CAS 992 - Social Cognition and Communication

Spring, 1997 - Syllabus


Instructor: Gwen M. Wittenbaum
Office Location: 559 Communication Arts Building
Office Phone: 353-8120
Email: gwittenb@pilot.msu.edu

Class Meets:

7:00-9:50 p.m., Wednesdays in room 474 COM

Readings

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Nye, J. L., & Brower, A. M. (Eds.). (1996). What's social about social cognition? Research on socially shared cognition in small groups. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Course Packet (vol. I and II) available at Budget Printing (in the Trowbridge Plaza)

Course Description

During the last two decades, social psychology has been dominated by a social cognition perspective. That is, research has focused on individual attention, memory, and judgment of socially-relevant information. However, a social cognition perspective has recently come under attack as being asocial. Social cognitive research has failed to acknowledge the important ways that our thoughts about ourselves and other people are formed and shaped in a rich interactive and communicative environment. For example, people often discuss their social perceptions with others or at least anticipate doing so, and social cognition is frequently constrained by norms regarding appropriate social discourse. Likewise, our social perceptions of ourselves and others affect how we communicate with others. For example, members of task-oriented groups hold expectations about themselves and others which impact what information is discussed by the group. In sum, social cognition and communication are interrelated processes.

In this seminar, we will explore recent theory and research relevant to how communication processes influence and shape social perception and memory, and likewise, how social perceptions impact our communication with others. The literature draws mostly from the fields of social psychology, interpersonal communication, and organizational behavior.

The following topics will be covered:

  1. What is social cognition?
  2. How are people's attributions and social judgments of others' behavior constrained by conversational conventions and linguistic processes?
  3. How does a perceiver's role as a transmitter or receiver of information affect social judgment?
  4. How is social judgment affected by perceivers' anticipated need to justify their judgments to someone else?
  5. How are stereotypic expectancies confirmed through verbal and nonverbal communication?
  6. How do people manage their impressions through verbal and nonverbal communication?
  7. How do actors and observers differ in their memory for conversations and judgments about conversational participants?
  8. How are impressions formed during the course of conversation?
  9. When does group discussion attenuate biases in social judgment?
  10. How do work-group members' beliefs about one another influence their exchange of information and memory coordination?
  11. How might the future of social cognition incorporate communicative processes?

Course Objectives

  1. To foster the understanding, critique, analysis, and integration of theory and research related to social cognition and communication.
  2. To develop class facilitation and presentation skills.
  3. To produce a proposal for a research project relevant to social cognition and communication.

Grading

Assignment Percent of Grade
Class Facilitation 20%
Class Participation 20%
Reaction Papers 20%
Research Proposal and Paper Presentation 40%
100%

Class Facilitation

The format of the class will be student-directed. Two students will facilitate the class discussion each week by preparing discussion questions for the class, summarizing and clarifying the assigned readings for other students, and developing optional in-class exercises, handouts, summary sheets, etc. Pairs may meet with me beforehand to receive assistance with and feedback on their facilitation plans. Each week, the facilitators will be expected to generate a list of questions about the reading assignments and to distribute, via email, this list of questions to all seminar participants. Therefore, it is essential that all students in the seminar have an email account.

Class Participation

Students are expected to 1) read the assigned articles before class, 2) come to class prepared to discuss the reading assignments, and 3) actively participate in the class (e.g., respond to questions and comments posed by others, ask questions about the readings).

Reaction Papers

Students are required to write four reaction papers over the course of the semester. Each paper should be a short (around 3 pp., double-spaced) critique, analysis, and/or integration of the readings for a particular week. Students may choose the weeks for which they wish to write reaction papers, however at least TWO must be turned in before Spring Break.

Research Proposal and Paper Presentation

Each student is required to write a proposal for a research project related to the topic of social cognition and communication. Students are expected to relate the seminar topic to their own interests and develop proposed research that is doable (i.e., something that the student intends to conduct or could conduct as a graduate student). Students will present their research proposal idea to the class during the final weeks of the semester. Further information regarding the research proposal and presentations will be provided later in the semester.


CAS 992 Reading List


Week 1 (1/8): Overview of Course

Week 2 (1/15): Introduction to Social Cognition

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Ch. 1: Introduction
Ch. 4: Social Categories and Schemas
Ch. 5: Conditions of Schema Use
Ch. 7: Social Encoding: Attention and Consciousness

Schneider, D. J. (1991). Social Cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 42, 527-561.

