Cognition and Communication: Judgmental Biases, Research Methods, and the Logic of Conversation

Psychology Press
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Psychological research into human cognition and judgment reveals a wide range of biases and shortcomings. Whether we form impressions of other people, recall episodes from memory, report our attitudes in an opinion poll, or make important decisions, we often get it wrong. The errors made are not trivial and often seem to violate common sense and basic logic. A closer look at the underlying processes, however, suggests that many of the well known fallacies do not necessarily reflect inherent shortcomings of human judgment. Rather, they partially reflect that research participants bring the tacit assumptions that govern the conduct of conversation in daily life to the research situation. According to these assumptions, communicated information comes with a guarantee of relevance and listeners are entitled to assume that the speaker tries to be informative, truthful, relevant, and clear. Moreover, listeners interpret the speakers' utterances on the assumption that they are trying to live up to these ideals.

This book introduces social science researchers to the "logic of conversation" developed by Paul Grice, a philosopher of language, who proposed the cooperative principle and a set of maxims on which conversationalists implicitly rely. The author applies this framework to a wide range of topics, including research on person perception, decision making, and the emergence of context effects in attitude measurement and public opinion research. Experimental studies reveal that the biases generally seen in such research are, in part, a function of violations of Gricean conversational norms. The author discusses implications for the design of experiments and questionnaires and addresses the socially contextualized nature of human judgment.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Psychology Press
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Published on
Mar 5, 2014
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Pages
128
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ISBN
9781317778875
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Language
English
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Genres
Psychology / Social Psychology
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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This volume is devoted to the fascinating topic of social communication - fascinating because communication is ubiquitous, in that one cannot not communicate. And yet, the art of effective communication can be extremely demanding and elusive, because a tricky trade-off problem has to be solved. For communication to be successful, it must be at once informative - somehow indicating an intended direction of thought or action - as well as subtle - somehow concealing intentions and instrumental goals. Failure to meet the former criterion renders communication uncontrolled and haphazard; failure to meet the latter raises suspicion and reactance.

The chapters in this volume focus on the tools and repertoires evolved by social communication in order to deal with this demanding trade-off. They represent prominent paradigms of current research at the interface of communication and social psychology, presented by leading scholars who have played crucial roles in the development of those paradigms.

The sixteen chapters are grouped into four major sections: communication within and between groups and cultures; strategic communication; social communication, affect, and behaviour regulation; and social communication and adaptive behaviour regulation. Individual chapters are devoted to such intriguing topics as stereotypes and intergroup affairs, language and culture, deception and lie detection, persuasion, discussions in groups, logic of conversation, nonverbal cues, conversational implicatures, the impact of conversation situations and social distance, and the evolution of verbal communication. The volume is framed by an introduction and an epilog.

Social Communication is essential reading for senior undergraduates, graduates, and researchers working in the field of social communication, language and social psychology, and related areas in social science such as communication science, linguistics, and gender studies.

As Skinner argued so pointedly, the more we know about the situational causes of psychological phenomena, the less need we have for postulating internal conscious mediating processes to explain those phenomena. Now, as the purview of social psychology is precisely to discover those situational causes of thinking, feeling, and acting in the real or implied presence of other people, it is hard to escape the forecast that as knowledge progresses regarding social psychological phenomena there will be less of a role played by free will or conscious choice in accounting for them. In other words, because of social psychology's natural focus on the situational determinants of thinking, feeling, and doing, it is inevitable that social psychological phenomena increasingly will be found to be automatic in nature.

This 10th book in the series addresses automaticity and how it relates to social behavior. The lead article, written by John Bargh, argues that social psychology phenomena are essentially automatic in nature, as opposed to being mediated by conscious choice or reflection. Bargh maintains that an automatic mental phenomenon is that which occurs reflexively whenever certain triggering conditions are in place; when those conditions are present, the process runs off autonomously, independently of conscious guidance. In his lead article, he focuses on these preconscious automatic processes that can be contrasted with postconscious and goal-dependent forms of automaticity which depend on more than the mere presence of environmental objects or events. Because social psychology, like automaticity theory and research, is also largely concerned with phenomena that occur whenever certain situational features or factors are in place, social psychology phenomena are essentially automatic. Students and researchers in social and cognitive psychology will find this to be a provocative addition to the series.
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