What Are the Four Types of Schema in Psychology?

Reviewed on 2/9/2021

Types of schemas

Schemas act as filters, accentuating and downplaying various elements. There are four basic types of schemas that help to understand and interpret the world around us. They are:

  • Role schema
  • Object schema
  • Self-schema
  • Event schema

Role schema is norms and expected behavior from people with a specific role in society. It includes both achieved roles and ascribed roles. Achieved roles encompass both occupation and professions, such as a doctor or teacher. Ascribed roles include social categories, such as age, gender, and race. These categories are often referred to as stereotypes. The person belonging to specific stereotypes is expected to behave in a certain way that fits into the schema. The stereotypes about people could affect one’s behavior towards them.

Object schema helps to interpret inanimate objects. It informs one’s understanding of what various objects are, how they should function, and what one can expect from them. For example, one’s understanding of how to use a pen, open a door, start a car.

Self-schema is described as knowledge one accumulates about themselves by interacting with the natural world and human beings around them. Self-schema about oneself are grounded in the present and based on past experiences. Memories are framed in the light of one’s self-conception. They are expectations about the self that organize and guide the processing of self-relevant information. They continue to develop throughout life, supporting the lifespan developmental perspective.

Event schema is commonly referred to as cognitive scripts that describe behavioral and event sequences in daily activities. They provide the basis for anticipating the future, setting goals, and making plans. For example, the appropriate behavior sequence to eat at a restaurant is to enter the restaurant, wait to be seated, look and order from the menu, pay the bill, and then leave.

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References
Buschkuehl M. What Are Schemas? MIND Research Institute. https://blog.mindresearch.org/blog/schema-in-education

Psychology Research and Reference. Schemas. IResearchNet.Com. https://psychology.iresearchnet.com/social-psychology/self/schemas/

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