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University of California, Berkeley

Department of Psychology


Psychology 164

Spring 2006


Final Examination

Scoring Guide


Exam Feedback

On the initial scoring of the exam, the average score was 92+, 92% correct -- compared to the 65-70% correct that is typical with the multiple-choice exams I give in my lower-division introductory psychology course. 

One item, #33, proved to be overly difficult, and so I adjusted the grading slightly, but so few students attempted the item in the first place that the adjustment didn't do much to the mean final score, which was 92.3, or 92.3% -- which is well within my typical range of 80-90% correct for an upper-division elective course.

In what follows I provide the scoring guide given to the GSI.  These are simply intended to be samples of adequate (5 point) answers.  Other good answers were, of course, possible.  The GSi was instructed to begin with a "default" of 3 points, and then to add or subtract points as appropriate.

I also indicate the percentage of the class that chose each item, and the mean score for each item on the initial scoring of the exam.




Your responses on this examination should be very concise. As a rule, less than 5 sentences will do. Write your answers in the space provided. If absolutely necessary, you may continue on the other side of the page.

Write legibly, in complete sentences, in the space provided, and please use ink.

Exams written in pencil will not be eligible for regrading.


Noncumulative Portion


Answer a total of ten (10) questions for this portion of the exam,

including at least one from each of the following sections.


Do not answer more than 10 questions.

If you answer more than 10 questions, we will count only the first 10.


Each question is worth 5 Points.

Begin with a default of 3 points, and add or subtract points accordingly.




Section 1. Social Judgment and Inference (Answer at least one question.)

1. Identify and briefly define the types of information that are used in Kelley's "Covariation Calculus for Causal Attribution"

First, there is a description of a specific instance of an Actor's behavior toward a Target in some (expressed or implied) Context. This is supplemented by information concerning the consistency of the Actor's behavior toward the Target across Contexts; the distinctiveness of the Actor's behavior, in the same or similar Contexts, across a variety of Targets; and finally, the consensus among other Actors in their behavior toward the Target in that Context.  83.1% of the class attempted this item; mean score = 4.63.



2. Distinguish between the augmenting and discounting principles in causal attribution.

In Kelley's covariation calculus, a particular pattern of consensus, consistency, and distinctiveness information may, ordinarily, drive causal attribution toward the Actor. However, an Actor attribution is discounted, or reduced, when the Actor's behavior is in accordance with situational demands. By the same token, attribution to the Actor is augmented when the Actor's behavior is contrary to situational demands -- even if the pattern of information may drive attribution toward the Target or the Context. In Kelley's causal schema of "multiple sufficient causes", the presence of one cause may lead the perceiver to discount the importance of other possible causes. By the same token, the absence of one cause may lead the perceiver to augment the importance of another possible cause.  40%, 4.73.


3. Ted helps Paul because Ted is helpful, but Ted loathes Paul because Paul is loathsome. Explain this phenomenon in terms of language structure.

This case shows, first, that greater causal weight is not necessarily given to the grammatical (syntactical) subject of the sentence. Rather, causality is attributed in terms of semantic role: with agent-patient verbs like "help", causality tends to be attributed to the agent; with stimulus-experiencer verbs like "loathe", causality tends to be attributed to the stimulus.  72%, 4.66.


4. What is the fundamental attribution error? How does it relate to the correspondence bias in trait attribution?

The fundamental attribution error consists in the tendency to attribute behavior to the Actor, regardless of the pattern of consensus, consistency, and distinctiveness information present. The correspondence bias is the tendency to infer the presence of personality traits (and attitudes) corresponding to the person's behavior, even in the presence of strong situational constraint. The fundamental attribution error is the conclusion that "something" about the actor led him to behave the way he did; the correspondence bias is a more specific conclusion about what that "something" was.  75%, 4.71.


Section 2. Automaticity (Answer at least one question.)

5. What features distinguish between automatic and controlled processes?

Automatic processes are inevitably evoked by the presence in the environment of a specific stimulus, or class of stimuli. Once evoked, their execution is incorrigible, and cannot be stopped until it has been completed. Automatic processes are effortless, in that they do not consume cognitive resources. And they do not interfere with other ongoing cognitive processes. Automatic processes are unconscious, in that they operate outside conscious awareness and conscious control. 92%, 4.88.


