Chapter 4: Social Cognition
The process of
perception and judgment by which we make sense of our social worlds.
What we think helps
determine what we feel and how we act.
First Impressions: why they matter
filter preconceptions about people
we use stereotypes all the time, usually without even being aware of it.
information influences how we interpret later information.
Make a Quick Judgment
tendency for the first information we receive to carry more weight, along with
stereotypes in shaping our overall impression of others.
tapes different social class
performance on aptitude test
Hannah seen as performing below averagemistakes emphasized
Hannah seen as performing above average---successes emphasized.
& Gross (1983) found that students interpreted the same event differently
depending on their preconceptions about the person involved in the event.
usually show a confirmatory bias- they seek information
that will prove them right more often than seeking information that prove them
since people are not likely to seek information that refutes their first
impressions. People are often overconfident in their beliefs
Study at U of Texas
found that peoples confidence in knowledge of partners sexual history
increased over time but accuracy rate stayed the same. From 62% confidence
level to 90% over time, but actual accuracy was .39. (See figure 4.1 page 99)
beliefs influence how people perceive others and what information they seek
about others at every stage of a relationship.
effects direct our attention to certain types of new information.
our interpretation of new facts.
is similar to the need for self-consistency noted in the discussion of the
filter information in the direction of our preconceptions and we tend to be
confident that we are correct and objective, not recognizing how we overlook
makes better predictions about how long a current romantic relationship will
What are the implication
of these for relationships?
The Power of Perceptions
often choose one particular perspective over another about their
partners and relationships, although they may not realize it.
will facilitate or inhibit our satisfaction with our relationships.
Idealizing Our Partners
to emphasize partners positive qualities and minimize their faults.
usually evaluate partners more positively than the partners themselves.
depends on the degree of idealization.
we merely interpret facts in a benevolent light, rather than actually distort
real qualities, this can be positive.
high regard for our partner can improve their self-concept over time
also tend to revise our opinions of what we want so that they begin to fit the
partner we have.
are the explanations people come up with to explain why things happen.
be internal or external, stable or unstable, global or
in relationships judgments of cause and effect can be quite difficult.
Even though partners may
know each other well, they are influenced by actor/observer
effects: they come up with different explanations of their partners actions
then they do for their own similar actions.
We often attribute some
of the causes of our behavior to external factors while attributing the causes
of our partners behavior to internal factors.
This is part of the
Fundamental Attribution Error.
also demonstrate self-serving bias, the tendency to take personal
credit for successes but avoid blame for failures, by attributing them to
of attribution can be relationship-enhancing or distress-maintaining.
Relationship Enhancing Attributions
to other situations
are: internal, global and stable.
behavior is seen as external, unstable and specific.
Distress Maintaining Attributions
to other situations.
behavior is unintended and accidental.
couples see each other in ways that produce distress no matter how each
What accounts for these
TABLE 4.1. The Romantic Beliefs Scale
romantic are you? Rate how much you
agree or disagree with each of these statements by using this scale:
2 3 4
5 6 7
1. I need to know someone for a period of time
before I fall in love with him or her.
2. If I were in love with someone, I would commit
myself to him or her even if my parents and friends disapproved of the
3. Once I experience "true love," I
could never experience it again, to the same degree, with another person.
4. I believe that to be truly in love is to be in
5. If I love someone, I know I can make the
relationship work, despite any obstacles.
6. When I find my "true love" I will
probably know it soon after we meet.
7. I'm sure that every new thing I learn about
the person I choose for a long-term commitment will please me.
8. The relationship I will have with my "
true love" will be nearly perfect.
9. If I love someone, I will find a way for us
to be together regardless of any opposition to the relationship, physical
distance between us, or any other barrier.
10. There will be only one real love for me.
11. If a
relationship I have was meant to be, any obstacle (such as lack of money,
physical distance, or career conflicts) can be overcome.
12. I am likely to fall in love almost immediately
if I meet the right person.
13. I expect that in my relationship, romantic love
will really last; it won't fade with time.
