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Flashcards in Social Cognition Deck (11)
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Clinical Myths

The myth that there is a distinction between normal and abnormal often leads to categorical thinking

Categorical thinking is not the most accurate or useful way to understand psychopathology or general adjustment problems

Instead of symptom checklist, a more dimensional and contextual approach not only demonstrates greater appreciation and compassion, but most importantly results in more relevant and detailed information

Myth that clinicians are free from the biases that plague non-clinicians, an absurdity that must guarded against


Nonconscious Processing

Nisbett & Wilson (1977)
Strong evidence that people may not have much introspective access to their higher order cognitive processes

People may be
*unaware of the stimulus that influenced the response
*unaware of response
*unaware of how stimulus (they were aware of) influenced their response

Classroom E.g. Study where participants asked to evaluate Documentary film – 2 conditions:
• 1) Noise (sound of powersaw while watching) vs.
• 2) No noise.
Causal schema would say that watching the movie with noise in background would result in more negative evaluation
However, the data shows that the film was evaluated equally in both conditions

People in noise group reported that noise affected their ratings, but data suggested otherwise

So, they are unaware of the specific factors contributed to their evaluation


Freud's 3 greatest scientific discoveries

Copernicus – Earth is not center of universe

Darwin – humans are not unique among species on Earth – a couple of genes away from other primates

We’re not even in control of our own mind – unconscious processes


Cambridge-Somerville Project

Took children age 5-13 to program, tracked longitudinal outcomes

N = 250 in both groups

Treatment group was no better off, and on some measures the control group actually saw improvement

*children became dependent on program, not build up self-reliance

*kids are labeled as potential delinquents and treated as such

*while in program maybe they didn't get help from other sources


Perception-Behavior Link

There is a direct relation between social perception and social behavior in that perception directly and automatically affects overt behavior

Seeing a group or behavior makes it more likely that one will behave in a corresponding way

"Automatic Behavior Priming"


Priming Groups vs. Exemplars

Groups – assimilation

Exemplars – contrast

Intergroup contrast--we are unlikely to mimic the outgroup

Approach, exposed to in-group prime

Avoidance, exposed to out group prime
**This occurs at non conscious level***

*Think of Albert Einstein or a specific model, Claudia Schiffer

*Participants performed better on a test of general knowledge when they thought of professors than when they thought of models.

**participants did better when they thought of the specific model, Schiffer vs when they thought of Einstein

**possibly due to social comparison -– inferiority comparing with Einstein, superiority comparing to fashion model


Nonconscious Goal Pursuit

Achievement: can prime an achievement goal→ people will work harder

Cooperation: can prime cooperation and then people are more likely to share a common resource.

Consumer behavior:
o If you prime a prestige or a thrift goal, it leads to purchases based on priming.
• Gave people “prestige words” or “thrift words” and then gave people products from two different brands and those that were primed with prestige wanted the more high end brand
o Another example: Exposing people subliminally to fast food logos, then people will read quicker and will want immediate gratification

Goals associated with relationship partners
o When we interact with someone, we have certain goals about how we want to interact with them, and they have goals about us. Each of these goals get activated automatically which influence behavior.
• E.g. with mother, associated with goals to succeed. With friends, associated with goal to have fun. When you activate people’s representations of these people, seems to unconsciously trigger the goals associated with these individuals, which could predict behavior.

Self disclosure:
Grecco, et al., 2013
• Priming towards emotionally open words was found to lead to more self-disclosing essays later one
• In clinical setting, can prime for self-disclosure by having more emotional reading material in the waiting room
 maybe in a subtle way we can prime people to be more open.

Durability issues?
 How long does this priming hold up → can have lingering effects
• Subliminal intelligence priming and performance on test: they subliminally primed either with intelligence or neutral words and took practice test. Then a week later took a class test – and found the results of priming still apparent.
• Study where found people from study 17 years later were able to identify fragments from pictures they had seen in study (even if didn’t remember that they had participated) vs. control group.


Automatic Behavior Priming

Perception directly and automatically affects overt behavior

→ example of this: chameleon effect- nonconscious mimicry of postures, facial expression

Bargh et al. (1996): rude/polite, elderly study.
Word scramble
IV: polite, rude, neutral words
D.V: who will interrupt conversation.
• Polite group: those that read polite sentences had the lowest % interruptions.
• Rude group: those that read rude words had the highest % interruptions.
o Students were not aware that the scramble test was influencing their behavior, but it was→ priming.

Study 2: Unscramble sentences. elderly/neutral words
The participants in the elderly group walk slower than those in neutral.

Can this automatic behavior priming impact more complex behavior?
• Dijksterhuis & van Knippenberg (1998):
general knowledge test study – demonstrates that this automatic behavior priming can potentially influence more complex behavior (i.e. intellectual performance).
 Some were primed with professors and other with secretaries
• Gave participants a test of general knowledge (questions from Trivial Pursuit). Those who performed best were those primed with professor (vs. secretary or no prime). People took on the thinking style of professors.

You can also make performance go down:
• Those who were primed with soccer hooligans did worse than they normally would.
o Priming with a trait, i.e. intelligence, also influenced performance.
The longer the prime, the stronger the effect


Perspectives Explaining Priming/Perception-Behavior Effects

Ideomotor Activation
Overlap in neural substrates for actions and perceptions
*Mirror neurons--same neurons fire when you behave in similar way to what you’re seeing.

Social functional / Interaction preparation
*Evolutionarily adaptive--this type of system helps people better interact and coordinate as members of groups. *E.g. If you want to interact successfully with elderly people, may want to socially attune to them and slow down to their level. This is not conscious.

Active-self / Perspective Taking
*Primed group or individual at times may become part of the self at times.
*I.e., behaviors associated with primed group become part of us in a way, so we act accordingly.

Self-other merger may take place so other characteristics become part of self, thus we behave in corresponding fashion → this is similar to perspective taking.


Ironic Processes of Mental Control

Intentional Operating Process
*searches for the mental contents that will yield the desired state
*generally requires effort, cognitive capacity
*consciously guided
*e.g. “dont want to think of pizza – so try to think of other distracting things”

Ironic monitoring process
*searches for mental contents that signal failure to achieve the desired state
*requires little effort, few processing resources
*usually nonconscious
**“if we think of pizza, it cues us that we should not be thinking about it”

Stress/Anxiety--Intentional operation process is diminished (fewer cognitive/attentional resources)

However, ironic monitor is still active, as it requires little effort, and continues to search for unwanted thoughts (e.g. pizza), priming us to think of the now hyper-acceisble unwanted → rebound effect (suppression backfires)


Petrie, Booth, & Pennebaker (1998): Thought/Emotional Expression vs Suppression

Asked participants to write for 15 minutes over 3 days about either:
1) emotionally significant event in the past
2) write about what happened over the last 24 hours.

I.V.: Expression vs. Suppression Groups
*One group told to think about what they just wrote.
*Other group, told to suppress what they wrote about (don’t think about it)

DV: Lymphocyte levels in blood (part of immune system). *suppression group showed lower levels of lymphocytes suggesting that stage was set for potential health problems
*expressive condition had slight increase in lymphocytes – suggests that emotional writing may have long-term mental and physical health benefits. This may lead to self-affirmation.

*Pennebaker has conducted several studies on psychological and health benefits of emotional writing and expression.
*For improved mood, avoid thought suppression--better to think positive thoughts.
--if you try to suppress negative thoughts, they will be highlighted and looked for by the monitoring system
--if you try to think of positive thoughts, monitoring system will look for absence of positive thoughts, which could be neutral thoughts