In the past, my practice has been to conduct a pre-exam review in class, accompanied by some illustrations, followed by a question-and-answer session. That takes a lot of time, however -- time that might be better devoted to students' questions. Accordingly, I now prepare written "narrative" review, prior to each exam, which will leave extra time for questions in the review session itself.
The exam is scheduled for a Wednesday. There will be a "Q&A" review, conducted in class, on the Monday before the exam. Students with disability accommodations should get these to me as soon as possible, so that we can make the appropriate arrangements.
The exam will cover all lectures and required
readings to date:
There are lots of resources available for the
examination, in addition to the in-class review session:
In addition, students are encouraged to post questions to the Forum area of the course website on bCourses. I will do my best to respond to them, provided that they are posted no later than noon on Tuesday, March 16. Do not send questions by private Email to either me or the GSIs: we want to make sure that everybody in class has equal access to the exchanges.
The exam will consist of roughly 15 short-answer questions Roughly half will be drawn directly from the lectures, roughly half will be drawn directly from the text. Of course, there is some overlap between lectures and readings. As a rule, I try to have at least one question from each lecture, and at least one question from each chapter of the required reading.
The exam requires only short answers. In no case are more than five (5) sentences required to answer a question; often, the job can be done in fewer than five sentences.
Answers should be written in ink on the exam itself. Exams written in pencil are not eligible for regrading. No "blue books" are required for the exam.
The focus of my exam is on basic concepts and principles. There are no questions about names or dates (though names and dates may appear in questions). There are no questions about picky details. There are no questions about specific experiments, though you should be able to recognize the implications of the phenomena revealed by some classic experiments. There are no intentionally tricky questions: I want you to understand basic concepts and principles, not the exceptions to the rules.
The exam will be scored following a guide which I have prepared, and which will be posted to the course website following the exam. The guide is just that: alternative approaches to answering a question will also be considered. We will do our best to have grades posted within a week of the exam.
When grades are posted, there will also be an announcement to this effect, and then students will have an opportunity to correct any errors that may have occurred in the grading.
Exams will be returned in discussion sections.
The introductory lecture focused on the parallels, and the differences, between cognitive psychology and social cognition.
You should understand the parallels between social cognition and a typical cognitive psychology course. Both include topics such as perception, memory, language, reasoning, problem-solving, judgment, and decision-making; the development of social cognition, individual differences in social intelligence, and social-cognitive neuroscience. One way to think about social cognition is that it is cognitive psychology applied to the world of social objects -- meaning people (including ourselves), their behaviors, and the situations in which we encounter them.
But social cognition differs from "nonsocial" cognition in a number of ways.
Some of these are quantitative, meaning that
social and nonsocial cognition share the same features, but
differ in degree:
Other differences are qualitative, meaning that
social cognition has features that simply aren't
present in the nonsocial case:
The cognitive perspective on social interaction begins with the simple proposition that an individual's behavior in some situation depends on the meaning that situation has for him or her. Therefore, in order to understand an individual's social behavior, we must understand the social situation from that individual's point of view (a point which is expressed nicely in a famous quote from Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird)..
Personality and social psychology initially developed as "two cultures", each representing one aspect of "Lewin's Grand Truism" that B = f(P, E). For personality psychologists, behavior was determined by personal features such as traits and attitudes: this is known as the doctrine of traits.. For social psychologists, behavior was determined by features of the physical and, especially, social situation: this is known as the doctrine of situationism.. Put another way, traditional personality and social psychology viewed between P and E as acting independently of each other in the determination of behavior. In particular, experimental social psychology tended to analyze such behavioral phenomena as conformity, obedience, aggression, and interpersonal attraction as a function of the situation.
At least in America, experimental social
psychology soon came under the sway of behaviorism, with its
emphasis on social behavior as responses controlled by
environmental stimuli. This led to a redefinition of
social psychology as the psychology of social influence, as
expressed in the Doctrine of Situationism and various assertions
of "the power of the situation" and "situation blindness".
You should understand the four modes by which persons affect their environments: Evocation, Selection, Behavioral Manipulation, and Cognitive Transformation. Of course, in a course on social cognition, we're particularly interested in cognitive transformations.
Bandura's Doctrine of Reciprocal Determinism expands Bowers' Doctrine of Interactionism. Lewin construed causality as unidirectional, flowing from P and E to B; Bowers did as well, with causality flowing from P to E as well. But the environment can influence the person as well. More important, Bandura pointed out that behavior can alter both the environment in which it occurs and the person who engages in it. In reciprocal determinism, all three elements in Lewin's Grand Truism serve as both causes and effects of the others -- a situation he calls "triadic reciprocality".
