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Chapter 3

Psychology 2720A/B Chapter Notes - Chapter 3: Social Cognition, Autobiographical Memory, Representativeness Heuristic


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH 2720A/B
Professor
Clive Seligman
Chapter
3

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Schemas: The Building Blocks of the Mind
Schemas: mental representation of objects or categories, which contain the central
features of the object or category as well as assumptions about how the object or
category works
People also have schemas for specific interpersonal interactions, Baldwin labelled
these schemas relational schemas
Schemas or concepts contain the principal features of the object or category, as well
as simple assumptions or ‘theories’ about how the object or category functions
Much of a child’s early learning involves the formation of schemas
Categorization
The basic function of schemas is to categorize objects in ways that impose
meaning and predictability
Categorization of an object has important implications for behaviour
Going Beyond the Information Given
When we categorize something, we assume that is possess the characteristics of
the schema even if we cannot perceive those characteristics directly
Categorization allows us to form impressions and make decisions quickly and
efficiently, without having to think carefully about every object we encounter
Categorization allows us to make assumptions about objects and to direct our
attention to those aspects of the environment that are most important
Selective Information Processing
Schemas also influence how information is processed
Schemas also influence the interpretation of information
Typically, their effect will be that ambiguous information is interpreted in
accordance with the schema
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
Anything that obviously contradicts out expectancies will grab our attention
Accessibility: What’s on Your Mind?
When a schema is activated, it provides expectancies about the objects probable
characteristics and influences the processing of information about the object
Factor that influences whether a schema will be used is its accessibility
Accessibility: the ease with which a schema comes to awareness
People are more likely yo use schemas that are highly accessible to them
Priming of Schemas:
When a schema has been used recently, it is more accessible, an effect that is
called priming
Priming: the process by which the activation of a schema increases the likelihood
that the schema will be activated again in the future
Chronic Accessibility of Schemas
Some schemas are more accessible, in general, than are other schemas
Chronic Accessibility: the degree to which schemas are easily activate for an
individual across time and situations
CHAPTER 3: SOCIAL COGNITION: THINKING ABOUT PEOPLE

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Chronically accessible traits influenced both what they could remember and how
they described the person
Cultural Differences in Accessible Schemas
Cultures differ in the schemas that are used most often to categorize both self and
others
Western cultures emphasize in their socialization individuality, freedom, and
independence, whereas Eastern cultures emphasize in their socialization harmony,
obedience, and interdependence
People from different cultures may perceive the same event or the same person quite
differently
Stereotypes: Schemas in the Social Domain
Stereotype: a set of characteristics that a perceiver associates with members of a
group
Stereotypes are one kind of schema, namely, schemes that represent human groups
Going Beyond the Information Given
Stereotypes reflect our attempt to categorize an object and draw inferences about
it
A group to which a perceiver belongs is called his or her ingroup
An outgroup is a group to which a perceiver does not belong
Stereotypes of ingroups are generally favorable whereas stereotypes of outgroups
can sometimes be unfavorable
Perceivers habitually use perceptions of their ingroups as implicit standard of
comparison when judging outgroups
Stereotypes usually include information about how much variability exists in the
group
Tendency to overestimate the similarity within groups is much stronger for
outgroups than for ones ingroups
Outgroup Homogeneity Effect: the tendency for people to overestimate the
similarity within groups to which they do not belong
Selective Information Processing
Out stereotypes can change how we interpret ambiguous behaviour
Automatic Versus 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
Automatic Process: a judgement or thought that we cannot control, which occurs
without intention, very efficiently, and sometimes beneath out awareness
It is spontaneous and not subject to intentional control; we may sometime not even
realize that it has occurred
An automatic process is also very efficient: it can occur at the same time as other
processes
Controlled Process: a judgement or thought that we command, which is intentional,
requires significant cognitive resources, and occurs within our awareness
CHAPTER 3: SOCIAL COGNITION: THINKING ABOUT PEOPLE
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