14. The person I love will make a perfect romantic
partner; for example, he/she will be completely accepting, loving, and
15. I believe if another person and I love each
other we cm overcome any differences and+ problems that may arise.
Reverse your rating of Q 1 and add you totals. Divide by 15. M 4.8 >5.8, <3.8, F-
4.6 >5.6, <3.6
C. Relationship Beliefs
People already have
ideas about what relationships should be like when they start a relationship.
These are called schemas,
a filing system for our knowledge and assumptions about relationships.
Romanticism is one
schema that regards love as the most important reason for choosing a partner.
Based on Sprecher &
Mettss Romantic Beliefs Scale, people high in romanticism also believe that 1)
their loves will be perfect, 2)everyone has
one perfect true love, 3)true love will overcome any obstacle, and
4)love at first sight is possible.
The Romantic Beliefs Scale
scorers tend to experience more love, satisfaction and commitment than low
scores do not predict which relationships last over a four year span.
should be perfect every time
and women are different
relationships just happen
expectations about others can become self-fulfilling prophecies:
false predictions that become true by leading people to behave in ways that
self-fulfilling prophecies disappear over time, but others dont.
Expectancy about the
expectancy to target)ΰ
reciprocally, usually meeting kindness with kindness, hostility with hostilityΰPerceiver interprets Targets
ignoring own role in producing it. Support for expectations perceived.
and colleagues did a study of this with phone calls to either attractive or
photographs more interest, sociable,warm, outgoing.
responded accordingly (no knowledge of pictures).
our perception of our partners, the attributions we make, the beliefs and
expectations we we bring to relationships exert a very powerful influence on
The Self-Monitoring Scale
Is each of the
following statements true or false?
1. I find it hard to imitate the behavior of
2. At parties or social gatherings, I do not
attempt to say or do things that others will like.
3. I can only argue for ideas that I already
4. I can make impromptu speeches even on topics
about which I have almost no information.
5. I guess I put on a show to impress or
6. I would probably make a good actor.
7. In a group I am rarely the center of
8. In different situations and with different
people I often act like very different persons.
9. I am not particularly good at making
other people like me.
not always the person I appear to be.
would not change my opinions (or the way I do things) in order to please
12. I have considered being an entertainer.
13. I have never been good at games like charades
or improvisational acting.
14. I have trouble changing my behavior to suit
different people and different situations.
15. At a party I let others keep the jokes and
16. I feel a bit awkward in public and do not show
up quite as well as I should.
17. I can look anyone in the eye and tell a
lie (if for a right end).
18. I may deceive people by being friendly when
I really dislike them.
>13 high <7 low 7---13 Average
People frequently try to
influence others impressions of them.
Ingratiation: seeking acceptance and liking from others. Do favors,
pay compliments, be charming.
Self-promotion: seeking respect. Mentioning accomplishments etc.
Intimidation: portraying oneself as dangerous.
Supplication: portraying oneself as needy and helpless to get
support or avoid obligations.
Impression Management in Close
People make less of an
effort to present certain positive images of themselves to their intimate
partners, take pains to create good public images of their partners.
self-monitoring is common, and high self-monitors surround themselves with
friends who are good companions only for a particular activity, while low self
monitors have fewer friends but have more in common with them.
Just How Well Do We Know Our Partners?
we know our partners less well then we think we do.
people spend more time together and understand each other better.
interest in trying to understand each other help determine how accurate we will
perceive our partners.
the average, spend more time thinking their relationships than men do.
influence and color how people perceive their partners.
personality traits (i.e. extraversion) are more obvious and more easily
recognized than others, like neuroticism.
clues people give the easier it is to know them.
people are better judges than dogmatic narrow-minded people.
Secure attachment style
people have a better understanding of their partners than insecure people.
Anxious-ambivalent people more likely to overestimate how much they have in
common with their partners.
accurate perceptions are unpleasant, intimate partners are tempted to be
inaccurate so as to ward off doubts about their relationship.
types were more accurate in judging unpleasant situations like moths drawn to a
people experience a strong desire to construct their partners the way they want
them to be.
a result, initially inaccurate perceptions may become more correct through
shaping and reinforcement in the desired direction.