 , 2014
Social Cognition and Perception
Summary of Self:
• Self and Identity
• Genesis & Social Origins of Self
o Cooley, Mead: social theory, philosophy
• Role/Social Identities
o Tajfel, Burke, Stryker: experimental, surveys
• Presentation of Self
o Goffman: ethnographic
Making Sense of the Social World
• Social perception refers to constructing an understanding of the social world through the
data we get through our senses.
o The process by which we form impressions of other peoples’traits and
• Attribution refers to the process of inferring the causes of a person’s behaviour
o E.g. motives, traits, and situational process
• Attribution Theory: Hieder & Simmel “An experimental study of apparent behaviour.
How did we come to this Explanation?
- We used schemas - classify/categorize things, people, personality traits
o “a well-organized structure of cognitions about some social entity such as a
person, group, role or event.”
o E.g. we associate a set of behaviours with an ‘aggressive’person (organized sets
of cognition - strong/aggressive)
o To understand the social world, ex. the shapes fighting - Hieder & Simmel
- …and prototypes:
o Abstractions that represent the “typical” of a class or group i.e. wealthy, cultured,
rough neck, etc.
- Schemas help us respond appropriately to situations
- Schemas make this possible by:
o Making certain facts easier to remember - memory retention
o Helping us process information faster with schemas
o Guiding our inferences/judgments about people and objects - fight/flight
o Help us interpret ambiguous elements in the situation Types of Schemas
- Personal schemas are cognitive structures that describe the personalities of other
individuals. (jealous type - friend, Tom Cruise - weird, Boring people - unhappy)
- Self-Schemas are structures that organize our conception of our own characteristics. (are
you a shy person, outgoing, etc.)
- Group schemas involve the members of a particular social group or social category (also
called stereotypes) (people within the group are considered this… habs fans vs. leafs
fans) - make incorrect inferences of people in a social group
- Role Schema indicate what attributes and behaviours are typical of a person’s occupying
a particular role in a group.
Group Schema: Stereotypes
- Aset of characteristics attributed to all members of a specified group or social category.
- Stereotypes let us form impressions of people and predict their behaviour with only
- Stereotypes can have negative effects, especially when they are used to limit access to
important social roles.
o “The Irish are hot-headed and belligerent.”
o “Scottish people are awesome”…???
- Impression Formation
o When we organize info into a unified impression of another person
- First Impressions are especially important and enduring impact for impression
- Primary effect: more weight is given to information received early in the sequence than
to information later on.
- BUT also Recency effect: under certain conditions, the most recent information we
acquire exerts the strongest influence of our impressions. (used less often)
- Some traits have more impact than others on the impression we form.
- Atrait has a high level of trait centrality when it has a large impact on the ov