Automatic Thinking with Schemas
Automatic thinking: thinking that is nonconscious, unintentional, involuntary, and
effortless. Ex: walking into a classroom and automatically distinguishing who is the prof
and who are the students.
• Schemas: mental structures that organize our knowledge about the social world.
They contain our basic knowledge and impressions that we use to organize what
we know about the social world and interpret new situations.
o Stereotypes about race and violence: people connected violence with the
race of the people, for example, if a man was black and held a weapon,
people would be more rattled than if it was a white male.
o Cultural determinants of schemas: although everyone uses schemas to
understand the world, the content of our schemas are influenced by our
o Which schemas are applied?
Accessibility: the extent to which schemas and concepts are at the
front of peoples minds and therefore are more likely to be used
when making judgments about the social world
General example (applied below): A man on a bus sits beside you.
He mutters to himself, stares at everyone and repeatedly rubs his
face with one hand.
they can be accessible for three reasons:
• because of our recent experiences
o Example: if you read something right before the
man got on the bus about a mental illness, you will
correlate that thought to the mans behavior.
o Priming: process where recent experiences increase
the accessibility of a schema or a concept.