You should understand the distinction between
objective and subjective environments, as expressed in the
Thomas Theorem and symbolic interactionism, and its implications
for the situational control of behavior.That is to say, it's not
the situation that controls behavior -- it's the perceived
situation. And the perceived situation is a cognitive
The cognitive perspective on
social interaction, including reciprocal causality, can be
illustrated in the General Social Interaction Cycle, in which
two people are arbitrarily assigned the roles of Actor and
Target, respectively; but it soon becomes apparent that the
Target is also an actor, and that the Actor is the target of
the Target's actions. It's
also clear that cognition, in the form of expectations,
beliefs, and impressions, permeates every aspect of the cycle.
You should understand how the concept of the self-fulfilling prophecy (which begins with the prophet's definition of the situation) leads to an experimental model for studying cognitive transformations under the guise of expectancy confirmation effects, as in Rosenthal's work on "Pygmaliion in the Classroom". In the Pygmalion experiment, teachers' beliefs about their students leads them to behave in such a way towards their students as to elicit behavior which confirms those very same, initially false, beliefs.
And finally there is Steele's concept of stereotype threat, which can be thought of as a self-fulfilling prophecy about oneself.
The self-fulfilling prophecy is also illustrated
by Snyder and Swann (the "Noise Gun" experiment), among others,
on interpersonal expectancy effects, which come in two forms:
But the relation between Perceiver and Target is not solely a matter of confirming the perceiver's expectations -- not least because the Target, being a sentient being, is trying to control the perceiver's perception. In research on self-verification (e.g., the "Mastermind" experiment), Swann and his colleagues have shown how a target, when given an opportunity to correct the perceiver's erroneous misconceptions, can do so. In what Swann calls a "battle of wills", self-verification will often win over expectancy confirmation.
All of this research illustrates the basic principle that social reality is not independent of the person experiencing it. Rather, social reality is cognitively constructed, in the mind of the perceiver; and it is this cognitive construction that determines the perceiver's behavior.
Fiske and Taylor present an alternative view of
some of this historical material in their Chapter 1. For
example, their treatment of Lewin is very good, and complements
material presented in lecture.
"Brains matter", as
F&T say, but not for this midterm. However, keep this
section in mind for when we get to the lectures on
Cultures do matter, though, and you should
understand the distinction between independence and
Dual-process theories abound in social psychology, and F&T's Chapter 2 is devoted to them, especially as they are relevant to person perception, causal attribution, and attitudes.. You should understand the distinction between automatic and controlled processes, , the relevance of priming (typically construed as automatic), and the implications of automaticity for conscious control (some theorists think that automaticity dominates control, and consciousness counts for little or nothing in behavior). But setting that issue aside, there are certain features of motivation that help determine whether processing is automatic or controlled.
Zerubavel's Chapter 1 lays out the agenda for cognitive sociology. Social cognition is cognitive psychology with people as objects, but both social cognition and cognitive psychology focus on the individual's mind and behavior. Cognitive sociology (also known as the sociology of knowledge) looks at collective, rather than individual, cognition -- that is, how members of groups (what Zerubavel calls "thought communities") come to perceive, remember, and think about the world in the same way through what he calls "cognitive socialization". Figure 1.1 affords a good summary of the chapter.
The lectures on social perception began by repeating themes encountered in any course on perception:
The question of where knowledge comes from, as represented by the philosophical debate between nativists and empiricists. Psychology has its roots in empiricism: hence the emphasis in early experimental psychology on sensation and perception: knowledge is acquired through experience, and experience is mediated by sensory-perceptual mechanisms. But, as we'll see, there's room for nativism as well.
psychology offers two views of perception:
So often, our impressions of
other people are represented linguistically in a set of trait
adjectives and other words, or short phrases,
which describe what a person is like --
physical attributes, behavioral information, social
relations, characteristic situations, origins, and
The term "person perception" was coined by Bruner and Tagiuri, but the concept was studied earlier by Asch, who called it "impression formation". You should understand the basic features of Asch's impression formation paradigm, and its principal results -- in particular his distinction between central and peripheral traits, and his discovery of order effects.
The next question is why some traits are central
to impression formation and not others? Wishner concluded
that central traits were more highly correlated with other
traits, so that they provided more information about the person
than peripheral traits. Knowing that a person is warm or
cold, intelligent or unintelligent, simply tells you more about
that person than knowing that he or she is polite or
blunt. Later, Rosenberg and Sedlak refined this
conclusion: warm-cold and intelligent-unintelligent are central
because they load highly on the two major dimensions of trait
space, social and intellectual good-bad. This two-dimensional solution was reiterated in
Fiske's argument that the dimensions of warm-cold and
competent-incompetent organize our
impressions of other people, including group stereotypes.
