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University of California, Berkeley

Department of Psychology


Psychology 164

Spring 2010


Final Examination


Scoring Guide

In what follows I provide the scoring guide given to the GSIs.  These are simply intended to be samples of adequate (3-point) answers.  Other good answers were, of course, possible.  

Just to provide a little excitement in what would ordinarily have been a perfectly predictable exam, a failure in proofreading caused the exam instructions to be unclear (translation: Kihlstrom screwed up, and he's sorry).  But we clarified the situation in the exam room (and corrected this feedback):

In the Noncumulative Portion, students were to answer

7 of 9 questions in Section 1, for 3 points each, for a subtotal of 21 points;

8 of 10 questions in Section 2, for 3 points each, for a subtotal of 24 points; and

5 of 6 questions in Section 3, for one point each, bringing the total for the Noncumulative Portion to 50 points.

In the Cumulative Portion, students were to answer 5 of the 7 questions, for 10 points each, yielding a total of 50 points for the Cumulative Portion, and 100 points for the exam as a whole.

Given the three-hour exam period, there was no problem with exam length. 

The initial scoring of the exam yielded a mean raw score of 78.28 (SD = 9.62), which was a little lower, on average, than Spring 2008.  Nobody got a perfect score of 100.

The items in Section 3, on The Curious Case of the Dog in the Night-Time, were intended as virtual giveaways: if you read the book, you were supposed to get them right, and most people did.

I focused on Sections 1 and 2 of the Noncumulative Portion, and the Cumulative Portion, for an item analysis to identify bad questions.  With a standard multiple-choice exam, in which everybody must answer every item, the statistical standards for a bad item are pretty clear: a low item pass percent, coupled with a low item-to-total correlation, is a pretty good indication that the item in question doesn't belong on the test.  But with a short-answer (or essay) exam, with continuous (rather than dichotomous) scoring of items, not to mention the element of choice, the standards aren't quite so clear, and so a little improvisation is called for. 

Here's how I do it.

The mean percentage of students answering any given question on the exam as a whole was 70 (SD = 21).

The mean score on the 19 items of Sections 1 and 2 of the Noncumulative Portion was 2.36 (SD = 0.64).

The mean score on the 7 items of the Cumulative Portion was 8.18 (SD = 1.85).

A plausible statistical criterion for identifying bad items would be to follow the statistical "Rule of 2" -- that any value that lies more than two SDs away from the mean is an outlier, and thus suspect.  That would mean that:

An item answered by fewer than 28% of students (70-42) would be an outlier.  There were no such items (though Items 5, 12, 17, and 26 came close).  

For the Noncumulative Portion, an item with a mean score of 1.08 (2.36-1.28) would be an outlier.  The only such item was #12, which was also an item answered by relatively few students; #9 and #10 came close. 

For the Cumulative portion, an item with a mean score less than 4.48 (8.18-3.70) would be an outlier.  There were no such items.  Still, it's somewhat troubling that so many students attempted Item #s 29 and 30, but did so poorly compared to the other items.  

An item that is a double outlier would be particularly suspect.  Not too many people tried to answer the question, and those who tried didn't answer it very well.  There were no such items.  

So there weren't any items to be dropped.  Still, the average score on the exam was a little lower than I had intended it to be, and some of the the items identified above, particularly #s 9, 10, 12, 17, 29, and 30 -- appear to be responsible.  So I took the difference between the actual score on each of these items, and the average for that group of items, and added these differences up.  That sum was 8.94.  

But wait!  What About Items 5 and 26?  I can't deal with these items the same way, because, in fact, the students who attempted them actually did well on those items -- scoring higher, on average, than the average for their respective groups.  So, all I can say is, maybe more students should have chosen to answer those items.

Not to be a jerk about it, I rounded up from 8.94 and added 9 points to everyone's raw exam score -- regardless of whether they attempted these particular questions, and if they did, regardless of how well they answered them.  

Because exam grades cannot be higher than 100, we truncated any such scores.   

That brought the average score (after truncation) up to 87.19 (SD = 9.54), or a very nice solid "B+" average.  Right where it should be for a course like this. 

The exam scores reported on the bSpace gradebook reflect the rescoring of the exam, as described above.  

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.

Your responses should be very concise. Write your answers in the space provided. If absolutely necessary, you may continue on the other side of the page. Write legibly in the space provided, and please use ink. Exams written in pencil will not be eligible for regrading.


