If the charts are not loaded correctly, please refer to the individual sections.


Section 2: Schemas & Just World Belief

Conscious or unconscious assumptions, beliefs, & theories. Our associative networks & preconceptions (innate & learned).


Psychologists have investigated people's schema for believing that the world is a just place to live.  This area of research is referred to as the "Belief in a just world" or the "just world phenomenon".     Research participants can be given a questionnaire that measures the extent to which they believe the world is a just place, that is, that justice prevails: the good (moral) are reward and the bad (immoral) are punished.  Psychologists have found that people who strongly believe in a just world, tend to blame the victim in a situation.  Therefore people who have this schema tend to denigrate victims.

It is likely that the jurors in the Rodney King trial were people who subscribed to the "belief in a just world," because they came from a white middle class background.  Great injustice would only rarely be experienced in their world compared to the world in which Rodney King lived.

Examples two questions found on a "belief in a just world" questionnaire:

1. - Do you believe movies in which good triumphs over evil?

2. - It is rare for an innocent man to be wrongfully sent to jail?

A person who strongly endorses these kinds of items is more likely to subscribe to the "just world belief".



Important Abbreviations


Conditioned Stimulus


 Conditioned Response


UnConditioned Stimulus   


 Unconditioned Response


Neutral Stimulus




Before Conditioning

Bell (NS)


No salivation response

Food was presented (US)


Naturally the animal salivates. (UCS)

After Conditioning

Bell (CS)


Salivation response (CR)


Pavlov – Russian physiologist who investigated classical conditioning

      Pavlov received the Nobel prize for studying digestion: He put windows into the digestive tract of dogs and watched portions of the digestion process.  He also studied salivation, which is part of digestion.  When he fed the animals, he measured saliva, which was an unconditioned response.

He found that the dogs would sometimes begin salivating when he would open the door.  The dogs were apparently salivating in accordance to sounds that were associated with the food.

Pavlov decided to study conditioning, which is the most basic form of learning. - If you ring a bell just before you feed an animal for several trials, eventually the bell will elicit salivation.

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Example of Classical Conditioning:  (Take careful note of the terminology used)

Bell (CS) is associated to meat powder (UCS) à Salivation
N = Number of Trials

First taught, then do an extinction trial, then wait, until it is extinguished, then wait a day with out any trials, the spontaneous recovery of the Acquisition (or the reappearance of the conditioned stimulus) is smaller than the original response.


FIRST: (acquisition) A dog is first taught that the bell promises food and will salivate when the bell is rung, even before food is presented
SECOND: (Extinction) Now the scientist tries to extinguish the conditioned response so that the the bell will not be associated with the food. To do this the scientist rings the bell, but does not present any food.  After a few trials, the dog finally realizes that the bell no longer promises food, and therefore the dog stops salivating when the bell rings.
Third: (Spontaneous Recovery) In some situations, a previously extinguished conditioned response may reappear after some time has passed. This is call spontaneous recovery. After some time has passed, the dog may again salivate when the bell rings without further learning trials. Spontaneous recovery can be prevented by over extinction: continuing the extinction trials.


___ = Stimulus off
--- = Stimulus on

___---___ = [off on off] the --- is the duration of "on"
Our example is:
CS = Bell
US = Opening the Drawer containing Meat




Simultaneous Conditioning.

CS ____---____ - ring bell and open meat drawer
US ____---____

Delayed conditioning
        Strongest Conditioning.

CS _------------_
US ______-----_

Trace Conditioning

CS __---______
US ______---__

Temporal Conditioning

US __---__---__

Backward Conditioning

CS ______---_
US ___---____


Stimulus Generalization

If you condition a dog using a bell that rings at 5000 cycles per second and you use the same bell, you get the same response.
But if you ring a bell that rings at 3000 cycles per second you get a diminished salivary responses in comparison to the bell which rings at 5000 cycles per second.

To eliminate generalization and enhance discrimination:, give the animal food over several trials when the the 5,000c/s is rung; then ring bells with frequencies close to 5000c/s but never feed the dog, the dog will then lean to discriminate between a 5000c/s bell and other bells.


John Watson & his assistant Ms. Rayner

"Little Albert" Experiment - The conditioned fear of cute fuzzy animals.

In the beginning little Albert played freely with a white rat.  But later, Watson paired a loud noise with the presentation of the rat.   Albert became afraid of the rat, and subsequently other small cute fuzzy animals.

Mary Cupboard Jones – helped with behavioral psychology and the treatment of phobias.  Invented systematic desensitization (a treatment for phobias).

Conditioned Food Aversion – if you get sick after eating something, there is a likelihood that you will not choose to eat it again, that is, you will avoid the food.

