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ch 3 psych 2070

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Psychology 2070A/B
James M Olson

Social Psychology Chapter Three: Thinking About People  Categorization: the process of recognizing and identifying something  Social cognition: the study of how information about people is processed and stored How Does the Mind Work? Schemas: The Building Blocks of the Mind  Schema: 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 category works o Relational schemas = schemas for specific interpersonal interactions (how doctor and patient interact)  Term concept sometimes used for schemas  Much of a child’s early learning involves the formation of schemas Categorization  Basic function of schemas is to categorize objects in ways that impose meaning and predictability  When we encounter an object we must identify what it is (categorize) before we can behave effectively towards it Going beyond the information given  When we categorize something we assume that it possess the characteristics of the schema even if we cannot perceive those characteristics directly Selective information processing  Schemas also influence how information is processed  Classic study o Watch 15 min video of women having birthday at home with husband o Half participants were told the women was a server at coffee shop and the other half were told she was a librarian o Participants schema for librarian or server were activated and noticed the behavior that was consistent with the stereotype of their schema  Schemas also influence the interpretation of information  Although ambiguous information will usually be interpreted as consistent with a schema, anything that obviously contradicts our expectancies will grab our attention Function or Consequence Description Example Function: categorization Identify the object This man walking out of a hotel is probably a tourist Function: information gain Assume that the object I bet he doesn’t live in the city probably possessed the typical characteristics of the schema Fuction: rapid, efficient Can decide quickly how to I will ask him if he needs decisions behave toward the object directions Consequence: selective More likely to notice I see that he is carrying a attention information that is consistent camera and a map with the schema (or that obviously contradicts it) Consequence: selective Likely to interpret ambiguous He looks a bit confused, so he interpretation information as consistent with must be lost the schema Accessibility: What’s on your mind?  Accessibility: the east with which a schema comes to awareness Priming of schemas  The initial event activates the schema and because this schema is “on your mind” it is more accessible and more likely to be activated again o Ie. Someone compliments your haircut and you find yourself looking at everyone’s hair for the rest of the day  Priming: the process by which the activation of a schema increases the likelihood that the schema will be activated again in the future o Ex. Your partner is pregnant and all of a sudden pregnant women are everywhere Chronic accessibility of schemas  Chronic accessibility: the degree to which schemas are easily activated for an individual across time and situations  Results of a study: participants more likely to remember actions by the student that exhibited their own chronically accessible traits than actions that exhibited nonaccessible traits Cultural Differences in Accessible Schemas  Cultures differ in the schemas that are used most often to categorize both self and others  Western cultures (Canada, us, Britain, Australia) emphasize in their socialization individuality, freedom and independence  Eastern cultures (China, Japan, Korea, Indonesia) emphasize harmony, obedience and interdependence Stereotypes: Schemas in the Social Domain  Stereotype: a set of characteristics that a perveiver associated with members of a group  Are one kind of schema  ones that represent human groups  Can be positive (doctors, firefighters) or negative (telemarketers, drug addicts) Going beyond the information given  Ingroup: a group to which a perceiver belongs  Outgroup: group to which perceiver does not belong  Stereotypes of ingroups are generally favourable, whereas stereotypes of outgroups can sometimes be unfavourable  People tend to overestimate the similarity within groups (stronger for outgroups)  Peple often view their ingroups as being divers and outgroups as more uniform  Outgroup homogeneity effect: the tendency for people to overestimate the similarity within groups to which they do not belong Selective Information Processing  Stereotypes can change how we interpret ambiguous behavior  Study: Hannah playing on a playground in either a run-down neighbourhood or a rich neighbourhood o Participants who believed Hannah was from a wealthy background (positive expectancy) consistently rated her as more skilled than participants who believed she was from a poor background (negative expectancy) o Effect of expectancies were stronger when participants watched Hannah answer text items (performance condition) than when they rated her abilities based only on background information (baseline condition) Automatic Versus Controlled Processes  Cognitive and social psychologist have realized people do not have full control over all mental processes  Automatic process: a judgment of thought that we cannot control, which occurs without intention, very efficiently, and sometimes beneath our awareness o Clearest example is categorization  recognizing and identifying an object o Categorization of people occurs automatically o Simple observation of an action leads us to label that action automatically  Controlled process: a judgment or thought that we command, which is intentional, requires significant cognitive resources and occurs within our awareness o Thinking carefully about why someone behaved in a certain way Reconstructive Memory  Most social cognition theorists assume that retrieval occurs by using schemas to search memory  Memory retrieval must be a “reconstructive” process  Reconstructive memory: the process of trying to rebuild the past based on cues and estimates Autobiographical memory  Autobiographical memory: stored information about the self, such as goals, personality traits, past experiences and other qualities o Comprises knowledge about the self (personal history)  Michael Ross o Proposed model of autobiographical memory based on the notion of reconstruction o Autobiographical memory often involves estimating what we were like in the past  Study o Participants rated the current self more positively than the past self o Its possible that students really did improve on these characteristics over the years  OR participants did not really access valid memories about themselves in the past, but instead estimated the past self based on a desire to see the current self positively  OR participants past and present rating were guided by their beliefs about the effects of time  most of us believe people generally improve over time o Results found that ratings of the self were caused by a desire to see the current self positively  Can false memories be implanted in people’s minds? o Some evidence suggests that it is possible to tamper with autobiographical memory o We often reconstruct personal memories based on information that is currently accessible The Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony  Many criminal cases are built around the testimony of an eyewitness to convict an accused person  Largest cause of false convictions has been eyewitness error  One factor that has dramatically increased the number of overturned convictions has been the advent of DNA testing  Most common experimental procedure for studying eyewitness identification has been to created simulated event that is controlled by the researcher o Participants asked to watch film/slideshow not knowing they will be asked to identify the people in it later  Lots of studies have found that people exposed to an event and later asked to identify the perp often choose the wrong person  The rate of error has ranged from less than 10% to more than 90% depending on factors like duration of even and setting  There is an ingroup advantage (can identify people in your race better than another race)  Confidence of the eyewitness  research has shown that the confidence with which the eyewitness identifies the perp is not a strong indication of accuracy o Quality better than confidence = speed  Reducing eyewitness errors o Reducing false identifications  Blank lineup: a group of individuals that does not include the suspect; everyone in the lineup is known to be innocent  Sequential lineup: the procedure of showing an eyewitness each individual in the group separately rather than together in a simultaneous lineup Heurisitics and Biases in Everyday Judgements  Heuristic: an informal rule or shortcut that is used to make everyday judgements o “rules of thumb” or simplifying strategies for making judgments quickly  Cognitive miser model: a view of information processing that assumes people usually rely on heuristics to make judgments and only engage in careful, thoughtful processing when necessary o Detailed deliberative processing is costly/expensive in terms of psychological resourses and our resource capacity is limited o We try to spend
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