Fiske, S. T., & Goodwin, S. A. (1996). Social cognition research and small group research, a West Side Story or . . . ? In J. L. Nye & A. M. Brower (Eds.), What's social about social cognition? Research on socially shared cognition in small groups (pp.xiii-xxxiii). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Week 3 (1/22): Attribution and Communication

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Ch. 2: Attribution Theory
Ch. 3: Attribution Theory: Theoretical Refinements and Empirical Observations

Hewstone, M. (1983). The role of language in attribution processes. In J. Jaspars, F. Fincham, & M. Hewstone (Eds.), Attribution theory and research: Conceptual, develpmental, and social dimensions (pp. 1-16). London: Academic Press.

Turnbull, W. & Slugoski, B. (1988). Conversational and linguistic processes in causal attribution. In D. Hilton (Ed.), Contemporary science and natural explanations: Commonsense conceptions of causality (pp. 66-93). New York: New York University Press.

Hilton, D. (1990). Conversational processes and causal explanation. Psychological Bulletin, 107, 65-81.

Week 4 (1/29): Social Judgment and Conversational Conventions

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Ch. 9: Social Inference

Hilton, D. J. (1995). The social context of reasoning: Conversational inference and rational judgment. Psychological Bulletin, 118, 248-271.

Schwarz, N. (1994). Judgment in a social context: Biases, shortcomings, and the logic of conversation. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 26, 123-162.

Schwarz, N., Strack, F., Hilton, D., & Naderer, G. (1991). Base rates, representativeness, and the logic of conversation: The contextual relevance of "irrelevant" information. Social Cognition, 9, 67-84.

Week 5 (2/5): Social Cognition and Communicative Roles

Harvey, J. H., Harkins, S. G., & Kagehiro, D. K. (1976). Cognitive tuning and the attribution of causality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 34, 708-715.

Guerin, B. & Innes, J. M. (1989). Cognitive tuning sets: Anticipating the consequences of communication. Current Psychology: Research and Reviews, 8, 234-249.

Gilovich, T. (1987). Secondhand information and social judgment. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 23, 59-74.

Inman, M. L., Reichl, A. J., & Baron, R. S. (1993). Do we tell less than we know or hear less than we are told? Exploring the teller-listener extremity effect. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 29, 528-550.

Week 6 (2/12): Social Judgment and Accountability

Tetlock, P. E. (1985). Accountability: A social check on the fundamental attribution error. Social Psychology Quarterly, 48, 227-236.

Tetlock, P. E. (1992). The impact of accountability on judgment and choice: Toward a social contingency model. In M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social psychology (Vol. 25, pp. 331-376). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.

Hattrup, K., & Ford, J. K. (1995). The roles of information characteristics and accountability in moderating stereotype-driven processes during social decision making. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 63, 73-86.

Week 7 (2/19): Behavioral Confirmation of Stereotypic Expectancies

Darley, J. M., & Fazio, R. H. (1980). Expectancy confirmation processes arising in the social interaction sequence. American Psychologist, 35, 867-881.

Word, C. O., Zanna, M. P., & Cooper, J. (1974). The nonverbal mediation of self-fulfilling prophesies in interracial interaction. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 10, 109-120.

Neuberg, S. L. (1989). The goal of forming accurate impressions during social interactions: Attenuating the impact of negative expectancies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 56, 374-386.

Snyder, M., & Haugen, J. A. (1994). Why does behavioral confirmation occur? A functional perspective on the role of the perceiver. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 30, 218-246.

Week 8 (2/26): Communication Manages Impressions of the Self

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Ch. 6: Social Cognition and the Self

Jones, E. E. (1990). Interaction goals and strategic self-presentation. In E. E. Jones, Interpersonal Perception (pp. 167-200). New York: Freeman.

Leary, M. R., Nezlek, J. B., Downs, D., Radford-Davenport, J., Martin, J., & McMullen, A. (1994). Self-presentation in everyday interactions: Effects of target familiarity and gender composition. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 67, 664-673.

DePaulo, B. M. (1992). Nonverbal behavior and self-presentation. Psychological Bulletin, 111, 203-243.

Week 9 (3/5): Spring Break

Week 10 (3/12): Conversational Memory

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Ch. 8: Peron Memory

Wyer, R. S., Budesheim, T. L., & Lambert, A. J. (1990). Cognitive representation of conversations about persons. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 58, 218-238.