6. Define priming. Describe two sources of priming effects in social cognition.

Priming refers to the effect of one stimulus (the prime) on the processing of another, later event (the target). In positive priming, the prime facilitates processing of the target; in negative priming, the prime impairs target processing. In temporary accessibility, positive priming increases the accessibility of items stored in memory. Thus, stereotypes, attitudes, emotions, goals, and the like may be automatically activated by the presence of certain stimuli in the environment. Priming usually dissipates with time, though there are also chronic accessibility effects, reflecting long-standing cognitive habits and routines, which can produce priming-like effects in the absence of a stimulus in the immediate environment.  23%, 4.0.


7. How can automatically activated stereotypes be controlled?

The question poses a paradox because, by definition, automatic processes cannot be controlled. However, automatic processing often feeds into controlled processing, and this sequence provides for some element of retroactive countercontrol. Thus, when people become aware that their (automatically generated) thoughts violate their values, they can consciously correct for their influence. In an alternative dissociation model, people alter their judgments and behavior in order to reduce feelings of guilt produced by the discrepancy between their automatic thoughts and their conscious values. Both of these methods of control are retroactive in nature. People can also act in a proactive manner, by maintaining a goal of nonprejudice in a state of chronic activation.  29%, 4.58.


Section 3. The Self (Answer at least one question.)

8. What is the distinction between meaning-based and perception-based forms of mental representation? How does this relate to the mental representation of the self?

Meaning-based representations contain verbal, propositional knowledge about objects, and their semantic relations with other objects and events, that omits concrete perceptual details. Thus, the self-concept may be thought of as a list of features that are characteristic of the self, and tend to distinguish oneself from other people. Perception-based representations contain knowledge about the physical appearance of objects and events, and their configuration in space, but omit information about their meaning or semantic relations. Thus, the self-image may be thought of as the "picture" one has of one's own face, body, and other physical characteristics.  11%, 4.57.


9. How is knowledge of one's own traits and behaviors organized in memory? How do we know?

On the assumption that the self is just another person, it seems likely that self-knowledge is organized in the same way as our knowledge of other people. That is, a node representing the self is associatively linked to other nodes representing traits and behaviors characteristic of the self. Making self-descriptiveness judgments about traits does not prime the retrieval of trait-related behaviors from memory. Moreover, amnesic patients can acquire and retain accurate knowledge of their traits even though they cannot remember any relevant behaviors. Therefore, it appears that nodes representing traits and behaviors are linked independently to the node representing the self.  48%, 4.90.


10. What is the relationship between self-perception and the perception of other people, in the context of self-esteem?

When people make judgments about other people, they often compare that person's behavior to their own. This is especially the case when measuring the other person against ourselves will enhance our own self-esteem. At the same time, the comparison between self and other can diminish self-esteem. According to the self-evaluation maintenance model, people are motivated to maintain a positive view of self. They are especially likely to compare themselves to others who are close to them, and on dimensions that are relevant to their self-concept. When a comparison threatens self-esteem, people may either increase their perceived distance from the other person, or reduce the self-relevance of the dimension on which they are being compared.  38%, 4.24.


11. What is self-verification, and how does it relate to the self-fulfilling prophecy?

Just as people behave in such a manner as to confirm their expectations or verify their beliefs about other people, so people behave in such a manner as to verify their expectations or believes concerning themselves. For example, people are more interested in someone else's view of them if they believe that the other person's view is similar to their own. When people believe that someone else has an incorrect view of them, they will engage in behavior intended to correct that person's view, and bring it in line with their self-concept. Interestingly, this occurs even when people have negative views of themselves. Thus, self-verification is not merely a matter of maintaining self-esteem.  65%, 4.40.


Section 4. Social-Cognitive Neuropsychology (Answer at least one question.)

