Tuesday September 25 2012
Bonus assignment: must post on the group
What attributions do you make about Sheldon?
- Self-serving bias: doesn’t believe the problem is him
- Causal attribution: why haven’t you called me back?
- Challenges socially?
- When Howard helps him: attributions about Howard not being smart and Sheldon being
How does Sheldon use attribution theory in this clip?
How do you use attributions when forming friendship?
Question: How do we simplify our task of processing information in order to perceive our social
- Heuristics ; a mental shortcuts
-schemas: mental structures and pictures built to explain things
Key features of schemas:
- Schemas are organised knowledge
- Abstract knowledge- therefore, broadly useful
- Based on past experiences (Direct or indirect)
Functions of schemas:
1) Simplify perceptions
- Impose structure
- Aid in understanding 2) Guide information processing, influence what information we notice, think about, and
- Direct attention
- guide memory
- guide inferences
- past experience: some schemas can be accessible due to past experience
Cognitive priming: the process by which recent experiences increase as schema’s accessibility
(EX. What you were thinking about of doing right before an event can make a schema
temporarily more accessible)
Which schemas are used?
Accessibility: the extent to which schemas are the forefront of people’s minds, and thus likely to
be used in judgments
- chronic accessibility
- priming (temporary accessibility)
- The boys skipped school on a Thursday because the mother is never home, they live in
a big isolated home, they have motorcycles in the garage and the garage door is
unlocked at all times (easy access). The dad keeps money in his cupboard, they have
expensive china, they sisters room has nothing interesting except a tv and the brothers
room has a whole in the ceiling. The house in newly painted
What do you do to simplify the process of making judgements about your social world?
Implicit personality theories
- Filing the blanks
- A type of schema people use to group various kinds of personality traits together
- EX. If a person is kind, then he/she is also generous – if helpful, then also sincere- if
practical, then also cautious
What’s the problem with this?
- Leads to stereotyping
- EX. hiring people based on stereotypes Study- Problem?
- Condom study
- University students use implicit personality theory to assess the riskiness of potential
sexual partners (they use superficial characteristics that are unrelated to HIV status to
assess riskiness in potential sexual partners….)
- Why do we use them? Mental shortcuts people use to make judgements quickly and
- Simple, efficient “rules of thumb” (EX. Acronyms… I before e except after c…)
- Used when
• We don’t have a ready-made schema
• We don’t know which schema to apply
- A mental rule of thumb whereby people base a judgement on the ease with which they
can bring something to mind.
- Based on
• How easy it is to imagine
• How easy it s to think of examples
- EX. Margaret (84 years old) ill seniors, physically active seniors
Availability vs. accessibility
Accessibility- schema selection
- Information that is on your mind at any given moment
- Past experience, priming
- How easy or difficult it is to bring something to mind (not what’s already on your mind at
a given moment)
- Limitation: what is easiest to bring to mind may not be typical of the overall picture,
leading to faulty conclusions
Representativeness heuristic - A mental shortcut whereby people classify something according to how similar it is to a
- Judging a book by its cover
- Limitation: failure to account for base rate information (information about the frequency
of members of different categories in the population)
Anchoring and adjustment heuristic
- A mental shortcut that involves using a number or value as a starting point, and then
adjusting ones answer away from the anchor
- EX. Price of computer 325$ desk vs. one for 150$
What does this mean for you in your everyday life? Our perceptions can be inaccurate,
misleading, and dangerous
How do you try to explain your social world?
- Illusion of control:
- Attribution (attributing your luck to something you did)