Noncumulative Portion

Answer seven (7) questions from Section 1 and eight (8) questions from Section 2, for a total of 15 questions worth three (3) points each (45 points), and five (5) questions worth 1 point each from Section 3, yielding a total of 50 points. Do not answer more than the required number of questions per section. If you do so, we will discount the superfluous questions. In every case, less than five (5) sentences will do.


Section 1: Choose 7 questions, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 7.


1. What does it mean to say that the self is a knowledge structure?

69% of students attempted this question; mean score = 2.85.  From a cognitive point of view, the self is a knowledge structure that represents what the person knows about him- or herself. This can include "semantic" information such as physical features (e.g., height and weight), demographic characteristics (socioeconomic status, ethnic heritage, religious background), interpersonal relations (family members, significant others), and psychosocial traits (including generalized behavioral and attitudinal dispositions, characteristic moods, goals). It also includes "episodic" self-knowledge, otherwise known as autobiographical memory. [Self]


2. Distinguish between "perception-based" and "meaning-based" representations of the self. How do we know we have a self-image as well as a self-concept?

91% attempted: mean = 2.99.  Perception-based representations contain information about the physical appearance of an object or event, including the spatial configuration of its physical features. "Meaning-based" representations result when the physical stimulus has been subjected to some form of semantic analysis. We know that people have perception-based representations of themselves because even infants recognize themselves in mirrors. In adults, this image is so detailed that we can distinguish between "true" and "mirror-reversed" photographs of ourselves. [Self]


3. Why do we think that there might be brain modules or systems specialized for social cognition?

88%; 2.95.  Contemporary neuroscience is predicated on the doctrine of functional specialization, which means that there are particular areas of the brain, or brain systems, that are dedicated for various tasks. Further, Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences holds that specific intrapersonal and interpersonal forms of intelligence can be isolated by brain damage, while Jackendoff has suggested that certain aspects of social cognition are universal, and thus might well be mediated by evolved brain systems. And, as a matter of empirical fact, neuropsychological and neuroimaging research does appear to have identified certain areas of the brain that are specifically active when subjects perform particular social-cognitive tasks, like face recognition. [Neuropsychology]


4. What are the arguments concerning the localization of face-recognition in the brain?

91%; 2.98.  Prosopagnosic patients, who have a specific impairment in face recognition, have suffered damage in the fusiform area of the brain, where the occipital lobe meets the temporal lobe. And when subjects are asked to identify particular faces, they show increased activation in this same area. However, it is not yet clear whether the fusiform area is specifically dedicated to face recognition, or whether it is specialized for subordinate-level categorization across a wide range of domains. [Neuropsychology]


5. How does intersubjectivity relate to intentionality and social cognition?

34%; 2.9.  Intentionality has to do with the fact that mental states are about something other than themselves -- as when, for example, a person believes that it is raining outside. Intersubjectivity is "second-order" intentionality, in which the object of a person's mental state is another person's mental state -- Person A's beliefs about Person B's beliefs; and there are even higher levels of intersubjectivity. Intersubjectivity is the very essence of social cognition, because social cognition is concerned with how we understand other people's mental states, as well as our own. [Development]


6. What is the relevance of the "false belief test" to the theory of mind?

93%; 2.93.  The false belief test assesses a subject's understanding that the contents of other people's minds -- particularly, whether a child understands that he knows something that someone else doesn't know. But there's more to the theory of mind than knowing what others know -- there is also an appreciation of such things as diverse desires the relation between expectations and emotion. And, for that matter, there's more to false beliefs than "first order" false beliefs. So the false-belief test can't be a complete test of the theory of mind. [Development]


7. What made Rotter's "expectancy-value" theory a cognitive social learning theory of personality?

50%; 2.93.  Rotter share the general assumption of social learning theory that personality consists of a set of response tendencies acquired through learning. But the important variables in his theory are subjective, not objective: the subjective expectancies concerning the contingencies of reinforcement, and the subjective values attached to the reinforcing event. In addition, Rotter believed that social learning could reflect imitation and observation, as well as the direct experience of reinforcement. [Personality]


