Schema- Roles and Types

Schemata A schema is a mental construct consisting of a cluster or collection of related concepts (Bartlett, 1932). There are many different types of schemata, and they all have one thing in common: schemata are a method of organizing information that allows the brain to work more efficiently. When a schema is activated, the brain makes immediate assumptions about the person or object being observed. There are several types of schemes. A role schema makes assumptions about how individuals in certain roles will behave (Callero, 1994). For example, imagine you meet someone who introduces himself as a firefighter. When this happens, your brain automatically activates the “firefighter schema” and begins making assumptions that this person is brave, selfless, and community-oriented. Despite not knowing this person, already you have unknowingly made judgments about him.

Schemata also help you fill in gaps in the information you receive from the world around you. While schemata allow for more efficient information processing, there can be problems with schemata, regardless of whether they are accurate: Perhaps this particular firefighter is not brave, he just works as a firefighter to pay the bills while studying to become a children’s librarian. An event schema, also known as a cognitive script, is a set of behaviors that can feel like a routine. Think about what you do when you walk into an elevator (Figure 4). First, the doors open and you wait to let exiting passengers leave the elevator car. Then, you step into the elevator and turn around to face the doors, looking for the correct button to push.

You never face the back of the elevator, do you? And when you’re riding in a crowded elevator and you can’t face the front, it feels uncomfortable, doesn’t it? Interestingly, even can vary widely among different cultures and countries. For example, while it is quite common for people to greet one another with a handshake in the United States, in Tibet, you greet someone by sticking your tongue out at them, and in Belize, you bump fists (Cairns Regional Council, n.d.)

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