Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
David Patrick Houghton
The notion of cognitive scripts, closely related to schema theory, became especially important in the 1970s, when cognitive psychologists (e.g., Robert Abelson, 1981; Roger Schank & Robert Abelson, 1977)—and, later, scholars of international relations—began to explore the role of cognitive shortcuts in information processing and decision making. According to Abelson, one of the leading advocates of this approach, scripts are “conceptual representations of stereotyped event sequences.” Put more simply, a script may be thought of as a particular kind of schema or “mental box” that provides the typical default values for an event of some kind or an act that we are accustomed to performing, such as watching a movie or eating out at a restaurant. We usually experience little difficulty dining at a restaurant we have never visited before, for instance, since we simply rely on the default values stored in our memory to guide our behavior; we wait ...