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Children & Youth Markets: A Psychological Perspective - Definitions & Examples
Schema - A schema is a mental construct that is based on past experience and generates future expectations. Using past events in memory to predict future events is one way of constructing a mental world that is stable and predictable. Memories and plans can be summarised in the concept called schema. Schemata (the plural of schema) constitute a structure of the mind. The concept was first put forward in the 1930s by an English psychologist called Frederic Bartlett. The very young child is driven by the senses and as the schemata in her mind grow and develop her behaviour becomes more and more driven by mental schemata.
For example, if you have a positive experience in a specific retail store, you will expect you future experiences to also be positive.
I myself have had repeatedly positive experiences at the retail store, "The Bodyshop". My shopping experience would become unstable if I suddenly had extremely poor customer service at "The Bodyshop", and I would question my current schema and would, to some degree, subconsciously alter it.
Children are born with some schemata; however regularities in the environment enhance these and help children build other mental schemata through learning. In the early stages much learning is stimulus drive, however there is gradual shift overtime with age to a more schema driven learning process.
Script - Scripts are expectations of how to behave in different contexts. They are often acquired as part of socialisation and as such can, and do, differ across the globe. For example, in the UK we have eating conventions which dictate how we should behave at the table; however eating conventions in India, for example, would be very different. In other words they are the rules and regulations of culture, or social groups and are picked up by individuals rather than specifically taught.
For example, I have never been specifically taught how to conduct myself and a formal networking event, however I instinctively know, based on the scripts I have to date, that I act with decorum, engage in conversation, introduce myself and listen intently to what the other person has to say.
Stereotype - A stereotype is a description of a particular group of people that is limited to a few characteristic. They are often distortions and can lead to prejudice (for example, Americans are obese), however some stereotypes are positive but can lead to unrealistic expectations derived from schemata (for example, women can multitask). They arise out of information overload and a necessity for us to take shortcuts. One of the common stereotypes on the Exeter campus is that if you wear Jack Wills clothing you must be posh and upper-class.
Social Construction - This is an idea in social science that some cultures at some times in history have produced an idea that many people in the culture thinks is the 'natural' way the world is. The theory of social representations is often associated with the French scholar Moscovici (1988) who had a strong influence on social psychology. A social construct is a mental representation shared by groups of people to facilitate everyday communication and thinking in order to transform something strange and complex into something more familiar.
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