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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Social cognition

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PSYC 215
John Lydon

Chapter 4 Studying Social Cognition - Understand how people think about the social world and arrive at judgments that: o Helps them interpret the past o Understand the present o Predict the future - Understand how people think about other individuals and make assumptions about them - Show that our judgment isn’t flawless o E.g. we trust people we shouldn’t Information Available - Information can be misleading - Some methods of acquiring information can affect our thinking disproportionately Inferring Personality from Physical Appearance - When you have minimal information - Snap judgment: how quickly do we make impressions? - How trustworthy, competent, likable, aggressive or attractive does someone look? - Two facial expressions stand out: o Positive-Negative dimension when judging whether the person should be approached or not  Trustworthy or untrustworthy? Aggressive or not? o Power dimension when judging whether the person is likely to stand in a status  Confident or bashful? Dominant or submissive? - Baby faces look more trustworthy and nondominant o Appear harmless/helpless - Inferring personality from physical appearance holds a certain degree of truth, yet it is small - Snap judgment predicts more what other people in general think Pluralistic Ignorance - Misleading firsthand information - Misperception of a group norm that results from observing people who are acting differently from their private beliefs out of a concern for the social consequences o E.g. ethnic groups do not initiate conversation with other ethnic groups out of fear of being rejected o E.g. acting “tougher” when “toughness” is valued - Thus, firsthand experiences can be: o Accurate as they have not been filtered by someone else, but generally; o Inaccurate as we are inattentive to information, we misinterpret the event, we judge from one incident Misleading Second-hand Information - Ideological distortions o Accentuate some elements and suppress others o “Innocent” intent or purpose of misleading - Overemphasis on bad news o Media wants to entertain and attract an audience o Negative, violent and sensational events are more newsworthy o Increase in coverage of crimes ≠ increase in crime rate o Effects:  People are more afraid  Correlation between watching television and the fear of victimization o Purpose:  People are more receptive to negative news  E.g. you receive 5 compliments and 1 insult. You only focus on the insult for the rest of the day Presentation of Information - Consider marketing and advertising of products to understand the powerful impact Order Effects - Primary effect: disproportionate influence on judgment by information presented first in a body of evidence o Initial judgment is formed o E.g. someone who is intelligent, industrious, impulsive, critical and stubborn will seem favourable - Recency effect: disproportionate influence on judgment by information presented last in a body of evidence o Last items are easier to recall Framing Effects - The influence on judgment resulting from the way information is presented (order or wording) - Spin framing: o Varying the content of what is presented o Highlighting some aspects of the relevant information and not others o E.g. saying “enhanced interrogation” instead of “torture” - Positive and Negative framing: o Mixed nature of things can be framed in ways that emphasize a certain side. o E.g. ice cream is good, but it has a lot of saturated fat o E.g. you are more likely to use a condom with a 90% rate of success that a condom with a 10% rate of failure o Information framed in negative terms have a stronger response Temporal framing - Construal level theory: temporal perspective from which people view events has important and predictable implications for how we construe them. - Explains why we have inconsistence preferences - Distant events: abstract terms o Next week, I will be dining out with a friend - Close events: concrete terms o Right now, I’m chewing gum - Things sound great in the abstract, yet less thrilling when fleshed out in concrete details Seeking Information Confirmation bias - The tendency to test a proposition by searching for evidence that would support it - People do not seek out all the necessary information o They seek information that confirms their proposition o E.g. you want to know if someone is an introvert and you only ask them questions on social withdrawal; they will only answer things that will make them seem relatively introverted Motivated confirmation Bias - People deliberately search for evidence that confirms their preferences - Information that contradicts what a person would like to believe is rejected Top-Down Processing - Top-down processing: filter and interpret new information in light of pre-existing knowledge and expectations - Bottom-up processes: Forming conclusions based on relevant stimuli from the outside world (text on page, gesture, sound, etc.) Influence of Schemas on: - Attention o Selective o Direct our attention to the most important elements o E.g. you do
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