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University of California, Berkeley

Department of Psychology


Psychology 164

Spring 2008


Final Examination

Exam Scoring Guide and Feedback

In what follows I provide the scoring guide given to the GSI.  These are simply intended to be samples of adequate answers.  Other good answers were, of course, possible.  

Although the noncumulative portion of the exam contained 18 items, the fact that there were three hours allotted for the entire exam left plenty of time.  In fact, a couple of students answered more than 18 items.  Following the procedure indicated on the exam, for those students we counted only the first three items in each section.

By these standards, class performance on the exam was very good, with a mean score of 85.4, and a standard deviation of 14.5.  That made the average grade a solid B (85%).  

I then conducted an item analysis to identify bad questions, following the procedures outlined in the Exam Information page (and followed on the midterm exam as well).  

The mean number of students answering any given question on the non-cumulative portion was 51.4 (48%), with a standard deviation of 35.

The mean score on the 37 noncumulative items was 2.53 (SD = 0.38).

The mean number of students answering any given question on the cumulative portion was 60 (56%), with a standard deviation of 36.

The mean score on the 7 noncumulative items was 8.05 (SD = 11.8).

Applying the statistical "Rule of 2" -- that any value that lies more than two SDs away from the mean is an outlier, and thus suspect -- means that:


A non-cumulative item answered by none of the students (as close to 51-70 as you can get!) is an outlier.  There weren't any such items, but a couple came close, especially #s 14 and 36.

A non-cumulative item with a mean score less than 1.77 (2.53-0.76) is an outlier.  There was one (1) such item, # 14.

A cumulative item answered by none of the students (as close to 60-72 as you can get!) is an outlier.  There weren't any such items, but #39 came closest.

A cumulative item with a mean score less than 4.85 (8.05 - 3.2) is an outlier.  There was one (1) such item, # 39.

An item that is a double outlier would be particularly suspect.  Very few people even attempt such an item, and those who do attempt it don't do very well on it.  No item met that criterion, but #s 14 and 39 came closest, so I dropped them.

To drop the items, I counted them as scored, but then added 13 points (3 points for #14 and 10 points for #39) to everyone's score.  That effectively removes the suspect items from the test, but also gives some measure of credit to those students who attempted it anyway.

The downside of this solution is that a few students, who achieved relatively high scores on the exam but did not choose to answer the suspect items, could, in principle, get as many as 113 points on a 100-point test.

So, the final step is to truncate scores above 100.  

So, to calculate your final score:

If you answered more than three questions in any section, count only the first three items.

Give yourself 6 points, assuming that you actually provided your name on every page of the exam.

Regardless of whether you answered #14, give yourself an additional 3 points.

And regardless of whether you answered #39, give yourself an additional 10 points.

If your total score is greater than 100, truncate it to 100 points, the maximum score allowable for this exam.

As a result of the rescoring procedure, the mean exam score rose to 94.1 (SD = 11.8).  The average grade is now an A (94%).  A total of 66 students, more than half of the class, ended up with perfect scores.

In what follows I provide information on the item analysis, as well as some additional commentary, as appropriate.

Be sure to print your name and UCB Student ID on every page of the exam. Following this instruction is worth six (6) points. Students who fail to print their names on every page of the exam will lose all six points.

Your responses should be very concise. As a rule, fewer than 3 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 three (3) questions from each of Sections 1-6, for a total of 18 questions. Each of these questions is worth three (3) points. Do not answer more than three questions per section. If you answer more than three questions in any section, we will count only the first three. The cumulative portion of the exam is worth a total of 54 points.


Section 1: Social Categorization

Choose 3, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 3.

1. How are the classical and prototype view of concepts similar? How are they different?

In both views, concepts are summary descriptions of category members, abstracted from instances. In the classical view, the summary is a list of "defining" features shared by all instances of the category. In the prototype view, the summary is a list of "correlated" features which tend to be shared by category members. In either case, categorization proceeds by matching the features of an object with the summary description.  75% of the class attempted the item; mean score = 2.84.


2. Illustrate how any three "natural" categories of persons may, in reality, be historically contingent and socially constructed.

