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Lecture 2

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University of Toronto St. George
Jennifer Fortune

Lecture 2 What is Social Cognition?  “people first” - What they do, say, act o We think about other people more than any other topic (social rules, situations in which other people will be seeing/not seeing us, strangers, group situations etc)  Inner processes have an important interpersonal function – helps us feel accepted o We are motivated to fit in and be liked o Relationship maintenance – to make sure you don’t get rejected  Sometimes we compete against others to reach our goals  Not a conscious process, you don’t choose to do it 3 goals of thinking: 1. Discover the right answer – if you don’t know what to do, goal of thinking is to find out what is correct 2. Confirm the desired answer – sometimes we are focused on confirming something we want to believe. (i.e do other people like me?) 3. Reach the answer quickly – for small decisions that don’t matter as much Cognitive miser – reluctance to do much extra thinking  We have limited resources of attention/memory/brain power to think and make decisions  People are not prone to think more than what is absolutely necessary (unless motivated) The Duplex Mind: (Freud’s idea)  Automatic System: o Allows us to do easy/well practiced things quickly without spending cognitive resources o Serves the cognitive miser o Not a critical thinker (often reinforces prejudice and discrimination)  The Conscious System: o Thoughts you know you’re having o Includes all processes that are more difficult/require more effort Elements of Automatic Thinking:  Not guided by intention/ making decisions without thinking about it  Not subject to deliberate control  No effort required  Highly efficient  Sacrifice accuracy in favor of speed Schema – mental representations of objects or categories of objects.  Don’t usually catch your attention until they get violated. From automatic system -> conscious system Scripts – schemas about certain vents  Define situations and guide behavior Priming – activating a concept in the mind  Something brings it forward  Influences subsequent thinking; makes you think of things that are related o Doctor – nurse; butter - nurse  May trigger automatic processes o Bargh, Chen, Burrows 1996:  Participants were primed in 1 out of 3 ways Independent variable: rude, polite and neutral priming conditions  Task was to unscramble sentences to make grammatically correct sentence  After the task, were asked to come into hallway and find the experimenter (who is in a deep convo)  Dependent variable: if participant interrupts the experimenter within 10 min.  Neutral: ~40%, Rude ~60%, Polite ~20%  b/c automatic system is in control; subjects not aware of it Thought Suppression:  2 processes to suppress thought: o Automatic – scans evidence for info related to unwanted thought o Controlled – redirects attention away from unwanted thought  As soon as you relax your conscious control, mind will be flooded with cues from automatic system (white bear effect) Herman & Mack 1975: (quasi-exp)  Recruited dieters and non-dieters to eat diff amount of food o Asked ppl to come to lab hungry  Independent variable: drink 0,1,2 milkshakes o After milkshake phase, were given 3 big bowls of ice-cream to taste and rate.  Dependent variable: amount of ice cream eaten  Nondieters: no milkshake, hungry -> most ice cream; those who ate more milkshakes ate less ice cream (normal trend if eating behavior is determined primarily by hunger  Dieters: no milkshake, hungry -> least ice cream; 2 milkshakes -> Ate more ice cream Counterregulation – indulging in a behavior you are trying to regulate after an initial regulation failure Heuristics – mental shortcuts used to make everyday judgments.  Representative Heuristic: when we make categorizations based on the extent to which an instant represents the category o Non-representative are harder to categorize. o ignores base rate information. o Stereotypes are bad when applied to large, diverse groups  Availability Heuristi
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