Section III: Cognitive and Affective Mechanisms

Eich, Handy, Holmes, Lerner, and Mclsaac suggest that the way people remember past events has a crucial role in how interpersonal behavior is constructed. They review the cognitive and social aspects of the first-person-third-person distinction in autobiographical memory and discuss recent functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) evidence identifying the neural networks engaged by field versus observer perspectives. Results also show that social and cultural variables play an important role in how people remember social events. Easterners take a more outside-in (observer) perspective, but Westerners take a more inside-out (actor) perspective. Although autobiographical memory is a quintessentially intrapersonal phenomenon, it seems that even such basic representations are influenced by social and cultural variables.

Fiedler argues that to understand intrapsychic processes we first have to understand how people sample environmental information. Often, the causal origins of behavior can be found in the biased samples provided by the environment. Fiedler describes a simulated sampling paradigm, the virtual school class, whereby participants play the role of a teacher who is to sample information about the students’ behavior and performance. Biases in information search process, which lead to corresponding biases in final student evaluations, are shown to be a joint function of intrapsychic influences (e.g., teachers’ hedonic preference for smart students) and external constraints imposed by the students’ participation rate on the sampling process.

Johnson and Carpinella investigate how intersecting social categories may shape interpersonal judgments and interpersonal behaviors. For example, the gender typicality of faces may influence response latencies and mouse trajectories as judges make classifications, suggesting that the unfolding of category distinctions can be reliably measured online in terms of observable movements. Dealing with intersecting identities may be a fundamental aspect of the social categorization process and can have a significant influence on interpersonal behavior.

Forgas argues that affective states have a major influence on how social information is processed and on ensuing social behaviors. The chapter presents a series of experiments demonstrating the potentially adaptive and functional social consequences of mild negative moods. It turns out that people in a negative mood are less prone to judgmental errors, are more resistant to eyewitness distortions, and are better at producing high-quality and effective persuasive messages. These findings are broadly consistent with the idea that, over evolutionary time, affective states became adaptive or functional triggers eliciting information processing styles that are appropriate in a given situation.

Sedikides and Skowronski analyze the role of self-evaluation in interpersonal behavior and suggest that self-protection and self-enhancement are basic motives that manifest themselves through a large repertoire of cognitions, emotions, and behaviors. These self-enhancement and self-protection strivings play a major role in how individuals construe themselves and plan their social encounters. New evidence on priming effects on the judgment of the self and others suggests, however, that deliberative processing places limitations on self-enhancement and self-protection.

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