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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Day 416: I am in CONTROL

I will start with describing a few terms that I will be using, if not now, then in posts to come.

  • Schema: A framework for specific situations, built from past experiences. They are mental frameworks centering on specific themes that help us to organise social information. An example would be one's idea of what an hour in Maths class is like, or going out to a restaurant - these are experiences that we come to have certain expectations about. 
  • Affect: Our current feelings, mood, or emotions. 
  • Priming: A situation that occurs when stimuli or events increase the availability in memory or consciousness t\of specific types of information held in memory - for example: you go to watch a violent movie and afterward go to a shopping center where someone cuts in front of you to take your parking spot - chances are you will perceive the other driver's action as aggressive, because you have had your aggressive schema activated by the violent movie, more so than if you had watched a comedy. 
  • Unpriming: The effects of the primed schemas tend to persist until they are somehow expressed in thought or behaviour and only then do their effects decrease. 
 This information I have taken from a book called Social Psychology (12th edition) by Robert A Baron, Nyla R Branscombe & Donn Byrne.

So, we all have schemas which we develop throughout our lives based on recurring similar experiences. The social psychology book says that schemas are used to help organise social knowledge and assumptions about the situations or themes, which then helps us to process the information. I call it brainwashing.

I will take some excerpts from the book...

...schemas play a role in determining what we notice about the social world, what information we remember, and how we use and interpret such information. 
Schemas have been found to influence all of these aspects of social cognition... With respect to attention, schemas often act as a kind of filter: Information consistent with them is more likely to be noticed and to enter our consciousness. Information that does not fit with our schemas is often ignored, unless it is so extreme that we can't help but notice it. And even then, it is often discounted as "the exception that proves the rule."
Turning to encoding... the information that becomes the focus of our attention is much more likely to be stored in long-term memory... in general, it is information that is consistent with our schemas that  is encoded.
...this research suggests that people tend to report remembering and using information that is consistent with schemas to a greater effect than information that is inconsistent. 
The stranger and more well developed schemas are, the more likely they are to influence our thinking and especially our memory for social information. 

There is a lot more I could quote, but I would like to add my 2 cents before the end of the week.

Psychology has determined that we are influenced by these schemas we develop and that we can be influenced by external sources by activating our schemas. So now, why the hell is Psychology not making this known to the general public? It seems like something that, once being aware of it, one could actually really assess one's life and thoughts - because it brings the realisation that we are puppets, shaped and molded by everything around us, and we have practically no say over who we will be in our lives. Why does psychology not develop and research how we can rewrite our schemas to be supportive, or how we can take control of our lives and not live according to whatever schema inside us has been "activated" by this or that advert, song, sentence, whatever.

There is some interesting stuff in this book, which I will be discussing over the next... however long.

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