3 Sep 2022


Social Cognitive Processing: The Key to Effective Learning

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Academic level: Master’s

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Social cognitive processing significantly influences our perception of other people. The modes of social cognitive processing can either be controlled (conscious) or automatic (unconscious) (Payne, & Stewart, 2007). In their daily lives, human beings regularly engage in both conscious and unconscious social cognitive processes as they interact with each other. Within the last 24 hours, I have engaged in both social cognitive processes in my social interactions in school. 

Yesterday, our professor gave us an assignment that we were supposed to complete in groups. The task required each of us to do research on an assigned topic and report our findings to the group members. The study would involve gathering statistical data and analyzing the data to make informed conclusions. As with any other quantitative research, the study was to include complex calculations and data analysis. Our group comprised of 3 female students and two male students. I immediately felt that we would have a difficult time completing the project because most of our group members were female. My perception was informed by the view that female students are not very good at calculations. Unconscious social cognition applied in this case since I did not give it much thought before I came into this conclusion (Fiske et al. 2010). The mode of processing probably occurred because of the prevailing prejudice against women regarding their performance in science subjects. 

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On a different occasion, as I cycled home that evening, I came across a crowd of people who were receiving a form of entertainment. I got curious and approached the group. Two young people, probably a couple, were entertaining the crowd through dancing and acrobatic moves. My mind got fixated onto what the young couple was doing to the extent I did not realize as someone pickpocketed me. I came to realize that I had lost my phone and wallet only after the performance was over. What happened to me is an example of conscious social cognitive processing where my conscious thoughts were fully occupied in observing the performances (Payne, & Stewart, 2007). I was oblivious of my surroundings as my mind was focused on capturing every detail of the performance. The conscious processing occurred because the performance was exciting and entertaining. My conscious thoughts were, therefore, focused on the performance at that particular time. 

In both instances, the modes of processing had an impact on me in a slightly negative way. The unconscious manner of processing made me utter words that showed prejudice against female students. I only realized it after I had already spoken, and all my group members turned to look at me. In the second instance, conscious processing suppressed other thoughts that would have enabled me to remain cautious of my surroundings. As a result, I lost my valuables without realizing it. 


Fiske, S. T., Gilbert, D. T., & Lindzey, G. (Eds.). (2010).  Handbook of social psychology  (Vol. 1). John Wiley & Sons. 

Payne, B. K., & Stewart, B. D. (2007). Automatic and Controlled Components of Social Cognition: A Process Dissociation Approach. 

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StudyBounty. (2023, September 14). Social Cognitive Processing: The Key to Effective Learning.


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