University of California, Berkeley

Department of Psychology


Psychology 164

Spring 2004


Midterm Examination Scoring Guide



Answer Question A and then any 15 questions numbered 1-20 in Part B.


Do not answer more than 15 questions in Part B.

If you answer more than 15 questions in Part B, we will count only the first 15.


Your responses should be very concise. As a rule, less than 5 sentences will do.


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


Question A is worth 5 points.

The remaining 15 questions are worth 3 points each, for a total of 50 points.



Exam Feedback

This midterm was an experiment in shifting examinations away from a short-essay format toward a short-answer format.  It worked pretty well, except that the exam proved to be too long -- too long for students to take, too long for GSIs to grade.  I realized this was the case when I took the exam myself, but this was only after the exam had been printed.  Accordingly, at the exam I reduced Part B from 15 questions to 12, by eliminating Items 6, 8, and 13 from the options, and giving students a full 3 credits for each of the items.

The exam was still a little long, but performance was pretty good nevertheless.  On the initial scoring of the exam, the average score was 39.9, or 80% correct -- compared to the 65-70% correct that is typical with the multiple-choice exams I give in my lower-division introductory psychology course.

However, certain of the items proved unsatisfactory, and so we rescored them.

The single question in Part A was intended to be a throwaway, to get the exam up to a full 50 points (5 points for Part A plus 3x15 points in Part B).  It proved to be anything but a throwaway, so we gave the full 5 points to everyone.

It was my intention that each of the 15 items in Part B be of approximately equal difficulty, but four items proved to be off the scale: not too many students chose them, and even those who chose them didn't do particularly well on them.  Accordingly, I added points (or, in most cases, fractions of points) to bring the average scores of these four items up to the grand mean of 2.4 (out of 3, or 80%) for all items in Part B.

B04, + 0.9 points.

B16, +1.0 points.

B17, +0.5 points.

B20, +0.8 points.

These adjustments brought the mean score up to 42.9 points or 86% correct -- which is well within my typical range of 80-90% correct for an upper-division elective course.

Final scores, reported on the course website, were rounded up to the next highest integer.  This resulted in 10% of the class with perfect scores of 50 points, 39% with scores of 45 (90%) or above, and another 32% of the class with scores of 40 (80%) or above.  Everybody received a score greater than 25.

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.

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


Part A.

A. What role does social cognition play in social psychology? What is the distinction between social cognition and cognitive sociology?

100% (required item), 3.4 points (rescored 5 points for all students).  

To the extent that social psychology studies situational influence, social cognition studies the processes by which people assign meaning to the situation they're in. Social cognition studies the cognition of social objects, while cognitive sociology studies the social basis of all knowledge. Full credit if the person also elaborates on any one of the following: Universalism or individualism vs. thought communities; Objectivity or subjectivity vs. intersubjectivity; Commonalities or idiosyncracies vs. group differences.


Remember to answer only any 15 of the questions in Part B.

Do not answer more than 15 questions in Part B.

If you answer more than 15 questions, we will grade only the first 15.



Part B.

1. How does cognition of the social world differ from cognition of the nonsocial world?

72% of the class attempted the item; mean score = 2.5.

Quantitative differences: Ambiguity of structure; importance of context or background.

Qualitative difference: the object of social cognition is typically another person, a sentient being who is engaged in impression management at the same time that the perceiver is engaged in impression formation.

Full credit if the answer includes at least one quantitative difference and the qualitative difference.



2. Where does cognition fit in Lewin's formula, B = f(P, E)? In the General Social Interaction Cycle, what factors influence the Target's impression of the situation?

62%, 2.5.

Cognition can be thought of as a behavior -- that is, as something that some person does, even if subjectively, privately, and covertly, in some particular environment.

Alternatively, cognition can be thought of one mode of person-by-situation interaction -- as one means by which the person can change the environment in which his or her behavior takes place. At a minimum, the Target's impression of the situation is influenced by the fund of social knowledge that he or she carries into the situation; the Target's interpretation of the Actor's action; feedback from the Target's own behavior in response to the Actor's behavior.



3. How did Asch define a "central" trait? Are certain traits always central to impression formation? How can we predict in advance which traits will be central to impression formation?

92%, 2.5.

Empirically, central traits make large differences to the impression that the subject forms of a target. Although Asch found that intelligent-unintelligent was central in some experiments, this trait did not prove to be central in others. In general, though Wisher suggested that central traits are substantially intercorrelated with many other traits, while Rosenberg suggested in addition that central traits are highly correlated with broad dimensions of social or intellectual desirability.