A more recent proposal, which has not been tested
(hint, hint) is that traits will be central to impression
formation that load highly on any of the "Big Five" personality
traits: neuroticism, extraversion, agreeableness,
conscientiousness, and openness to experience. the Big Five dimensions are
ubiquitous in personality ratings; but interestingly, they
also emerge in ratings of complete strangers, which suggests
that the Big Five resides in the head of the perceiver as
well as in the personality of the perceived.
Note: The notion of central traits implies that we carry around in our heads an "implicit personality theory" (a term also coined by Bruner and Tagiuri) -- a description of "the Generalized Other" (a phrase Cronbach borrowed from G.H. Mead). You should understand what it means to have an implicit personality theory. Osgood's tridimensional model of implicit personality theory, involving dimensions of evaluation, potency, and activity was rejected by Rosenberg in favor of a structure involving two correlated dimensions of evaluation: social (warm-cold) and intellectual (intelligent-unintelligent). An alternative structure of implicit personality theory, based on The Big Five, is suggested by a study in which those five dimensions, which emerge strongly when judges make ratings of people they know well, also emerge when judges make ratings of perfect strangers. I didn't get to talk about IPT in lectures, so you're not responsible for it, but it's relevant to central traits. For those who are interested, there's a big discussion in the Lecture Supplements.
Note: Asch, as a Gestalt psychologist, viewed impressions of personality as a whole that was "more than the sum of its parts". But another approach, identified with Anderson's "Cognitive Algebra", is that the whole is exactly the sum of its parts -- or, more precisely, that global judgments of likeability are given by the weighted average of the likeability values associated with the individual stimuli in the trait ensemble. Anderson then systematically tested the adding, averaging, and weighted averaging models of impression formation. I didn't have time to talk about cognitive algebra, either, but it's a good example of mathematical modeling of social cognition, and interested students will find a discussion in the Lecture Supplements.
The impression-formation paradigm, with its
emphasis on implicit personality theory as a cognitive
background, constitutes a Helmholtzian, constructivist approach
to person perception. But the Gibsonian, ecological view
also is represented in person perception, particularly by the
work of McArthur and Baron.
F&T discuss person perception in their Chapter
3, as "Attention and Encoding". The idea is that you
perceive something by paying attention to it, and that
perceiving something encodes a representation of it in
F&T's Chapters 9 and
10 are about attitudes, and frankly I wouldn't
have included this material if I had been writing the book --
because attitudes are fundamentally emotional, not cognitive, in
nature. The link is that we have cognitions about
attitudes, and that attitudes can change depending on our
cognitive processing of persuasive communication. In any
event, there are some things you should pay particular attention
Chapters 2-3 begin to instantiate the parallels he seeks to draw
between cognitive psychology and cognitive sociology.
Chapter 2 represents (visual) perception at the collective level
(i.e., the way groups "look" at the world", rather than the
individual level, and Chapter 3 does the same thing for
attention (i.e., the way group members "open" their minds to
some things, and "close" them to others).
But most important, you should understand how the concepts discussed in Chapters 2-3 illustrate Zerubavel's basic points: that there are some thoughts that people have by virtue of their membership in certain groups; and that groups are defined, cognitively, by the fact that their members share certain thoughts.
Perceptual activity depends on memory, and it also leaves a trace in memory.
percepts represented in memory? Marr and Nishihara
proposed that most objects, such as the
human body, could be represented as constructions of
cylinders. A related proposal, offered by Biederman, is that percepts can be
represented as combinations of a
small number of geons, or basic shapes.
But mostly, when we talk about memory as a byproduct
of perception, we are talking about verbal
descriptions of the distal stimulus.
The connections between perception and memory may be illustrated by the process of face recognition, as exemplified by the model of Bruce and Young.
B&Y argue that there are close parallels
between face perception and the perception of both objects and
words. In each case, perception goes through
the same set of basic processes, ending with some sort of
Cognitive psychology offers a
taxonomy of the kinds of knowledge represented in (long-term)
In social cognition, social memory boils down to person memory -- that is, memory for factual knowledge concerning the characteristics and behaviors of other people. So that makes it declarative memory. Memory for a person's general characteristics is semantic in nature. Memory for a person's specific behaviors and experiences is episodic in nature.
I didn't lecture on the effects of mental set -- memorization vs. impression-formation -- on person memory, so you're not responsible for it. But the general finding is that asking subjects to form an impression of the person described in the stimulus materials leads to better memory than asking the subject to memorize the description. This is probably because the impression set leads to greater elaborative and organizational activity at the time of encoding.
