Error and Bias in Judging – Social Cognition Theories

Error and Bias in Judging – Social Cognition Theories

Build your Paper Around Course Material: The key purpose of the paper assignment is for us to
see how well you understand the material from lectures and readings and how well you can apply that
material to your own experiences. Therefore, the information from class and from the readings
represents the " building blocks" that you should use in constructing your paper. In other words,
build your paper around course material. Outside reading is fine if you think your paper requires
it but is not essential as the paper is intended to be a “thought piece” not a literature review. The
point is to illustrate your understanding of the course material by applying it to explain real-life
1. Social Cognition: 3 Reoccurring Themes
2. Brief History of Social Cognition
A. Behaviorism in American Psychology
1) The radical behaviorist view
2) Thorndike’s law of effect
B. Symbolic Interactionism & the phenomenological assumption
C. Gestalt Psychology
1) Two fundamental tenets of the holistic view of perception
2) The laws of pragnanz
D. The New Look in Perception — Bruner & Goodman (1947) coin size estimation study
3. Accuracy vs. Rationality and Error vs. Bias (this is also covered in the beginning of Week 2)
A. Think about how errors/bias can reveal functional processes (illusions)
4. Reading – no questions specifically from the reading for Week 1
1. Asch’s (1946) Work on Impression Formation — Primacy Effect and Central Traits
2. Heider’s (1944;1958) Phenomenal Causality
A. Person-as-scientist metaphor.
B. Personal vs. impersonal causation
3. Causal Attribution & the meaning hypothesis
4. Kelley’s (1967) Covariation Model — distinctiveness, consensus, & consistency
5. Shorthand Causal Principles: Discounting and augmentation

6. Normative vs. Descriptive Models of Behavior
7. Some Biases in the Attribution Process
A. The “fundamental” attribution error (correspondence Bias) — Jones & Harris (1967),
Ross, Amabile, & Steinmetz (1977)
1) Explanations of the FAE – cognitive busyness, cultural, perceptual
B. The Actor-Observer bias and its explanations, Saliency bias — McArthur & Post (1974)
C. When are the conditions under which we are most likely to make FAE?
8. Reading
A. Plous : Chapter 16 – Underutilization of consensus info, Nisbett & Borgida electric
shocks study (in the section "A Lack of Consensus")
1. Classical Decision Theory
A. components of risky decision – value, utility, probability
B. Bernoulli's ideas of subjective utility and diminishing marginal utility
C. Prospect Theory – how are losses different from gains?
2. Bounded Rationality and Satisficing
3. The speed-accuracy trade-off
4. Behavioral Decision Theory – how does it differ from classical decision theory?
5. What is a heuristic?
6. Judgmental Heuristics — Tversky & Kahneman (1974)
A. The Representativeness Heuristic
1) Ignoring base rates (30 lawyers, 70 engineers, etc)
2) The dilution effect
3) The conjunction fallacy
4) (Mis)perceptions of randomness/chance, the gambler’s fallacy and the
retrospective gambler's fallacy
5) The “hot hand” illusion – Gilovich, Valone, & Tversky (1985)
6) Regression to the mean
B. The Availability Heuristic

1) Fears of death (flight insurance study, causes of death, 9/11 dread risk study)
2) Ease & difficulty of imaging – Carroll (1978) & Schwarz et al (1991)
3) Egocentric bias – Ross & Sicoly (1978)
C. Anchoring and Insufficient Adjustment
1) "Wheel of fortune" study
2) incidental environmental anchors
7. The principle of invariance
A. Decision Framing – loss vs. gain framing
1) Asian disease study, McNeil et al (1982) doctor study
B. Problems in covariation assessment – The feature positive effect
8. Reading
A. Plous: Chapter 6 – how do question wordings/framings affect responses?
Chapter 10 – non-regressive prediction (pages 116 – 118)
Chapter 11 – vividness & the guacamole study (pages 127-128)
Chapter 13 – no questions specifically from this chapter that weren't covered in lecture
Lecture 5 – The Unthinking Thinker: Automaticity & Unconscious Processing
1. The Unthinking Thinker
A. Mindlessness – Langer (1978)
1) Xerox machine study
2) Illusion of control studies
B. Automatic vs. controlled cognitive processing
C. Top-of-the head phenomena: Priming & category accessibility
1) Subliminal priming – Murphy & Zajonc (1993), Debner & Jacoby (1994)
D. Mere exposure effect – Zajonc (1965)
E. Automatic affect – Schwarz & Clore (1983) life satisfaction study
F. Automatic behavior – Bargh et al (1996) studies
2. Telling More Than You Can Know – Split brain studies, Nisbett & Wilson (1977)
A. Studies showing lack of awareness of cognitive processes
B. The “new” cognitive view

