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Social COGNITION. Structure of Attitudes. Affective Gatsby feels that Daisy will want to be with him if he is financially successful Behavioural Gatsby starts his own business and creates a large fortune and builds castle-like house to demonstrate his wealth and success Cognitive

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structure of attitudes
Structure of Attitudes
  • Affective

Gatsby feels that Daisy will want to be with him if he is financially successful

  • Behavioural

Gatsby starts his own business and creates a large fortune and builds castle-like house to demonstrate his wealth and success

  • Cognitive

Gatsby believes that if Daisy sees how wealthy and successful he now is she will leave Tom

functions attitudes serve
Functions Attitudes Serve

Instrumental function

Helps people to strive to maximise the rewards and minimise penalties from the world around them

Daisy’s attitude to her relationship with Gatsby and Tom: wanting to continue her relationship with Gatsby and remain married to Tom, to maximise the positives of remaining in a marriage as she and Tom have a child and she loves Gatsby, and minimise negatives of divorce and scandal


Ego Defensive Function

Assists people to avoid admitting negative things about themselves or accepting harsh and unpleasant realities of the world

This function acts as a defence mechanism to protect our own self image

Gatsby’s invented past is more than just a strategy to pass himself off as a member of the upper class; it’s also a form of denial, a psychological defense to help him repress the memory of his real past, his desire is to psychologically kill the parents whose wounding influence still inhabits his own psyche


Value Expressive Function

Allows us to gain satisfaction from expressing our attitudes and values that are central to our self concepts

We are able to gain positive feelings about ourselves through expressing our attitudes and beliefs

We establish our self identity

Tom expresses his attitudes about many things, for example, marriage although we may not agree with his values (i.e. inter-racial marriage) his attitudes serve the function of allowing him to establish his self identity as his expresses his beliefs

principles governing attitude change
Principles Governing Attitude Change


  • The Central Route: this is when people persuaded by thinking critically about the contents of a message i.e. the focus is on the message and the strength of the arguments being presented
  • The Peripheral Route: this is when people are persuaded by association, attitude change is more likely influenced by the appearance of the speaker, image or emotions triggered by the communication

Others are persuaded by Gatsby’s appearance that he is associated with the elite - his clothing, car, house

impression f ormation
Impression Formation

The impression we form of others is influenced by many factors:

  • Basic communication, non-verbal and verbal communication

Though Nick recognizes Gatsby’s flaws the first time he meets him, he cannot help but admire Gatsby’s brilliant smile, his romantic idealization of Daisy, and his yearning for the future – how did Nick establish this impression of Gatsby?

What is your impression of Tom?

impression management
Impression Management

There are two main ways we manage the impression that others form of us

Self presentation

  • this is the process where we present ourselves to others the way we wish to be seen i.e. it is what we do (verbal and non verbal factors) to control the way they view us

Nick is tolerant, open-minded, quiet, and a good listener, and, as a result, others tend to talk to him and tell him their secrets– this is the impression he gives of himself – he does this with both verbal and non-verbal communication –examples?



  • This refers to what people do in order to build an excuse for failure and protect their self image from performing badly (the self –handicapping takes place before the task is attempted)
    • Real self handicapping
    • Feignedself-handicapping

Tom’s extra-marital affairs - he describes as ‘slip-ups’ and explains that Daisy was aware of this at the beginning of their marriage thus using real handicapping to build an excuse for his behaviour

social comparisons
Social Comparisons

1. Similar Social Comparisons

this allows us to gain an accurate assessmentof whether we are fitting into the social norms

It could be argued that Daisy compares herself with people who she believes are similar to her in order for her to have a sense of where she fits in with the society in which she lives – she uses neither upwards or downwards social comparison


2. Upward Social Comparisons

comparing ourselves with someone better than us in some way, which enables us to determine what the best really is.

This can have motivational value (but can backfire if we compare to someone where the goal is unachievable)

Gatsby uses downward social comparison comparing himself to members of the elite society Daisy inhabits in order motivate him to make his fortune and win Daisy back. Further demonstrated by the name of the lake where Gatsby met Dan Cody - ‘Lake Superior’


3. Downward Social Comparisons

comparing ourselves to people we perceive to be less able or fortunate in some way and generally is used to boost our self esteem as we are presented in a positive way

Tom compares himself with those he believes are less fortunate than him to boost his self esteem – the way he compares himself to his staff and to Gatsby - he says that Gatsby can never truly be a member of the elite society as he was not born into it