12. What is the doctrine of modularity in neuroscience? Give two examples of modularity in social cognition.

The doctrine of modularity has its roots in 19th-century phrenology, which held the view that various mental "faculties", such as language and music, were associated with specific areas of the cerebral cortex. In much the same way, modern neuroscience assumes that certain information-processing functions are performed automatically by dedicated mental modules, which are in term associated with particular brain structures -- or, more likely, larger brain systems. Thus, autobiographical memory appears to be mediated by a brain system centered on the hippocampus. Another system, centered on the amygdala, appears to be important for both the expression and recognition of emotions (particularly fear). The amygdala may also play a role in stereotyping and prejudice. An area centered on the fusiform gyrus seems to be critical to the identification of familiar faces. An area centered on the temporo-parietal junction appears to be activated when subjects reason about other people true and false beliefs.  40%, 4.96.


13. What is prosopagnosia and what are its implications for understanding the neural basis of social cognition?

Prosopagnosics have bilateral damage to a portion of the visual association cortex known as the fusiform area, at the junction of the occipital and temporal lobes. Although they can perceive and describe faces, they cannot identify the faces of people who are familiar to them -- for example, they can't recognize Ronald Reagan when shown a picture of him. Accordingly, it has been suggested that the fusiform area is part of a brain module or system dedicated to face recognition. However, there is some evidence that prosopagnosics also have difficulty recognizing specific non-facial objects as well -- for example, White House or the Capitol building. Therefore, it is possible that prosopagnosia is really a more generalized deficit in identifying objects at subordinate as opposed to basic levels of categorization.  77%, 4.82.


14. What are the distinguishing features of the social-cognitive neuroscience approach to social cognition?

Most research on social cognition, like most research in cognitive and social psychology generally, employs behavioral measures to make inferences about the cognitive processes underlying behavior. By contrast, the social-cognitive neuroscience approach seeks to integrate four levels of analysis: the cognitive level of human information processing; the individual level of behavior and experience; the social level of the situational context; and the biological level of neural structures and processes. While much neuroscience seeks to understand the neural correlates of cognitive processes, the cognitive-social neuroscience approach seeks to employ neuroscientific data to make inferences about processes operating at the cognitive, individual, and social levels of analysis. 11%, 4.00.


Section 5: Social-Cognitive Development (Answer at least one question.)

15. Distinguish between the ontogenetic and phylogenetic views of development. Give an example of each with respect to social cognition.

The ontogenetic view is familiar from developmental psychology, and seeks to trace the systematic changes that occur in some mental function as the individual moves through the life cycle from birth to death -- with a special focus on childhood. The phylogenetic view is familiar from comparative psychology, and seeks to trace the evolutionary course of some mental function across species - -with, perhaps, a special focus on chimpanzees and other primates closely related to humans. Ontogenetically, much interest has focused on the development of the "theory of mind", or the ability to make inferences about the mental states of other people -- an ability that appears to emerge around four years of age. The development of nonverbal versions of the false-beliefs task should enable researcher to determine whether chimpanzees or other primates have anything like this ability.  22%, 4.71.


16. What are the elements of the theory of mind as "mindreading", and how do they develop?

Baron-Cohen has suggested that there are at least four elements to the theory of mind: an intentionality detector, meaning the ability to interpret behavior in terms of goals and desires; an eye-direction detector, which detects the presence of eyes and determines the direction in which they are looking; a shared-attention mechanism, which involves the further understanding that, if two people are looking in the same place, they see the same things; and the theory-of-mind mechanism, or the ability to infer "epistemic" mental states, such as what other people think, believe, and know. In normal children, the first three elements of the theory of mind appear to be in place before two years of age; the last emerges about age 4. However, nonverbal tests suggest that even infants younger than two years of age may be capable of theory-of-mind reasoning.  69%, 4.44.


17. In Mark Haddon's novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, how does Christopher respond when his teacher asks him to interpret facial expressions of emotion? How does he handle figures of speech, such as similes and metaphors?

Christopher does fine with schematic faces representing happiness and sadness, but beyond that, he has difficulty recognizing facial expressions of other basic emotions, as well as faces representing complex blends of emotion. In his writing, Christopher uses similes freely, because they can be literally true; but he dislikes metaphors, precisely because they are figurative, and not literally true. Thus, Christopher has difficulty understanding objects and events that may have multiple meanings.  46%, 4.80.