4. What are the basic elements of an implicit theory of personality?

50%, 1.7 (rescored to 2.6 -- this should have been rescored to only 2.4, but I announced the higher correction in class -- based on a spreadsheet error -- so I stuck with it)

According to Cronbach, an implicit theory of personality looks just like a scientific theory, except that it is naive and implicit. Accordingly, based on the model of traditional psychometric (trait) theories of personality, an IPT will specify the important dimensions of personality (e.g., social and intellectual good-bad or the Big Five), estimates of central tendencies and variability within the population (e.g., means and variances) on each dimension, and estimates of the correlations (or covariances) among the dimensions.



5. What is Osgood's tri-dimensional theory of meaning? Why is it not a good candidate for an implicit theory of personality?

48%, 2.5.

Osgood argued that the meaning of every word could be graphically represented in a "semantic space" bounded by three dimensions: evaluation (good-bad), potency (strong-weak), and activity (active-passive). However, Rosenberg's analysis of individual impressions of personality found that only the evaluation dimension was ubiquitous among subjects; in fact, they rarely used all three dimensions to organize their impressions. Accordingly, a single dimension of evaluation, perhaps further divided into correlated dimensions of social and intellectual evaluation, appears to be a better model of IPT.



6. What is the evidence that memory-based ratings are systematic distortions of reality, rather than accurate reflections of it?

Eliminated item: 3 points for all students.

A number of studies have compared the structure of objective behavioral recordings, where ratings are made "on-line", at the same time as observations, and with conceptual similarity ratings, where there has been no observation at all. As in the study by Shweder & D'Andrade, as a rule these studies show that the structure of MBRs more closely resembles that of CSRs than OBRs. Such a result suggests that the judges' memories have been systematically distorted by their beliefs about personality structure, rather than an accurate reflection of what they actually perceived.



7. Who is more likable? A person described with 2 highly positive traits, or a person described with 4 highly desirable traits -- and why?

68%, 2.0.

In Norman Anderson's "cognitive algebra", a simple adding rule would mean that more is better; however, an averaging rule would render the two people equally likable. However, neither rule adequately accounts for the entire pattern of data from experiments on likeability judgments. A "weighted" averaging rule, which takes account of the perceiver's initial bias -- if you will, his or her implicit theory of personality -- as well as stimulus information also predicts that more is better, but provides a better account of the entire pattern of experimental data.



8. What kinds of physical stimulus information contribute to the "perception" that a person is in a particular cognitive or emotional state?

Eliminated item: 3 points for all students.

The face is of course the biggest cue, as reflected in Ekman's work on facial expressions of emotion and the detection of deception. Full credit for mentioning any other "physical" cues as well, including vocal (prosodic or paralingistic) cues, independent of the content of the person's speech; and other visual cues, such as bodily posture, gesture, and eye contact, interpersonal distance. You could look at other aspects of the person's physical appearance, including his or her dress. And you could also look at the person's local behavioral environment, including his or her home, room, or office, locker, anything that is more or less under the person's control.



9. How does social categorization aid in social perception?

86%, 2.5.

Categorization provides a cognitive framework guiding our attention to, and our interpretation of, stimulus events. Further, by relating what we perceive to what we already know, categorization allows us to make inferences about features of the stimulus that we cannot perceive directly. That is, by categorizing an object, we can infer that it possesses the features that are characteristic of other members of the category. In this way, categorization allows us to go "beyond the information given" in the stimulus.



10. What is the primary difference between the "prototype" model and the "exemplar" model of social categorization? How does expertise play a role in social categorization?

96%, 2.5.

Prototype models share with the classical proper-set view the assumption that concepts and categories provide a summary description of category members. However, the exemplar model abandons the view of concepts as summary representations, and describes categories simply as collections of instances without any summary prototype. As a rule, novices in a domain rely on prototypes to make category judgments, while experts tend to rely on exemplars.



11. How do social stereotypes function as social concepts?

84%, 2.4.

Social stereotypes are social concepts: they represent the person's beliefs about the characteristics of some definable group of people. Like concepts, stereotypes are abstracted from instances. And like concepts, the features shared by the entire class are attributed to individual members. As in the prototype view, however, nobody thinks that all members of stereotyped groups have all the features of the stereotype -- but they do think that the typical -- that is, the prototypical group member has most of them.



12. Which is remembered better: schema-congruent or schema-incongruent information about a person? Why?

98%, 2.8.

As a rule, schema-incongruent information is remembered better than schema-congruent information, thus correcting a view that goes back as far as Bartlett (1932). Hastie argued that schema-incongruent information received extra processing at the time of encoding, resulting in a more elaborate memory trace. Srull argued that, by virtue of this extra processing, schema-incongruent items are linked both with other schema-incongruent items, and with schema-congruent items as well, in memory.



