The Structure of Mind: Schemas

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As we all know, that human brain is the most complex organ in the human body. Before we go deeper about the structure of mind: schemas, let’s try an experiment. What comes to your mind when I say “summer”? some of you will say: sunny, hot, beach, sunglasses, hat, etc.

That example shows that our brain has ability to have schemas. Schemas is a mental framework that bundle knowledge together in an organized way. Schemas is stored in memory, it will help us to interpret the world, and make decision more efficient and quicker. On the other words, you can think category when you think about schemas. They way we should think about a schema is if you open up a file drawer and look for the folder marked summer, and when we open up that folder, there will be all sorts of documents inside about what is associated with summer. So, the things I already know in my mind as being linked with summer, so we can make reasonable interpretations.

We can have schemas about all sort of things, for example, roles, groups (stereotypes), individuals, situations, ourself, relationships. Why need schemas is because schemas help us to (1) guide memory of what we’ve done or seen, most of the time this helps us tremendously, so we don’t have to remember every detail, and usually that is accurate, but sometimes it can lead to the wrong conclusion. (2) Schemas can direct our attention as we pay more attention to things that confirm what we already have in our schemas when an expectation is present, we might be more likely to look for evidence that confirms it. (3) Schemas also help us fill in missing information or fill in the blanks. (4) And lastly, schemas can help us predict behavior and future events. So, in summary, schemas are mental frameworks, they are important to understand because they speed up how we think. And for the most part, they are helpful. Schemas processing is a really good way of efficiently thinking but sometimes if we over-rely on them, they can lead us astray.

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