Section 6: Social Constructivism (Answer at least one question.)

18. What is a personal construct? What is constructive alternativism?

A personal construct is, simply, a concept, representing some aspect of knowledge, that the person uses to organize perception, memory, experience, and behavior. While some concepts are widely shared among individual, personal constructs are individual and idiosyncratic -- they are a cognitive aspect of personality. Constructive alternativism refers to the fact that people can acquire new constructs, and can choose which constructs they will apply to events. The application of an alternative construct changes the individual's interpretation of the event, and thus his or her response to it.  38%, 4.68.


19. What is stereotype threat and how does it relate to self-verification?

Stereotype threat refers to an individual's belief that others have a negative view of him or her, by virtue of that his or her membership in a stereotyped group. Because the individual is threatened by the negative stereotype, he or she will perform poorly on stereotype-relevant tasks. Precisely the opposite occurs in self-verification. In this case, the target of perception behaves in such a way as to undercut the perceiver's beliefs and expectations. One might ask: under what circumstances does stereotype threat occur, and under what circumstances will an individual respond with self-verification?  52%, 3.88.


20. What is a social dating framework? Give two examples, one of which differentiates between two social groups, and explain your choice.

A social dating framework is a set of sociotemporal landmarks that are derived from the collective life of a couple or larger group, and which divide time into epochs. September 11, 2001 is one such framework -- as President Bush has stated, there was the world before 9/11, and the world thereafter -- at least so far as Americans are concerned. As another example, 1776 is a landmark for Americans, but not for the English; 1066 is a landmark for the English, but not for Americans; the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 is a landmark for people who live in the former Soviet Union and its client states, but it's significance may be fading for Americans and Western Europeans.  6%, 4.75.


Remember to answer only 10 questions on this portion of the exam.

If you answer more than 10 questions, we will grade only the first 10.




Cumulative Portion


Answer a total of ten (10) questions on this portion of the exam,

including at least one from each of the following sections.


Do not answer more than 10 questions.

If you answer more than 10 questions, we will count only the first 10.


Each question is worth 5 points.

Begin with a default of 3 points, and add or subtract points accordingly.

Be generous, give lots of leeway --

But answers still have to be substantive!



Section 1. (Answer at least one question.)

21. Explicate Lewin's "Grand Truism" for understanding behavior, and its implications for one aspect of the study of social cognition.

Lewin's "grand truism" is expressed in the pseudomathematical formula, B = f(P, E), where B = behavior, P = Person, and E = environment. The formula forces us, first, to consider whether the Person and the Environment are independent determinants of behavior, or whether they interact somehow. The Doctrine of Interaction then leads us to consider how people construct the environment that elicits their behavior -- through cognition, and through behavior. And the idea of cognitive constructivism leads us to consider the relative importance of the actual environment, as opposed to the real environment. And, finally, the juxtaposition of P and E leads us to the insight that, in the final analysis, the most important part of the Environment is the People in it.  38%, 4.68.


22. What is naive realism? How does it relate to the false consensus effect? To the theory of mind? To cognitive sociology?

Naive realism is the view that we perceive the world the way it actually is, without mediation by cognitive and other processes that might bias and distort our perceptions. One consequence of naive realism is the false consensus effect: that everyone else perceives, remembers, and thinks about the world the way we do. On the other hand, the theory of mind implies that people intuitively understand that different people have different beliefs about the world -- so there's a contradiction there. And cognitive sociology makes the point that different people will have different perceptions, memories, and beliefs about events just by virtue of their group membership. Everyone doesn't see the same things in the world after all.  49%, 4.81.


23. How is the knowledge stored in memory classified? Give an example of each category from the social domain.

The taxonomy of memory divides, first, into declarative vs. procedural knowledge. Declarative knowledge is factual knowledge, or at least knowledge that might be true, and so includes things like trait attributions ("John is a neurotic extravert"). Procedural knowledge consists of rules and skills, such as the covariation calculus for causal attribution or the weighted-averaging rule for impression formation. Declarative knowledge can be subdivided into episodic or autobiographical memory, and semantic memory like the contents of stereotypes and other social categories. Procedural knowledge can be subdivided into cognitive skills, like the ability to detect deception, and motor skills, like the ability to express emotion.  48%, 4.29.


