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Chapter 2

PSY220H1 Chapter 2: PSY220 - Chapter 2 (Lecture 1)


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSY220H1
Professor
Heather V.Fritzley
Chapter
2

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PSY220: Chapter 2 Social Cognition (Lecture 1)
Social Cognition: The manner in which we interpret, analyze, remember, and use information about the social world
Affect: Our current feelings and moods
SCHEMAS: MENTAL FRAMEWORKS
Schemas: mental frameworks centering on a specific theme that helps us organize social information
Scripts: frameworks for common events that occur
Person schemas: framework for people
Role schemas: framework for social roles
Experience allows one to build mental frameworks that organize knowledge and assumptions about a
subject/theme
THE IMPACT OF SCHEMAS ON SOCIAL COGNITION
How do schemes influence social thought? By influencing: attention, encoding and retrieval
Attention: refers to information we notice
Schemas often act as a filter, information consistent with the schema tend to be noticed more
Information that does not fit the scheme are often ignored unless really extreme
Encoding: refers to the process through which information we notice is stored in memory
In general, information that is consistent with the schema gets encoded, but information that is sharply
contrasting expectations may be encoded in a separate memory location with a unique ‘tag’
Retrieval: refers to the processes through which we recover information from memory to use in some manner
Information that is inconsistent with our schemas might be present in memory as strongly as information
that is consistent with schemas, but people tend to report the consistent ones more often
Effects of schemas on social cognition is influenced by other factors
Effects are stronger when
schemas are strong and well developed
the cognitive load is high and we rely on schemas to allow for faster information processing
Schemas are useful but can also produce distortions in our understanding of the social world
Schemas are often very resistant to change perseverance effect: the tendency for beliefs and schemas to
remain unchanged even in the face of contradictory evidence
A study by Ziva Kunda on lawyers who are introverted showed that when people receive neutral information about them,
they place them into a subtype of lawyers instead of altering their schemes
THE SELF-CONFIRMING NATURE OF SCHEMAS: WHEN AND WHY BELIEFS SHAPE REALITY
Self-fulfilling prophecy: Expectations that people have that can affect their behaviour in such a way that the
expectation actually comes true
Study done by Rosenthal and Jacobsonwent to an elementary school and gave IQ tests to all the students,
told the teachers that some students had scored very high and were about to ‘bloom’ academically (which wasn’t
true because participants were chosen at random)
Returning 8 months later, the researchers found that those who had been described as ‘bloomers’ showed
larger gains on IQ than control
The students that the teachers believed would bloom actually did the self-fulfilling nature
It was found that the teachers acted in a way that benefitted the students they expected to bloom and thus
allowed them to bloom
Schema’s help us make sense out of the social world and process information quickly and with minimal effort, but
also lock us into perceiving the world in ways that may not be accurate
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HEURISTICS AND AUTOMATIC PROCESSING: HOW TO REDUCE EFFORT
Our cognitive abilities are limited we are only able to hold a certain amount of information at a time
Information overload: instances in which our ability to process information is exceeded
Our processing capacity can be depleted by high levels of stress or other demands
Heuristics: Simple rules for making complex decisions or drawing inferences in a rapid and seemingly effortless
manner.
REPRESENTATIVENESS: JUDGING BY RESEMBLANCE
Representative heuristic: a strategy for making judgments based on the extent to which the current stimuli or
events resemble other stimuli or categories
The more similar something (or someone) is to typical members of a given group, the more likely it is that it
belongs to the group
Sometimes judgments based on representativeness are wrong because decisions or judgments made on the
basis of this rule ignores base rates
Base rates: The frequency with which given events or patterns occur in the total population (e.g. more managers
than lawyers, but based on representative characteristics you ignore percentages and judge based on similarity to
typical members of a group of categories
AVAILABILITY: “IF I CAN THINK IT, IT MUST BE IMPORTANT”
Availability heuristic: a strategy for making judgments on the basis of how easily specific kinds of information can
be brought to mind (the more readily it is brought to mind, the greater its impact on subsequent judgments)
The heuristic makes sense if information is in our mind easily then it should be important and should influence our
judgments and decisions
Relying on the availability in making social judgments can lead to errors like overestimating the likelihood of events
happening (e.g. violent crimes and plane crashes)
The amount of information that comes to mind also matters the more information we can think of, the more it will
impact our judgments
If the answer appears to involve emotion or feelings rely on the ‘ease’ information comes to mind; if it involves
facts/information then we rely on the ‘amount’ of information that comes to mind
PRIMING
Priming: Increased availability in memory or consciousness of specific types of information held in memory
because of exposure to specific stimuli or events
Medical student syndrome: Constant exposure to description of diseases results in a possibility of over-
exaggeration of illnesses
Magnified fears people experience after watching a horror movie towards shadows and etc. are an example of
priming
Automatic priming: priming that occurs unconsciously
Priming is a basic fact of social thought external events and conditions can increase the availability of specific
types of information which can influence our judgments
ANCHORING AND ADJUSTMENT
Anchoring and adjustment heuristic: a heuristic that involves the tendency to use a number or value as a starting
point, to which we then make adjustments
This can be seen in situations that do not involve numbers such as viewing a country when it was at its worst, and
even when you’re aware of that, will still view it as necessary
We let heuristics influence our thinking because they save us mental effort and guides our social cognition
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