Psy 220 chapter 3: thinking about people
Categorization: the process of recognizing and identifying something.
Social cognition: the study of how information about people is processed and stored.
Schemas: mental representations of objects or categories, which contain the central
features of the object or category as well as assumptions about how the object or
Relation schemas: People also have schemas for specific interpersonal interactions,
such as how doctors and patients are supposed to interact.
Concepts: schemas or concepts contain the principal features of the object or category,
as well as simple assumptions or theories about how the object or category functions.
this process is virtually instantaneous and effortless for distinctive objects like iPods.
Childs early learning involves the formation of schemas. An important goal of the
educational system is to expand students knowledge of schemas, including some very
Categorization: basic function of schemas is to categorize objects in ways that impose
meaning and predictability.
This process occurs automatically and effortlessly with the majority of things we
Categorization imposes meaning on the world. When we categorize something, we
assume that it possesses the characteristics of the schema even if we cannot perceive
those characteristics directly.
Categorization allows us to form impression and make decisions quickly and efficiently,
without having to think carefully about every object we encounter.
It also allows us to make assumptions about objects and to direct our attention to those
aspects of the environment that are most important.
Nevertheless, categorization is a necessary and effective process, especially for
Schemas not only impose meaning on the world, they also influence how information is
Schemas influence the interpretations of information. Typically, their effect will be that
ambiguous information is interpreted in accordance with the schema.
Schemas lead us to assume that the object possesses particular characteristics, and
anything that vaguely implies those characteristics may be taken as evidence that our
assumption is accurate.
Although ambiguous information will usually be interpreted as consistent with a
schemas, anything that is obviously contradicts our expectancies will grab our
Unexpected actions arouse our curiosity and lead to attempts to understand why the
object is exhibiting characteristics that are inconsistent with its category.Psy 220 chapter 3: thinking about people
Function: Identify object This man walking out of a
categorization hotel is probably a tourist.
Function: information Assume that the object probably possesses the I bet he doesnt live in this
gain typical characteristics of the schema. city.
Function: rapid, Can decide quickly how to behave toward the I will ask him if he needs
efficient decisions. object directions.
Consequences: selective More likely to notice information that is I see that he is carrying a
attention consistent with the schema ( or that camera and a map.
obviously contradicts it)
Consequences: Likely to interpret ambiguous information as He looks a bit confused, so he
selective consistent with the schema. must be lost.
Schema is used to categorize an object is important, if two individuals categorize the
same object different, they may expect very different characteristics.
Sometimes, schema is directly activated by information.
Important: schema will be activated when the objects features match the features of
Accessibility: the ease with which the schemas come to awareness.
Priming: the process by which the activation of a schema increases the likelihood that
the schema will be activated again in the future.
E.g. being pregnant, or having ones partner pregnant, makes the schemas for
pregnancy and children very accessible.