24. What are cognitive schemata and what are their effects on memory?

Cognitive schemata, or schemas, are more-or-less abstract knowledge structures that represent our generalized expectancies concerning objects and events. Schema-relevant events are better remembered than schema-irrelevant events. Among schema-relevant events, schema-incongruent events are remembered better than schema-congruent events. Apparently, schemas provide cues to the retrieval of expected events; but unexpected events demand explanation, which leaves a more elaborate trace in memory.  43%, 4.14.


25. What is meant by "impersonal sites of memory"?

In psychology and cognitive science, we usually think of memory as a feature of individual minds, brains, and machines, and of remembering and memory loss as something that individual minds, brains, and machines do. But cognitive sociology points out that societies also preserve information about the past -- not just through the documentary record, but also through "social souvenirs" such as ruins, relics, and historic buildings, as well as memorials, street and town names, and the like which represent the past and the society's attitude toward it.  14%, 5.00.


26. Distinguish among the classical, prototype, and exemplar views of category structure. Which is the most viable model for social stereotypes, and why?

In all three views, concepts are summaries representations of whole collections of objects or events. According to the classical view, all instances of categories share a set of "defining" features in common. According to the prototype view, the instances share "characteristic" feature that are only imperfectly correlated with category membership. According to the exemplar view, concepts are not represented by a summary description, but rather by the instances themselves. The prototype view is probably the best model for social stereotypes, because nobody expects all members of a group to have any particular feature in common. Instead, stereotypes seem to mean only that members of a group are more likely to have certain features, compared to members of other groups. (A similar case can be made for an exemplar model.)  68%, 4.82.


27. What conditions cause judgment under uncertainty? What do we do under such conditions?

Judgment under uncertainty occurs when there is no algorithm available by which an infallibly correct judgment can be rendered. Or, such an algorithm may exist, but the information it requires is not available. Or, the information may be available, but the person lacks the time or incentive to apply it. Under conditions such as these, we tend to rely on judgment heuristics, or shortcut rules of thumb, that bypass the rules of logical inference to produce an judgment that may be correct, or at least adequate, but has some nontrivial probability of being wrong.  49%, 4.75.


28. Define three commonly used judgment heuristics and give an example of the operation of each in social cognition.

Representativeness, in which judgments are based on similarity, without regard to base rates: a good example is stereotyping. In availability, judgments are made by the ease with which information is retrieved from memory, without regard to extraneous factors that could influence retrieval: priming effects are a good example, as are chronic accessibility effects. In simulation, judgments are made by the ease with which we can construct a plausible scenario, regardless of the actual likelihood of that scenario taking place. A good example is counterfactual reasoning, in which we think about what might have happened "if only" we had done something else. In anchoring, otherwise known as anchoring and adjustment, judgments are inordinately influenced by the first information that becomes available: a good example is the lasting power of first impressions. Also counting as a judgment heuristic, I suppose is the confirmatory bias in hypothesis testing, in which we search for evidence that is consistent with our expectations.  62%, 4.58.


Section 2. (Answer at least one question.)

29. Describe the heuristic-systematic model of social cognition.

The heuristic-systematic model is one example of a broad class of "dual-process" models in social cognition, which assume that certain cognitive tasks are performed by two quite different processes, typically running in parallel, in a race to generate some cognitive or behavioral outcome. One of these is consciously controlled, and requires the expenditure of some mental effort; the other is automatic, and operates unconsciously and effortlessly. In this case, systematic processing entails the detailed analysis and evaluation of the object of judgment, as well as of the judge's prior beliefs, attitudes, and expectations. By contrast, heuristic processing is relatively quick and easy, relying on cognitive schemas, stereotypes, judgment heuristics, and other cognitive shortcuts.  34%, 4.82.


30. What are "causal schemata", and when are they used for making causal attributions? Describe how two such causal schemata operate.

