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Chapter 3

CHAPTERS 3, 4 & 5

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Western University
Psychology 2070A/B
Richard Sorrentino

Chapter 3 – Social Cognition: Thinking About People • Categorization – the most basic process of recognizing & identifying something, helps us to make informed decisions on what to do based on our understanding • Social cognition – study of how information about people is processed and stored • Two basic motives that underlie human information processing: 1) Perceive world accurately – categorize objects correctly, draw valid inferences, predict others actions accurately and so on 2) View self positively – want to see ourselves as good, worthy people who deserve to succeed Schemas: The building blocks of the Mind • Schemas – building blocks of the mind, mental representations of objects or categories of objects, AKA concepts • Relational Schemas - schemas for specific interpersonal interactions (how doctors & patients are supposed to interact) • Schemas or concepts contain principal features of the object or category as well as simple assumptions or theories about how the object or category functions, EX: iPod (schema) à small, play mP3, come in diff. colours • Instantaneous and effortless process for distinctive objects • Child’s early learning involves formation of schemas – teach young children to identify types of animals, colours, foods, flowers Categorization • Basic function of schema is to categorize objects in ways that impose meaning and predictability • Process occurs automatically and effortlessly with vast majority of things we encounter every day (bowl, cereal, spoon) Going Beyond the Information Given • When we categorize something we assume that it possesses the characteristic of the schema even if we cannot perceive those characteristics directly • Categorization allows us to form impressions & make decisions quickly & efficiently without having to think carefully about every object we encounter Selective Information Processing • Schema used to categorize an object can influence what is noticed about the object • One research found that the schema that was activated for the woman (server or librarian) influenced what participants noticed & recalled from the videotape • Schemas also influence the interpretation of information – ambiguous information is interpreted in accordance with schema • Plant foliage is prettier if we see it as a wildflower and not a weed • Schemas lead us to assume that the object possesses particular characteristics and anything that vaguely implies those characteristics may be taken as evidence that our assumption is accurate • Any ambiguous information that contradicts our expectancies will grab our attention Accessibility: What’s on your mind? • Schema is activated when the object’s features of the schema • Accessibility – the ease with which the schema comes to awareness, the more accessible schema, the more people use it Priming of Schemas • Priming – the process by which the activation of a schema increases the likelihood that the schema will be activated again in the future • If someone compliments your haircut, the compliment primes the schema of hair or haircut • In research study, it was seen that priming the schema of hostile increased its use in a subsequent, unrelated task Chronic Accessibility of Schemas • Some schemas are more accessible in general than others • Chronic accessibility – extent to which schemas are easy to activate for an individual across time and situations Cultural Differences in Accessible Schemas • Western Cultures – emphasize socialization, individuality, freedom & independence • Eastern Cultures – socialization harmony, obedience and interdependence • Differ in the schemas that are most chronically accessible to them Stereotypes: Schemas in the Social Domain • Stereotype: a set of characteristic that someone associates with members of a group, are a type of schema, can be positive or negative • Have fundamental importance in social perception – guide our perceptions and impressions of almost everyone we meet • Ingroup – a stereotype group to which a perceiver belongs, stereotypes are generally favourable • Outgroup – group to which a perceiver does not belong, unfavourable • Use perceptions of ingroup as standard of comparison when judging outgroups – can serve to make judgements about outgroup more unfavourable • General tendency for people to overestimate the similarity within groups - tendency stronger for outgroup • Outgroup Homogeneity Effect: the tendency for people to overestimate the similarity within groups to which they do not belong Automatic Versus Controlled Processes • Automatic Process: judgement or thought that we cannot control, occurs without intention, very efficient (demands few cognitive resources), sometimes beneath our awareness, EX/ categorization of people & things • Controlled Process: judgement or thought that we command, intentional, requires significant cognitive resources, occurs within awareness. EX/ thinking about why someone behaved in a certain way, control errors from automatic processes Reconstructive Memory • Attempt to cognitively rebuild the past based on cues and estimates • Schemas, goals, expectations that are active while you try to retrieve information & estimate the answer can influence the outcome • Remembers things in memory that are less concrete and verifiable: such as how good your study habits are Autobiographical Memory • Stored information about the self: goals, personality traits, past experiences and other qualities • Major implications for identity and self esteem • Estimate what we were like in the past because we may not be able to retrieve actual, concrete information – can be influenced by our motives & beliefs • Wilson & Ross proposed second interpretation: many participants rated current self more favourably than past self because participants did not access valid memories about themselves in the past but estimated the past self based on a desire to see the current self positively • Way to feel good about ourselves is to believe that we are steadily improving over time • Third interpretation: past and present ratings guided by belief about the effect of time – people generally improve over time • Finding also suggests that differences between the ratings of the current and past selves do not necessarily reflect actual changes • Maybe possible to tamper with autobiographical memory – false memories can be implanted in people’s minds • We often reconstruct personal memories based on information that is accessible to us • Dreams can provide fodder for erroneous memories Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony • Human memory can be unreliable – risky to rely solely on one person’s memory of a complex event to make important decision • Legal experts have concluded that the single largest cause of false convictions is eyewitness error • Unlikely today that someone would be convicted and sentenced to prison based solely on the alleged victims recovered memories without any other corroborating evidence • Research has found that people exposed to an event and later asked to identify the perpetrator often select the wrong individual • Appears to be an