This was used by shepherds who wanted to protect their flock from coyotes.. They would put out some tainted meat that made the coyotes sick. The coyotes would then no longer want eat the sheep.

Conditioned Immune Response - The immune response can be classically conditioned. - Example: if a drug which lowers the immune system is paired over several trials with a specific taste (saccharin) the animal's immune system will be lowered by the taste alone.


Homeostasis - the body strives to maintain a constant biological state.

Conditioned Compensatory Response(learned tolerance)

If a rat is put in a cold dark ice box, his body temperature drops.   After exposing the rat to this situation several times, it will be conditioned.

If the ice box is no longer cooled and the rest of the situation remains the same, what will happen when the animal is put in the box? Will the animal's body temperature increase or will it decrease?

Paradoxically the animal's body temperature will increase!  

The rat's body will be tricked into compensating for the cold, even though there is none - his body temperature will therefor rise. This is an example conditioned compensatory response.

Tolerance – Decreased effectiveness of a drug through repeated exposure.

Learned tolerance Conditioned tolerance. Is created by a conditioned compensatory response.

Example: Some drugs have similar effects/problems… if a drug is taken the body will remember the environment in which the drug was taken, so if you usually take a drug with friends your body begins to build up a tolerance for the drug in the presence of the conditioned stimulus - friends, but later take it by your self, you have a higher likelihood of overdosing because the conditioned stimulus is absent, there is no conditioned compensatory response lessening the effect of the drug. 


Section 2: Operant Conditioning

Thorndike -

He put cats in "puzzle boxes", and the cats would have to learn how to escape. - The reinforcer would be the cat breaking free!

If an action brings a reward then the action becomes stamped into the mind. Behavior is changed because of it’s consequences.


Thorndike's Law of Effect:

Behaviors followed by  favorable consequences become more likely, and behaviors followed by unfavorable consequences become less likely.

Skinner(died early 1990's)

Perhaps one of the most famous psychologist to ever lived. He worked with rats in "skinner boxes."   

He trained a rat to do a wide variety of tasks: the most basic task was pressing a bar to obtain a reward of food. Once the rat learned how to press a bar, the rat can be taught to only press the bar when presented with other complex stimuli.   Using this situation it is possible to measure how well the rat perceives, learns and remembers, therefore, many psychological variables can be investigated in rats.

Operant Conditioning - Subjects associate their behaviors with their consequences, thus they became more likely to repeat rewarded (reinforced) behaviors and less likely to repeat punished behaviors.

Reinforcer – increases the likely hood of a response.  Primary or secondary reinforcers can be delayed or immediate.

Primary (innate) food, relief from pain (a negative Reinforcer)

Secondary (Learned) – money, not necessary, something that can be traded in for a primary Reinforcer (symbolic)

Immediate - Much more effective than delayed reinforcers.
Example: It is better to add a dollar to a piggy bank toward a bicycle every time the child brings home a good grade, rather than waiting until the end of the year, and if the child has a good GPA, then giving the bicycle. Immediate reinforcement is better than delayed reinforcement perhaps because the child is not able to keep the goal in his or her mind without being regularly rewarded for the the desired behavior.

A punisher – decreases the likelihood of a response.

However - For some children, being yelled at may be seen as reinforcement. Although parents perceive yelling to be a form of punishment, a child may find this a positive reinforcer because the child is looking for attention.


procedure which rewards the animal, gradually guiding its behavior toward a desired behavior  Imagine that you want to condition a rat to press a bar. You might give the rat food every time it comes close to the bar, then start narrowing down the reward area until the rat only receives a reward when it touches the bar. Eventually you only give rewards when the rat pulls the bar all the way down.

Superstitious behavior.

The animal does something that you did not intend for it to do, but it also does the thing that you want, a compound action.  For example, the rat hits it's head on the wall before it hits the bar, therefore making the rat think it needs to hit it's head and push the bar to receive a reward.  In humans this is observed in such behavior as the expression of  "knock-on-wood" thinking that the phrase will increase the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

Over justification effect

If you use techniques too much, a person who would have done something for their own satisfaction, then does something simply for the food/money.


