Automatic Controlled Automatic Controlled Fast—rapid processing of information Relatively effortless Unintentional Difficult to “stop” Slow to change Often reflects associative connections Doesn’t necessarily conform to logical, rational thinking Relatively slow Often guided by logical, propositional thought Effortful Reason-based Two “modes” of social cognition
Why this distinction is important On a basic level—tells us something important about the architecture of human processing and the brain Explains several interesting aspects of social behavior: 1. Human beings often think of themselves as rational beings largely in control of their own actions, but this view is overly flattering – Automaticity “trumps” control more often than people think – Sometimes our behavior reflects seemingly irrational processes and/or impulses we’d rather avoid, if we could 2. Automaticity plays a large role when the available information is scarce and/or ambiguous – Role of schemas in information processing
Alan goes to a Christmas party and, even though he has “sworn off chocolate”, eats approximately 1.5 pounds of M & Ms. A baseball player hits three home runs in July. Even though he knows it’s foolish, he wears the same pair of “lucky socks” he wore that day through the end of September. You’ve been sworn to secrecy not to tell anyone about a really juicy gossip about Mary. You see Mary’s best friend at a party, and the next thing you know, you’ve blurted to the friend everything you know about the “secret”. Halfway through a professional magician’s show, the magician appears to show the ability to read other people’s minds. You know that ESP is completely bogus—and still feel that way after the show is over—but for a few minutes you cannot shake the feeling that you’ve just witnessed an act of ESP. Frank doesn’t consider himself to be “biased” against racial minorities. When he meets an African American man on the street, however, he finds himself reacting with more anxiety and fear than he would if the man were White. The CN tower in Toronto has the highest observation deck in the world. One small part of the deck floor is made out of glass. The glass is several feet thick and poses no more danger than any other part of the floor. People readily know it is perfectly safe, but will still walk around it. Jean loves chocolate (and is not on a diet). In an experiment, she is given a piece of chocolate which is shaped to look exactly like dog feces. Jean finds it nearly impossible to eat the chocolate without gagging.
Many of the preceding examples illustrate “trumping” of automaticity over control automaticity Control But this raises a larger (and more complex) question—how exactly do these systems “talk” to one another? And, what are the conditions under which control and automaticity work together, as opposed to in opposition with each other?
Automaticity plays a large role when the available information is scarce and/or ambiguous Role of schemas in information processing Schemas—mental structures that organize our knowledge about the social world. – Influence the information we notice, think about, and remember – Examples – Schemas are often interchangeable with “concept” or “category” Schemas often work quite well for us But sometimes they lead us astray, leading to biases of various sorts
Perceptual/judgmental biases Classic study by Kelley (1950) – The “warm vs. cold professor” study Stereotypes/prejudice
Memory biases Sometimes we “remember” schema-consistent events that never happened. Humphrey Bogart never said “Play it Again Sam” But contrary to what your book says, Captain Kirk did say, “Scotty beam me up”
Which schemas are applied in any given situation? In any given context, and for any given stimulus, people could draw upon different schemas or concepts By definition, applies under conditions of ambiguity The schema that comes to mind first (i.e. is most accessible) “wins” – Bill decided to sail across the Atlantic, solo, in a 20-foot sailboat— without knowing very much about boating – Ralph refused to pay his rent until his landlord painted the apartment – Mary stayed up all night waiting for her husband to come back
Accessibility and Priming Schemas and categories can become more accessible if they have been recently “primed” (used) Builds upon priming paradigm in cognitive psychology – Cat dog Implications for social psychology – “Direct” priming E.g. prime “hostility” consequences for your behavior – “Indirect” priming E.g. Black stereotypical trait of hostility consequences for your behavior
Why Automatic Priming Effects Are Important Lack of awareness. Dissociation between intention and behavior. Inability to correct for “bias.”
Bargh, Chen, & Burrows (1996) Experiment 1: The “interruption” study Method Results DV = % interrupted: 18% 38% 65% Polite NeutralRude
Experiment 2: The “walking slow” study Method Results DV: walking time (secs): Experiment 2A Experiment 2B neutral elderly neutral elderly
Dijksterhuis & van Knippenberg (1998)— the trivial pursuit study Method Results (DV = % correct responses) No prime “professors” “secretaries” 59.5 49.9 46.4
On not seeing and not recognizing our own automatic biases: consequences Naiive realism
Heuristics: Implications for Judgment and Decision-Making Heuristics: Similar theme as research covered: – Strong role of automaticity and “low effort” responding But with special focus on the errors people make in judgment & decision-making (JDM)
Less good reasoning good reasoning Assumed rationality position—dominant in social psychology through early 1970’s N = normative model (what people should do, if they were flawless) D = descriptive model (what people actually do) ND The “prone to errors” position: (e.g., Kahneman & Tversky)—1970’s through mid-1990s. D N Recent backlash: 1990’s to present DN
Different types of heuristics Availability Heuristic Representativeness Anchoring and adjustment
Availability heuristic Basing judgments on how easy things “come to mind” – Vivid and/or currently-accessible information can lead to systematic bias False consensus Probability estimates Schwarz et al. 1991
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