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Chapter 3

PSYB10H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Availability Heuristic, A Marriage Proposal, Thought Suppression


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYB10H3
Professor
Elizabeth Page- Gould
Chapter
3

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Social Psychology Chapter 3 September 20, 2011
On Automatic Pilot: Low-Effort Thinking
- People typically size up new situations very quickly
- They figure out who is there, what is happening, and what might happen next
- You reach conclusions without even being aware that you are doing so ex. Like not confusing
your university lecture for a birthday party
- We form impressions of people quickly and effortlessly and navigate new roads without much
conscious analysis of what we are doing
- We do these things by engaging in an automatic analysis of our environments, based on our past
experiences and knowledge of the world
- Automatic thinking is thought that is nonconcious, unintentional, involuntary, and effortless.
People as Everyday Theorists: Automatic Thinking with Schemas
- People use schemas, which are mental structures that organize knowledge about the social
world
- Influence the information we notice, think about and remember
- Schema’s influence the way in which we process information evidence shows that information
relevant to a particular schema is processed more quickly than information unrelated to it
o Faster at rating stereotypical characteristics of a person rather then non-stereotypical.
For ex. Male faster at saying rugged, impatient rather then artistic or impolite
- We fill in the blanks with schema-consistent information
o Ex. You tell a someone that Micheal is an salesperson. What behaviours do they have in
mind when they describe him this way?
Salesperson = pushy directions (loud speaking etc)
Actor = “life of the party”
o Given the labels, we fill in the blanks with all kinds of schema-consistent information
Stereotypes about Race and Weapons
- When applied to gender or race, schema’s are referred to as stereotypes
- Ex. Researchers wanted to know if whether people’s stereotypes about African Americans can
influence their perception of whether a person is holding a weapon
o Non-black students see pairs of pictures, one was a face and one was a tool or a gun
o Had to focus on the second picture and press one key or another for a gun or a tool
o Half of the faces in the first picture were of whites or blacks
o People were more likely to misidentify a tool as a gun when it was preceded with a black
face then with a white face
- Ex. Non-black participants played a video game where they saw a photo of young men in
realistic settings such as a park, or a train half of the men were white or black
o Half were holding a gun and half were not holding a threatening object
o Had to press a button labelled shoot if the man was holding a gun and “don’t shoot” if
he wasn’t

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o Results: they were especially likely to pull a trigger when the person in the picture was
black, whether he was holding a gun or not
o They made no errors when the man was black and holding a gun but made alot of errors
when he was black and unarmed
o When the person was white they made the same number of errors whether he was
holding a gun or not
o See graph PAGE 61
- In all these studies people had to respond so quickly that they had little time to control their
responses or think about what they were doing
- Police officers say that “ incredibly difficult fast-time decisions in life –threatening situations”
- Shot a aboriginal 18 year old because he was near a home invasions and was concealing
screwdriver up his sleeve
The Function of Schemas: Why do we have them?
- Consequences of “filling in the blanks” may not always be harmful
- Wallin by accident had said “shit” on television, and left the studio thinking she had committed
career suicide but people had told her that they thought she had mispronounced “Schmidt
because the vacuum cleaner was on or they hadn’t had coffee
o People schema of her convinced themselves that they must have heard wrong and
that she really said “Schmidt”
- Schema’s are useful for helping us organize and make sense of the world and to fill in the gaps
of our knowledge
o People with Korsasov’s syndrome have difficulty forming schema’s and go to great
lengths to impose meaning on their experiences
- It is important for us to gave continuity, to relate new experiences with past schema’s that
people lost the ability invent schema’s where none exist
- Schema’s help us reduce ambiguity
o A student’s had a guest lecturer come in – they were given a hard with a little
information half of them got a card saying he was cold and practical and others got a
card that said he was warm and gentle
o They were then going to rate him, the student with the warm card gave him higher
ratings then the students with the cold card
o It was hypothesized that they would use the schema provided by the notes to fill in the
blanks since they had only seen him for 20 mins
- There is nothing wrong with what they did IF the schema is accurate
- Problems arise when we apply schema’s that are not accurate like a black person reaching into
his pocket to produce a gun
Schema’s as Memory Guides
- People are more likely to remember information that is consistent with their schemas
- Ex. Students read a story with Jack and Barbara that date and go to a ski lodge, there were two
endings .. one with Jack raping Barb and one with him proposing to her
o They took a memory test whether certain facts appeared in the story
o The marriage proposal story Students were likely to think that facts like “Jack gave
Barb roses” were facts when they actually weren’t in the story
o The rape ending were likely to think that “Jack liked to drink” was in the story when it
wasn’t
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o These details were consistent with their schema’s and so they misremembered them
- Schema’s become stronger and more resistant to change over time
Which Schema’s are Applied? Accessibility and Priming
- Accessibility the extent to which schemas and concepts are the forefront of people’s minds
and are therefore likely to be used when making judgments about the social world
- Three reasons:
o Some schema’s are accessible due to past experiences
Ex. If someone is your family is an alcoholic describing an alcoholic is chronically
accessible to you
o Schema’s are accessible because they are related to a current goal
You are studying for a test in your abnormal psych class and learning about
different kinds of mental disorders is temporarily accessible to you
o Schema’s can be temporarily accessible because of their recent experiences
A particular schema or trait is not always accessible but happens to be primed
by something people have been thinking about or doing encountering an event
Ex. You were thinking about alcoholism were fresh in your mind you looked
out the window and saw a man drinking a bottle of wine you would think he
was an alcoholic
- Priming is the process by which recent experiences increase the accessibility of a schema, trait
or concept, making it more likely that you will use this information to interpret a new event
even if the event is completely unrelated to the one originally primed
- READ DONAL EXAMPLE PAGE 67
- Priming is a good example of automatic thinking because it occurs quickly, unintentionally and
unconsciously
The Persistence of Schemas After they are Discredited
- We hear something about an issue or another person that later turns out not to be true
o Jury hears something about the defendant and even though it is untrue, the judge tells
them to disregard the information but their beliefs persists
- Ex. You are given fake and real suicidal notes you half to guess which ones are real and which
ones are not you guess 24/25 of them correct which is better theaverage performance OR
they said you did bad and got a 10/25
o But in actuality you had been assigned to a condition where the experimenter said you
were correct regardless of how well you actually did
o You are given a questionnaire asking how you actually think you did and how well you
do a second time around? What would you say?
o You would have formed a schema that you were either very good or very bad at the task
o The “success” students still believed that they had gotten more items correct on the test
and would do better a second time around then the ‘failure” students
- Perseverance effect people’s beliefs persisted even though the original evidence was
discredited.
- When they received the feedback, they brought back evidence from the past that gave evidence
for them doing so poorly or so bad “Well, im not good at this stuff, my friends always say i’m th
last one to know”
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