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ch. 3 - social cognition

Course Code
Ingrid L.Stefanovic

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Chapter 3
Social cognition
Social cognition: they way people think about themselves and the social world- how they select,
interpret, remember, and use social information to make judgements and decisions
2 kinds of social cognition:
oAutomatic thinking: thinking that is nonconscious, unintentional, involuntary, and
ocontrolled thinking: thinking that is conscious, intentional, voluntary, and effortful
Automatic thinking with schemas
automatic thinking helps us understand new situations by relating them to our prior experience
schemas: mental structures people use to organize their knowledge about the social world. These
mental structures influence the information they notice, think about and remember
schema encompasses our knowledge about many things- other people, ourselves, social roles
our schemas contain our basic knowledge and impressions that we use to organize what we know
about the social world and interpret new situations
schema also influence the way in which we process information
oex. Theres evidence that information relevant to a particular schema is processed more
quickly than information unrelated to it
oex. In an experiment, participants were faster when rating the stereotypical characteristics
of each group than when rating its nonstereotypical characteristics
so when target group was males, characteristics such as rugged, impatient,
talkative were rated more quickly than characteristics such as artistics, impolite,
given a label, we will fill in the blanks with all kinds of schema-consistent information
Stereotypes about race and weapons
when applied to members of a social group such as gender or race, schemas are referred to as

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stereotypes can be applied quickly and automatically when we encounter other people
ex. Experiment had shown pictures of white and blacks and then showed a picture of tool or gun.
So question was, did the race of the face influence peoples perception of whether they saw a gun
or a tool in the second picture
oit did influence them. Peoples were more likely to misidentify a tool as a gun when it was
preceded by a black face than when it was preceded by a white face
ex. In another experiment, participants were likely to pull the trigger (of toy gun) when the person
in a picture was black whether or not he was holding a gun
opeople made few errors when a black person was in fact holding a gun but also they made
the most errors shooting an unarmed person
ex. In an exp. It was shown that traits connected with danger (eg. Crime) came to mind more
quickly for participants who were seated in a dark room compared with participants who were
seated in a bright room
in all the studies, people had to act quickly that they had little time to control their responses or
think about it so the errors they made were the result of automatic thinking
we also have schemas about specific individuals (eg. What aunt jane is like), social roles (eg. How
mothers are suppose to behave), or how people act in specific situations (eg. At a party)
The function of schemas: why do we have them?
There are negative consequences of schemas, cases in which people fill in the blanks but the
consequences are not always harmful
oex. On t.v some lady named Pamela wallen said shit and this was inconsistent with
peoples schemas of her that they convinced themselves they must have heard wrong –that
she really must have said Schmidt (the person she was interviewing)
even though schemas make us misperceive the world at times, we have them because they are
useful for helping us organize and make sense of the world and to fill in gaps of our knowledge
it is important to have continuity, to relate new experiences to our past schemas, hat people who
lose this ability invent schemas where none exist as for those with korsakovs syndrome
ex. To create a schema about what the guest lecturer would be like, experimenter told student that
they were interested how classes reacted to different lecturers and they would receive a note about
the lecturer before he came in

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othe experimenter thought that they would use the schema provided by the note to fill in
the blanks
othose that got a note saying the teacher was warm and nice gave him a higher rating than
those who expected him to be cold (by the note) even though the teacher was the same in
both case
so, as long as people have reason to believe their schemas are accurate, its reasonable to use them
to resolve ambiguity
ex. If a suspicious person come to you in a dark ally and says take out your wallet , you schema
about these encounters tells you the person wants to steal your money and not admire pictures of
your family. This schema helps you get away from a serious misunderstanding.
The danger comes when we automatically apply schemas that are not accurate, such as assuming
that a black person reaching into his pocket is going to get out a gun
Schemas as memory guides
Schemas also influence what we remember
Theres evidence that people are more likely to remember information thats consistent with their
Ex. In an experiment, it was found that students (in Manitoba) were more likely to remember
positive behaviours performed by a white child than a native child and negative behaviours
performed by a native child rather than a white child
oThis suggests a commonly held schema of white children as better than native children
Memory errors also tend to be consistent with peoples schemas
oEx. Participants read a story about a relationship of Barbara and jack
oAfter dating, Barbara and jack went to a ski lodge for a weekend
oIn one condition, the story ended with jack proposing to Barbara
oAnother condition, story ended with jack raping Barbara
o2 weeks later, participants took a memory test where they read many facts about the
couple and judged if those facts came in the story
oIn the marriage-proposal condition, people were likely to misremember details that were
consistent with a proposal schema like jack wanting Barbara to meet his parents
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