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HOW DO SCHEMAS GUIDE THE WAY YOU THINK ABOUT THE WORLD AROUND YOU?

  • Schemas are automatically created cognitive frameworks that help guide the way we think about and understand the world around us. They are created through experience as you encounter similar people, processes, social roles, occupations, and so on. Once in place, they are activated through a stimulus and trigger behaviour and expectations.

  • The tendency to ignore sensory information that doesn't fit with a schema is just one of the problems associated with schemas. Stereotypes, which are a form of schema, can lead to bias in our social interactions. Selective filtering can lead to self–fulfilling prophecies, in which we unconsciously mould our behaviours to fit expectations. These problems come from the brain's tendency to favour automatic over controlled processing.

HOW EFFECTIVE ARE MENTAL SHORTCUTS?

  • Heuristics reduce mental effort and allow us to make quick decisions. The availability heuristic allows us to estimate the likelihood that something will happen based on how easily we can recall examples of that event. The anchoring and adjustment heuristic involves starting with a supposed given and working toward a solution from there. Basing a decision on the framework in which it is presented is referred to as using the framing heuristic.

  • We use the representativeness heuristic to determine how well a given person or event will fit into a certain category. This heuristic is subject to base rate fallacy, which occurs when we draw a conclusion without taking into account how common a behaviour or event truly is.

WHAT ARE OTHER SOURCES OF BIAS IN SOCIAL COGNITION?

  • Though we like to think we are logical beings, this isn't really the case. Our minds favour automatic shortcuts, and this can lead to bias. Negative information tends to have stronger influence than does positive information, leading to a negativity bias in social cognition. On the flip side, the optimistic bias can lead us to believe we are unlikely to experience bad vents in life.

  • Counterfactual thinking, in which we imagine alternative outcomes for events, can have a strong effect on your emotional reaction to given events. Depending on whether the imagined alternative is better or worse than the real–life event, counterfactual thinking can darken or lighten your mood. Advertisers use this strong emotional connection to the "what–if" to influence our decisions as consumers.