2. Social Cognition
How people think about themselves and the social world, or
more specifically, how people select, interpret, remember,
and use social information to make judgments and decisions.
The assumption is that people are generally trying to form accurate
impressions of the world and do so much of the time.
Because of the nature of social thinking, however, people sometimes
form erroneous impressions.
– Quick and automatic, “without thinking,” thinking that is nonconscious,
unintentional, involuntary, and effortless.
– Is effortful and deliberate, pausing to think about self and environment,
carefully selecting the right course of action.
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
more (e.g., perseverance effect)
4. Nature of Schemas
Self-Confirming nature of schemas
Predictions that, in a sense, make themselves come true.
A type of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby people’s social
expectations lead them to act in ways that cause others
to confirm their expectations.
Do we get from others what we expect of them?
5. What do schemas do?
“The human mind must think with the aid of
categories…orderly living depends upon it.”
Help us organize information
Help us remember certain things
Help us to fill in details when our
information is incomplete
Can influence behavior
Help us to interpret ambiguous
Influence what information we
A strategy for making judgments based on the
extent to which current stimuli or events
resemble other stimuli or categories.
Are these judgments accurate?
8. Availability Heuristic
“If I think of it, it must be important”
Suggests that the easier it is to bring
information to mind, the greater it’s
importance or relevance to our
judgements or decisions.
Increased availability of information in
memory or consciousness resulting
from exposure to specific stimuli or
10. Automatic Priming
Effect that occurs when stimuli of
which individuals not consciously aware
alter the availability of various traits or
concepts in memory.
11. False consensus Effect
The tendency to assume that other
behave or think as people do to a
greater than is actually true.
12. Potential Sources of
Error in Social Cognition
Rational versus Intuitive Processing
Dealing with Inconsistent Information
The Planning Fallacy
The Potential Costs of Thinking Too Much
14. The Planning Fallacy
The tendency to make optimistic
predictions concerning how long a
given task will take for completion
Also known as ‘optimistic bias’
Why to we do this? Three factors.
15. The Potential Costs of
Thinking Too Much
Why, sometimes, our tendency to do as
little cognitive work as possible may be
16. Counterfactual Thinking
How it relates to Regret
Upward Counterfactual Thinking
Downward Counterfactual Thinking
Overall, what it results in
17. Magical Thinking
Thinking involving assumptions that
don’t hold up to rational scrutiny-for
example, the notion that things that
resemble one another share
Three types of magical thinking.
Rozin, Markwith, & Nemeroff (1992)
18. Thought Suppression
Efforts to prevent certain thoughts from
How do we do this?
Automatic Monitoring Process
19. Affect and Cognition
How feelings shape thought and
thought shapes feelings.
Affect: Our current feelings and moods.
Cognition: The ways in which we
process, store and remember, and use
A reciprocal relationship.
20. The Influence of Affect
Affect and style of information
processing we adopt.
Affect and memory
Affect and plans and intentions
Edwards and Bryan (1995)
21. Influence of Cognition
Two ways we are going to talk about it
1. Activation of schemas
2. Cognition and emotion-provoking
22. The Affect Infusion Model
Affect influences social thought and
ultimately social judgements. How?
Affect serves as a trigger
Affect as information
When do these effects occur?
People often size up a new situation very quickly: they figure out who is there, what is happening, and what might happen next. We engage in an automatic analysis of our environments, based on past experiences and knowledge of the world. Often these quick conclusions are correct. Automatic vs. Controlled Thinking Have students count to ten; then have them say the numbers from one to ten in alphabetical order. Automatic (or unconscious thinking) may be better at some tasks than controlled thinking. Dijksterhuis (2004) gave people a lot of information about several apartments in a short amount of time. Immediate choice condition: He asked people to choose the apartment they thought was the best right way. Conscious thought condition: He had people in this condition think carefully about the apartments for three minutes and then choose the best one. Unconscious thought condition : He gave people a distracting task for three minutes so that they could not think about the apartments consciously, with the assumption that they would continue to think about the apartments unconsciously. Because people in this condition could not consciously think about the apartments, something else must have happened that produced the best choice. Subsequent research found that when people were distracted they were still working on the task unconsciously, organizing the information in a way that made the best choice more apparent to them (Dijksterhuis, 2004; Dijksterhuis& Nordgren, 2005).
Kelley (1950) How do modern professor review sites, such as ratemyprofessors.com influence student perceptions of professors? How do schemas and expectations influence our interpretation of events? Can you use these concepts to explain the racial divide over the verdict in the O.J. Simpson case - that is, that most whites, when polled, believed that Simpson had been wrongly acquitted, while most African Americans believed that justice had been served? Accessibility: The extent to which schemas and concepts are at the forefront of people’s minds and are therefore likely to be used when we are making judgments about the social world Something can become accessible for three reasons: Some schemas are chronically accessible due to past experience. Something can become accessible because it is related to a current goal. Schemas can become temporarily accessible because of our recent experiences. Priming: The process by which recent experiences increase the accessibility of a schema, trait, or concept. Perseverance Effect: (pg. 66) The finding that people’s beliefs about themselves and the social world persist even after the evidence supporting these beliefs is discredited