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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 - Social Cognition.odt

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PSYC 215
John Lydon

Chapter Four Social Cognition: Thinking about People and Situations five critical aspects of social cognition our judgements are only as effective as the quality of information on which they are based, yet the information available to us in everyday life is not always accurate or complete the way information is presented, including the order in which is is presented and how it is framed, can affect the judgements we make we don't just passively take in information. We often actively seek it out, and a pervasive bias in our information-seeking strategies often distorts the conclusions we reach our preexisting knowledge, expectations, and mental habits can influence the construal of new information nd thus substantially influence judgement two mental systems intuition and reason underlie social cognition, and their complex interplay determines the judgements we make Why Study Social Cognition? Study of how people think about the social world and arrive at judgements that help them interpret the past, understand the present, and predict the future if we want to know how a person will react in a given situation, we must understand how the person experiences that situation mistakes are important in social psychology they provide useful clues as to how people think about other individuals and make inferences about them perceptual psychologists study illusions to illuminate the general principles of perception psycholinguists study errors in speech to learn about speech production mistakes reveal a great deal about how a system works by showing its limitations The InformationAvailable for Social Cognition understanding others depends on accurate information, BUT: sometimes people have little or no information on which to base their assessments sometimes the available information is misleading sometimes the way people acquire information affects their thinking unduly Minimal Information: Inferring Personality from Physical Appearance snap judgement a quick judgement made about someone with minimal information J. Willis &A. Todorov, 2006 study on snap judgements showed participants a large number of faces and had them rate how attractive, aggressive, likeable, trustworthy, and competent each person seemed some participants were given as much time as they could to make each rating estimates used as a standard of comparison some participants were asked to make the same ratings, but after seeing each face for a whole second, half a second, or a tenth of a second hurried judgements corresponded remarkably well to those reflective assessments Perceiving Trust and Dominance Todorov, Said, Engell & Oosterhof, 2008 study on what people think they see in another's physical appearance had participants rate a large number of photographs of different faces on the personality dimensions people most often mention when describing faces; all the faces are neutral expressions two dimensions stand out positive vs. negative trustworthy vs. untrustworthy aggressive vs. not aggressive power confident vs. bashful dominant or submissive people are set to make highly functional judgements positive vs. negative whether they should be approached or avoided power where they are likely to stand in a status or power hierarchy trustworthy based on the shape of the eyebrows and eye socket dominant hyper-masculine features e.g. very pronounced jaw trustworthy and non-dominant = baby faces adults with baby-faced feature such as large round eyes, a large forehead, high eyebrows and a rounded, relatively small chin are assumed to possess many of the characteristics commonly associated with the very young judged to be relatively weak and submissive adults with small eyes, a small forehead, and an angular, prominent chin are assumed to be strong, competent, and dominant K. Lorenz, 1950 cuteness of the young in many mammalian species triggers a hardwired, automatic response that helps ensure that the young and the helpless receive adequate care Zebrowitz & McDonald, 1991 baby-faced individuals receive more preferential treatment in courts, but have a harder time being seen as appropriate for adult jobs such as banking TheAccuracy of Snap Judgements some investigators report moderately high correlations between the judgements made about people based on their appearance and those individual's own reports of how approachable, extraverted and powerful they are similar studies have found no connection between judgements based on facial appearance and self-reports of agreeableness and conscientiousness sometimes it is more important to see what people in general think about a person, rather than predict what a person's true personality is snap judgements predict consensus opinion rather well Misleading Firsthand Information: Pluralistic Ignorance pluralistic ignorance misperception of a group norm that results from observing people who are acting at variance with their private beliefs out of a concern for the social consequences; actions that reinforce the erroneous group norm because peoples behavior sometimes springs from a desire to create an impression that isnot a true reflection of their beliefs or traits, and such discrepancies can lead to predictable errors in judgement people conclude from the illusory group that they are deviant, and this misperception reinforces the difficulty of acting in accordance with what they really believe Matza, 1964 gang members have been known to privately confess their objections to brutal initiation procedures and the overall lack of concern for human life; they are afraid to say so because they would be ridiculed/rejected by their peers N. Shelton & J. Richeson, 2005 study of pluralistic ignorance with profound implications for interactions between members of different ethnic groups people recognized their own failure to initiate conversation; people assumed others didn't initiate contact because of lack of interest in establishing friendships across ethnic lines Misleading Secondhand Information Ideological Distortions most of us have an ideological agenda, or a desire to foster certain beliefs or behaviors in others leads us to, knowingly or unknowingly, accentuate some elements of a story and suppress others Distortions in the Service of Entertainment: Overemphasis on Bad News one of the most pervasive reasons for second-hand accounts is the desire to entertain the desire to entertain distorts the message people receive thr
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