Chapter 2: Social Cognition Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 2: Social Cognition Deck (36):

Social cognition

Is concerned with how we think about the social world, our attempts to understand complex issues, and why we are sometimes less than optimally "rational"


Information overload

A state where the demands on our cognitive system are greater than its capacity


Conditions of uncertainty

Situations where the "correct" answer is difficult to know or it would take a great deal of effort to determine



Simple rules for making complex decisions or drawing inferences in a rapid and efficient manner



A list of attributes commonly possessed by members of social (or other) groups. Used in making decisions


Representativeness Heuristic

The more an individual seems to resemble or match a given group, the more likely she or he is to belong to that group. Used also when judging whether specific causes resemble each other and are therefore likely to produce effects that are similar in magnitude


Base rates

The frequency with which given events or categories occur in the total population.


Availability Heuristic

Another cognitive "rule of thumb", suggesting that the easier it is to bring information to mind, the greater its impact on subsequent judgements or decisions. However it can lead us to overestimate the likelihood of events that are dramatic but rare, because they are easily brought to mind.


More on availability heuristic

The amount of info we can summon seems to matter, when it comes to the *kind* of judgements we are making.
Judgement involving emotions and feelings --> rely on the EASE with which information can be summoned.
Judgement involving facts or difficult tasks --> rely on the AMOUNT of information that can be summoned


Anchoring and adjustment

A heuristic that involves the tendency to deal with uncertainty in many situations by using something we do know as a starting point (the "anchor") and then making adjustments to it. Adjustments may not be sufficient, perhaps because when we attain a plausible value, we stop the adjustment process.


Portion size effect

The tendency to eat more when a larger portion of food is received than a smaller portion - an example of anchoring and INadequate adjustment



Mental frameworks that help us to organize social information, guide our actions, and process information relevant to particular contexts. Schemas are shared by many in society, determine the information we not only remember but also what we pay attention to, and how we interpret incoming information.



Refers to the information we notice. Schemas often act as a filter for what our minds grab and what we let go.



Refers to the processes we use to store noticed information in memory



Refers to how we recover information from memory in order to use it in some manner.



A temporary activation of schemas that increases the accessibility of specific schemas.



A process by which thoughts or actions primed by recent experience dissipate once they find expression


Perseverance effect

Mostly in reference to schemas - ones that remain unchanged even in the face of contradictory information



Referring to schemas that can make our expectations come true, influencing our responses to the social world.



A linguistic device that related or compares a typically abstract concept to another unrelated concept, by suggesting a similarly between them.


Controlled processing

A systematic, logical, and highly effortful manner in which social thought occurs. Involves portions of the prefrontal cortex, medial prefrontal cortex, and ventrolateral prefrontal cortex.


Automatic processing

A fast, relatively effortless, and intuitive manner in which social thought occurs. Occurs primarily in the limbic system / amygdala, the emotional processing centers of the brain


Optimistic bias

A powerful predisposition to overlook risks and expect things to turn out well. Most people believe they are more likely than others to experience positive events, and less likely to experience negative events.


Overconfidence bias

Having greater confidence in our beliefs or judgements than is justified


Planning fallacy

A tendency to believe that we can get more done in a given period of time than we actually can, or that a given job will take less time than it really will. Motivation plays a role - if we want to finish on time, we think that this will override logical barriers to getting something done.


Counterfactual thinking

Social thoughts about "what might have been" - occur in a wide range of situations, not only when we have encountered disappointment. Research shows that emotional responses differ depending on how easy it is to mentally undo the circumstances that preceded an event.


Upward counterfactuals

When individuals compare their current outcomes with more favorable ones, often resulting in strong feelings of dissatisfaction. The opposite (comparing current outcomes with less favorable ones) often brings more positive feelings.


Magical thinking

Thinking that makes assumptions that don't hold up to rational scrutiny but that feel compelling nonetheless. Often assumes that one's thoughts can influence the physical world in a manner not governed by the laws of physics.


Law of similarity

Suggests that things that resemble one another share basic properties


Terror management

Efforts to come to terms with the certainty of death and its implications. Reminders of our own mortality often strengthen supernatural beliefs.



Our current moods or emotions



As used to describe the bidirectional relationship between affect and cognition. i.e., we are more likely to judge statements as true if we encounter them in a positive mood than in a negative mood.


Mood Congruence Effects

Refers to the fact that current moods strongly determine which information in a given situation is noticed and then entered into memory. Current mood serves as a filter of sorts, permitting information primarily consistent with moods to be stored in long-term memory


Mood-Dependent Memory

Reflects what specific information is retrieved from memory. Current mood serves as a retrieval cue, prompting recall of information consistent with past similar moods.


Two-factor theory of emotion

Theory suggests that we don't often know our own feelings or attitudes directly. Since internal reactions are ambiguous, we infer their nature from the external world, and kinds of situations in which we experience these reactions. (i.e., arousal is interpreted as anger when we are cut off in traffic, and interpreted as pleasure when engaging in sexual activity).


Affective forecasts

Predictions of how we would feel about an event we have not experienced. These are often inaccurate.