Pezdek, K., & Prull, M. (1993). Fallacies in memory for conversations: Reflections on Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill, and the like. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 7, 299-310.

Benoit, W. L., Benoit, P. J., & Wilkie, J. (1996). Participants' and observers' memory for conversational behavior. Southern Communication Journal, 61, 139-155.

Week 11 (3/19): Perceiving Conversational Partners

Frank, M. G., & Gilovich, T. (1989). Effect of memory perspective on retrospective causal attributions. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 57, 399-403.

Burgoon, J. K., & Newton, D. A. (1991). Applying a social meaning model to relational message interpretations of conversational involvement: Comparing observer and participant perspectives. Southern Communication Journal, 56, 96-113.

Monahan, J. L. (1995). Information processing differences of conversational participants and observers: The effects of self-presentational concerns and cognitive load. Communication Monographs, 62, 265-281.

Kenny, D. A., Kieffer, S. C., Smith, J. A., Ceplenski, P., & Kulo, J. (1996). Circumscribed accuracy among well-acquainted individuals. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 32, 1-12.

Week 12 (3/26): Impression Formation through Conversation

Deutsch, F. M., & Mackesy, M. E. (1985). Friendship and the development of self-schemas: The effects of talking about others. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 11, 399-408.

Ruscher, J. B., & Hammer, E. D. (1994). Revising disrupted impressions through conversation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 66, 530-541.

Ruscher, J. B., Yost, E., & Hammer, E. (1996). Forming shared impressions through conversation: A consensual accuracy goal encourages individuating processes. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 22, 705-720.

Wyer, R. S., Jr., Swan, S., and Gruenfeld, D. H. (1995). Impression formation in informal conversations. Social Cognition, 13, 243-272.

Week 13 (4/2): Group Discussion and Judgmental Bias

Argote, L., Devadas, R., & Melone, N. (1990). The base-rate fallacy: Contrasting processes and outcomes of group and individual judgment. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 46, 296-310.

Wright, E. F., Luus, C. A., & Christie, S. D. (1990). Does group discussion facilitate the use of consensus information in making causal attributions? Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 261-269.

Wittenbaum, G. M., & Stasser, G. (1995). The role of prior expectancy and group discussion in the attribution of attitudes. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 31, 82-105.

Martell, R. F., & Borg, M. R. (1993). A comparison of the behavioral rating accuracy of groups and individuals. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 43-50.

Week 14 (4/9): Social Cognition in Groups

Krauss, R. M., & Fussell, S. R. (1991). Constructing shared communicative environments. In L. B. Resnick, J. M. Levine, & S. D. Teasley (Eds.), Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. 172-200). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

Wegner, D. M. (1995). A computer network model of human transactive memory. Social Cognition, 13, 319-339.

Moreland, R. L., Argote, L., & Krishnan, R. (1996). Socially shared cognition at work: Transactive memory and group performance. In J. L. Nye & A. M. Brower (Eds.), What's social about social cognition? Research on socially shared cognition in small groups (pp. 57-84). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Wittenbaum, G. M., & Stasser, G. (1996). Management of information in small groups. In J. L. Nye & A. M. Brower (Eds.), What's social about social cognition? Research on socially shared cognition in small groups (pp. 3-28). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Pavitt, C., Whitchurch, G. G., McClurg, H., & Petersen, N. (1995). Melding the objective and subjective sides of leadership: Communication and social judgments in decision-making groups. Communication Monographs, 62, 243-264.

Week 15 (4/16): The Future of Social Cognition

Fiske, S. T., & Taylor, S. E. (1991). Social Cognition. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.
Ch. 13: Conclusion

Patterson, M. L. (1996). Social behavior and social cognition: A parallel process approach. In J. L. Nye & A. M. Brower (Eds.), What's social about social cognition? Research on socially shared cognition in small groups (pp. 87-105). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Ickes, W., & Gonzalez, R. (1996). "Social" cognition and social cognition: From the subjective to the intersubjective. In J. L. Nye & A. M. Brower (Eds.), What's social about social cognition? Research on socially shared cognition in small groups (pp. 285-308). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Larson, J. R., & Christensen, C. (1993). Groups as problem-solving units: Toward a new meaning of social cognition. British Journal of Social Psychology, 32, 5-30.

Week 16 (4/23): Paper Presentations

Week 17: Research Proposals due by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 28


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