Schema Accuracy Distribution Among Demographic Groups
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A Schema is a person's dynamic cognitive structure that represents specific concepts, entities and events, sets the stage for encoding new information, and guides subsequent behavior in response to that information (Harris 1994). In the present study I suggest that schemas, while typically viewed as value neutral, might instead display various levels of accuracy and utility. To measure the level of accuracy of participants Social Schemas a questionnaire was developed and administered to 286 Texas State University students. Participants were asked to make predictions about average GPA scores for their colleagues and beverage sales at their campus. Higher levels of accuracy were described as expertise, and were used to argue that expert knowledge can reside within the perceived layman. The case was made that the perceived layman possesses expertise, expert knowledge, on particular topics, especially social phenomena, and that this expertise could be used to make more accurate evaluations and predictions in the social sciences. Since an individual's schema is developed through socialization, it is susceptible to the biases and stereotypes of that socialization. Because of this bias, the study also attempted to discover if schema accuracy was higher for certain demographic groups and whether groups were better at predicting within their own group.
This research found evidence that people do have varying levels of Schema accuracy. The most dramatic finding showed that the more religious people claimed to be, the less accurately they predicted average GPA scores. But, overall, the study found no substantial data to suggest that any participants Social Schema was more or less accurate, outperforming or under performing, based on race or sex. The study also found no data to suggest that participants were better at predicting average GPA scores for their own race or sex than for others. The study also found that participants were able to outperform self-reporting, asking participants to report on themselves, accurately predicting the top beverage sales on campus using group-reporting. Both findings support the theory that the perceived layman possesses expertise and that this expertise can be used to make accurate evaluations and predictions about social phenomena.