Most of the lectures concerned representational issues -- that is, how is declarative knowledge concerning persons represented in memory. The general framework for this discussion is provided by generic associative-network models of memory, in which individual people are represented as nodes in the network; these nodes are linked to other nodes describing their traits and behaviors by associative links. The general structure is illustrated by the fan effect, in which response latency is a function of the number of links fanning out from the person node. The general idea is that associative links are searched serially, and it takes time to trace down each associative link; therefore, the more you know about a person, the longer it will take to verify any particular fact about that person. More broadly, response latencies can be employed to make inferences about the structure of knowledge stored in memory.
An important methodology in this
respect is priming, where performance of one task
facilitates (or, in the case of negative priming, impairs)
performance on a subsequent task. You should
be familiar with the logic of priming and its
application to studies of the
structure of knowledge representation.
In a generic associative network model of memory, which is all we really care about in this course, each "person" is represented by a different node. When two nodes refer to the same person, as in the statement that James Bartlett is the lawyer, facts about the lawyer aren't simply imported to the James Bartlett node. Rather, a new associative link is established between the James Bartlett node and the node representing the lawyer. That is why, if you know that James Bartlett rescued the kitten and that The lawyer cursed the salesgirl, it takes extra time to verify that James Bartlett cursed the salesgirl.
Another important line of research concerns
schematic effects on person memory -- where the term schema
(plural schemata) refers to the background knowledge,
expectations, and beliefs that serve as the cognitive framework
for perception, memory, and thought. That is, how does our
background knowledge of what a person is like in general --
semantic person memory -- affect our memory for what a person
has done and experienced -- episodic person memory?
The general findings of this line of research are:
One explanation of these findings is as follows:
Another explanation is in terms of an associative
network model of memory:
In a test of the associative-network model, it was
These experiments involved episodic person memory. The next question is: how is semantic (trait) and episodic (behavioral) information represented in memory? Here there are two general possibilities:
But when subjects recall behavioral episodes, they do not cluster their recall according to the traits the behaviors represent. This lack of clustering is inconsistent with the organizational view, but consistent with the independence view.
And retrieval of trait knowledge about a person
does not prime retrieval of behavioral knowledge about that same
person, which is also inconsistent with the organizational view,
and consistent with the independence view.
Finally, amnesic patients, who lack episodic knowledge about their past behaviors and experiences, nonetheless retain semantic knowledge about their personality characteristics. This dissociation (which is what it's called in neuropsychology) is especially dramatic in Tulving's case of K.C., and also (if less dramatically) in Klein's case of W.J.
So, we conclude that, in person memory, items of trait (semantic) and behavioral (episodic) knowledge are represented independently of each other. In this view, each node in the network is a symbol that stands for some fact about the person.
Note. There are other views of the representation of person knowledge in memory. I didn't talk about these in class, but they are discussed by Fiske and Taylor. Here's a sketch for those who are interested:
The proceduralist and connectionist views have their advocates, but to date they haven't guided much research on person memory. Instead, the symbolic and connectionist views form the theoretical background for asking about the neural representation of person memory in the brain.
Ever since Lashley announced his Law of Mass Action, accounts of the neural substrates of memory have favored the connectionist view -- which is why connectionist models of memory are often touted as "neurally plausible".
However, a recent neuroscientific study involving
single-unit recording of brain activity in conscious patients
yielded evidence supporting the locationist view.
Results such as these suggest that, perhaps, there is a "Grandmother Neuron" after all -- a small neural unit that represents, in neural form, all your knowledge about our grandmother.
The first part of Fiske & Taylor's Chapter 4 presents another overview of the associative-network model of memory that organized the lectures.
F&T also present some information on
proceduralist and connectionist (parallel processing)
alternatives, but de-emphasize these. Their comparison of
the advantages and disadvantages of declarativist,
proceduralist, and connectionist models is quite good. But
you don't have to know any details
about how the models work.
Repeat: Don't get hung up on proceduralist and
connectionist models. They're interesting, but almost all
the work on person memory has been based on declarativist models.
More important is the material on the embodiment of person memory. You should have some idea of what it means to say that person memory (or any aspect of social cognition) is "embodied". Then you can explain it to me, because I really don't get what all the fuss is about.
There's also a lot of
material on social categories in this chapter, as an example of
semantic social memory, but it is more relevant to the lectures
on social categorization. Accordingly, this aspect of the
chapter is more relevant to that section of the course.
