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Social Psy - Chapter 2

Terms in this set (16)

The eventual effect that schemas have on social cognition is strongly influenced by the strength of the schemas themselves, and by a high cognitive load.

Information overload: instance in which our ability to process information is exceeded
-our capacity to process incoming information is limited
-can be bought on by high levels of stress

Coping with information/cognitive overload:
-cognitive shortcuts (heuristics), or
-automatic processings

Heuristics: simple rules for making complex decisions or drawing inferences in a rapid and seemingly effortless manner ("rule of thumb")
-sometimes heuristics are inadequate or misapplied, leading to faulty jugments

Types of heuristics:
-representativeness heuristic
-availability heuristic
-anchoring and adjustment heuristic

Representativeness heuristic: strategy for making judgments based on the extent to which current stimuli or events resemble other stimuli or categories (classify something according to how similiar it is to conception of a typical case)
> e.g. used to evaluate people -person closely relates to typical member of group, then person must belong to that group (base rates ignored -information about the relative frequency)

Availability heuristic (linked to priming): make judgments based on how easily specific information can be brought to mind ("if I can think it, then it must be important")
-involves feelings: rely on ease with which something can be remembered
-involves factual information: rely on amount we can remember
> e.g. likelihood of events that are dramatic, but rare, can be overestimated (predict frequency of event, or a proportion within a population, based on how easily an example can be bought to mind)

Anchoring and adjustment heuristic: when we use a number, value or personal experience as a starting point, to which we then make adjustments
-adjustments may be insufficient to reflect actual social reality (when we attain a plausible value, we stop the process)
-anchors influence judgments due to strong tendency to avoid effortful work when making adjustments to anchor
-anchors often arbitrary/subjective (personal experiences do not serve as good anchors)
Coping with information/cognitive overload:
-cognitive shortcuts (heuristics), or
-automatic processings

Distinction between automatic and controlled processing

Controlled processing: social thought occurs in a systematic, logical and effortful manner
-involves prefrontal cortex
>requires motivation and effort
>reserved for situations where the stakes are high (decisions are important) and accuracy in judgment is paramount
>unmotivated or preoccupied controlled processing is difficult, such cases: more likely to accept false information, more difficult to engage in 'thought suppression'
>a puprose of controlled processing is to provide checks on automatic processing: we automatically believe everything we see and hear, then we take a step back and assess acceptability of decision (controlled processing) and accept or reject initial decision

Automatic processing: occurs after extensive experience with a task or type of information -can perform the task or process in a seemingly effortless and automatic manner
-involves amygdala
>adds efficiency to information processing
>however, incorrect categorization may occur -subsequent behavior may be inappropriate
>exercises automatic effects on social behavior
>critical to navigating our way through the world
>sometimes automatic processing may be superior to careful, conscious thought in terms of making good, satisfying decisions

E.g. activation of stereotypes:
-when stereotype schemas are activated, people may behave negatively towards others without conscious intention to do so; may trigger motivated efforts to prepare individuals for interacting with people who are the focus of these schemas
People seem to be inclined to pay special attention to negative information (negative bias) and, simultaneously, imagine things to turn out well (optimistic bias)

Optimistic bias
-Overconfidence barrier
-Planning fallacy
Exception:
-Bracing for loss

Optimistic bias: our tendency to see the world through rose-colored glasses -a predisposition to expect most things to turn out well
-belief that you are more likely than others to experience positive events, and less likely to experience negative events

E.g. war in Iraq has not produced the kind of positive results many military and government officials in the US predicted -optimistic bias (and other cognitive errors) played a role

>> overconfidence barrier: the tendency to have more confidence in the accuracy of our judgments than is reasonable

E.g. politicians who trust that their chances of being successful are higher than actually true

>>planning fallacy: the tendency to believe that we can get more done in a given period of time than we actually can (influenced by hopes and dreams -we want to finish on time so we predict that we will)
*overlook/ignore potential obstacles -focus more on future (how we will perform) than past (how long it took last time)
*make external attributions when we DO take past experiences into account (i.e. blame factors outside of our control)
*when we are highly motivated to complete a task, we tend to make overly optimistic predictions regarding its completion

E.g. public projects routinely take much longer to complete than originally planned

Exception:
*Bracing for loss: people find unexpeted bad news aversive and often brace themselves by predicting the worst (become pessimistic) -decline in optimism; desire to brace for loss
-generally optimistic about future, but when expecting negative consequences, they become pessimistic and anticipate negative outcome
-may be an adaptive tendency that helps people protect themselves from bad news
Affect: our current feelings and moods

Cognition: ways in which we process, store, remember and use social information

Influence of affect on cognition:
-interpretations of motives
-how new stimuli is perceived
-evokes emotional reactions
-has an impact on memory

>Influences our interpretations of motives in behavior of others (positive affect encourages attributions of positive motives; negative affect encourages attributions of negative motives of others)

>Moods affect how new stimuli are preceived (happy moods can increase creativity; and make people more susceptible to social influence)

>Information that evokes emotional reactions is processed differently than other kinds of information
>good moods lead to more heuristic thinking
>bad moods lead to more systematic thinking

**Cognitive disadvantages of being in a good mood:
When we are in a good mood we are more susceptible to social influences and heuristic thinking, such as stereotypes

>Influences cognition by means of its impact on memory:

-mood congruence effects: tendency to store or remember positive information when in a positive mood and negative information when in a negative mood (current moods strongly determine which information is noticed and encoded)

-mood dependent memory: determines what information is retrieved from memory in given mood (information remembered while in a given mood may be determined, in part, by what was previously learned in that mood)

-mental contamination: the process whereby a person has an unwanted response because of mental processing that is unconscious or uncontrollable.