Any of the following, plus any that are original to the student and presented convincingly. (a) Biological sex, gender identity, gender role, sexual orientation. (b) Kinship categories; (c) Age categories , such as Erickson's "8 ages" or "generations"; (d) Japanese immigration (issei, sansei, etc.); (e) Hindu castes; (f) racial and ethnic categories in the U.S. census and the like.  44% attempted; M score = 2.91.


3. How does psychiatric diagnosis illustrate our understanding of category structure and categorization?

Diagnostic categories such as schizophrenia may have been originally viewed as proper sets organized along classical lines, but in the current edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual they are represented as fuzzy sets, with few if any symptoms absolutely required for diagnosis. Novice diagnosticians tend to categorize new patients based on abstract prototypes, while expert diagnosticians tend to rely on comparison with specific exemplars of each diagnostic category.  56%; M = 2.67.


4. In stereotyping, what does it mean to say that "members of Group X have characteristic Y"?

Stereotyped characteristics need not be present in all members of the stereotyped category, or even in most members or the average member. Rather, characteristics are included in group stereotypes because they are relatively more likely to occur in members of the stereotyped group, compared to some other group, or compared to the population as a while. That is, they are perceived to be more likely to occur.  39%; 2.69.


5. What occur when people are randomly and arbitrarily divided into two groups?

When people are divided into groups, they identify with their own group as an ingroup, and categorize the other group as different, an outgroup. In ingroup favoritism, people tend to favor members of their own ingroup, compared to outgroups. They tend to view ingroup members are more similar, and outgroup members as more different, than themselves. And they tend to view members of outgroups as more homogeneous than they view members of their own ingroup -- except when intergroup distinctions are made salient, in which case both ingroups and outgroups are seen as homogeneous.  70%; 2.76.  


6. Define a descriptive stereotype and give an example.

A prescriptive stereotype is not just a description of what the "typical" group member is like; it is a prescription for what the typical group member should be like. Through social learning and other socialization processes, society may enforce its stereotypes, rewarding those who conform to them and punishing those who deviate from them. In this case, the prejudice of ingroup members toward outgroup members may be ambivalent, with positive attitudes toward conformers, and negative attitudes toward deviants; this may be true for attitudes of outgroups toward other outgroup members as well. An example is sexual stereotyping, where both men and women tend to favor masculine males and feminine females.  10%; 2.18.  


7. What does Zerubavel mean by "border disputes" in social categorization? Give an example.

Social categories, being fuzzy sets, have fuzzy, ambiguous boundaries. The "border disputes" concern where, exactly, to draw the line between alternative categories: different "cognitive subcultures" may differ as to where they draw these boundaries. One example is the difference between PG-, R-, and X-rated films; over the beginning of life (in the abortion debate) and the ending of life (in the euthanasia debate). Not to mention the boundaries between nations!  5%; 3.00.  



Section 2. Social Judgment

Choose 3, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 3.

8. Analyze the following vignette in terms of Kelley's covariation calculus for causal attribution: (a) John laughed at the comedian; (b) In the past, John has rarely laughed at this comedian; (c) John doesn't usually laugh at comedians; (d) Most people in the theatre also laughed at the comedian.

In this vignette, (a) is the behavior to be explained. The pattern of low consistency (by John), high distinctiveness (by John), and high consensus (among others) drives the attribution to the situation.  85%; 2.67.


9. Ted helps Paul, and Ted likes Paul. Why do we think this is so?

In terms of the linguistic schemata for causal weighting, the action verb helps invokes the agent-patient schema, where greater causal influence is attributed to the agent (who is usually the grammatical subject of the sentence). By contrast the mental-state verb likes invokes the stimulus-experiencer schema, where greater causal influence is attributed to the stimulus, Paul, who may be either the grammatical subject or the object of the sentence.  76%; 2.63.


10. Describe three common departures from normative rationality in social judgment.

In the Fundamental Attribution Error, people tend to overestimate the causal importance of personal dispositions, and to underestimate the importance of situations. In the Actor-Observer (Self-Other) Difference, people tend to make situational attributions concerning their own behavior, but dispositional attributions concerning the behavior of other people. In the Self-Serving Bias, people perceive themselves as more responsible for positive than for negative outcomes.

