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Chapter 3

Chapter 3

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Western University
Psychology 2070A/B

Chapter 3: Social Cognition- Thinking about People - Sometimes a matter of life and death to identify what is happening quickly and correctly to you or someone with you e.g. Walter Gretzky - Categorization: the process of recognizing and identifying something; most basic process we use to understand and structure our world o The basic function of schemas is to categorize objects in ways that impose meaning and predictability- automatic with the vast majority of things we encounter daily o We go beyond the information given; we categorize something, and assume some characteristics even if we can’t perceive them directly. E.g. you know a fire will be hot before you touch it - Social cognition: the study of how information about people is processed and stored How Does the Mind Work? - Schemas: mental representations of objects or categories, which contain the central features of the object as well as assumptions about how the object/category works - Relational Schemas: for specific interpersonal interactions such as how a doctor and patient are suppose to interact - Much of a child’s early learning involves the formation of schemas - Selective information processing o Researchers have shown that the schema used to categorize an object can influence what is noticed about the object o Study: take shown of woman having dinner with her husband. ½ participants were told she was a librarian, and the other ½ that she was a server. After the video participants were asked questions, and it was shown that they were more accurate in their answers about things that fit their occupation label then those that didn’t; people that believed she was a librarian recalled that she wore glasses vs. People who thought she was a server recalled that she was drinking beer o Schemas lead us to assume that the object possesses particular characteristics, and anything that vaguely implies them may be taken as evidence to support our assumption e.g. man at night walking can be labelled a “mugger” and any ambiguous actions by him will be interpreted as threatening Accessibility: What’s on your mind? - Accessibility: a less obvious factor that influences whether a schema is used; the ease with which a schema comes to awareness. People are more likely to use “what’s on their mind” - Priming: the process by which activation of a schema increases the likelihood that the schema will be activated again in the future. E.g. if you head about a car accident, you’ll find yourself driving really carefully for the rest of the day because it’s on your mind. E.g. showing a video where people act hostile, and then asking them to read an unrelated article and describe the person; more likely to describe them as hostile. Also, when you/r partner becomes pregnant, there seems to be pregnant women and small babies everywhere - Chronic accessibility: the degree to which schemas are easily activated for an individual across time and situations; differs for people. o Study: students were asked to describe themselves and 3 friends using a max of 10 traits- ones that were common among them were their chronically accessible to that participant. Later, they were brought back and asked to read an essay and describe the person in it. It was found that they were more likely to remember actions that exhibited their own chronically accessible traits, and it influenced how they described they student Cultural Differences in Accessible Schemas - Western cultures focus on socialization, individuality, freedom, and independence - Eastern cultures focus on socialization, harmony, obedience, and interdependence - E.g. Canadians are more likely to categorize someone in terms of personal achievement, whereas the Chinese categorize people in terms of group memberships (i.e. that family is religious) - These differences imply that people from different cultures may perceive the same event/person differently - Study: Australian students grouped the 27 events based on competitiveness (individualism), and Hong Kong students did it based on the number of people (collectivism) Stereotypes: Schemas in the Social Domain - Stereotype: a set of characteristics that a perceiver associated with members of a group- belief that members of a group share the same particular attributes - They are schemas that represent human groups - Guide our perceptions and impressions of almost everyone we meet - Can be positive (doctors, firefighters), or negative (drug addicts, telemarketers) - Going beyond the given information; when we learn that a woman is a lawyer we assume she’s smart and rich, so it guides us as to how to behave around her - Ingroup: a group that a perceiver belongs to (university students, people in your age group); favourable - Outgroup: group to which the perceiver does not belong to (profs, elderly people, opposite sex) - Outgroup homogeneity effect: general tendency of people to overestimate the similarity within groups to which they don’t belong Automatic vs. Controlled Processes - People do not have full control over all of their mental processes; many thoughts and judgements occur whether we want them to or not, and we are not aware of some of our cognitive processes - Automatic process: a judgment or though that we cannot control, which occurs without intention, effectively, and often beneath our awareness- categorization - Controlled process: judgement of thought that we command, which is intentional and requires cognitive resources, and happens within our awareness. May not occur if we are engaged in other processes- thinking carefully why someone behaved in a certain fashion, and correcting errors made by automatic processes Reconstructive Memory - Social cognition theorists assume that retrieval occurs by using schemas to search memory - Reconstructive memory: the process of trying to rebuild the past based on cues and estimates to answer questions that cannot be answered solely by direct access to objective, concrete memories o How much pop did you drink last month? o How good were your study habits in high school? - Thus, the schemas, goals, and expectations that are active while you try to retrieve the information and estimate the answer can influence the outcome Autobiographical Memory - Autobiographical Memory: stored information about the self, such as goals, personality traits, past experiences, and other qualities - Michael Ross demonstrated that autobiographical memory involves estimating what we were like in the past, because we may not be able to retrieve actual, concrete information- can be influenced by our motives and beliefs - Study: rate yourself now vs. When you were 16 o Participants rated the current self more positively than the past self o Assumption: they did not have concrete memories of themselves in the past, but estimated based on a desire to see the current self positively, and that we are steadily improving o Assumption: ratings were guided by their beliefs about the effects of time- they assumed that they improved over time The Accuracy of Eyewitness Testimony - In many cases the eyewitness is the victim of the crime, or must identify the accused. - Legal experts concluded that the largest cause of wrongful convictions is an eyewitness error - Numerous studies have shown that people exposed to an event and later asked to identify the perpetrator often select the wrong individual - There is an ingorup advantage in eyewitness identification; members of a particular racial group tend to be better at identifying people from their own racial group than people from other racial groups - Confidence and accuracy have a small correlation; more compelling to the jury, but can still be wrong - Speed is a better indicator of accuracy o Study: students were asked to watch a video of a staged crime and asked to pick out the perpetrator out of a 6 person line up o 15 sec or less- 69% correct o 16-30 sec- 43% correct o More than 30 sec- 18% correct - It has also been proven that leading and suggestive questions can introduce errors into eyewitness’ accounts of events. o Study: students watched a video of a car hitting a person and were asked whether something happened while the car was stopped at the YIELD sign, when in the video it was a STOP sign. Often, participants later believed that a yield sign had been present - Reducing eye
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