Social Psychology


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Links:  •  Crossword for Module 7
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  The Powers of Intuition

Ψ  Intuition: The ability to sense or know immediately without reasoning.

Ψ  Intuition (knowledge): understanding without apparent effort, quick & ready insight seemingly independent of previous experiences or empirical knowledge.

Ψ  For a really insightful look at the the significance of intuition in relation to decision making I recommend that you read Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking a 2005 book by Malcolm Gladwell. which popularizes research from psychology & behavioral economics on the adaptive unconscious; mental processes that work rapidly & automatically from relatively little information. It considers both the strengths of the adaptive unconscious, for example in expert judgment, & its pitfalls such as stereotypes. Gladwell proposes that "Thin-slicing" ( our ability to gauge what is really important from a very narrow period of experience ) is often as good as or even better than carefully planned & considered decision making processes.

Ψ  In psychology Intuition is one of the four axes of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, opposite "Sensing". The "SN" preference refers to how we gather information. We all need data on which to base our decisions. We gather data through our five senses. Jung contended that there are 2 distinct ways of perceiving the data that we gather. The "Sensing" preference absorbs data in a literal, concrete fashion. The "Intuitive" preference generates abstract possibilities from information that is gathered. We all use both Sensing & Intuition in our lives, but to different degrees of effectiveness & with different levels of comfort.

Ψ  Intuition: automatic thinking.

Examples of Automatic Thinking (intuition):

Ψ  A Schema is a template of what we are like & is a model for how we understand the social world around us. A schema becomes a pattern imposed on complex experiences to simplify, organize or guide our response.

Ψ  Emotional reactions are often nearly instantaneous, i.e. made without thinking.

Ψ  With enough expertise, you may intuitively know the answer to a problem.

Ψ  Some things such as skills & conditioned dispositions we remember implicitly, we don't have to think about them to use (do) them.


Ψ  The term blindsight refers to a "medical condition in which the sufferer responds to visual stimuli without consciously perceiving them" and is associated with damage to the primary visual cortex (V1). These claims can be backed up with experimental data; subjects that for all intensive purposes should be blind have retained the extraordinary ability to discriminate stimuli without the compliment of a primary visual cortex or awareness that an event has occurred. How is this possible? Many psychologists have long hypothesized that most of the stimuli that we encounter never reach our conscious awareness. However, it can be seen in blindsight research that behavior can be directed by the unconscious processing (intuition) of these stimuli indicating that conscious awareness is not a sufficient requirement to behave in the world. While the true depths of the unconscious may never be known, blindsight does provide a crude measure of the unconscious' transfer of perception to behavior.

•  Prosopagnosia Video

Ψ  Prosopagnosia (sometimes known as face blindness) is a rare disorder of face perception where the ability to recognize faces is impaired, although the ability to recognize objects may be relatively intact. It usually appears to result from brain injury or neurological illness affecting specific areas of the brain, although more recently cases of congenital or developmental prosopagnosia have also been reported. People with face blindness react intuitively to pictures of people they know even though they cannot recognize them.


Ψ  We can process large amounts of data efficiently & automatically, but our automatic intuitions often err, & usually we don't even realize our flaws so we continue to operate in the same ways with optimism. The overconfidence phenomenon refers to the human tendency to be more confident in one's behaviors, attributes & physical characteristics than one ought to be.

Ψ  Ironically, incompetence feeds overconfidence. (Kuger & Dunning (1999)

•  Click here for information on why overconfidence may lead you to Incompetence.

Ψ  Overconfidence bias may cause people to persist in situations where their expected outcome is poor. In some situations, this might cause them to improve their outcomes via greater effort. Nevertheless, this bias can be counterproductive.

Ψ  Confirmation bias refers to a type of selective thinking whereby one tends to notice & to look for what confirms one's beliefs, & to ignore, not look for, or undervalue the relevance of what contradicts one's beliefs. Confirmation bias justifies overconfidence.


•   Get prompt feedback.
 •   Consider disconfirming information. (Force yourself.)

It's a Mickey Mouse World , isn't it?

On Memories

Ψ  Memories are not copies of experiences that we retrieve intact, rather they are reconstructions. As reconstructions they are subject to our current personal bias & attitudes. We can revise our own histories & do, making ourselves look better.

Ψ  People often exhibit rosy retrospection. That is, they recall mildly pleasant events more favorably than they were.

Social Psychology
  Robert C. Gates