Perhaps the most relevant material is the comparison of the
three models of category structure: the category view (characterized in lecture as the classical
proper-set view), the prototype view, and the exemplar
Zerubavel's Chapter 6 discusses the most provocative aspect of cognitive sociology: the concept of collective memory. Again, the idea is that the past is not merely an objective fact, but is rather a socially constructed reality -- but one constructed by groups, not by individuals. Members of different social groups will remember different events, and will remember the same events differently, than those of other social groups. And social groups are defined, in part, by what they choose to remember and forget, and how they choose to remember it. While individual memories are represented as associative networks (or connectionist networks), or as neural networks in the brain, collective memories are represented in such "impersonal sites" as history textbooks, memorials, and monuments. Of particular interest, I think, is Zerubavel's concept of the "sociobiographical" memory, in which individuals remember events that happened to their groups as if they had happened to themselves. Think of the Serbs in Kosovo: "We'll never forget 1389!". Or the motto of Holocaust survivors: 'Never forget!".
Such social phenomena make clear Zerubavel's essential points:
After forming an impression of the person (and the situation), and encoding this information in memory, the fundamental cognitive task for the social perceiver is categorization. After all, as Bruner pointed out, every act of perception is an act of categorization: in the course of giving meaning to the stimulus, the perceiver categorizes the stimulus as similar, in at least some respects, to other stimuli encountered in the past (and different from others). Moreover, categorization is critical for social interaction: persons and situations that fall into the same category will elicit similar sorts of behaviors.
You should understand the technical difference between a category, which partitions the real world into equivalence classes, and a concept, which is the mental representation of a category. But psychologists tend to use the terms concept and category interchangeably -- which is why these lectures are entitled "Social Categorization" instead of "Social Conceptualization".
You should also understand (from your earlier courses in
psychology or cognitive science) the different models of
conceptual structure: in particular, the classical view of
categories as proper sets; the revisionist "prototype" view of
categories as fuzzy sets; the exemplar view. There is a good comparison
of the prototype and exemplar
views of concept representation in
Fiske and Taylor's Chapter 4.
A basic feature of social cognition is the distinction
between ingroup and outgroup, or "us" versus "them" -- or, in
technical terms, between members of one's ingroup and members
of any outgroup.
You should be familiar with the Robbers Cave Experiment and studies of the minimal group paradigm.You should have some feeling for what the natural categories are in the social domain -- categories like:
Note: Setting the issue of the ontological status of social categories aside, there is the matter of the structure of social categories. The literature on social categorization recapitulates the literature on nonsocial categorization. For example, personality types like melancholic and phlegmatic don't seem to be structured as proper sets, but rather seem to more closely fit a prototype view in which two continuous dimensions, strength and speed of emotional response, underlie what looks like a discrete typology. There's a lot on this issue in Fiske and Taylor, and also in the Lecture Supplements.
I didn't get to talk about exemplars much, which is OK, because most social-cognitive work on social categories is based on one version or another of prototype theory (e.g., the dimensional view or the featural view). But Fiske and Taylor do comparison the prototype and exemplar views. Although these are alternate models of conceptual structure, research suggests that while novices in a domain rely on prototypes for categorization, experts tend to rely on exemplars (or, at least, subordinate-level categories).
- Psychiatric diagnoses, which can be viewed as fuzzy sets, also look more like fuzzy sets, organized by a principle of family resemblance. While psychiatric novices may rely on prototypes when making diagnoses, psychiatric experts may rely on exemplars.
- Personality traits like agreeable and aloof can also thought to be categories -- but categories of actions rather than of persons. Buss and Craik, in their "act frequency" model, argued that these, too, seem to be structured as fuzzy sets, represented by prototypes.
prominent social categories seem to be stereotypes of various sorts. You should
know something about the findings of the "Princeton
Trilogy" of studies, and the re-assessment of these studies by Devine and Elliot
-- particularly their distinction between one's knowledge
of a cultural stereotype and one's
Stereotypes also seem to be organized as fuzzy sets, represented by prototypes: nobody thinks that every German is industrious, but people do think that Germans are more industrious than people general.
Of course, when we talk about stereotypes we're talking about people's beliefs, rather than
objective reality -- beliefs which may, in fact, diverge
radically from what is objectively the case (Germans might
not be more industrious than the average
bear). So where do stereotypes come from?
Stereotypes can be explained in economic terms (like
ethnocentrism) and motivational terms (like social
identity theory), but this course focuses on stereotyping
as an inevitable outcome of categorization.
Stereotyped beliefs (let's not
call them knowledge, exactly) sometimes reflect
social learning, socialization, and acculturation
processes. They might also be based on direct
experience personal encounters with the objects of
stereotypes -- so that sometimes stereotypes have a
"kernel of truth" to them.