Present Stimulus

Remove Stimulus

Increase behavior

Positive reinforcement

Negative reinforcement

Decrease Behavior

Positive Punishment also called Aversive Punishment

Negative Punishment also called response cost

For example, image that a child reaches out and grabs a candy bar.
   The father takes it away
          The child cries and has a temper tantrum
                    The father buys the candy bar
                              The child stops crying

See the bottom of the page for the answers.
Identify: Negatively Reinforced; Positively punished; Negatively punished or Positively Reinforced or
The child’s grabbing the candy bar was a  (1) by the father taking the candy bar away
The father’s taking of the candy bar has been (2)  by the child’s crying and tantrum?
The child’s tantrum was (3) by the father’s buying the candy bar?
The father’s buying the candy was (4) by the child’s stopping the crying and tantrum

Extinction, Generalization, Discrimination and Spontaneous Recovery these phenomenon hold for operant (instrumental) conditioning as well as for classical conditioning.

During learning you reinforce them all the time, after learning, you transfer them to a schedule of reinforcement.


(1) Negatively punished
(2) Positively punished
(3) Positively Reinforced
(4) Negatively Reinforced


Section 2: Sensory Memory

Cognitive Psychology - Studies what is going on in the mind. – studies perception, memory, and verbal learning.

Acoustic sensory storage is called Echoic – (Only for sound)

Duration is about 2 seconds

Example: You are watching TV and someone talks to you. You respond to the sound of the voice by saying "Huh?". After a second, you suddenly remember what the person said. It is like a memory buffer.

Visual Sensory memory is called Iconic

Duration is about 200 milliseconds.

Note the discrepancy of about 800 percent difference between acoustic and visual

When given the following image, as a Flash within 50 milliseconds,
A person has a tendency to remember 4 random characters.

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But if immediately after the image is gone, and a marker is placed
At the beginning of the line which is desired to store in memory,
The person has the ability to completely memorize the entire line.
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Section 2: Short Term Memory

Short Term Memory

Limited in 2 ways:

Duration is about 20 seconds

Capacity = 7 chunks +/- 2 chunks


Section 2: Long Term Memory

Types of Long Term Memory

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Memories are not stored in a single part of the brain. They stored globally across the brain.

The hippocampus is important for transferring declarative memory from short-term memory to long-term memory, but not for procedural memories (e.g., riding a bike).

Anterograde amnesia is memory loss of any memories after the onset of the amnesia. For example, if someone has damage to the hippocampus. They may have difficult forming new memories, but they will be able to remember the memories formed before the damage to the hippocampus.

Retrograde amnesia
is the memory loss of memories formed prior to the onset of the amnesia.

Temporal lobes contain the hippocampus…

From the movie

He lives in the moment, i.e., moment to moment consciousness. Everything before and after doesn’t exist. He’s newly awake for the first time every day. He always thinks that he has been awake for 2 minutes. As you talk to him, he does not remember the last sentence.

The infection usually starts in another origin, then goes to the brain – hippocampus.

The serial position of words in a list you are trying to remember is important.

Typically the first words (primacy effect) and the last words (recency effect) will be remembered more often than the words in the middle.

We forget things because we are constantly leaning things…

Proactive & Retroactive Interference

Whether interference is proactive or retroactive is determined by when the material that is interfering occurs.  If the memory that interferes comes before it is proactive, it it comes after, it is retroactive.

Proactive interference
Learning A ---------> Learning B --------> Forget B

Retroactive Interference
Learning A ---------> Learning B --------> Forget A


Time 1

Time 2



Study French

Study Spanish

Recall Spanish

French proactively interferes

Study French

Study Spanish

Recall French

Spanish retroactively interferes

If you learn something, then you sleep, you have a chance of retaining 60% more information. Rather if you were to stay awake, you would be constantly bringing in new information. Thus causing more interference.

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"Forgetting curve." Ebbing house’s curve, says that we forget most of our information right away, same on any scale!

Seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, years. (remaining with the same scale of 100 percent of the original information.)

Context specific memory. If the context matches, you get better remembering.

State specific memory. If the state is the same, the memory will improved.

Method of Loci – used by the Greeks who determined that it was a good enhancer of memory.
          Better than a strategy of repetition

Recalled: Radio, Pencil, Wire, Bean, Flower, Table, Piano, Necktie, Sock, Hammer, Penny
Recall: Glass

Necessary for memory
Imagery –
Organization –
Example memorizing
Types of amnesia
                    Allows you to memorize that there are 3 types of amnesia…
Sleep – time during which memories are consolidated          

Long term potentiation:

The brain is constantly changing. The connections that one has now, are not the same as last week. Unfortunately whole nerve cells don’t re-grow. Rather dendrites can change.

The brain does not take a snapshot of an event. Rather it takes enough information from the event, stores it in memory, then when one tries to recall the event, the brain synthesizes the event.

          Source Amnesia
                    Source 1 – Watched a movie
                    Source 2 – Read the news paper
                              Source 2 & 1 will result in 1 memory.
                    Condition 1: (there will be misinformation) –
the race, the number of suspects, and the store, and the street
Black, three, drug, elm
Condition 2: (neutral information)

2X2 Plot

There doesn’t seem to be a relationship between people’s confidence of what they know, and what they actually know. 