8. How did Kelly's personal construct theory differ from Rotter's social learning theory of personality?

57%; 1.94.  In the first place, Kelly paid no attention to the details of the learning process, discriminative cues, reinforcement, or anything like that, whether objective or subjective. More important, the important features of personality in Kelly's theory are strictly cognitive: personal constructs are the categories (or, better, the concepts) that guide the individual's perception of events, and expectations concerning the outcomes of events and of his or her own behavior. With his notion of constructive alternativism, Kelly argued that we could change our behavior in some situation by thinking differently about that situation -- by categorizing that situation in a different way. [Personality]


9. How can beliefs create the reality they are supposed to reflect?

84%; 1.51.  There are basically three modes, all related to Merton's notion of the self-fulfilling prophecy: Behavioral confirmation, where the perceiver acts in such a way as to elicit behavior from the target which objectively confirms the perceiver's expectations. Perceptual confirmation, where the perceiver interprets the target's ambiguous behavior as confirming his (the perceiver's) expectations; and self-verification, where the target acts in such a way as to change the perceiver's beliefs so that they conform more closely to the target's beliefs about himself. [Social Construction]


Section 2: Choose 8 questions, for 3 points each. Do not choose more than 8.

10. How does culture affect one's self-concept?

93%; 1.34.  Members of cultures that foster independence, such as Western European cultures, tend to foster a sense of self as separate from the social context, unitary, stable, and unique, in which other people are important for social comparison and self-esteem is based on the ability to express oneself. Members of cultures that foster interdependence, such as some Asian cultures, tend to foster a sense of self as intertwined with social context, variable and flexible, and emphasizing a sense of belonging to the group, with the self defined by one's relationships and self-esteem based on one's ability to adjust to the demands of others. [F&T Chapter 5]


11. Who was Phineas Gage and why is he important for social cognition?

92%; 2.36.  Phineas Gage was a railway worker in the 19th century who suffered damage to his frontal lobes as a result of an accidental explosion. He survived the accident, but it was claimed that his postmorbid personality changed radically. In an environment characterized by an interest in phrenology and functional specialization, these personality changes were taken as evidence that certain mental faculties -- in Gage's case, "benevolence" and "veneration" were mediated by specific parts of the brain. [Klein & Kihlstrom]


12. What "core process distinction", exclusive to social cognition, does Lieberman believe emerges from brain-imaging and other neuroscientific research? And where in the brain does he think these core processes are located?

37%; 0.81.  Lieberman identifies two such distinctions -- and, aside from specific claims about localization, these were the major points in his review. One, between automatic and controlled processes, is not exclusive to social cognition. The other, between internally focused and externally focused processes, where the exclusive focus is on self or other. In his view, internally (self-) focused processes tend to be localized in medial (interior) portions of the brain, while externally (other-) focused processes tend to be localized in the lateral (exterior) portions. [Lieberman]


13. How does the child's "theory of mind" change between age 2 and age 5?

93%, 2.53.  According to Gopnik & Wellman, even a two-year old has a vague theory of mind, especially with respect to states of desire and perception, but without any understanding of representation. Three-year-olds, with their increasing language facility, begin to have the ability to represent mental states such as pretenses, images, dreams -- that is, to think about things that are not present in the physical environment. By age four or five, children's psychological functioning becomes fully "intentional", represented by propositional contents and attitudes toward them, so that "perceiving X becomes perceiving that, desiring Y becomes desiring that, and believing Z becomes believing that" (emphasis added). [Gopnik & Wellman]


14. How does social-cognitive development provide an advance over traditional conceptions of achievement motivation?

61%, 2.06.  The traditional conception of achievement motivation is that it is a trait that a child has or doesn't have, in varying degrees. However, it's now clear that achievement motivation is also influenced by cognitive factors such as implicit theories of intelligence (e.g., whether it is a fixed or malleable quality). Moreover, these implicit theories are influenced by developmental "stage", as well as features of the social environment (e.g., whether children are praised for "being smart" or for "trying hard"). [Olson & Dweck]


15. Why, according to cognitive appraisal theory, are there fewer positive than negative emotional states?

73%, 2.67.  All cognitive appraisal theories stem from Schachter and Singer's argument that emotion results from a person's cognitive interpretation (appraisal) of an undifferentiated state of physiological arousal. But an event can be unpleasant in many more ways than it can be pleasant. Pleasant situations pretty much just make us happy, while unpleasant situations can be threatening, annoying, disgusting, frustrating, etc. [F&T Chapter 13]


16. What is the difference between mood-dependent and mood-congruent memory?

82%, 1.99.  In mood-congruent memory, people remember best material whose affective valence, positive or negative, fits with their own current emotional state. In mood-dependent memory, people remember best material that was encoded in the same mood in which retrieval is attempted. [F&T Chapter 14]


17. What is an action identity structure?

31%, 1.93.  We can classify actions, as well as people, into categories. An action identity structure is a hierarchical arrangement of the various ways in which a single action can be classified. Low levels of action identification focus on the specifics of the action, and amount to little more than a physical description. High levels of action identification situate the action in the context of the actor's goals. [F&T Chapter 15]


18. "Time is a social construct." Explain.