The accuracy of stereotypes can be measured in a number of different ways, including accuracy. A stereotype may be inaccurate, in that it is an over- or underestimation of a group's standing on some dimension; but even so, stereotype beliefs may still be highly correlated with a group's actual standing. Judd and Park's "full accuracy design" is probably the best way to assess accuracy. In one application of the full accuracy design, J&P found that both Democrats and Republicans overestimated the liberalism of Democrats and underestimated the conservatism of Republicans; each group stereotyped the other more than they did themselves; and the degree of stereotyping was greater for those with stronger party affiliation.
analysis, Jussim argued
that racial, ethnic, and gender
stereotypes were actually pretty
accurate, compared to self-reports from
the stereotyped groups. But there
are not very many such studies, perhaps
because of the pervasive assumption that
stereotypes are fundamentally
inaccurate, and they've got a variety of
methodological problems, so it's
probably too early to draw any
conclusions about stereotype
accuracy. But that's where the
evidence seems to stand at present.
But at the very least, stereotypes are grossly exaggerated beliefs, so where do they come from? One prominent theory is that they reflect the formation of an illusory correlation, based on the feature-positive effect. That is, people pay more attention to the presence of a feature than to its absence, and they pay more attention to the conjunction of unusual features -- thus inflating the perceived correlation between them. I didn't lecture on this material, but if you want to know more, take a look at the relevant portion of the Lecture Supplement.
talk mostly about the stereotypes that
perceivers carry around in their heads, it's also important to
understand that stereotypes have real
consequences for the objects of perception
-- and not just in terms of outright
prejudice and discrimination. There
are expectancy confirmation effects, for
example, which might elicit
stereotype-consistent behavior from
stereotyped individuals. There's the
problem of attributional ambiguity,
stereotype avoidance, and stereotype vulnerability.
And then there's the problem of stereotype threat,
which I discussed in the lectures on "The
Cognitive View", and also
discussed at length in Fiske &
Taylor). Interestingly, stereotypes
can also have an effect on the perceiver, in the form of
Assuming that stereotypes are
initially acquired through some sort of social
learning process, it makes sense to think that
they can be changed through social learning as
well. As ingroup members gradually
learn more about outgroup members, their beliefs
may become more accurate.
However they are formed, it's
commonly held that stereotypes are automatically elicited
by members of the stereotyped group, and they
automatically bias our impressions and behaviors toward
those groups. However, Devine
argued that even after they are activated, we can exert
conscious control over the effects of these stereotypes on our thoughts and actions
regarding outgroup members. Again, I didn't get
to lecture on this material, but if you want to know
more, take a look at the Lecture
and Greenwald have argued that stereotypes and other
attitudes an also operate unconsciously, so that we
don't even know that we
harbor stereotypes and prejudices. They argue that
unconscious stereotypes can be assessed by
procedures such as the
Implicit Association Test. But it's not at all clear that
the IAT measures personal beliefs as opposed
to knowledge of social stereotypes (Devine's distinction again);
and it's not at all
clear that any
"unconscious" stereotypes revealed by the
IAT differ from our conscious attitudes.
Remember to review the material in Fiske & Taylor's Chapter 4, on theories of
category structure. You should know what the
problems are with the classical view of categories, what
the "prototype" and "exemplar" revisionist theories are
all about, and how they solve the problems with the
F&T's Chapter 11 focuses on
social stereotyping, with a very nice presentation of
social identity theory, ingroup/outgroup effects, ingroup
favoritism and outgroup homogeneity. Of particular
interest is their discussion of "entitativity", and group
essentialism -- the idea that there are essential
differences between groups that, fundamentally, exist only
as social constructions.
Also pay attention to the forms of "subtle stereotyping" -- automatic, ambiguous, and ambivalent. Finally, the literature on stereotype threat, which is a mechanism by which outgroup members actually seem to incorporate the ingroup's stereotype of them. The material on automatic stereotyping again refers to the IAT.
There is also a nice discussion of stereotype threat, which I discussed in the lectures on Social Categorization.
stereotype Content Model, covered in both Chs. 11 and 12,
is derived from Rosenberg's work
on central traits (intellectual and social good-bad), as
discussed in the lectures on Social Perception.
Stereotyping leads almost inevitably to prejudice, the emotional counterpart of cognitive stereotyping, and which is the subject of F&T's Chapter 12. You should understand something of how cognitive and emotional factors interact in the cases of racial, gender, age, and sexual prejudice
An interesting point made throughout this chapter has to do with the effects of prejudice on the prejudiced person, as well as the target of the prejudice -- phenomena like attributional ambiguity and stereotype threat
Zerubavel's Chapters 4 and 5,
on social categorization, continue the theme opened up in
his earlier chapters on perception and memory. Zerubavel
shows how categorization can follow social norms, as in
kosher laws about edibility, or state laws about
eligibility for marriage. His comparison of rigid, fuzzy,
and flexible divisions between categories recapitulates
(without actually saying so) the discussion of proper sets
versus prototypes. Don't worry
about the semiotic square in Chapter 5. If you get
it, perhaps you'll explain it to
me; but the distinctions between.indicators,
icons, and symbols is useful.