Section 2: Confidence and Memory

There is little or no relationship between witness confidence and witness accuracy.

Memory Confidence affects the decisions of juries.

Mock Juries
    Circumstantial evidence
        18% conviction rate, just on circumstantial evidence
            then add one eye witness, the conviction rate goes up to 72%

In a picture line-up, even without the perpetrator, the victim will still pick someone.  Later with a second line-up with the perpetrator, the witness will stay with their original choice instead of picking the real perpetrator.

Elizabeth Loftus

Paradigm - model for research.

She studies memory and has the view that repressed memories are unlikely because the primary cause of forgetting is not repression; rather it is due to other factors (e.g., interference, decay) and not because we want to forget the event/memory.

To explain why people believe in memories that never existed, she developed a paradigm in which she implants the memory of being lost in a shopping mall in people (young adults) who were never lost in a mall.

She has found that she is able to implant the memory in some of participants in her study. She argues that a similar process may occur in some sexual abuse cases. Memories of sexual abuse may be implanted by the therapist. For example, the therapist may say:

"are you sure that you weren’t sexually abused, you may be suppressing these feelings. That would explain why you are having such problems."

After analyzing transcripts of therapy sessions, she noted that some therapists suggest memories to the clients in a way that may be very conducive to forming false memories.


Section 2: Heuristics

Heuristics are simple rules
        Although their automatic use often results in easy answers, they are sometimes incorrect

Representative heuristic

Judgments are biased by our assessment of the degree to which the salient (a feature that stands out) features of specific instances resemble general categories.

The representative heuristic may explain why only certain operant-reinforced associations are easily learned.

Example of the Representative heuristics…

What is the most likely sequence for the next 6 babies born in the U.S. (b=boy, g=girl)





  Correct mathematical probability theory says #1 because there are slightly more boys than girls born in the US.  However, 1 2 and 3 are about equal in probability.  The reason why people would lean towards #3 is because it looks like it is random distribution. Most people know that the gender of a child is random.


A professor likes to write poetry is rather shy, and is small in stature. Which of the following is his field?

1) Chinese studies


2) Psychology


Correct answer would be Psychologists, based on the fact that the total number of psychologist is greater than the total number of people in the field of Chinese studies.   Therefore, one could expect many psychologists to express these characteristics, even though these characteristics don't typify that of psychologists in general.  We often ignore the total number of occurrences (base rate) in a population when making these kinds of decisions.


Availability Heuristic -

Judgment are biased by how easily specific examples are recalled.
Easier = more frequent or more causally related
What is in our short term memories affects our decisions

Example of the Representative heuristics:

Which of the following do more people die of:
Motor Vehicle Accidents

Correct answer: Stroke.   Although motor vehicle accidents are more widely publicized and we encounter them more in every day life (for example on the side of the road on our way to work or school), these accident's are rarely fatal. Strokes are less publicized (found in the obituary section) and account for more deaths in the US.

Which of the following do more people die of:

Correct answer: Diabetes.   For the same reasons as the previous example: people are more drawn to choosing homicide.  Homicide is more frequently portrayed in TV dramas.

Are there more words that begin with the letter "r"
that have "r" as the third letter?

Correct answer is R as the third letter. Because it is easier for us to list off words which start with "R" than have "R" as the third letter, we are more susceptible to choose what is readily available to us.

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    This chart shows how being a member of a specific group could predispose you to believe that more people of the general population will also be part of your group.  When asked how many people are vegetarians, the vegetarians estimated a greater number than non vegetarians.  This effect can be explained through the availability heuristic.   Vegetarians think that there are more vegetarians because more of the people that they know are vegetarian.


By altering actors and observers perspectives through videotape replays, mirrors, or other methods, one can correspondingly alter actors’ and observer’s causal assessments."
        Human inference
        Nisbett & Ross 1980

    By changing the perspective, we also can change the availability of information that jurors use to reach a verdict.  In the Rodney King trial, for example, all the officers who beat Rodney King were acquitted.  The lawyers defending the police, replayed the videotape of the beating, stopping it frequently to make information available to the jurors.  This information consisted of what the police were thinking as well as Rodney King's supposed intentions.  Using this technique of manipulating availability, they were able to convince the jury that Rodney King was the cause of his own beating.


Section 2: Attribution

Social psychology – is the scientific study of individual behavior as a function of social stimuli.

Some areas of interest are
attitudes and attitude change, person perception, the self interpersonal attraction, altruism, aggression and social influence.

