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GWU / Psychology / PSYC 2012 / Social cognition is a study of what?

Social cognition is a study of what?

Social cognition is a study of what?


School: George Washington University
Department: Psychology
Course: Social Psychology
Professor: M stock
Term: Fall 2015
Tags: Social Cognition, social psychology, reactions, and personality
Cost: 25
Name: Lecture 3 - Social Cognition
Description: Notes on social cognition that explains why we act the way we do, why we pay attention to certain things and react certain ways, etc.
Uploaded: 02/04/2016
4 Pages 50 Views 1 Unlocks

Leslie Ogu PSYC 2012 01/21/2016 ­ Social Cognition

Social cognition is a study of what?


➢ Social Cognition: study of how people think/feel about themselves and the social world

○ It is how we organize, interpret, remember, and use social information to make decisions

➢ Low­Effort: activities or things you are used to

○ automatic thinking

○ unintentional, effortless, nonconscious

➢ High­Effort: learning something new

○ controlled, intentional

○ voluntary, effortful

Purposes of Automatic Thinking

➢ It’s not possible take everything in because there’s just too much information ➢ We need shortcuts to understand and/or predict the social world ➢ It increases efficiency by saving time

What are the purposes of automatic thinking?

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➢ Our past experiences provide a filter to help us interpret and evaluate new people or events


➢ Definition: mental structures that help organize knowledge about the social world and guide the selection, interpretation, and recall of information

○ this helps make social environment more predictable If you want to learn more check out Who is john adams?

○ helps us organize information

○ influences behavior

○ schemas applied to groups are called stereotypes

○ schemas can also be applied to specific individuals and to ourselves ➢ People develop theories to interpret reality

○ Ex: social roles such as policemen and librarians

○ Ex: social norms such as how to act in church

○ Scripts​are a step­by­step order of events for a particular situation; it helps us know what to expect, and we may have the tendency to fill in things that didn’t actually happen

What is the meaning of scripts?

Don't forget about the age old question of How to calculate the mean and median?

➢ Influences attention in terms of what we concentrate on the most in certain environments

➢ Influences behavior

➢ How we decide which schema to use?

○ Depends on schema accessibility

■ Ex: Situational cues ­ if a woman is the only woman in a group of men, female stereotype may be silent

○ Priming

○ Personal chronic constructs ­ accessibility due to past experience ➢ Can be problematic

○ Confirmation Biases​­ tendencies to interpret, seek, and create information that verifies our preexisting beliefs or schemas


➢ Definition: the process by which recent experiences increase the accessibility of a scheme, trait, or concept

➢ Can affect:

○ Impressions

■ Ex: If we are primed with positive or negative words or mood, we can have a more positive or negative impression of a person

○ Behavior

Self­Fulfilling Prophecies

➢ Not about ourselves!

➢ Definition: a false belief that leads to its own fulfillment

1. Perceiver develops false belief about a target Don't forget about the age old question of What is the content of poor laws?

2. Perceiver treats target in manner consistent with false belief

3. Target responds to the treatment in such a way as to confirm the originally false belief

➢ Example

○ I mistakenly believe that Mike is a rude guy

○ Because of this belief, I don’t greet him when we pass on the street ○ Since I didn’t greet him, he doesn’t greet me either. Therefore, I conclude that he is actually a rude person


➢ Definition: shortcuts that people use to make judgements about the frequencies of past events and the likelihood of future events

➢ Reasons for their use:

○ Cognitive miser ­ we as humans value our mental processing resources and try to find different ways to save time and effort when negotiating the social world

○ Limited processing capacity If you want to learn more check out What is the meaning of tithing in medieval england?

➢ Using heuristics is not in itself irrational or illogical

➢ Availability Heuristic 

○ Definition: basing a judgement on how easily you can bring something to mind

■ Ex: When being asked if you are assertive, most of us find it easier to find to think of times we were assertive compared to being asked if we weren’t and thinking of examples when we were not

○ This is not just influenced by the actual frequencies, but also:

■ salience (e.g., the media)

■ recency (recent events are overrepresented)

■ attention (our interests direct our attention)

■ familiarity

➢ Representative Heuristic 

○ Definition: the tendency to assume that someone or something belongs to a particular group if similar to a typical member

■ Insensitive to prior probability and sample size

○ People are poor at assessing base rate information and instead rely on representativeness

○ If no representative information is given, people can properly use base­rate information

○ Law of Large Numbers:​the larger the sample you draw from a populatio, the closer its average will be to the population average If you want to learn more check out Why are hydrolyzed compounds hard to break down?

Anchoring and adjustment

➢ Definition: the process in which people make an estimate of some value by starting from an initial value (an anchor) and adjusting

➢ Situations it is used:

○ First impressions

○ Judges and penalty decisions

○ Personal experiences

High­Effect Processes

➢ One purpose: correct for low­effort mistakes

➢ Requires ability and motivation

○ Ex: buying a car

■ Low effort ­ color, status

■ High effort ­ gas mileage, dependability, cost

○ Ex: perceiving someone

■ High effort ­ don’t use your first impression, stereotype

➢ Counterfactual thinking 

○ Definition: mentally changing an aspect of the past and imagining what might have been

○ Enhances thoughts of cause and effect

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