Categorization is just one of many judgments made in the
course of social interaction. After all, impression -- formation deciding
whether a person is intelligent or not, extraverted or
introverted, is as much a matter of judgment as it is a
matter of perception. Another fundamental social-cognitive
task is causal attribution -- that is, explaining why
people do the things that they do. In this course, causal
attribution serves as a particularly well-studied example
of social judgment in general. When
attribution is made to a person, another task
comes into play -- moral judgment. I don't have time to talk about moral
judgment, but there is some material on
the topic in the Lecture Supplements for those who are
Remember that we're talking about what Heider called phenomenal causality -- that is, what ordinary people believe caused something to happen. Determining actual causality is a matter for formal science. Based on "Lewin's grand truism", B = f(P, E), Heider asserted that people tend to attribute behavior to either personal or situational factors, and this person-situation dichotomy governed research and theory in the area of causal attribution ever since (at least, until recently).
You should understand how Kelly's "covariation calculus" for causal attribution works: how information about consensus, consistency, and distinctiveness, derived from multiple observations of behavior, leads people to attribute behavior to the actor, target, context, or some combination of these. You should also know how McArthur tested Kelly's model, and the general results of her research.
Note: Kelly's model cannot apply to single observations of behavior, leading to the use of causal schemata such as multiple sufficient causes and multiple necessary causes to make inferences about causality. The Lecture supplements contain information on how the common judgment heuristics -- representativeness, availability, simulation, and anchoring and adjustment -- can play a role in causal attribution. But you're not responsible for it.
Note: Nor are you responsible for knowing about the causality implicit in language -- in language semantics, rather than language syntax. Behavioral action verbs tend to invoke the agent-patient schema, by which causality tends to be attributed to the agent (who is usually the grammatical subject); mental state verbs tend to invoke the stimulus-experiencer schema, by which causality tends to be attributed to the stimulus (who can be either the grammatical subject or the grammatical object). You should also know why this is not a "Whorffian" result, but actually seems more like a "contra-Whorffian" result.
People tend to depart from the covariation calculus, even
when there is enough information to apply it, resulting in
certain "errors", or "biases", in causal attribution. You
should understand the three most famous of these:
The covariation calculus exemplifies normative rationality, so you should know what that entails. Documenting departures from prescriptions for normative rationality, like the fundamental attribution error, constitute a long-standing theme in social cognition research.
Note: You should have an appreciations for this "errors and biases" literature, but you don't have to agree with me that there exists a substantial "People Are Stupid" school in social psychology. That's my thing, and I do want to plant the idea in your mind, so that you'll recognize stupidism when you see it, but I'd never test you on it.
At the same time, the evidence for these errors and biases should not be overstated -- at least, if Malle's (2006) meta-analysis is right. Malle found that evidence for the Actor-Observer Difference in causal attribution appears to be entirely lacking: people appear to employ the same balance of internal and external attributions about their own behavior as they do for other people. There is some evidence for a (weak) self-serving bias -- but it may have more to do with protecting self-esteem, and isn't properly characterized as an error -- that is, as a mistake.
In the final analysis, though, the whole business of discovering errors in causal attribution may be based on a misinterpretation of "Lewin's grand truism", because Lewin didn't consider P and E to be independent causal factors, but rather interdependent -- just as the Doctrine of Interactionism says they are. If Ps affect their environments through evocation, selection, behavioral manipulation, and cognitive transformation, then the distinction between P and E is a false one. To the extent that E is caused by P, behavior that might seem to be caused by E may in fact be ultimately caused by P. Moreover, from the cognitive point of view it's the perceived situation, not the objective situation, that causes behavior -- and perception is internal to P, not a part of the external E. Finally, voluntary behaviors are intentional, and goal-directed, and intentions and goals are always features of the person. The point is that, from a psychological standpoint, correct attributions are always to P, not E.
You should understand something about the "folk-conceptual" theory of causal attribution offered by Malle as an alternative account of how people actually reason about behavior. First, people appear to distinguish between unintentional behavior, which is explained by more-or-less mechanical causes, and intentional behavior, which is explained by reasons -- that is, by mental states of belief, desire, and value (however, reasons are not always linguistically marked, which may lead researchers to misinterpret them as external, situational causes). So far as causes are concerned, they can be further classified along such dimensions as internal-external, stable-unstable, and global-local -- dimensions that apply to physical causality as well as to behavior. Enabling factors stand between intentions and actions, and between causes and behaviors. And the reasons underlying intentional actions may themselves have causal histories, which give a more-or-less mechanical explanation of how the person came to hold whatever beliefs, desires, and values that led him to do what he did.
