Chapter 3 – Social Cognition

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What are two major types of social cognition?
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The Social Thinker. People are extremely good at social cognition, which refers to the ways in which people think about themselves and the social world. Although no computer can match us in this kind of thinking, we are not perfect social thinkers. Social psychologists have uncovered some fascinating mistakes to which we are prone, despite our uncanny cognitive abilities. Social thinking can be automatic or controlled.
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What are the roles and functions of schemas and heuristics in automatic thinking?
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On Automatic Pilot: Low-Effort Thinking. A great deal of the social cognition–how people think about themselves and the social world–involved automatic thinking, which is nonconscious, unintentional, involuntary, and effortless. –People as Everyday Theorists: Automatic Thinking with Schemas –It’s Not Just in our head: Priming Metaphors about the body and the mind –Mental strategies and shortcuts –The power of unconscious thinking
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People as Everyday Theorists: Automatic Thinking with Schemas
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an important part of automatic thinking is using our past knowledge to organize and interpret new information. More specifically, people use schemas, mental structures for organizing their knowledge about the social world around themes or subjects and for influencing what they notice, think about, and remember. Schemas are extremely useful tools for reducing ambiguity about the social world. They can cause problems, however, such as self-fulfilling prophecies, whereby a schema or expectation about another person influences how we act toward that person, which causes that person to behave consistently with our expectation.
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It’s Not Just in our head: Priming Metaphors about the body and the mind
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In addition to using schemas to reduce ambiguity about the world, people use metaphors about the mind and the body. Physical sensations (e.g., holding a heavy clipboard) can prime a metaphor (e.g., that important thoughts \”have weight\”), which then influences peoples’ judgments (e.g., that student opinion should be given ore weight on a campus issue).
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Mental strategies and shortcuts
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Another form of automatic thinking is the use of judgmental heuristics, which are mental shortcuts people use to make judgments quickly and efficiently. Examples are the availability heuristic, where people base a judgment on the ease with which they can bring something to mind, and the representativeness heuristic, whereby people classify something according to how similar it is to a typical case. Heuristics are extremely useful and often produce accurate judgments, but can be misused, producing faulty judgments.
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The power of unconscious thinking
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Recent research suggests that a great deal of human thought occurs outside conscious awareness. People unconsciously monitor what is going on around them, in case something important occurs that requires their conscious attention. Even people’s goals can be unconsciously activated.
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How does culture influence social thinking?
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Cultural differences in social cognition: The human mind is like a toolbox filled with specific tools to help people think about and act in the social world. All humans have access to the same tools, but the culture in which they grow up can influence the ones they use the most. Western cultures tend to emphasize an analytic thinking style, a type of thinking in which people focus on he properties of objects without considering their surrounding context. People who grow up in East Asian cultures tend to have a holistic thinking style, type of thinking in which people focus on the overall context, particularly the ways in which objects related to each other.
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what are some of the drawbacks of controlled thinking, and how can we improve its effectiveness?
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1. Controlled Social cognition: High-effort thinking. Not all social cognition is automatic; we also engage in controlled thinking, which is conscious, intentional, voluntary, and effortful. –Controlled Thinking and Free will –Mentally Undoing the Past: Counterfactual Reasoning. –Improving Human thinking. 2. Watson Revisited
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Controlled Thinking and Free will
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There can be a disconnect between our conscious sense of how much we are causing our own actions and how much we really are causing them. Sometimes we overestimate the amount of control we have, and sometimes we underestimate the amount of control we have. but the more people believe in free will, the more willing they are to help others in need and the less likely they are to engage in immoral actions such as cheating.
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Mentally Undoing the Past: Counterfactual Reasoning
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One form of controlled thinking is counterfactual reasoning, whereby people mentally change some aspect of the past as a way of imagining what might have been.
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Improving Human thinking.
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In this chapter, we documented several ways in which social cognition can go wrong, producing faulty judgments. Research shows that some kinds of thinking such as statistical reasoning, can be improved dramatically with training — such as by taking a course in statistics.
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Watson Revisited
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Human beings are very sophisticated social thinkers who have amazing cognitive abilities. But was are also capable of consequential mistakes, such as self-fulfilling prophecies. People are like \”flawed scientists\”–brilliant thinkers who are attempting to discovery the nature of the social world in a logical manner but do so imperfectly.
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Social Cognition
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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.
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Automatic Thinking
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Thinking that is nonconscious, unintentional, involuntary, and effortless.
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Schemas
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Mental structures people use to organize their knowledge about the social world around themes or subjects and that influence the information people notice, think about, and remember.
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Accessibility
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The extent to which schemas and concepts are at the forefront of people’s minds and are therefore likely to be used when making judgments about the social world.
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Priming
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The process by which recent experiences increase the accessibility of a scheme, trait, or concept.
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Self-Fulfilling Prophecy
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The case whereby people have an expectation about what another person is like, which influences how they act toward that person, which causes that person to behave consistently with people’s original expectations, making the expectations come true.
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Heuristics
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Mental shortcuts people use to make judgments quickly and efficiently.
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Availability Heuristic
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A mental rule of thumb whereby people base a judgement on the ease with which they can bring something to mind.
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Representativeness Heuristic
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A mental shortcut whereby people classify something according to how similar it is to a typical case.
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Base Rate Information
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Information about the frequency of members of different categories in the population.
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Analytic Thinking Style
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A type of thinking in which people focus on the properties of objects without considering their surrounding context; this type of thinking is common in Western cultures.
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Holistic Thinking Style
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A type of thinking in which people focus on the overall context, particularly the ways in which objects relate to each other; this type of thinking is common in East Asian cultures (e.g., China, Japan, and Korea).
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Controlled Thinking
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Thinking that is conscious, intentional, voluntary, and effortful.
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Counterfactual Thinking
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Mentally changing some aspect of the past as a way of imagining what might have been.
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Thought Suppression
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The attempt to avoid thinking about something we would prefer to forget.
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Overconfidence Barrier
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The fact that people usually have too much confidence in the accuracy of their judgments.
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What are two major types of social cognition?
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Automatic and Controlled

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