Social Schemas

Discuss whether the idea of social schemas has helped psychologists to understand social perception. Use examples of relevant psychological research to support your arguments.

One of the major aims of psychology is the scientific study of how people can understand and relate to the social world. Given the vast array of stimuli that a person has to assimilate in everyday life it would seem plausible to suggest that the brain would have a process to organize this input in a manageable form. A number of psychologists have advanced the idea that much of the stimuli we receive is organised into   schemas by which we can categorize similar types of experience and appraise such experience based on pass memories (Buchanan et el 2007) . This essay will appraise the psychological research on schemas and how this has contributed to understanding social perceptions.

Schemas are cognitive structure that form generalizations from similar stimuli and form theories on how to interpret and react to such stimuli.   Schemas have been subdivided into various types that depend on the social situation. Person scripts contain information on people, particularly personality traits, role schemas that identify socials roles such as an librarian and event schemas for social events like going to school. Schema are top-down cognitive processes (the use of mental concepts to analyse stimuli) and conceptually driven (Buchanan et el 2007) .

Schema aid cognition by making generalisations which filters out extraneous and unnecessary information. However this process can sometimes lead to making stereotypical judgements. Schemas by nature seek out similar example of previous experience and form prejudged expectations. This was shown in a study by Devine (1989) who proposed that racial stereotypes can be activated automatically upon perception of a person’s group membership. In the study participants were presented with negative semantic preconscious primes (a stimulus designed to elicit a...