How do we organize information in our mind? Schemes and categories

Every second we wake up our senses collect information from outside and from our internal organs. All this information is not in our brain in a random and chaotic way, on the contrary, our brain is a large association machine that organizes our perception of the world through two cognitive structures: patterns and categories.

Both are structures that combine and process the information we receive, providing us with valuable representations and interpretations of reality, fundamental to orienting and guiding our behavior towards the goals we set for ourselves.

Cognitive patterns

the cognitive patterns they are the cognitive tools that humans have to organize knowledge about a concept, be it a person, situation, role, or group. Human beings have the need to synthesize and organize information. We are not able to integrate everything that is presented to us at every moment, so we have to select, simplify and emphasize the important. But then, according to what criteria is this dissemination of information carried out by the systems? Our simplifications, values, emotions and tastes are in charge of this simplification.

The patterns are activated by everyday situations. The stimuli activate the schema, and once the schema is activated, it fills in the missing information or creates expectations about what is likely to happen or what is likely to be something. They are filters of reality.

Having ploys always means having expectations about how people act and how different things are going to happen.. For example, our overview of a master class involves a series of expectations about how a class will unfold, if something new happened during the class this new information would activate our attention and I would add as new possible element in the diagram after a previous break in the diagram because this new information was not in the diagram so it surprises us and we may not know how to react.

There are some very schematic topics that are guided by very few schematics and only use those few to organize all the information and take action. Ex: someone who tells all about football, and who always acts towards it.

Diagrams of people

People’s patterns athey bring together information organized on different traits, goals, motivations and behaviors associated with different types of people. Having people patterns determines what I expect from each person based on the label we have set there. These patterns determine the type of relationship we have with others.

Causal patterns

The causal patterns are vsexperiments based on the interaction of certain types of causes to cause an effect. It’s a way our brain has to make associations between actions and consequences, between causes and effects.

Automatic schemes

Self-schemas are the rstructured presentation of self-knowledge. They can be understood as theories that the person has about themselves in different areas. That is, cognitive generalizations about oneself.

Patterns of events or situations

Patterns of events or situations it is knowledge organized on a sequence of events that appear in certain situations daily social. They impose a linear-temporal order by representing the sequence of interactions that occur on stage. They are shared by people belonging to the same cultural groups.

the categories

In psychology, when we talk about categories, we refer to the structures responsible for classifying the elements according to their similarity. Categorizing means simplifying as categories connect items.

Items that share the category are grouped around a prototype which is the item that best represents the category. The prototype can be defined as the most representative specimens of the category, i.e. a set of characteristics significantly associated with members of the category. A cognitive representation of the typical / ideal characteristics that define a category. The assignment of an object, a person or a social situation to a category is made on the basis of its resemblance to the prototype.

As we move away from the prototype, members become less and less representative examples of the category.

The consequences of categorization

Categorizing people intuitively and without taking into account all the information available in the environment, can lead us to fall into the representation bias, which is to classify a person in a social category for the simple fact of having attributes that belong to the prototype of this category. Not all who wear glasses are intellectuals, and not all who wear a beard are more manly.

Also, according to the Tajfel minimum group paradigm, the simple fact of categorizing someone in a social group is a sufficient condition for discriminatory behavior to occur and accentuate the similarities between members of the same group and differentiate the members. belonging to different social categories. .

Categorization is a process of social adaptation, however one of the most important consequences of dividing the world into categories (Race, age, sex, religion, social groups) is that it gives rise to stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination.

This leads to a conclusion as sad as it is real, already postulated by Henri Tajfel in the early 1970s: discrimination is not unique to bad people, but is a human condition by the simple fact of socially categorizing others.

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