SOC 388 March 22 2012
From the chalk Board
Cerulo = today’s readings
Clouding (1) impressionism
Book is about people’s inability to prepare for bad things that will happen to them. Data from a variety
of places. Looking at whether people are better prepared for good things or bad things?
Cerulo looked at museums. Found many more painting of heaven then hell during certain periods of
time. Paintings from heaven are often more detailed than paintings of hell. Showing how good depicted
more often worst
Many more positive things then negative in society focused on. More best of list then worst of lists. Even
when googling. Cerulo talks about 9/11 and hurricane Katrina
Proff asks the class whets the best and worst that can happen to you. Our answers not consistent with
Cerulo. Our answers not very specific. Cerulos answers where very specific. Not just winning the lottery
but winning lotto 6/49 for 25 million on my birthday for example.
Cerulo found a pattern. People have a tendency to focus on positive things rather than negative
People in the U.S especially have problems conceiving the worst. This can become a perceptual
blindspot. How? Because of certain routines which keep reinforcing this tendency to focus on the best
and not look at the worst
Cerulo looks at settings were the worst is systematically hidden from view and looks at practices which
hide the worse in plain sight / minimized/ deniede.g. of military discharge. More detailed for positive discharge then when it is a negative discharge. The
worse the actions of the solider resulting in the discharge, the less detailed given.
Cerulo found standards tend to eliminate worst from active frame of reference. Direct people to
dimensions of positive
draws on studies of social cognition – what in our brain may contribute to this?
Looks at social cultural practices as well – how do they reinforce these ideas?
Combining the two we come to understand the positive asymmetry
Proff goes over dog example from Cerulo. The idea of prototype (Eleanor Rosch). Everyone has different
prototype for a dog. Here in Canada may be a golden retriever, in Argentina German Sheppard in China
shitzu etc.. When we see a dog we relate it to our prototype. This structures our thinking
Same notions can be applied to family resemblance.
Suggests 3 levels
Super ordinate – dogs. Basic level= golden retriever Subordinate level = English golden retriever
These levels differ for each person.
We use these basic levels to perceive our everyday world. Why? Because not too specific but specific
enough. Close to the ‘perceived world structure’. Too much detailed is unnecessary
Other e.g. she gives is her friend who is in too trees. When proff sees a tree her basic level is tree. But
her friend who grew up on a farm and known a lot of trees her basic level is not tree but oak, or pine
whatever it is. Then her subordinate level would be the kind of oak but for the proff the subordinate
level is oak.
Cerulo does not go into depth in prototypes but relies on it for theory.
Rules of prototypes
(1) critical features – concepts have these. Critical feature of a chair is hat 4 legs , you can sit on it and
has a back. Some chair for ‘chairy’ then others. This allows us to family resemblance, the resemblance
between chairs. Back to dog e.g. some dogs are more ‘doggy’ then others. The critical features are
different for everyone. Looking at what are the critical features for each person to recognize it is a dog,
chair or tree.
(2) similarities rules – in order to create concepts in our minds we need to connect a concepts critical
(3) distinction rules- need to also see the differences. Distinguish once concept from anotherRules guide our concepts. Important in making sense of the world and generalized prediction
Regardless of your perception of the different levels above these rules we always apply them. And we
don’t think about it when we do its juts second nature.
Brain always tries to minimize amount of work it has to do. This is the idea of cognitive economy.
Everytime you see a dog you don’t have to think about your brain automatically thinks ok it’s a dog. This
only works for things that we see most often. When we see a dog we don’t recognize it as a mammal,
we recognize dogs. Mammals are to abstract. Could argue dog is abstract.
What makes us focus on something’s more than others? Cultural aspects critical in understanding
Culture harnesses the brain towards asymmetrical thinking. Ideas of quality derived through social
cultural notions. Formed with reference from the ‘stalk of knowledge’. The ideas and images we see in
our culture provide us with the tools to interpret and understand