Kelley's and Malle's theories give the impression that causal attribution occurs by reason of careful, conscious reasoning. But there's another point of view, which is that social cognition mostly occurs automatically and unconsciously.
Note: Malle's folk-conceptual theory of causal attribution reveals a number of Actor-Observer asymmetries that are not encompassed by theories of the traditional P-E type. But the most important feature of Malle's approach is that it attempts to understand how ordinary people reason about causes. From this perspective, the "Fundamental Attribution Error" -- attributing behavior to persons rather than to situations -- is not an error; but it is fundamental to understanding how real people explain real behavior. But I didn't lecture on this material, in order to make room for new material on automaticity, so you're not responsible for it.
The concept of automaticity is very appealing, especially to
those social psychologists who believe that scientifically
correct causal attributions are to the situation. But
this high level enthusiasm may be unwarranted.
Most important, though, investigators rarely make any attempt
to measure the comparative strength of automatic and
controlled processes. If automaticity pervades social
cognition and behavior, we would expect that comparative
experiments would show this. But they don't, not really, as illustrated by
experiments involving Jacoby's
It should surprise nobody that automatic processing dominates when attention is divided, or retrieval is difficult, or responses have to be made within half a second. But are these conditions representative of social cognition and behavior in the ordinary course of everyday living?
Note: These experiments make use of the process-dissociation paradigm, which is more complicated than I can get into in lecture. There's a fuller discussion in the Lecture Supplements (look in the separate supplement on Automaticity as well), but for present purposes, all you need to know is that the PDP pits automatic and controlled processes against each other, permitting a measurement of their comparative strength.
F&T's Chapter 6 contains a
very good summary of the traditional literature on causal
attribution, including Kelley's
covariation calculus, and his ideas about causal schemata
(Taylor was Kelley's graduate
student, and Fisk was Taylor's,
so that make Kelley Fiske's
You should also know something about Jones and Davis's "correspondent inference theory",
and Weiner's work on causal
attributions for success and failure (i.e., achievement).
Don't worry about the stage
models of the attribution process, such as Trope's and Gilbert's.
But do pay attention to the material
on the theory of mind and mind perception, as that will
come up again later in the semester, in the lectures on
F&T's Chapter 6 also contains an extended discussion of the FAE, the Actor-Observer Effect, and the Self-Serving Bias. In fact, the existence of errors and biases in social judgment is a major theme running through the Fiske & Taylor text -- as in their characterization of social perceivers as "cognitive misers".
The existence of these errors and biases have led some theorists to doubt that people are rational decision-makers -- and this theme, too, crops up often in the F&T text. But others have countered that most social judgments take place under conditions of uncertainty, where a reliance on "fast and frugal" judgment heuristics is actually rational -- bounded rationality, but still rationality.
F&T's Chapter 7 presents an
excellent account of the judgment heuristics approach to
social judgment, inference, and decision-making. Don't worry about prospect theory: it's incredibly important, and got
Kahneman the Nobel Prize, but it's
not all that relevant to this course. But do pay attention
to the material on when heuristics are used, and when they
fail us. Also, the effects associated
with prospect theory, such as the conjunction fallacy, and and the assessment of covariation (including illusory
F&T's Chapter 8 continues
the discussion of error and bias, and has a very nice
discussion of the debates over the role of normative
rationality in social reasoning, including the comparison
of linear and nonlinear algorithms with human
judgment. One response is to be alarmed over the
pervasiveness of error and bias in social judgment.
Another is to downplay the evidence on
the grounds that it's based on
experimental paradigms that might not be ecologically
valid. A third is to point to
the accuracy of quick, intuitive judgments -- a point
of view stressed in Malcolm Gladwell's
best-selling book, Blink.
In addition, while traditional discussions of social cognition appear to assume that causal attributions and other social judgments are (or should be) a product of conscious, deliberate cognitive processes, more recent theorists have focused on the role of automatic processes in social judgment. The automaticity of social cognition, which I discussed in lectures on Social Judgment, is also a prominent theme in the F&T text.
As you prepare for the exam, feel free to post questions to the "Questions and Comments" Forum in the course website. Follow the same procedure as for your required Forum Postings. Questions posted before noon on the Tuesday immediately prior to the exam will get a reply before 5:00 PM that day. After noon, though, there are no guarantees.
Most of the time, I, or one of the GSIs, will reply to the question or comment. But if you also want to get in on the act, feel free to post a response to another student's posting. If you want to reply to or posting, or comment on a reply, click on "Reply to Thread", and proceed as above. Just keep it informative and constructive. Internet bullying is not very nice.
This page last revised 10/14/2015.