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Title: Self-prioritisation in social cognition
Author: Jones, Katherine L.
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2018
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Systematic self-biases have been demonstrated across cognitive domains of perception, attention, memory, and decision making. However, it remains unclear how self-relevance is recognised and processed by the brain. This thesis examines the influence of social context on processes of self-prioritisation in social cognition. Using a perceptual matching paradigm (Sui, He, & Humphreys, 2012), the first series of experiments demonstrated that novel shape stimuli associated with the self are prioritised for perceptual processing over novel shape stimuli associated with other individuals present within, and absent from, the task environment. No processing advantage was found for stimuli associated with present others over absent others. A second series of experiments demonstrated that self-associated stimuli were prioritised for processing over stimuli associated with both liked and disliked others. Moreover, the size of the self-association benefit was not influenced by the 'likability' of the other individuals. Therefore, neither the ability to 'tag' information to a physical body, nor the likability of social stimuli can fully account for self-prioritisation in perceptual matching. A final series of experiments introduced a novel paradigm to investigate the extent to which people prioritise own-task-relevant information over information relevant to a nearby actor's task. The findings indicated that participants co-represented a partner's stimulus-response rules even when interpersonal coordination was not required. Such co-representation occurred within a binary choice task in which direct stimulus response mappings were not possible. This suggests that co-representation is an unintended consequence of a shared social environment and that people are unable to fully prioritise their own task over that of a nearby actor. Overall, the work extends and clarifies when and how self-biases are influenced by task demands, the context in which a task is performed, and the presence or absence of others within the environment.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: BF Psychology