Causal schemata are abstract ideas about causality that, in theory, are used when there is not enough information available to apply the covariation calculus. They basically involve inferences about causes based on the existence, or the strength, of the effect in question. In multiple sufficient causes, any one of two or more causes is sufficient to facilitate or inhibit an effect, but none is necessary; given the presence of an effect, and the presence of one of the facilitatory causes, other facilitatory causes are discounted. Given the presence of an effect, and the presence of some cause that is facilitatory and another cause that is inhibitory, the effect of the facilitatory cause is augmented. In multiple necessary causes, two or more causes are necessary to produce an effect, but none of them is sufficient by itself; given the presence of an effect, and the presence of one of these causes, the presence of the other(s) may be inferred. In compensatory causes, multiple causes may vary in strength, with strength in one cause making up for weakness in another. In graded effects, the effect as well as the causes may vary in strength -- as in the comparison between A-F and pass/fail grading systems.  14%, 4.67.


31. Describe the actor-observer difference and the self-serving bias in causal attribution. Do these effects really mean that "the self" is not "a person like any other"?

In the actor-observer difference, people tend to make situational attributions for their own behavior, but dispositional attributions about the behavior of other people. In the self-serving bias, people tend to attribute their own positive behaviors to dispositional causes, and their own negative behaviors to situational ones; other people do not get this attributional break. It is not clear, however, that these effects represent a qualitative differences between self- and other-perception. For example, people may simply have more consensus, consistency, and distinctiveness information about their own behavior than about most other people; perhaps people also make situational attributions about other people, so long as they know them well. Alternatively, people may like themselves more than they like people; perhaps, people will also make self-serving attributions about others whom they hold in high regard.  78%, 4.55.


32. What is the relevance of automaticity to the correspondence bias in trait attribution?

The correspondence bias refers to the tendency to infer that people possess dispositional traits that correspond to their behaviors -- and that, in turn, cause those same behaviors to occur. Traditionally, the correspondence bias has been taken as a special case, or perhaps an extension, of the fundamental attribution error. However, there is now evidence that people make trait inferences spontaneously - -which is to say, automatically, even without any intention to do so. Thus, correspondence bias may reflect less of a judgment error, that might be corrected if the perceiver were less of a cognitive miser, and more a fundamental property of human social cognition, that simply can't be avoided in any event.  29%, 4.63.


33. Distinguish between self-description and the self-schema as methods for assessing the self-concept. How does self-complexity relate to each?

People can describe themselves, more or less accurately, in terms of any trait or dimension the investigator might choose. But that doesn't mean that that trait is part of their self-concept. The idea behind self-schemata is that people view some traits as more important to their self-concepts than others. Focusing on traits for which a person is self-schemata gets us closer to the individual's mental representation of self. However it is assessed, however, people can vary in the complexity of their self-concepts -- that is, how many different characteristics are included in the self-concept, and how tightly these characteristics are interrelated. So it's important not just to measure how people describe themselves on various trait dimensions, but how important these descriptors are, and how these descriptors are related to each other.  5%, 3.00.  A bad question, yielding by far the lowest mean score on the exam, as well as the lowest proportion of students attempting the question.  Those who attempted the question got 1 point for free, raising the question's average score to 4.00.


34. "The self is in the right frontal lobe": Discuss.

Early brain-imaging research seemed to indicate that a particular area of the right frontal lobe is more strongly activated when subjects rate themselves on various trait dimensions, compared to when they rate another person. This finding, in turn, suggested that the module that makes self-referential judgments might be located in that area of the brain. However, the control task in this study was controversial, because it asked subjects to make judgments about a person that they did not know well, or personally. Later experiments showed that the same area of the brain is activated when subjects describe their close friends as when they describe themselves. Thus, the right frontal lobe might contain an area that makes personality judgments, but not necessarily an area that is dedicated to making judgments about oneself. Of course, it also might be that the right frontal lobe is specialized for making judgments of all sorts, not just social judgments: further control tasks are in order.  28%, 4.17.


35. What evidence is there that childhood autism is a specific deficit in the theory of mind?

Normal children more than four years old generally pass the "false beliefs" test, indicating that they have the ability to reason about other people's mental states. Autistic children even twice their age generally fail the false-belief task, suggesting that they lack a theory of mind. However, autistic children often have language deficits, and it is not clear whether they would also fail a nonverbal version of the false-beliefs task, such as administered to human infants (and, for that matter, chimpanzees). Moreover, some deaf children also fail the false-beliefs test. So "mindblindness" may be a result of the social isolation that comes with autism, and some forms of deafness, and not a do not it is not clear that mindblindness is a specific cause of autism.  72%, 4.70.