ingroup advantage: members of a particular racial group tend to be better at identifying people from their own racial group than from other • Confidence an eyewitness expresses can conclude whether the testimony is correct or not: research has shown that this is not a strong indication of accuracy • Speed with which eyewitness identifies is a quality better than confidence • Leading & suggestive questions can lead to error • To reduce false identifications, researchers suggest that police do blank lineup, where group of individuals line up that does not include suspect • Sequential line up – individual presented with each person in the group individually rather than with entire line up Heuristics & Biases in Everyday Judgments • Heuristics – informal rules or shortcuts in everyday judgements, rules of thumb or simplifying strategies for making judgements quickly • Intuitive judgement, can yield fairly accurate judgements • Heuristic versus deliberative judgements • Cognitive Miser Model – a view of information processing that assumes people usually rely on heuristics to make judgements and only engage in careful, thoughtful processing when necessary (conserve limited cognitive resources) • The Availability Heuristic: tendency to base a judgement on how easily relevant examples can be generated, actual frequency of event related to ease with which such events can be brought to mind, relies on total number of examples that can be recalled (assertive or not) • Leads to problems when examples come to mind are slanted or atypical, can set mind up to mislead availability heuristic, recent event can increase accessibility of certain concept • The Representativeness Heuristic: tendency to judge the likelihood that an object belongs to a certain category based on how similar the object is to the typical features of the category • Problems occur when perceivers ignore everything except representative, base judgements only on the overlap – other information could be employed • Illusory Correlations: occurs when an individual believes that two variables are related to one another – but they`re actually not • This is because people are likely to notice events that confirm their expectancies, leads them to overestimate the frequency of such confirmations • Hot hand in sports: people notice player hits several shots in a row or misses, don`t notice when hits and misses are intermixed –we see what we expect to see • Hindsight Bias: tendency for people to overestimate the predictability of known outcomes • Armchair Quarterbacks – regularly blame coaches for bad decisions in sports games, etc., benefit from hindsight and fail to recognize that things were not really so predictable before the event • Cause: people reinterpret pre-outcome information based on knowing the outcome, people generate explanations that would not have occurred to them if they had not known the outcome • The Planning Fallacy: underestimate how long it will take to complete a task, we make it over and over again – do not learn from experience • Occurs because people estimate how long a task will take, focus on ways that task can be accomplished without considering potential problems that might occur Counterfactual Thinking • Reflections on how past events might have turned out differently, what might have been • Common and may be unique to humans • More likely to occur when it is easy for person to undo the event mentally • Upward Counterfactual Thoughts: reflecting on how things could have turned out better, usually occur after a negative outcome • Helps us to avoid similar negative outcomes in the future • Downward Counterfactual Thoughts: thoughts involving how things could have been worse, make people feel fortunate since present condition is better than what it could have been, occur when something bad almost happens • Can be generated deliberately when people want to make themselves feel better Addition of Motives and Mood to Cognitive Mix • Self Serving Judgments: perceptions or comparisons that enhance the perceived worth of the self • Tend to view individuals that we will be working or interacting with more positively than with those who we will not be interacting or dependent on • Use stereotypes to selectively enhance our self-worth – want to discredit negative feedback and not positive • Negative moods can evoke negative stereotypes of minority groups, findings suggest that negative moods can make negative stereotypes more accessible in memory • Mood congruent recall: idea that positive feelings will activate positive memories and negative feelings will activate negative memories • Some conditions under which mood congruent recall may not occur – typical effect of mood on memory is to improve recall of congruent thoughts • Positive moods seem to reduce our need for compelling evidence or arguments before we agree to something • Researchers have found that depressed individuals are more sensitive to negative information about themselves and others than are non-depressed individuals - implies that depressed people may process information in a way that maintains or even worsens their depression Chapter 4 – Social Perception: Perceiving the Self & Others What we see in others: Social Perception Attribution Theories: Explaining Social Behaviour • Attributions: Judgements about why an event occurred or why someone behaved in a certain way, causal judgements • Judgements about the causes of people`s actions and outcomes are made constantly and have important implications for our own behaviour • Attribution theories are models that attempt to delineate the processes underlying judgements of cause • Kelly (1973) suggested that people often make causal judgements in a relatively scientific manner as if they were intuitive scientists • Test idea through making repeated observations & determine whether certain events or responses reliably occur under certain conditions • Use this reasoning when we have multiple observations of several individuals across several settings – we think back over all relevant observations and figure out whether behaviour was associated with a particular person, situation or some combination of persons and situation • Co-variation Model of Attribution: Kelley assumed that people try to determine whether a behaviour co-varied (correlated or associated) with a person, situation or some combination of person and situation • When individuals have a personal experience with a situation, they usually assume that most other people would respond similarly to themselves & they draw conclusions about the cause of the behaviour based on this assumption • False consensus effect: a general tendency for individuals to assume that other people share their attitudes and behaviours to a greater extent than is actually the case • Why it occurs? 1) Tend to mainly interact with other people who agree with us but they are not representative of the general population – don’t always recognize this fact so we overestimate 2) motivationally want to believe that others agree with us – motivated to believe that our opinions are accurate and our actions are appropriate • People sometimes underestimate consensus when it makes them look good – perception of uniqueness makes them feel go
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