90%, 2.75.  In the abstract, time is an observer-independent feature of the physical world. But we also divide time into observer-dependent, collectively agreed-upon "standard time-reckoning frameworks" such as clock time, the calendar month and year, the division of history into before and after the "common (or "Christian" era). These are all social constructions, which we collectively impose on the world in order to make social life possible, or at least easier. [Zerubavel]


19. What is the difference between the ontological and the epistemic senses of the objective-subjective distinction, and why should be care about it?

82%,  2.33.  According to Searle, things are ontologically objective if they exist independent of any observer; they are ontologically subjective if their existence depends on the presence of an observer. Facts are epistemically objective if their truth value is independent of any observer; facts are epistemically subjective if their truth value is relative to the person who is stating the facts. The point is important because there are many features of the social world, such as money, that are ontologically subjective social constructions yet epistemically objective. [Searle]


Section 3: Answer 5 of the following questions, for 1 point per part. Each question can be answered with a single sentence. [Haddon]


20. Who killed the dog?

66%, 0.94.  Christopher's father, Ed Boone.  If you read the book, you knew this.


21. What did Christopher learn from the letters he discovered?

66%, 0.95.  That his mother was still living, having left his father following an affair with a neighbor, Mr. Shears.  If you read the book, you knew this.


22. What made Christopher ill on his trip to London?

50%, 0.90.  The train trip itself, and the necessity of dealing with so many unfamiliar people, causes a kind of "stimulus overload".  Arguably, a little more difficult than the first two questions.


23. What number is given to the first chapter in Christopher's book?

61%, .86.  The first chapter is numbered "Chapter 2": Christopher is very interested in mathematics, and the chapters are numbered in an increasing sequence of prime numbers (ending in Chapter 233).


24. What makes us think that Christopher is autistic?

91%, 0.99.  Good question, because the book never exactly calls him that. Maybe he has Asperger's syndrome, which is not quite the same thing; maybe he's just some kind of savant. He is lacking in social skills or even much social interest, he has a lot of trouble understanding other people's motives and attitudes, and he's very interested in mathematics and logic. So in some ways he fits the profile.


25. What makes us think that Christopher might not be autistic after all, or that autism might not entail deficits in social cognition?

46%, 0.91.  Christopher is odd, no doubt, he's very interested in logic and mathematics, and he has difficulty dealing with people, but that doesn't make him autistic. Any of the following points, among others, will do: (a) Christopher has pretty good language skills, and does OK at school, suggesting that he might have Asperger's syndrome, not classic autism. (b) He seems to care about Wellington, the dog -- his death isn't just a puzzle to be solved. (c) During his trip to London, he escapes being detected by police who are looking for him, so he seems to have the ability to think about what other people think. (d) He cared about his pet rat, Toby, and at the end of the book, he seems to care about his new dog, Sandy, so he does appear to take an interest in animate objects. (e) Christopher seems to actually get along with his mother. (f) Sherlock Holmes was odd, too, but that didn't make him autistic.


Cumulative Portion

Answer five (5) 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 five questions in this section, we will count only the first five. The cumulative portion of the exam is worth a total of 50 points.


26. 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.

32%, 9.40.  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.


27. What are implicit theories of personality and how do they affect the process of person perception? Give an example.

41%, 8.93.  Implicit theories of personality provide the cognitive framework for person perception. They reflect our knowledge of "the Generalized Other", and as such are stored in semantic memory. Implicit memory consists of the perceiver's assumption about the basic dimensions of personality, their interrelationships, their central tendency, and variability. But they also include the perceiver's assumptions about human nature, causal relations in the social world, etc.  The clearest example of the influence of IPT on person perception is Asch's discovery of "central traits", which led to Rosenberg's discovery of two major, widely shared dimensions of person perception: social and intellectual "good bad". Another candidate would be the "big Five" structure of personality. The "Fundamental Attribution Error" reflects an implicit theory that the important determinants of behavior lie in the person, rather than the situation. Dweck's notion of "entitativity", meaning that some people view characteristics like intelligence as a fixed quantity that you get somehow and keep, while others view it as something that is malleable, is another. Any of these will do, and so will other cogent examples, so long as there is a reasonably complete explication of them.