3. Dual Process Thinking
A. System 1 vs. System 2 – Epstein (1994), Stanowich & West (2002)
B. Dual process models
1) Automaticity & the FAE — Gilbert et al. (1988)
a. Categorization, Characterization, and Correction
2) Ironic processing — Wegner (1994), Wegner et al (1993)
a. Operating vs. monitoring process – know their basic definitions and how each
is affected by cognitive load/busyness
4. Is Thinking More Thinking Better?
A. Choking under pressure & the homefield disadvantage — Baumeister (1984)
B. Thinking about feelings studies — Wilson et al. (1993), Wilson & Schooler, (1991)
C. Concious vs. Unconscious deliberation (Dijksterhuis et al., 2006)
Reading: Fiske & Taylor Ch. 2 “Conclusion about Automaticity” section, “Goal-Inconsistent
Automaticity” section
Lecture 6 – Cognitive Inertia: Expectencies, Schemas, & Stereotypes
1. Bottom-Up (data-driven) vs. Top-Down (concept-driven) Processing
A. Naïve realism and its interpersonal effects
2. Schemas: Definition, Types, & Functions
A. The positive and negative sides of Schematic Processing
3. Expectancy Confirmation Processes
A. Perceptual Confirmation – Rosenhan (1973), The Ambiguous Shove – Duncan (1976)
1) Subtlety of Expectancy Processes – Darley & Gross (1980)
2) The Case of Amadou Diallo
a. Tool or Gun Studies – Payne (2001)
b. To shoot or not to shoot – Correll et al (2002)
3) Automatic Prejudice
a. The Implicit Association Test – is it really prejudice?
B. Behavioral Confirmation (Self-Fulfilling Prophecy)
1) Rosenthal & Jacobson (1968)

2) General Model of Behavioral Confirmation – Darley & Fazio (1980)
a. Avoidance behavioral confirmation
3) Self-fulfilling Nature of Attractiveness Stereotype — Snyder, Tanke, & Berscheid
4) Nonverbal Behavioral Confirmation (Word, Zanna, & Cooper, 1974)
C. Stereotype Threat – Steele & Aronson (1995)
1) Reducing Stereotype Threat (Cohen et al., 2006)
Plous Ch. 21 “Investment Traps” section, “Collective Traps” section
Fiske & Taylor Ch. 11 “Social Identity, Self-Categorization, and Other Identity Theories”
section (pg 283-286)
Lecture 7 – Thinking about the Past, Present, and Future
1. Remembering the Past
A. Memory Reconstruction – Loftus et al (1978), Loftus & Palmer (1974)
1) Implications for Eyewitness Memory
a. verbalization and memory (Schooler & Engstler-Schooler, 1990)
2) Repressed Memory Controversy
a. Lost in the Mall study (Loftus & Pickrell, 1995)
B. Memorial Confirmation of Expectancies – Snyder & Uranowitz (1978)
C. Hindsight Bias – Fischhoff (1975)
D. Duration Neglect – Kahneman et al (1993) (includes Cold Water study)
1) The Peak-End Bias in Memory for Pain
2. Predicting the Future
A. Affective Forecasting
1) Impact Bias – Brickman et al (1978), Wilson & Gilbert (2003)
a. focusing illusion, immune neglect
B. Hot-Cold Empathy Gaps
1) Van Boven & Loewenstein (2003) Exercise Study
2) Christensen-Szalanski (1984) Childbirth Study

C. Implications of Affective Forecasting Research for End-of-Life Decision Making
(including CPR study)
3. Counterfactual thinking
A. definition and functions
B. counterfactuals and non-normative events – Kahneman & Miller (1986)
C. Mispredicting regret – Medvec et al., (1995)
1) long term vs. short term regrets
Reading: Plous Ch. 3 “Reducing Hindsight Bias” section


Academic LevelCollege (1-2 years: Freshmen, Sophomore)
Subject AreaPsychology
Paper Type Essay
Number of Pages6 Page(s)/1650 words
Paper FormatAPA
SpacingDouble spaced
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