1. Social Cognition
M.Sc., M.Phil. (Life Sciences), M.Ed., M.Phil. (Education), NET (Education), PGDBI
Assistant Professor (Former),
Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya College of Education (Autonomous),
Coimbatore – 641020.
2. Social Cognition
• Social Cognition represents the scientific approach within
social psychology dedicated to studying how people
process and respond to social information.
• Social Cognition refers to the unique processes that
enable human beings to interpret social information and
behave appropriately in a social environment.
• Social Cognition - how we interpret, analyze, and
remember information about our social world
• Mental structures that organize our knowledge about the
social world (about people, ourselves, social roles, specific
• Schemas are typically very useful for helping us organize
and make sense of the world and to fill in the gaps of our
• Schemas are particularly important when we encounter
information that can be interpreted in a number of ways,
because they help us reduce ambiguity.
• Information consistent with our schemas are remembered
• Mental framework built around a specific theme
• Types of Schemas
Person – Schemas about people
Role – Schemas relating to specific roles
Event – Indicates typical sequence of events
5. • Mental frameworks usually centered on specific themes in order to help in
organizing and using the information efficiently. Hence they act as filters.
But may vary across cultural, social and economic categories.
• Information is filtered and consistent with schemas gets noticed & else is
ignored unless extreme.
• Information consistent with schemas gets encoded and also sharply
contrasting info also gets stored with a TAG.
• Strong & well developed schemas are recovered or where the extent of
mental effort was put in. Helps in quick judgement about people.
Consistency in schemas generally easy to recover.
• Mental shortcuts for making decisions
• Simple rules for making complex decisions or drawing
inferences in a seeming effortless manner.
• When do we use these shortcuts -
• Lack of time for full processing
• Information overload
• When issues are not important
• When we have little solid information to use in decision
9. Availability Heuristic
• Judging by how quickly examples come to mind
• Suggests that the easier it is to bring information to mind, the
greater it’s importance or relevance to our judgements or
10. False consensus Effect
• The tendency to assume that other behave or think as people
do to a greater than is actually true.
12. Automatic Priming
• Effect that occurs when stimuli of which individuals not
consciously aware alter the availability of various traits or
concepts in memory
13. Errors in Social Cognition
Rational versus Intuitive Processing
Dealing with Inconsistent Information
The Planning Fallacy
The Potential Costs of Thinking Too Much
14. Rational versus Intuitive Processing
• Going with our guts
• Cognitive Experiential Self-Theory, Epstein, 1994
• Deliberate and intuitive thinking
15. Dealing with Inconsistent Information
Researchers have found that:
• we tend to pay more attention to information that is inconsistent
with our expectations
• inconsistent information often has greater impact on judgments
than consistent because we work harder to understand it
• extremely bizarre information, however, is often discounted
16. The Planning Fallacy
• The tendency to -
• make optimistic predictions concerning how long a given task will take for
• assume we are more likely than others to experience good outcomes, and
less likely to experience bad
• Also known as ‘optimistic bias’
• It occurs because we tend to -
• focus on future while ignoring related past events
• overlook important potential obstacles
• as motivation to complete task increases, so does the planning fallacy
17. The Potential Costs of Thinking Too Much
• Why, sometimes, our tendency to do as little cognitive work as
possible may be justified.
• Individuals adopts intuitive approach to thinking about the social
• In other instances, in which one tries to be as rational and systematic
as possible in the thought despite the extra effort this involves
• Thinking too much can get in to serious trouble
18. Counterfactual Thinking
oIt closely related to the experience of Regret
“what might have been” (mentally undoing events)
oCounterfactual thinking can -
increase sympathy, regret over missed opportunities
increase our understanding of why event happened
affect our current moods
oUpward Counterfactual Thinking - imagining better outcomes
oDownward Counterfactual Thinking - imagining worse outcomes
19. Magical Thinking
Thinking based on irrational assumptions
Law of contagion - two objects in contact pass
properties to one another
fear of wearing sweater worn by AIDS patient
Law of similarity - things that resemble each other
share basic properties
fear of eating chocolate shaped like a spider
20. Thought Suppression
Thought Suppression - preventing unwanted thoughts from entering
Efforts to prevent certain thoughts from entering consciousness.
• Thought suppression involves two processes:
• Automatic Monitoring Process - automatically searches for unwanted
• Operating Process - conscious attempt to distract oneself
• Rebound effect - suppressing unwanted thoughts may actually
• people high in reactance - react negatively to threats to freedom- more
likely to show rebound effect