Attribution theory

Attributions are the reasons we give for our own or others’ behavior.
Example: You see an athlete advertise a camera on TV.
Why are they using the camera?


Festinger (1959)

One of his research projects involved hiring people to do a very boring task.  Research participants were paid either $1 or $20.  All were given the same boring task.  Later all subjects were asked how they liked doing the task.

Which group of subjects liked the task more? The $20 group or the $1 group?

Surprisingly the subjects who were paid the $1 liked the task more.  This result can be explained by attribution theory.  Participants who were paid $20 found it easy to think of a reason why they did the task  - they were paid good money to do it. On the other hand, participants given only $1 thought that they must have liked the task since the money was so low. Otherwise why else would they have done it?

There are 2 kinds of attributions:

Dispositional: We judge that a person does something because of who he or she is (the athlete likes the camera.)

Situational: A person does something because of his or her situation (she wants the money).

The Fundamental Attribution Error

We overestimate the power of the person and underestimate the power of the situation.
The availability heuristic may explain why this error occurs.


We tend to make dispositional attributions for others and situational attributions for ourselves.

IF you did bad on a test…

You are likely to emphasize the situation. For example, the test was a poor test, or that you did not get enough sleep the night before the test.

If someone else did bad on a test

You are likely to blame the disposition of the person. For example, they aren't really all that smart.

The more distant we are from the person the more likely we are to make dispositional attributions.  And the opposite is true, the closer we are to the person the more likely we are to understand the situation.


Biases – Political

Liberals - (situational attributions)
    believe that there are possible extenuating circumstances

Conservatives - (Dispositional attribution)
    believe that the result is because on the personality of the individual.


By altering actors and observers perspectives through videotape replays, mirrors, or other methods, one can correspondingly alter actors’ and observer’s causal assessments."
        Human inference
        Nisbett & Ross 1980

See the section concluding Heuristics, about Rodney King, on an example of changing attribution by changing availability.


Section 2: Norms

Norms – Standards for behavior
– Can a social norm be created in a laboratory?
    Auto Kinetic Effect
        Had a study in which 3 participants in a darkened room were instructed to focus on a point of light (which happened to be stationary).

     Under these conditions a person tends to experience the Auto kinetic effect, the point of light would appear to start moving.  Each of the participants would see the point of light moving, but not moving equally.  For example participant number 1 may believe that the point of light was moving 4-5 inches. Participant 3 may say the light was moving only one inch.  If the participants are allowed to share their results, the researcher would note that over time the participants' perception would gradually merge.

    It is extremely difficult for humans beings to not comply with a norm.  For example, adolescents who think that they are rebelling against society may choose to get multiple body piercings.  But by doing this, the adolescents are conforming to a different reference group  - their peers, and thus conforming to a stronger norm.

Section 2: Social Influence & Obedience

Conformity – change in behavior, or a change in belief, in response to group influence.
Solomon Ash –
        Made a line test

When a person is by himself or herself and asked to determine which line matched the standard, there was only a 1% error rate.

But when there were confederate who gave an incorrect response,  75 % of the subjects conformed at least once in 12 trials.

    Confederates: a person who works for the experimenter.

In this case, the confederate gave the correct answer at first, then began giving giving wrong answers, thus causing the participants to conform to a group member.

Stanley Milgram…
   Investigated humans ability to obey authority.  His experiments sought to illuminate how it was that Nazi Germany was able to inflict such harm and pain on so many innocent individuals. 

    The participants in Miligram's experiments were told that he was investigating learning.  The participants believed that they were administering increasingly strong electrical shocks to another participant when that participant failed to remember a previously presented word. 

    Unknown to the participants was the fact that the other person was a research assistant who was pretending to be shocked, screaming as the shocks grew more and more painful.

   Although before the experiment was run, people thought that only a small number of individuals would administer the maximum shock.  Milgram found that about 63%  of the participants fully complied with their instruction to continue shocking until the experiment was completed.

Obedience was highest when

  • the person giving the orders was close and perceived to be a legitimate authority figure
  • the authority figure was supported by a prestigious institution.  (Milgram got somewhat less compliance when he dissociated his experiments from Yale University.)
  • The victim was depersonalized or at a distance, even in another room. Similarly, many soldiers either do not fire their rifles or do not aim them properly in combat with an enemy they can see.  Such refusals to kill are rare among those who operate the more distant weapons of artillery or aircraft.
  • There were no role models for defiance; that is, no other subjects were seen disobeying the experimenter.
  • Blind obedience is not limited to the fascist mentality, rather it is a basic instinct, a method of social norms.