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Chapter 3

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University of Winnipeg
Kelley Robinson

Chapter 3: Social Cognition 9/25/2013 11:10:00 AM Social Cognition: How We Think about the Social World  Kevin Chappel 1988: masters student with high IQ hit by a car, ended up with visual agnosia (could see objects, but could not recognize them) o Gordon Winocur (psychologist) noticed that Chappel could recognize faces as long as they were upright; this also extended to photographs and caricatures o Chappel could see bits and pieces, but not categorize them  Two types of social cognition: o Automatic  Effortless classification of something, i.e., chair o Controlled thinking  Pause and think about environment; contemplate what is going on around you, i.e., major decision On Automatic Pilot: Low-Effort Thinking  People typically size up a new situation fairly quickly, i.e., entering a university classroom for the first time; you assume that the person standing at the front is the prof, and you did not assume that the lecture was a birthday party  You do not stop to analyze a new road before driving on it, and you do not analyze whether or not you like a new friend for 15 minutes  Automatic thinking is nonconscious, unintentional, involuntary, and effortless People as Everyday Theorists: Automatic Thinking with Schemas  Automatic thinking helps us understand new situations be relating them to past experiences o Meeting something new (he is an engineering student, or she is like my cousin Helen), walking into fast food restaurant (go to the counter, no need for reservation)  People use schemas, mental structures that organize our knowledge about the social world o Schema is general -> knowledge about many things, including others, ourselves, social roles, specific events o They influence the way we process information; info relevant to a schema is processed more quickly than unrelated info  Ex. Rating characteristic stereotypes of men:  Quick: rugged, impatient, talkative  Slow: irreligious, artistic, impolite o We fill in the blanks with schema-consistent information; sometimes to our demise  Ex. Study on characteristic behaviour  Group A told: extroverted salesman  Described as pushy, loud, monopolizes conversations  Group B told: extroverted actor  Described as life of the party, not afraid of the spotlight, centre of attention Stereotypes about Race and Weapons  Schemas are known as stereotypes when applied to members of a social group such as race/gender o Ex. 2005: study on whether stereotypes of black people influence perception of whether a person is holding a weapon  Rapid succession of pictures on computer screen; first faces, then either tools/guns  Participants were told to focus on second picture and press one key for tool, and another for gun  Participants were more likely to assume there was a gun in the picture following the pictures of black men o Ex. 2002: study on pictures of men holding objects (gun/cellphone/wallet)  Participants pressed one button for shoot, and another for don’t shoot  Participants were more likely to shoot an unarmed black man than an armed white man  i.e., Amadou Diallo -> 41 shots, unarmed  i.e., John Menezes -> Brazillian  i.e., Matthew Dumas -> Native The Function of Schemas: Why Do We Have Them?  i.e., Beverly Fehr said “Chancellor Shit” on TV news, instead of “Chancellor Shmidt” o people thought that she had mispronounced the name, due to that being out of character for her; not fitting into the schemas they had for her  Korsakov’s syndrome: neurological disorder where people have no schemas; a world of unidentifiable objects (same as Chappel) o It is important for us to have continuity, and to relate new experiences to past ones o Schemas reduce ambiguity  i.e., guest lecturer:  group A: told the lecturer was cold  group B: told the lecturer was warm  group A rated the lecturer’s performance worse than group B  the students were filling in the blanks; something that can be life-saving for us (i.e., “take out your wallet” = stealing money, not looking at pics of your fam) Schemas as Memory Guides  People are more likely to remember information that fits within their schema o Ex. Study 2003: people were more likely to remember positive behaviour by white children than native children, and more likely to remember negative behaviour by native children than white children o Ex. Study 1999: Jack + Barbara story  Group A: told that Jack had proposed  Group B: told that Jack had raped Barbara  Group A remembered details of the story such as “Jack wanted Barbara to meet his parents” and “Jack gave Barbara roses” -> they weren’t actually in the story they had read  Group B remembered that Jack “liked to drink” and “was unpopular with women” -> details not in the story Which Schemas are Applied? Accessibility and Priming  Social world is ambiguous and open to interpretation  i.e., you are on bus, and man sits next to you; he starts muttering, staring at everyone, and rubbing his face -> what do you think? o You think of the schema that is accessible to you  Three reasons for schemas to be accessible: o Past experience; ready to use/active  If someone you know is mentally ill, you’ll think he is o Current goal; what you’re thinking of  If you’re studying for a class on mental illness, that is what you might think of the man on the bus o Recent experiences; temporary/primed  If you had just read a book where the main character was mentally ill, you might think of it; you are primed  Priming: the process by which recent experiences increase the accessibility of a schema, trait, or concept; making it more likely that you will use the info to interpret a new event o Ex. Higgins 1977: participants looked at colours/words, then read a story on “Donald” and were told to give impressions of him  Participants who read positive words rated Donald in a positive light  Participants who read negative words rated Donald in a negative light  Priming is a good example of automatic thinking The Persistence of Schemas After They Are Discredited  i.e., courtroom -> jury hears that evidence is inadmissible, and judge tells them to forget it; it is still in their minds afterwards and can swing the jury vote later  Ex. Ross 1975: participants rating suicide notes, real or fake o Group A: told they guessed 24/25 correct o Group B: told they guessed 10/25 correct  After the study, there was a debriefing, and told that the scores were fake -> average correctness is 16 nd  Group A felt they would do well on a 2 test  Group B felt they would do ok on a 2 ndtest  This is the perseverance effect! Making Our Schemas Come True: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy  We know that when people encounter new evidence or have discredited old evidence, they do not always revise their schemas  People can inadvertently make schemas come true by the way they treat others o This is the self-fulfilling prophecy; a vicious circle in which we make our expectations come true by treating in others with our initial expectations  i.e., Rosenthal 1968: study on children’s IQ tests and how teachers treated them; the “bloomers” tended to do better in school because the teachers treated them as such; warm emotional climate, encouragement, support, feedback, difficult material + more opportunities in class  i.e., teacher with belief that boys do better in math, due to past experiences  this is the reign of error, where people cite course of events as proof that they were right all along; they have data to support their schema Cultural Determinants of Schemas  culture is an important element in schemas; cultures exert their influence by instilling mental structures that influence the way we understand and interpret the world o i.e., student from China amazed at curling and hockey; thought it was funny that large men with large padding were put into tiny punishment boxes and mopping the floors o i.e., Scottish settler and Bantu herdsman at cattle transaction  Scottish man could not remember details, but Bantu man remembered all prices, colours of cows, and who they were sold to Mental Strategies and Shortcuts: Heuristics  Applying for university: most people make a small list and narrow it down from there; researching every school would be time consuming/costly/exhausting  We use mental strategies and shortcuts to make decisions easier o They do not always lead to the best decision, but usually lead to a good decision in a reasonable amount of time  One type of shortcut is schema; however, we do not always have a ready-made schema, and other times there are so many schemas that we do not know which one to use o Solution: judgmental heuristics  Mental shortcuts people use to make judgments quickly and efficiently  Usually lead to a good decision; highly functional How Easily Does It Come to Mind? The Availability Heuristic  Basing a judgment on o the ease with which you can bring something to mind o i.e., your friend receives the wrong order at a restaurant, and decides to just keep it; he asks you if he is an unassertive person  if you’ve never noticed before, you will be racking your brain trying to bring examples to mind; if more examples of him being assertive come to mind, you will label him as assertive; if more examples of him being unassertive come to mind, you will label him as unassertive o i.e., given a list of names, mostly normal people, some famous  participants found it easier to recall famous names, even though there weren’t many on the list  when participants were asked to estimate how many women/men were on the list, they would choose the gender with which more famous names were listed o i.e., 9 year old girl who was normal, except for 1 or 2 times per year had strange neurological attacks  many doctors found her condition to be very ambiguous and could not diagnose  one doctor diagnosed her right away with a rare disorder, and he used the availability heuristic to do it; he had just finished writing a book on historical figures
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