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social cognition sept 17.doc

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Western University
Psychology 2070A/B
James M Olson

Sept 17 Social Cognition Study of how information about people is processed and stored, including: - Using schemas and stereotypes to make judgements about other people - Storing information about other people in memory - Memory for our own experiences and behaviours (autobiographical memory) - Common errors in social judgements - Thinking about how events could have been different (counterfactual thinking) - Effects of mood on memory How does the mind work? Schema: - AKA Concept - 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 i.e Schema of dogs Animal, loyal, teeth, friendly, bark o Stretch schema of dog dog on tree - When an ambiguous object is encountered, we try to classify it - Ambiguity is unpleasant because we want to understand the world Schemas guide information processing - We assume that objects possess the key properties of their category (schema) - We are likely to notice information that is consistent with the schema (expectancies) - We are likely to interpret ambiguous information in terms of the schema A suitor = expected to be friendly, notice you, looks at you Interpret avoidance of eye contact as nervousness Important kind of schema: Stereotype - Set of characteristics that a perceiver associates with members of a group o Car salesman: friendly but untrustworthy Stereotypes guide information processing - We expect actions to be consistent with the stereotype - We notice actions that are consistent with the stereotype - We interpret ambiguous actions in terms of the stereotype i.e When (s)he suggests that you consider optional traction control, you interpret the motive as greed rather than an honest belief that safety is important These effects of stereotypes tend to produce a confirmation bias (strengthening), even if the stereotypes are wrong: - We notice mostly supportive information - We interpret ambiguous information as supportive Therefore, our perception of the evidence is that it supports the stereotype Kunda & Sherman-Williams, 1992: - Participants rated the aggressiveness of an action - Action was either: o unambiguously high in aggressiveness (punched a neighbour who taunted him/her) o unambiguously lower in aggressiveness (spanked a son who intentionally trudged mud on the carpet) o Ambiguous (hit someone who annoyed him/her) - Actor was either: o Male construction worker o Stereotype = high in aggressiveness o Female housewife o Stereotype = low in aggressiveness - Only time it mattered was ambiguous act o Stereotype steered judgement of aggression Biased Hypothesis Testing - A confirmation bias also occurs when we test hypotheses about other people: - We test hypotheses by looking for evidence that supports the hypothesis: o If such evidence is present, we assume hypothesis is true o If such evidence is absent, we assume hypothesis is false - I.e: Extraverted = Parties? People? Social? Vs Introverted = Time alone? Awkward? o Natural way is to confirm information - We do not search for inconsistent information or contradictory evidence o E.g., evidence of introversion when testing extraversion hypothesis o Or evidence of extraversion when testing introversion hypothesis - This increases the probability that we will confirm whatever hypothesis we test. Self- Fulfilling Prophesy 1. Our expectancies from stereotypes can influence how we behave toward someone 2. And this behaviour can influence how the other person behaves 3. If the elicited behaviour confirms our expectancy, this is called a self-fulfilling prophesy i.e Expect Extraverted = me friendly towards = they behave extraverted = confirm self-expectations- Rosenthal & Jacobson, 1968: Gave students in an elementary school an IQ test Identified some random students as bloomers (they will improve academically) At the end of the year, students retook the IQ test Bloomers showed more increase in IQ o Therefore: Labeled Bloomers = Had higher IQ Received harder projects and criticism because they believe they can do it Motivation Heuristics and Biases: Availability Heuristic o A mental shortcut (heuristic) easy way o Estimating the likelihood of an event by the ease with which instances of that event come to mind o Usually this strategy works well, but sometimes it can lead to errors An example of a problem with the availability heuristic: Is the letter r more common as the first letter of a word or as the third letter of a word? Usually say 1 because we store words that way - Research example: o Tversky & Kahneman, 1973 (famous work on judgements)
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