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Chapter 4

Social Psychology Chapter 4 Summary.docx

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McGill University
PSYC 215
John Lydon

Social Psychology Chapter 4 Summary - Our judgements are only as good as the information we receive - The way information is presented can skew our judgement - We actively seek out information and the way we seek out information is biased by us so the information we seek out is thus affected - Our pre-existing knowledge, expectations and mental habits can influence our construal of information - Intuition and reason and how they interplay determines judgement we make Why Study Social Cognition? - If we want to know how someone will react in a given situation we must understand how they perceive that situation - Research in social cognition looks at the limitations of our judgements to find out more about how we make them The Information Available for Social Cognition - Social cognition depends on information which can be limited, incorrect, misleading, or tainted by their pre-existing bias thus hampering our ability to make a good judgement Minimal Information: Inferring Personality from Physical Appearance - Willis and Todorov completed an experiment where pictures were shown to a group of participants to make a judgement solely based othappearance. One group was given as much time as they liked while the other had 1/10 of a second; they all made similar/ the same judgements - People conclude what they know about someone almost instantaneously Perceiving Trust and Dominance - Looking at how Todorov and Willis’ experiment’s judgements correlated there were 2 dimensions: 1.) Trustworthy or aggressive? Can this person be approached safely? 2.) Confident or bashful? Submissive or dominant? Are they powerful and of high status? - Non-dominant faces are baby-faced - Those with a strong, angular jaw etc. are seen as dominant - Evidence supporting linkages between facial appearance and real personality is limited and mixed - Evidence supporting linkages between snap judgements and facial appearance is limited - Snap judgements hold a kernel of truth, but a small one - How we perceive others is usually how others perceive them too - In experiment where they had to pick competent looking people, they picked the same ones who won, not an indicator of competence but an indicator that many would view said person as competent enough that they won the election Misleading first-hand information: Pluralistic Ignorance - Information comes to us directly or second-hand (gossip, news etc.) - Some 1 -hand info can be deceptive; when we judge the kind of “people” in a certain area by 1 person that we meet or when we make judgements based on people’s behaviour may be trying to convey impression that doesn’t reflect their true feelings - Pluralistic Ignorance: misperception of a group norm that results from observing those acting at a variance from their true beliefs out of concern for social consequences—action reinforcing erroneous group norm - For ex: the idea that someone of a different race doesn’t want to be your friend so you don’t initiate conversation, they think the same so they don’t initiate conversation; result= people are divided by race out of fear of talking to one another Misleading Second-hand information - Ideological distortions: transmitters of info might want to create that belief in others so may, innocently or not, leave out certain information that may detract from its impact - Distortions in the service of entertainment: media tends to only publish things that can be over- sensationalized, esp. stories of violence - Effects of bad-news bias: people believe they are at risk of more victimization than they really are; there’s a positive correlation between watching TV and fear of victimization; correlation between TV viewing habits and perceived vulnerability is reduced among those in low-crime neighbourhoods; those in high crime neighbourhoods who watch a lot of TV are more fearful of victimization than their neighbours who don’t watch as much TV - Differential attention to positive and negative info: we are more attentive to negatives than positives (if 10 people compliment you and 1 insults you, you focus on that 1 insult) How Information is presented - How and when things are presented can have profound effects on our judgements - Primacy effect: the info presented first will have the most influential effect - Recency effect: the info presented last has the biggest impact - Primacy effect has larger impact than recency effect - Primacy effect occurs when people focus a lot early on but then lose focus as the presentation goes on - Last items are easier to recall so it has a greater effect on our judgement - Initial information affects how latter information is construed - Order effects are types of framing effect Framing Effects - Is the influence on judgement resulting from the way it is presented such as the order of presentation or how it is worded Spin Framing - Framing by not just changing the order or how it is presented but the actual content - Spinning an advertisement for one thing as one of high quality and another as one of savings - Just by changing the wording like torture vs. enhanced investigation or freedom fighters vs. terrorist Positive and Negative Framing - The mixed nature of most things makes it easy to spin things in a positive or negative light - Framing the exact same information can get different reactions from people; framing something as 75% lean meat vs. 25% fat will have a more positive reaction for the former - Negative information elicits a stronger reaction thus negative framing elicits a stronger response - People hate losing things they once had more than failing to have them in the 1 place st Temporal Framing - Construal-level theory: theory outlining relationship between psychological distance and the concreteness vs. abstraction of thought. Psychologically distant events are thought about abstractly; actions and events in the present terms are thought of in concrete terms - Influence occurs in far or near events, in terms of proximity (house vs. London) or in terms of people (to you vs. to a distant acquaintance) How We Seek Information Confirmation Bias - We’re more likely to seek out information to test a proposition that confirms rather than refutes - Problem: if we look mainly for one kind of evidence, we’ll find it - This can even occur when talking to someone; if we think something about someone we are more likely to ask the questions that would confirm this Motivated Confirmation Bias - Even without having a particular motivation to be biased like in the experiments above, they still arrived at biased answers - If a person actively wants something to be true they’ll sift through information: readily accepting confirming evidence and critically scrutinizing refuting evidence - Preferences can taint how you view pertinent evidence Top-Down Processing: Using Schemas to Understand New Information - Bottom-up processing: “data-driven” mental processing, in which an individual forms conclusions based on stimuli encountered during experiment - Top-down processing: “theory-driven” mental processing, in which individual filters and interprets new information in the light of pre-existing knowledge and expectations - Stimuli is not passively recorded but actively construed - Information is stored in coherent configuration, it is grouped and organized. The word “party animal” brings about several thoughts: excessive drinking, wild, crazy etc. The Influence of Schemas - Schemas affect our judgement by: directing our attention, structuring our memories, and influencing our construals Attention: - We can’t focus on everything so the knowledge or schemas we bring allow us to focus on the important detail and ignore the rest Memory: - Attention in the past tense: only stimuli that captured our attention will remain in our memory - Information that fits pre-existing schemas are more easy to recall - Encoding: filing information away in memory based on what information is attended to and what initial interpretation of that information - Schemas may affect what people attend to and how they make an initial interpretation and storage of that information - Retrieval of info: extraction of info from memory - Schemas may affect how information is retrieved from memory - Schemas’ effect on encoding is much stronger than its effect on retrieval Construal: - Information stored in the brain can affect how people interpret or construe information—most likely to occur when person is ambiguous - In ambiguous cases its best to rely on top-down processing to compensate for inadequacies in info given by the bottom-up approach Behaviour - Behaviour can be affected by the schemas activated - If stereotypes like professors vs. soccer hooligans are shown before a general knowledge quiz, students will do better when exposed to the schema of the professor - When the stereotype is a specific individual like Albert Einstein does the opposite and
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