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Chapter 4

PSYB10H3 Chapter 4: Chapter #4

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Inbar Yoel

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Textbook Notes PSYB10 Lec 3
Chapter #4
Chapter # 4 Soial Cognition: Thinking
aout People and Situations
- Social cognition & sources of error in judgment about the social world precedes in 5 parts:
Each focuses on a critical aspect of social judgment:
o (1) Our judgments are only as accurate as the quality of the information on which
they are based, yet the information available to us in everyday life is not always
representative or complete
o (2) The way information is presented, including the order in which it is presented
and how it is framed, can affect the judgments we make.
o 3 We do’t just passiel take i ifoatio. We ofte atiel seek it out, ad
a pervasive bias in our information-seeking strategies can distort the conclusions
we reach.
o (4) Our preexisting knowledge, expectations, and mental habits can influence the
construal of new information and thus substantially influence judgment.
o (5) Two mental systems, reason and intuition, underlie social cognition, and their
complex interplay determines the judgments we make.
Studying Social Cognition
- The field of social cognition is the study of how people think about the social world and
arrive at judgments that help them interpret the past, understand the present, and
predict the future
- Earliest principle: if we want to know how a person will react in a given situation, we
must understand how the person experiences that situation
- “oial stiuli ael ifluee people’s ehaio dietl; the do so idietl though
the a the’e itepeted ad ostued
The Information Available for Social Cognition
Minimal Information: Inferring Personality from Physical Appearance
- The term snap judgment making impressions extremely quickly
- Janine Willis and Alex Todorov (2006) showed participants a large number of faces and
had them rate how trustworthy, competent, likable, aggressive, or attractive each
person seemed.
o Some participants were given as much time as they wanted to make each rating,
ad thei tait judgets ee used as the gold stadad of opaisothe
most telling impressions an individual could form based solely on photographs.
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Textbook Notes PSYB10 Lec 3
Chapter #4
o Other participants were also asked to rate the photos, but after seeing each face
for only a second (1,000 milliseconds), half a second (500 ms), or a tenth of a
second (100 ms)
o A great deal of what we conclude about people based on their faces is
determined almost instantaneously
o the correlation between judgments made at leisure and those made under time
pressure was almost as high for participants given a tenth of a second for their
ratings as for those given a full second
Perceiving Trust and Dominance
- Two dimensions tend to stand out:
o One is a positive-negative dimension, involving such assessments as whether
someone is seen as trustworthy or untrustworthy, aggressive or not aggressive.
o The other dimension centers around power, involving assessments such as
whether someone seems confident or bashful, dominant or submissive.
- It appears, then, that people are set to make quite important judgments about others:
whether they should be approahed o aoided diesio 1, ad hethe the’e
likely to be top dog or underdog (dimension 2)
- hypermasculine features, such as a very pronounced jaw, that make someone look
- the features, such as the shape of the eyebrows and eye sockets, that make someone
look trustworthy
- the faes that ae see as tustoth ad ot doiat, ou’ll otie that the ted to
look like baby faces
- adults with small eyes, a small forehead, and an angular, prominent chin tend to be
judged as strong, competent, and dominant
- baby-faced individuals receive more favorable treatment as defendants in court, but
the hae a hade tie eig see as appopiate fo adult jos, suh as akig
The Accuracy of Snap Judgements
- evidence indicates that snap judgements predict rather well
- in one study, participants were shown, for 1 second, pictures of the Republican and
Democratic candidates in U.S. congressional elections and asked to indicate which
candidates looked more competent.
o Those judged to be more competent by most of the participants won 69 percent
of the races
- judgments based on thin slices of behavior
- The available evidence thus indicates there is often some validity to even extremely
ief eposue to othe people’s ehaio.
- Hoee, it’s poal uise to hire, reject, or make commitments to people based on
snap judgments, because in general they contain only a kernel of truth
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Textbook Notes PSYB10 Lec 3
Chapter #4
Misleading Firsthand Information: Pluralistic Ignorance
- But firsthand experiences can also be deceptive, as when we fail to pay close attention
to information about events that occur before our eyes, or when we misconstrue their
true meaning
- Our firsthand experience can also be unrepresentative, as it tends to be when judging
what the students at a given university are like based on the one or two encountered
during a campus tour
- “oe of the fisthad ifoatio e auie aout people is iauate eause it’s
intended to be
- 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; those actions reinforce the erroneous group norm.
- Plualisti igoae is patiulal oo i situatios hee toughess is alued,
and people are afraid to show their kinder, gentler impulses
o Example: Gang members
Misleading Firsthand Information: Self-Fulfilling Prophecies
- e a fail to otie that ou o ehaio has ought aout hat e’e seeig
- Self-fulfilling prophecy: The tendency for people to act in ways that bring about the very
thing they expect to happen.
o The most famous demonstration of the impact of self-fulfilling prophecies is a
study in which researchers told elementary schoolteachers that aptitude tests
indicated that several of their students could e epeted to loo
intellectually in the coming year
o In reality, the students so described were chosen randomly.
o Nevertheless, the expectation that certain students would undergo an
intellectual growth spurt set in motion a pattern of student-teacher interaction
that led those students to score higher on IQ tests administered at the end of the
- Note that if a prophecy is to be self-fulfilling, there must be some mechanism that
translates a given expectation into action that would tend to confirm the prophecy
- In fact, some prophecies can even be self-egatig, as he a die eliees othig
ad a happe to e ad theefoe dies eklessl
Misleading Secondhand Information
Ideological Distortions
- Sometimes such motivated distortion is elatiel ioet: the peso elaig the
message fervently believes it but chooses to omit certain inconvenient details that
might detract from its impact
- Not all are innocent: People often knowingly provide distorted accounts for the express
purpose of misleading
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