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PSYCH 2C03 Final: Exam Readings Psych 2C03

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Jennifer Ostovich
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Final Exam Readings Psych 2C03
Social Cognition- Chapter 3
Two types of thinking:
1. Controlled thinking- pause, think about ourselves and the environment and contemplate what
is going on around us
2. Automatic thinking - quick and effortless example: classifying something as a chair
Low –Effort thinking
People reach conclusions about situations without even being aware that they were
doing so we form impressions of people quickly and effortlessly, and navigate new
roads without much conscious analysis of what we are doing
This type of automatic thinking is thought that is generally nonconscious,
unintentional and effortless.
People as Everyday Theorists: Automatic Thinking with Schemas
Automatic thinking helps us understand new situations, places, objects by relating them
to our prior experiences.
Our mental “script” automatically tells us that this is what we do in fast-food restaurant,
and we assume that this one is no different.
Schemas: mental structures people use to organize their knowledge about the social world
around themes or subjects that influence the information people notice, think about and
Schemas also influence the way in which we process information, and thus information
relevant to us is processed more quickly than that unrelated.
Participants were faster rating the stereotypical info of a group versus the no stereotypical
information ex: males were more easily characterized as rugged than they were artistic
We also tend to “fill in the blanks” with schema-consistent information, which allows for
more efficient information processing, but it can also have tragic consequences
For example: Michael an actor was described as not afraid of the spotlight or life of the
party whereas as a salesperson characterized as speaks loudly and manipulative
Stereotypes about Race and Violence
When applied to members of a social group such as one of gender or race, schemas are
commonly referred to as Stereotypes
Stereotypes can be applied rapidly and automatically when we encounter other people.

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For example, experiments have been conducted on the effects of people’s stereotypes
about African- Americans and crime (Corell et al, 2002)
oNon-black participants played a video game in which they saw photographs of
young men in realistic settings and half the men were African American the other
half were white. Half the men in each group held a gun and half held a non-life
threatening object. Participants were instructed to press a button labelled shoot
when with a gun and don’t when without
oParticipants were especially likely to pull the trigger when people in the pictures
were black whether or not they were holding a gun
oShooter bias meant they made few errors when a black person were holding a gun
but also made more errors shooting an unarmed black person
oWhen the men in the picture were white the participants made equal number of
errors whether the men were armed or unarmed
Studies have shown that even the physical environment can trigger automatic thinking
about race and crime.
For example, in BC negative stereotypes on black people especially relevant to danger
came to mind more quickly for participants seated in a dark versus bright room
Cultural Determinants of Schemas
Context of our schemas is influenced by our culture, and everyday life
For example, The bantu people have cows as a huge part of their livelihood so they do
not need to brand the cows they know each cow individually,- as a result of the well-
developed schemas about cattle.
Different cultures give different meaning to things
The function of Schemas: Why do we have them?
Schemas are typically very useful for helping us organize and make sense of the world,
and to fill in the gaps of our knowledge.
Schemas are particularly useful when we encounter information that is confusing or
ambiguous because they help us figure out what is going on.
Harold Kelly( 1950) Study ( students have a guest lecturer filling in)
oStudents were told that the lecturer had a “warm” personality or a cold personality
on a biographical note before the lecture started.
oThe guest lecturer than conducted a class discussion for 20 minutes, after which
the students rated their impressions of him.
oKelly hypothesized that they would use the schema provided by the biographical
note to fill in the blanks
o*Students gave the warmer teacher higher ratings than the colder even though he
behaved in the exact same way

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oStudents who expected the instructor to be warm were more likely to ask
questions and participate in class than those who thought he was supposed to be
If we automatically apply schemas that are not accurate, such as assuming that a black
person reaching into his pocket is about to produce a gun
We remember some information that was there- and we remember other information that
was never there but that we have unknowingly add later.
Which schemas are applied? Accessibility and Priming
The social world is full of ambiguous information that is open to interpretation
1. Accessibility- the extent to which schemas and concepts are at the forefront of people’s
minds and are therefore likely to be used when making judgements about the social world
Schemas can be accessible for three reasons:
oSchemas are chronically accessible because of past experience
For example, if there is a history of alcoholism in your family, traits
describing an alcoholic are likely to be chronically accessible to you,
increasing the likelihood that these traits will come to mind when you
thinking about the behaviour of the man on the bus
oSchemas are constantly active and ready to use to interpret ambiguous situations
For example, people who are targets of prejudice or discrimination are
more likely to interpret ambiguous situations as discriminatory,
presumably because discrimination schemas become chronically
accessible for them.
oSchemas become accessible because they are related to a current goal
2. Priming: the process by which recent experiences increase the accessibility of a schema,
trait or concept
oIn a classic experiment of priming effects, Higgens et al( 1977) told participants
that they would bae taking part in two unrelated studies
oIn the first, a perception study they would have to identify different colours while
memorizing a list of words.
oIn the second, a reading comprehension study they would be asked to read a
paragraph about some named Donald and then give their impressions of him
o*** many of Donald’s actions are ambiguous, interpretable in either a positive or
a negative manner; take in the fact that he piloted a boat without knowing much
about it and wants to sail across the Atlantic Ocean. At this point, some may think
of positive impressions like how he is adventurous, or they might think that he is a
reckless foolish individual.
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