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Schemas, Knowledge Structures, and Social Interaction

Mikayla Hughes

Subject Communication Studies » Interpersonal Communication
Psychology » Cognitive Psychology

Key-Topics knowledge, memory

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Knowledge structures are mental representations of regularities believed to exist in social situations and people's dispositions and behaviors. Specifically, knowledge structures are generalized characterizations of some social entity or experience. Knowledge structures are also commonly referred to as →  schemas . Scripts, plans, prototypes, and memory organization packets (MOPS) are among the different types of knowledge structures or schemas (→  Scripts ). If communication is conceptualized as a prediction activity, then knowledge structures serve as a database of social information on which people can base their predictions of how to interact with others. Knowledge structures are a means for people to anticipate their own interaction goals and the goals of others, interpersonal behaviors, and outcomes that are likely to occur in social interactions. The manner in which people perceive social situations is influenced by knowledge structures. People view interactions in a manner that is consistent with their pre-existing expectations. Additionally, a priori explanations of situations are based on schematically organized knowledge. For any specific social interaction, it is likely that multiple knowledge structures are activated. Knowledge structures or schemas organize knowledge about people, situations, and action sequences hierarchically, with abstract knowledge at the top of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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