13. What experimental results suggest that the Big Five personality traits are not a good candidate for an implicit theory of personality?

Eliminated item: 3 points for all students.

The Big Five makes (sic) sense as an implicit theory of personality, because they represent the kinds of things we want to know about people. However, research in person memory indicates that people do not organize either trait labels (words like nervous or anxious or trait-related behaviors (sentences like She worries about things that might go wrong) around Big Five trait categories like neuroticism. So, the Big Five traits don't seem to be intuitively obvious categories for classifying personality.



14. What is hindsight bias? How does it influence our impressions of change in personality over time?

94%, 2.5.

Hindsight bias refers to the tendency to exaggerate the degree to which we could have predicted known outcomes -- the feeling that "you knew it all along". With respect to impressions of change, hindsight bias can lead to the illusion that change has not occurred -- that some one has "always been" the way they are at present. Hindsight bias reflects the tendency to adjust our interpretations of the past to bring them in line with present circumstances.



15. Distinguish between mood-congruent and mood-dependent memory.

90%, 2.4.

In mood-congruent memory, memory is better for information whose affective valence (positive or negative) matches the subject's current mood. Thus, happy people remember happy events better than sad events. In mood-dependent memory, memory is better for events that are retrieved in the same mood state as was present when they were encoded. Whereas mood congruence depends on the affective valence of the information being remembered, mood-dependent memory does not.



16. In what sense do personality traits function as categories?

50%, 1.4 (rescored to 2.4).

In the hierarchical structure of personality, superordinate traits subsume subordinate traits, and subordinate traits subsume habitual behaviors. Therefore, superordinate traits (like extraversion) can serve as categories of subordinate traits (like talkativeness and sociability), while subordinate traits (like talkativeness) can serve as categories of behaviors (like talks a lot to strangers and talks a lot in class).



17. What evidence bears on the proposition that memory for a person's behaviors is organized by knowledge of the person's traits?

34%, 1.9 (rescored to 2.4).

Certainly knowledge of a person's traits affects memory for that person's behaviors -- that's what schema-dependency is all about: the trait ensembles constitutes a schema for the person). But so far as we can tell, memory for behaviors is not strongly organized by traits. Although Hamilton found some evidence of trait-based clustering, the levels of clustering weren't very high. And other research finds that trait categories don't seem to organize the recall of either trait terms or trait-related sentences.

(It's also the case that the retrieval of trait information doesn't prime the retrieval of behavioral information, which should happen if traits organized behaviors in memory. Either the clustering data or the priming data constitute a sufficient answer).



18. What is the difference between autobiographical memory and collective memory? In what sense is collective memory episodic? In what sense is it semantic?

86%, 2.5.

Autobiographical memory is an individual's memory for events and experiences in his or her own life. Collective memory refers to memories that are shared by entire groups (or communities) of people. Some collective memories refer to specific events in the group's past; they thus have an episodic character to them, even though they may not have been personally experienced by every member of the group. Other collective memories are more impersonal as in myths, archeological sites, and postage stamps; like semantic memories, they are more abstract, and preserve context-free knowledge about the group.



19. What does Zerubavel mean when he speaks of optical communities? What is optical pluralism? What are optical traditions?

38%, 2.6.

Optical community, a variant on the notion of a "thought community", refers to a group of people who share a particular way of perceiving objects and events -- a particular "worldview", if you will. Optical tradition refers to the group's historical tendency to "see" things in a particular way -- a tendency imparted to the individual through socialization processes. Optical pluralism refers to the fact that each group or community in society will view the world in a somewhat different way. Alternatively, because each individual is a member of a number of different groups, people must shift perspective when they move from group to group.



20. In what ways do communities and other groups differ in their classification of the world?

44%, 1.6 (rescored to 2.4).

Communities differ in their social norms for classification -- the rules applied to the process of sorting objects into various categories (e.g., edibility or marriageablity). For example, Jews and Muslims classify pork as inedible, while Christians by and large do not. Communities also differ in terms of the rigidity of their categories -- whether the boundaries between categories are rigid (promoting "either-or" styles thinking) or fuzzy (thus, tolerant of ambiguity, if not just fuzzy-minded), or flexible (promoting "both-and" styles of thinking).



Remember to answer only any 15 of the questions in Part B.

Do not answer more than 15 questions in Part B.

If you answer more than 15 questions, we will grade only the first 15.

The scoring guide for this exam will be posted to the course website

by noon, March 17.


Remember to begin reading Haddon's book over Spring Break!