Chapter 4: Social Cognition—Thinking about People and Situations
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.
PRIMACY EFFECT - The disproportionate influence on judgment by information presented
first in a body of evidence.
RECENCY EFFECT - The disproportionate influence on judgment by information presented last
in a body of evidence.
FRAMING EFFECT - The influence on judgment resulting from the way information is
presented, such as the order of presentation or how it is worded.
CONSTRUAL LEVEL THEORY - A theory that outlines the relationship between
psychological distance and the concreteness versus abstraction of thought. Psychologically
distant actions and events are thought about in abstract terms; actions and events that are close at
hand are thought about in concrete terms.
CONFIRMATION BIAS - The tendency to test a proposition by searching for evidence that
would support it.
BOTTOM-UP PROCESSES - “Data-driven” mental processing, in which an individual forms
conclusions based on the stimuli encountered through experience.
TOP-DOWN PROCESSES - “Theory-driven” mental processing, in which an individual filters
and interprets new information in light of preexisting knowledge and expectations.
ENCODING - Filing information away in memory based on what information is attended to and
the initial interpretation of the information.
RETRIEVAL - The extraction of information from memory.
PRIME - To momentarily activate a concept and hence make it accessible. (Also used as a noun
—a stimulus presented to activate a concept.)
SUBLIMINAL - Below the threshold of conscious awareness.
SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY - The tendency for people to act in ways that bring about the
very thing they expect to happen.
HEURISTICS - Intuitive mental operations that allow us to make a variety of judgments quickly
and efficiently. AVAILABILITY HEURISTIC - The process whereby judgments of frequency or probability are
based on how readily pertinent instances come to mind.
REPRESENTATIVENESS HEURISTIC - The process whereby judgments of likelihood are
based on assessments of similarity between individuals and group prototypes or between cause
FLUENCY - The feeling of ease associated with processing information.
BASE-RATE INFORMATION - Information about the relative frequency of events or of
members of different categories in the population.
PLANNING FALLACY - The tendency for people to be unrealistically optimistic about how
quickly they can complete a project.
ILLUSORY CORRELATION - The belief that two variables are correlated when in fact they are
The Information Available for Social Cognition
Sometimes we have very little information but make judgments anyway—as when people
make personality judgments based on physical appearance
o Study: Snap judgment of Trust and Dominance
Mistaken inferences can arise from pluralistic ignorance, which tends to occur when
people are reluctant to express their misgivings about a perceived group norm; their
reluctance in turn reinforces the false norm.
o Are there any questions?
o Worst when toughness valued
o Both people assume other is not interested (w/ ethnic groups also)
Information received secondhand often does not provide a full account of what happened
or may stress certain elements at the expense of others.
o Ideological Distortions
o Bad news Bias: worse for poor people
Focus more on negative criticism even if heavily out numbered
How Information Is Presented
How information is presented can affect judgment. The order in which information is
presented can be important. When the information presented first is more influential, there
is a primacy effect, which often results because the initial information affects the way
subsequent information is interpreted. When information presented last is more influential,
there is a recency effect, which usually results from such information being more available
o How many dates have you been on? How happy are you?
o Asch Study: Traits, good 1st more favorable + also effect how you see the rest
Order effects are a type of framing effect. Others include the “spinning” of information
by varying the language or structure of the information that is presented. o Smoke while I pray vs Pray while I Smoke (2nd better viewed)
o Spin Framing (what is the most important part: quality or price, terrorist vs