The student may also describe other errors and biases, such as the inappropriate use of such judgment heuristics as representativeness, availability, simulation, and anchoring and adjustment; or failures to appreciate regression or base-rate effects; or the illusory correlation; the dilution effect; or the confirmatory bias in hypothesis-testing. As long as there are three of them.  16%; 2.59.

11. What is the empirical status of the Actor-Observer Difference in causal attribution?

Initial studies seemed to show that people tended to attribute their own behavior to situational factors, and the behavior of other people to dispositional factors, and claims to this effect have appeared frequently in textbooks, but more recent studies show that this particular asymmetry has declined, and even reversed, so that overall, it has disappeared. But that several other actor-observer asymmetries have been identified in Malle's folk-conceptual framework for social attribution, such that actors give more reasons and beliefs for their actions, and tend to leave their beliefs linguistically unmarked.  45%; 2.49.  


12. What are the important dimensions in Weiner's theory of attribution for success and failure?

Success and failure are attributed to ability, effort, task difficulty, and luck depending on the pattern of information about the locus (internal vs. external) stability (vs. variability), and globality (vs. locality) of the outcome. For example, ability is stable, uncontrollable, and (usually) global, while luck is unstable, uncontrollable, and local.  26%; 2.0.


13. Define three common heuristics employed in social judgment, and the kind of judgments in which they are employed.

All four of the common heuristics can play a role in causal reasoning. In representativeness, judgments (usually of probability) are based on the degree of resemblance between an instance and a general category. In availability, judgments (usually of frequency or probability) are based on the ease with which examples can be retrieved from memory. In simulation, judgments (of the future, or of causality) are based on the ease with scenarios can be generated in imagination. In anchoring and adjustment, a final estimate (of a measurement) is biased in the direction of an initial estimate.  44%; 2.83.  


14. What is the difference between a linear and a nonlinear model of social judgment? How do these mathematical models for human judgment compare to the performance of the typical human decision-maker?

In linear models, the final judgment, or total impression, is an additive combination of available information. In nonlinear models, the exact formula for combining information depends on the nature of the information itself. As a rule, mechanical models, and especially linear models, tend to outperform human decision-makers in such domains as student and personnel selection.  3%, 1.33. 

A bad item, probably because I didn't specifically mention this issue in the Narrative Review.  I'll correct that mistake next time, because the issue is actually pretty important: empirically derived algorithms outperform human judgment nearly every time, because they're algorithms, not heuristics, and they're not biased; and while nonlinear models might be better in theory, and even empirically, they're less efficient, and not so much better than linear models as to justify the cost of deriving them.  


Section 3. The Self

Choose 3, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 3.

15. What are the properties of perception-based and meaning-based knowledge representations?

Perception-based knowledge represents the physical appearance of an object or event including the spatial and temporal relations among its features, and between it and other objects and events. Meaning-based knowledge is more abstract, representing the meaning of an object or event, including its categorical relations, but not the details of its physical appearance. Perception-based knowledge consists of mental images, while meaning-based knowledge consists of verbal descriptions.  69%, 2.77.  


16. Distinguish between the "prototype" and "exemplar" views of the self-concept.

Both views assume that there is not a single, monolithic self-concept, but rather that people have multiple self-concepts, each representing what they are like in different circumstances (or in different relationships). In the prototype view, there is also a summary self-concept, structured as a prototype, whose features are those that tend to be shared by the various context-specific self-concepts. In the exemplar view, there is no summary prototype -- just a collection of exemplars representing the self in different contexts.  69%, 2.64.  


17. How is knowledge about people represented in memory, and how do we know?

Episodic knowledge about a one's own (or another person's) behaviors and experiences is represented independently from semantic knowledge about one's own (or another person's) traits and other general characteristics. We know this from priming studies, because retrieval of one type of knowledge does not facilitate access to the other type of knowledge. And we know this from studies of amnesic patients, who can make accurate judgments of their personality, even though they can't remember specific events and experiences.  76%, 2.65.  


18. How does the self-concept differ across cultures?

In general, there appear to be two different kinds of self-concepts. The independent self, apparently characteristic of people of Northern European heritage, emphasizes individuality and the differences between oneself and others. The interdependent self, apparently characteristic of people of East Asian, Southern European, and Latin American heritage, includes one's social relationships and is sensitive to the thoughts, feelings, and actions of others with whom one is in a relationship.  49%, 2.85.  