28. How are "semantic" and "episodic" knowledge represented in associative-memory models of person memory, and how do we know?

90%, 8.1.  Semantic information (e.g., concerning one's personality traits and attitudes) and "episodic" information (i.e., concerning one's own, personal actions and experiences) are represented independently in person memory. That is, separate associative links connect the node representing the person to nodes representing semantic and episodic facts about that person. It's not the case that nodes representing behavioral knowledge are clustered by nodes representing the traits that these behaviors exemplify. Nor is it the case that trait knowledge isn't represented in memory at all. We know this, first, from studies of priming: accessing trait knowledge doesn't prime access to behavioral knowledge, and vice-versa. This is true whether we're talking about representations of other people, or representations of the self. Also, amnesic patients lose access to episodic self-knowledge, but do not lose access to semantic self-knowledge -- which pretty much clinches the point.


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

78%, 5.97.  The distinction between automatic and controlled processes is the focus of F&T's Chapter 2, and it is a theme that runs throughout their text.  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.


30. It has been claimed that social cognition is fundamentally concerned with the "theory of mind". Describe the "false beliefs" test of the theory of mind, and then discuss whether the FBT, alone, can serve as an adequate index of whether a person has achieved the capacity for social cognition.

90., 5.3.  A case can be made that social cognition is intimately related to the theory of mind, because the theory of mind reflects the understanding that other people have mental states that might differ from one's own, and social perception is fundamentally concerned with forming mental representations of other people's mental states of belief, knowledge, feeling, and desire. Describing the standard FBT should be straightforward. One problem with the standard FBT, however, is that it depends on language, and nonverbal versions of the FBT, as well as other tests, indicate that infants and toddlers have some semblance of a theory of mind long before they can pass the standard FBT. Moreover, it's clear that there are higher levels of intersubjectivity which can only be tested by procedures like the "second order" FBT. Moreover, the FBT taps only the person's ability to handle diversity in knowledge: there are also elements of the theory of mind like appreciating diverse desires and the difference between real and apparent emotion, that aren't tapped by the FBT at all. Another possible tack is to argue that the FBT is relevant only to social perception, and that there are other aspects of social cognition, such as implicit personality theory, person memory, social categorization, and causal attribution that it ignores.


31. Consider the various categories that guide social cognition. Are they "natural" categories, or are they socially constructed? First, define these terms. Then, pick one social category that seems, on first glance, to be a natural category, and show how it is also, at least in part, socially constructed. Finally, pick another category that seems to be pretty obviously socially constructed, and show how it is also a natural category.

65%, 9.8.  Natural categories exist independently of the observer, and they categorize objects, or features of objects, that exist independently of the observer. Socially constructed categories are "in the eye of the beholder", or perhaps a community of "beholders" -- they exist only in so far as there is one or more perceivers to impose them on reality. An example of a social category that looks "natural" would be gender: there are two genders, male and female, determined (to make a long story short) by the sex chromosomes. But biological sex isn't all there is to gender. There's also gender identity, gender role, and sexual orientation, and they, to a large extent, can be socially constructed. For example, in gender-role socialization, a culture imposes its consensual beliefs about gender-appropriate behavior on biological males and females. On the other hand, while gender role -- masculinity and femininity -- might seem to be socially constructed, it's also possible to argue that some aspects of masculinity and femininity flow "naturally" from aspects of brain structure, hormonal endowment, etc., that are themselves genetically determined. So, in that sense, masculinity and femininity would constitute natural categories. The same kinds of points could be made about other social categories, such as kinship, age, occupation (probably not a natural category in any sense), nationality, race/ethnicity, personality (given genetic contributions to individual differences), and the stereotypes of local culture.


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

74%, 9.75.  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.


A scoring guide will be posted to the course website

by 6:00 PM on Tuesday, May 11.


Exams should be graded and scores posted 

by Monday, May 17.


This page last revised 05/16/2010 09:15:37 AM.