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Lecture 3

Lecture 3.docx

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Virginia K Walker

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Lecture 3: Social Perception & Beliefs th January 24 , 2013 Overview  How we think about our social world  How we make judgments about the social world  How we explain the social world  Expectations of the social world Social Cognition  How people think about themselves and the social world; more specifically, how people select, interpret, remember, and use social information to make judgments and decisions  Two types o Automatic thinking  Quick, effortless, non-conscious, unintentional, involuntary o Controlled thinking  Conscious, intentional, voluntary, and effortful  Requires mental energy  One purpose is to check automatic thinking, i.e. when unusual events occur Thought Suppression and Ironic Processing  The attempt to avoid thinking about something a person would prefer to forget o Tired or preoccupied  Why?  Thought suppression consists of 2 processes o Automatic: monitoring process  Searches for evidence that the unwanted thought is going to intrude on consciousness (i.e. you are about to think about it) o Controlled: operating process  Attempts to distract you by finding something else to think about  They act in tandem o First the automatic, then the controlled  But, when you are tired or preoccupied, you cannot engage in the controlled part o The automatic process runs wild  State of hyper-accessibility Automatic Thinking - Schemas  Mental structures people use to organize their knowledge about the social world around themes or subjects and that influence the information people notice, think about, and remember  Implicit Personality Theories o A type of schema people use to group various kinds of personality traits together o Personality traits that go together  A kind person is also generous  A nervous person is also shy  “What is beautiful is good”- tendency to think that attractive people are good people, smart, funny, etc.  Multiple schemas for explaining behaviour- to make judgments about people and their behaviour o Which one will be used?  Most likely the most accessible schema  Ex. Sitting on transit and the man sitting next to you begins to behave strangely; how do you explain their behaviour?-depends on accessibility (more likely to be brought to mind and form basis of judgment)  Accessibility o The extent to which schemas and concepts are at the forefront of people’s minds and are therefore likely to be used when making judgments about the social world o Two kinds  Chronic accessibility-based on repeated past experiences; present in forefront of mind due to repeated experiences in the past  Temporary accessibility (priming)  Chronically Accessible o Based on past experience o Constantly active (i.e. at the forefront of the mind) o Readily available to interpret ambiguous situations  Ex. History of alcoholism or mental illness in family may influence how you explain behaviour of the man on the bus  Temporarily Accessible Schemas o Not usually accessible (i.e. at the forefront of the mind) o Something happens to bring that schema to the forefront of mind (i.e. something primes that schema)- i.e. learning about psychological disorders recently and then associating those with your own behaviour  Ex. Something you were thinking about or doing before the event you are trying to explain  Ex. Reading a book that featured either mental illness or alcoholism just before the man next to you began to behave strangely  Priming- bringing a schema to the forefront of the brain  The process by which recent experiences increase a schema or trait’s accessibility  Used in a lot of social psychological studies o Ex. Higgins, Rholes, & Jones (1977)  Ss memorized a list of positive and negative words  Then as a ‘separate’ study they read a story about “Donald” who is in search of a new excitement in his life  What were their impressions of Donald?  Ss who memorized adventurous, self-confident, persistent formed a positive impression  Ss who memorized reckless, conceited, aloof formed a negative impression Automatic Thinking - Availability Heuristic  Availability Heuristic o Perseverance effect – schemas difficult to change because we come up with some sort of rationale for it o A mental rule of thumb whereby people base a judgment on the ease with which they can bring something to mind o Mental short cuts that allow us to make decisions  Ex. “is Michael an assertive person?”  It can lead to accurate judgments o Ex. If there are many instances of Michael standing up for himself then he probably is an assertive person  But it can also lead to inaccurate judgments o If what comes to mind is not typical  Ex. If the one time that you remember Michael standing up for himself happens to be the only time he has ever done that Automatic Thinking - Representativeness Heuristic  A mental shortcut whereby people classify something according to how similar it is to a typical case o Used when we classify people/objects based on how similar they are to the typical case  Base Rate Information o Information about the frequency of members of different categories in the population o People often don’t make use of base rate information  Base rate fallacy Automatic Thinking - Anchoring and Adjustment Heuristic  A mental shortcut that involves using a number or value as a starting point, and then adjusting one’s answer away from this anchor  people often do not adjust their answer sufficiently  Ex. I’m moving and I want to sell a lamp on Craig’s list. How much do I list it for? o I might base the price on how much I bought it for, how long I have had it, or how much do other people sell similar lamps for on Craig’s list  Valid reason for starting value  When we choose a starting point, we can selectively retrieve memories that are consistent with it in order to justify our decisi
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