19. What are self-discrepancies and how do they guide emotions and behavior?

Self-discrepancy theory posits that we have three different self-concepts: an actual self, which describes the way we really are; an ideal self, which describes the way we would like to be; and an ought self, which describes what other people would like us to be. Perceived discrepancies between the actual and ideal self lead to depression and loss of self-esteem, and activate behavior intended to promote the ideal self. Perceived discrepancies between the actual and ought self lead to anxiety, and activate behavior intended to inhibit the actual self.  31%, 2.38.


Section 4. Social-Cognitive Neuropsychology

Choose 3, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 3.

20. Describe the Doctrine of Modularity and its implications for social-cognitive neuroscience.

The doctrine of modularity posits that various cognitive tasks are carried out by domain-specific modules that are more or less dedicated to that task, rather than by some general information-processing capacity. These cognitive modules area associated with a fixed neural architecture, consisting of some center (or system) located in a specific area of the brain. The implication of the doctrine of modularity is that there exist brain modules for social-cognitive processing that differ from those that underlie processing of nonsocial information.  86%, 2.84.


21. What light do neuroscientific findings shed on the question of whether mental representations of the self differ from mental representations of other people?

Early experiments employing a "self-referent" processing task seemed to show that specific brain areas, located in the right prefrontal cortex, are activated in self-referent processing but not in other-referent processing. However, these early experiments employed a relatively unknown person in the other-referent processing condition, and later experiments, in which the other person was better known to the subject, showed no such differential activation. There may be a brain area dedicated to processing information about people, but if so the same brain area also processes information about the self.  86%, 2.54.


22. Where is the fusiform area and what does it do?

The fusiform area is on the underside of the cerebral cortex, bridging the occipital and temporal lobes. Early indications from both prosopagnosic patients and brain-imaging studies suggested that this area comprised a brain module dedicated to recognizing faces. Later research cast doubt on this conclusion, by showing that the same area is activated when experts classify non-face objects such as birds, cars, and snowflakes, at a subordinate level of categorization.  87%, 2.54.  


23. How does research on "split-brain" patients relate to social cognition?

"Split brain" patients have had their corpus callosum surgically severed, so that their two cerebral hemispheres effectively function independently. Under such circumstances, behavior initiated by the right cerebral hemisphere must be explained through verbal behavior controlled by the left cerebral hemisphere. Split-brain patients thus form a vehicle for studying the "self-perception" processes by which people infer their attitudes and emotions from observations of their own behavior.  17%, 2.06.


24. What are the characteristics of the "social neuroscience approach", as described by Ochsner and Lieberman (2001).

The social-neuroscience approach aims, first of all, to integrate psychological data from multiple levels of analysis, including the behavior and experience of individuals in social contexts, the cognitive processes that underlie those behaviors and experiences, and the neural processes that underlie those cognitive processes. By including the cognitive level of analysis, it seeks to promote dialog between social psychologists (whose analyses usually stop at the cognitive level0 and cognitive psychologists (whose analyses usually begin there). O&L also propose that social psychologists can use neuroscientific data to test competing theories at the cognitive level of analysis -- such as whether attitude change conscious awareness of attitude-behavior discrepancies.  10%, 2.0.


Section 5. Social-Cognitive Development

Choose 3, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 3.

25. What is the theory of mind?

The theory of mind reflects our understanding that we have mental states of belief, feeling, desire, and the like; that other people also have these mental states, which we can infer from their behavior; and that the beliefs, feelings, and desires of other people may differ from our own. The theory of mind is just one theory, along with theories of "naive physics", "naive biology", etc., that the developing child induces from his or her experience of the world and of other people.  98%, 2.79.


26. When does the normally developing child acquire a theory of mind?

Children younger than 4 years of age typically fail the standard false-beliefs task, while children older than 4 years of age typically pass it. However, there are aspects of the theory of mind, such as an appreciation of diversity in individual desires and beliefs, that appear much earlier; and other aspects, such as the distinction between real and apparent emotion, that appear somewhat later. And there is evidence that even infants can pass a nonverbal version of the false-beliefs task.  97%, 2.45.  