36. Distinguish between observer-relative and observer-dependent knowledge. How does this distinction relate to the difference between objective and subjective reality?

Observer-independent facts are true regardless of what people think, and regardless of who is making the observations. Observer-dependent facts are true only because people think they are true. We usually think of objective reality as consisting of observer-independent facts, and of subjective reality as consisting of observer-dependent facts, but that's not quite right. This is because there are important features of objective reality, like money and marriage, that are exist only by virtue of social agreement or institutional fiat, but which are nonetheless objective features of the world.  61%, 4.45.


Section 3. (Answer at least one question.)

37. How does social cognition differ from nonsocial cognition?

To some extent, social cognition is the same as nonsocial cognition, except more so. Analyses of nonsocial perception generally assume that the stimulus is inherently ambiguous, that perception requires inferences from prior world-knowledge stored in memory, and that perception of an object is influenced by the context in which that object is encountered. Similarly, nonsocial memory can be influenced by emotion and motivation. In both nonsocial and social cases, the purpose of perception is action, but social cognition involves a more molar conception of action, in terms of "what people are doing" rather than the activities of particular muscle groups. Arguably, nonsocial cognition sometimes involves objects, like predators and prey, that may have intentional states, like goals and desires; social cognition always does so. But only in the social case is the object of cognition a sentient being that is trying to shape its mental representation in the mind of the perceiver. This last is a qualitative difference between social and nonsocial perception. 77%, 4.54.


38. How does social cognition differ from cognitive sociology?

Social cognition studies the individual's understanding of the social world. Cognitive sociology studies the social bases of all cognition. Social cognition is largely predicated on universalism, or the assumption that all people think alike, even if they think about different things. But cognitive sociology is predicated on the assumption of thought communities, groups of people who share a particular way of thinking about the world. While social cognition focuses on the subjectivity of the individual mind, and the objective description of cognitive processes, cognitive sociology focuses on intersubjectivity, or on how we can use language to share our thoughts with others.  52%, 4.74.


39. In Haddon's book, why does Christopher like Sherlock Holmes? Is there some aspect of crime-solving that he might not appreciate so much? Christopher is writing a novel, but are there some aspects of the novel that might be missing in what he produces?

Mysteries are puzzles, and Christopher is exceptionally good at solving puzzles: he has acute powers of observation and a prodigious memory. But Christopher's mysteries are like police procedurals, where solving the crime is simply a matter of connecting up facts. But crimes involve motive as well as opportunity, and Christopher has difficulty reasoning about people's motives. Similarly, novels tell stories, and stories have a chronological structure, and Christopher can appreciate that. But novels also provide windows to the consciousness of the characters, and Christopher has no insights into such matters. Moreover, the events in novels are driven by the beliefs, motives and desires -- the intentions -- of the characters, as well as the events that have gone before, and Christopher has no insights into these either.  34%, 4.86.


40. What is the self-fulfilling prophecy and how does it happen?

The self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when an initially false belief evokes behavior that makes the belief come true. In social psychology, this is known as the expectancy confirmation effect, which comes in two broad forms. In perceptual confirmation, ambiguous events are interpreted as confirming the expectation; thus, perceptual confirmation in consistent with the perceiver's private, subjective reality. A variant on this is the confirmatory bias in hypothesis testing, by which perceivers selectively seek, and attend to, information that is consistent with their beliefs. In behavioral confirmation, the perceiver acts in such a way as to elicit expectancy-confirming behavior from the target; in this way, the perceiver creates a public, objective reality.  82%, 4.83.


Remember to answer only 10 questions in this portion of the exam.

If you answer more than 10 questions, we will grade only the first 10.


A scoring guide will be posted to the course website by noon, May 15.


Exams will be graded and returned as soon as possible.


Requests for regrading must be made

no later than 1 week after grades are posted.



This page last modified 05/12/10 05:58:46 AM.