The information processing effects of scripts on social perception

Date of Completion

January 1996


Psychology, Social




This study investigated the roles of scripts on social information processing including memory, impression formation, and attribution. The research focused on the way that people process and interpret incoming information. Langer (1989) has proposed that people are often mindless in a scripted situation. This study was designed to show that people in a scripted situation are not mindless but mindful.^ One hundred and twenty-eight female undergraduate students were recruited to participate in an experiment with a 2 (in-script vs. out-of-script) x 2 (actor vs. observer) factorial design. The independent variable Script was manipulated by randomly assigning subjects to experience either a normal restaurant script or an out of order restaurant script. The independent variable Role was manipulated by randomly assigning subjects to be either actors or observers of the restaurant event. After subjects experienced a restaurant-like situation, they provided the dependent measures which were the memory recall, the impression formation of the waitress who had served them, and the attributions for their restaurant experience. Analysis of variance and factor analysis were employed to analyze the data. The results demonstrated that people in-script remembered the situational information more, formed a more positive and extreme impression toward the waitress, and attributed more causality to the situation for their restaurant experience. It was also found that actors and observer processed information in similar ways.^ The effect of scripts on information processing was investigated in this study. The evidence supports that people are not mindless but mindful in a scripted situation. The knowledge structure of scripts not only help people organize and process information but also have effects on interpreting social information. People can utilize scripts to process social information either from an actor's or observer's perspective with little difference. The suggestions for the future research included focusing on the effects of the scripts' flexibility and applying scripts in explaining social interactions. ^