Not a trick question, because a major theme of the lecture was that (a) there are different criteria for a theory of mind and (b) you can push the milestone forward by switching from a verbal to a nonverbal task.


27. What is the evidence that autistic children lack a theory of mind?

Whereas normal children aged 4-5 typically pass the false-beliefs task, autistic children even twice their age tend to fail it. However, deaf children who never acquired sign language, or who acquired sign language relatively late in life, also tend to fail the false-beliefs task, so that the performance deficits observed in autism are not unique to that syndrome. Moreover, studies of the theory of mind in autistic children are almost entirely confined to verbal versions of the false-belief task, so it is not clear whether autistic children have a theory of mind that they can demonstrate with a nonverbal version, or whether they do have other elements of the theory of mind, such as an appreciation of the diversity of beliefs and desires.  97%, 2.57.


28. How are Bandura's and Rotter's versions of social learning theory similar? How do they differ?

Both Rotter's and Bandura's versions of social learning theory are cognitive, in that they both emphasize the role of expectations in guiding behavior. They are different, in that only Bandura offers a detailed analysis of the process of social learning itself. In particular, Bandura distinguishes between trial-and-error learning through the direct experience of response consequences and a more efficient vicarious learning through observation. And Bandura further distinguishes between two forms of observational learning: learning by example, as in imitation and modeling; and learning by precept, as in learning through linguistic transmission and sponsored teaching.  1%, 3.00.  


29. What is the "ability" view of social intelligence, and why has it been problematic?

The traditional "ability" conception of social intelligence is modeled after traditional intelligence testing, and assumes that there are individual differences in social intelligence just as there are individual differences in IQ. Although a large number of investigators attempted to construct psychometric tests of social intelligence, none of them enjoyed anything like the success of IQ tests such as the Stanford-Binet and the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale. Partly this was because social intelligence measures proved to correlate highly with standard IQ measures, indicating that social intelligence was not a distinct set of abilities after all.  2%, 3.00.  



Section 6. Social Constructivism

Choose 3, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 3.

30. What are personal constructs, and why should we care about them?

A personal construct is a category -- an abstract cognitive framework representing some aspect of the individual's understanding of the world, and which guides the individual's perception, memory, thinking, and behavior. In Kelly's theory, individual differences in social behavior are attributable to individual differences in people's repertoire of personal constructs; and changing the repertoire of personal constructs is the key to changing behavior. Understanding a person's personal construct system is the key to understanding the person and predicting his or her behavior.  56%, 2.82.


31. What is the distinction between intrinsic and observer-relative reality?

Intrinsic reality is objective, in that it does not depend on the experience of any subject. Factual statements concerning intrinsic reality are true regardless of what people think. By contrast, observer-relative reality dependent on the experience of one or more observers. Factual statements concerning observer-relative reality are true only because one or more observers believes them to be true.  87%, 2.69.  


32. What are the differences between affects, moods, and emotions?

"Affect" is a very general term covering all sorts of evaluations, moods, and emotions. "Mood" refers to generalized, relatively long-lasting positive or negative affective states. "Emotion" refers to a more specific affective state, such as anger or sadness, aroused for a more circumscribed period of time and directed toward some stimulus object.  23%, 2.44.


33. How do cognitive appraisals result in emotional states?

According to Lazarus, emotion results from a person's appraisal of some stimulus (object or event) in terms of its significance for his or her own personal well-being, goals, and beliefs. While primary appraisal results in a primitive positive or negative feeling, a secondary appraisal of the circumstances results in a more specific emotion, such as anger or sadness. Because a situation can be unpleasant in more ways, and for more reasons, than a situation can be pleasant, there are more negative emotions than positive ones.  20%, 2.41.  


34. How does mood affect judgment?

As a first approximation, people tend to evaluate things more positively when they are in positive moods than when they are in negative moods. But there are lots of different negative emotional states, and it turns out that different negative emotional states have different effects on judgment. Fear increases both the perception of risk and pessimism; anger decreases the perception of risk and increases optimism. Fearful people tend to avoid risks, while angry people tend to approach them.59%, 1.84.  


