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Social Cognition

Social Cognition - Chapter 2 Social Cognition Thinking...

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Chapter 2 – Social Cognition: Thinking about the Social World Social Cognition – refers to the ways in which we interpret, analyze, remember, and use information about the social world – how we think about other people. First, we’ll focus on how we organize social information in our brains. Schema – organized, structured set of cognitions Schemas about extremely common events are usually called scripts . A script is a standard sequence of behavior over a period of time. Schemas and scripts are important because people draw on them to interpret the environment. Each time we are faced with a new situation, we draw on our knowledge of similar past events, rather than experiencing it as something totally new. The Impact of Schemas on Social Cognition There are basically three cognitive processes : Attention – have to pick info to attend to - Act as a filter: if it doesn’t fit, we ignore it, unless it is very unusual Encoding – how info gets into memory -If it doesn’t fit, we ignore it, unless it is very unusual Retrieval – remembering information - Human memory is reconstructive: fill in the blanks with information consistent with schemas Human memory is reconstructive – remember some things that actually happened, and some things that didn’t, but fit our schemas Schemas Can Persist Even After They are Discredited The reason that schemas are so important is that they can take on a life of their own. They persist even after we’ve been given information that discredits them. This result is called the perseverance effect – original beliefs persevere even after they have been proven false Making Our Schemas Come True: The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy People are not always passive recipients of information – they often act on their schemas. By acting on our schemas we can often change the extent to which those schemas are supported or contradicted. In fact, people can inadvertently make their
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schemas come true by the way they treat people. This is called a self-fulfilling prophecy , in which there are three steps : 1. Expectation 2. Action based on expectation 3. Other person behaves consistently Heuristics Our brains are constantly processing vast amounts of information in very little time. Our cognitive system is frugal in its processing. It specializes in mental shortcuts. With relatively little effort, we form impressions, make judgments, invent explanations for behavior. We do so by using heuristics – simple, efficient thinking strategies In many situations, our snap judgments are adaptive – snap judgments can keep us alive Representativeness Heuristic A panel of psychologists interviewed a sample of 30 engineers and 70 lawyers and summarized their impressions in thumbnail descriptions. The following description was drawn at random: “Twice divorced, Frank spends most of his free time hanging around the country club.
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