35. What is the "separate systems" view of affect?

While cognitive appraisal theories portray emotional states as the product of cognitive activity, the "separate systems" view asserts that cognitive and affective processes unfold in parallel, without influencing each other -- at least in the early stages of emotional arousal. It also asserts that affective states are primary -- that people can have emotional reactions to events before they have been able to think about them. And that emotional evaluation is a primary and universal component of meaning -- independent of whatever denotative meaning the object may have.

These are the primary points of the "separate systems" view -- which, if you think about it, is a variant on the neuroscientific doctrine of modularity, but it is possible for the student to list other points and still receive credit. For example: affective reactions are inescapable, irrevocable, etc. But all of these really flow from the primary points outlined above.  8%, 2.78.  


36. Distinguish between the assimilation and contrast effects of automatic behavior.

Usually, automatic behavior is guided by cues available in the immediate environment. This is known as assimilation. However, when the person holds negative beliefs and attitudes concerning the cue, his behavior is likely to go in the direction opposite to the prime, a phenomenon known as contrast. Priming with generic (prototype) representations of stereotypes leads to assimilation, while priming with specific exemplars leads to contrast.  5%, 1.8. 


37. What is self-handicapping?

Self-handicapping is an impression-management strategy, commonly used to cope with failure (or the prospects of failure). In behavioral self-handicapping, people create actual barriers to successful performance, such as partying the night before an exam. In self-reported handicapping, people report handicaps that may or not be actually present, in order to excuse their poor performance.  32%, 2.11.



Cumulative Portion

Answer four (4) questions from the following section. Each of these questions is worth ten (10) points. Do not answer more than four questions. If you answer more than four questions in this section, we will count only the first four. The cumulative portion of the exam is worth a total of 40 points.


38. Summarize the five models of the social thinker described by Fiske and Taylor, and trace their historical evolution. Then choose one model which seems to fit the research data less well, and one model which seems to fit the research data more closely, and explain your choice. If you have an alternate model that strikes you as better than any of those described by Fiske and Taylor, briefly describe it and explain why you prefer it to any of theirs.

The models in question are: (a) Consistency-Seeker, (b) Naive Scientist, (c) Cognitive Miser, (d) Motivated Tactician, and (e) Activated Actor. The best answers will list all five, along with a brief definition or a theoretical example. Then, for one model, the student should indicate how the available data is (sic) inconsistent with the model; and for the other one, how the available data is strongly supportive. It doesn't matter which models the student chooses, so long as the answer is adequately defended.  11%, 8.33.


39. What conditions promote a strong relationship between attitudes (and other social cognitions) and behavior?

Strongly held attitudes are more predictive of behavior than are weakly held attitudes. Attitudes that have been rehearsed are more predictive of behavior than those that have not been rehearsed. Attitudes formed from direct experience are more likely to predict behavior than those that are based on vicarious learning. Attitudes that involve self-interest are more likely to predict behavior than those that are disinterested. Stable attitudes are more predictive than unstable attitudes. Attitudes that reflect the individual's fundamental attitudes are more predictive than those that do not. Attitudes that reflect the person's beliefs about him- or herself (self-schemas) are more predictive. Attitude-behavior consistency is also greater when there is more information available about the attitude object. Attitudes also predict behavior when attitudes and behavior are assessed at the same level: thus, general attitudes predict behavior in general, and specific attitudes predict specific behaviors.  19%, 4.52.  

A bad item, even though this issue was mentioned in the  Narrative Review.  Left to my own judgment, I probably wouldn't have dropped this item -- but that's why we use linear (and nonlinear) models instead of relying on fallible human judgment.


40. What is the distinction between automatic and controlled processes? Give an example of how automatic and controlled processes play a role in social cognition.

Automatic processes are unintentional, uncontrollable, efficient, autonomous, and unconscious. Each of these properties should be defined briefly. Although the distinction looks like a dichotomy, full automaticity and full control may be opposite ends of a continuum, such that there may be processes that are unintentionally executed but not uncontrollable, or intentionally executed but not controllable thereafter, etc. Virtually any "dual process" theory of social cognition will do for the example -- person perception, causal attribution, social inference, attitudes, the self, etc. -- so long as the student characterizes both the automatic and the controlled component.  81%, 9.17.


41. Discuss the relations between social and nonsocial cognition. In what ways are they similar, and in what ways are they different?

Social cognition began by treating persons as objects of perception and cognition, no different from any other object in the external world. However, there are a number of ways in which social and nonsocial cognition differ in degree: greater ambiguity of the stimulus, more conflicting cues, greater reliance on context, greater influence of emotion and motivation, greater reliance on social cues, greater importance of social learning, and the greater complexity of social behavior. And there are a number of other ways in which social and nonsocial cognition appear to differ in kind: social and nonsocial cognition may be have different neural substrates; social cognition involves the self as both the subject and the object of cognition; the object of social cognition is itself a conscious person, actively trying to influence the perceiver's cognitions; and many of the objects of social cognition are themselves cognitive or social constructions.  93%, 8.13.


42. "The self is just another person." Discuss.

The self, as an object of knowledge, can be construed as just another person, but there may be some important differences self-perception and other-perception. For example, it's been argued that attributions concerning our own behavior are more likely to invoke situational factors, while attributions concerning the behavior of other people are more likely to invoke personal factors. Although evidence for this particular self-other difference is controversial, there do seem to be other differences, as in the tendency to offer reasons for our own behaviors. Still, it's not clear that these are qualitative differences, differences in kind: it might be the case that most self-other differences would disappear if the "other" person were someone that we knew, and liked, as much as we know and like ourselves. One potential qualitative differences between self- and other-cognition is that we appear to have introspective access to our own beliefs, attitudes, feelings, and desires. On the other hand, Bem's self-perception theory denies even this, and asserts that we only infer our attitudes (etc.) from observations of our own behavior -- just as we infer other people's attitudes from observations of their behavior. The one qualitative difference that seems certain is that the self is both subject and object of cognition -- the self is something to be known, but it is also the knower.  89%, 8.3.


43. Social cognition is a major venue for what some have called "The Great Rationality Debate" (the label comes from UCB professors Philip Tetlock and Barbara Mellers). Briefly characterize the normative model for human rationality, and describe at least one theory that assumes that people are rational, and at least one way in which people appear to be irrational. Does that mean that people are irrational after all, or some other, more positive, interpretation possible?

The normative model for human rationality holds that, when making inferences, judgments, and decisions, people follow the rules of logical reasoning, maximizing gains and minimizing losses as efficiently as possible, and employing algorithms that eliminate the possibility of error. A great deal of social-cognitive theory is based, at least implicitly, on this model -- for example, cognitive consistency theories, cognitive algebra, and the covariation calculus for causal attribution. On the other hand, there is a great deal of evidence that people depart from normative rationality, committing things like the Fundamental Attribution Error, and relying on heuristic shortcuts that inject all sorts of errors and biases into social judgment. On the third hand, claims that human reasoning is rife with error may be exaggerated, or based on misconceptions about social cognition. In particular, a reliance on judgment heuristics would seem to be rational when judgment takes place under conditions of uncertainty -- which is, arguably, an awful lot of the time. Normative rationality might be a "prescription" for how reasoning ought to go, under ideal circumstances, but the judgment heuristics approach is arguably a better description of how people really reason in the ordinary course of everyday living.  41%, 8.89.


44. How does the scope and agenda of cognitive sociology differ from that of cognitive psychology, including social cognition?

It all depends on how you think of psychology. As a science, psychology is mostly concerned with the development of universal principles that govern how human beings, as a species, perceive, remember, reason, and solve problems. With respect to issues in personality and clinical practice, psychology is also concerned with how individual human beings think, perceive, and remember, as well as what they think about. By contrast, cognitive sociology is concerned individual thinkers as members of social groups known as "thought communities". Whereas cognitive universalism focuses on objective knowledge of mental life (like how we categorize objects), and cognitive individualism focuses on intrapersonal subjectivity (such as an individual's repertoire of personal constructs), cognitive sociology is interested in intersubjectivity, or the mental processes that people share in common by virtue of their common group membership characterizing. It is particularly concerned with those objects of cognition that have been socially constructed, contingent on the details of history and culture. While cognitive psychologists are interested in how individuals think, and how individual brains implement various cognitive processes, cognitive sociology is interested in how individual cognitive processes are shaped by the groups, communities, institutions, societies, and cultures to which those individuals belong.  55%, 9.00.



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