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Chapter Outline

  1. Cognitive Psychology
    1. How we acquire knowledge about the world
    2. How we think, form concepts, use language, process information, solve problems
    3. Not considered appropriate for study in psychology until 1960s
  2. Thinking
    1. The mental representation and manipulation of information
    2. Solving problems, making decisions, engaging in creativity
  3. Mental Images
    1. We represent information in the mind as images, words, or concepts
    2. Mental image
      1. Mental picture (representation) of an object or event
      2. A reconstruction of the object or event from memory
      3. Uses similar parts of visual cortex as those for actually seeing the object
      4. Advantage is mental representation can be manipulated—allows for many cognitive tasks
      5. Gender differences in mental imagery abilities
        1. Women—more vivid imagery; better representations of still objects
        2. Men—greater use in problem solving; better at visualizing moving objects
  4. Concepts
    1. Mental categories used to group objects, events, and ideas
    2. Categorization based upon common features or properties
    3. Types of concepts
      1. Logical concepts—clearly defined rules for membership
      2. Natural concepts
        1. Include objects (such as fruit), activities, and abstractions
        2. Rules for membership understood and applied, but less clear
        3. Membership for category based on probability that item fits
    4. Hierarchies of concepts—ordered from broad to narrow
      1. Superordinate—broadest category (e.g., vehicle, animal, furniture)
      2. Basic-level
        1. Most frequently used concept category
        2. Examples are car (in vehicle category), dog (in animal category), and chair (in furniture category)
        3. Basic-level concepts probably provide most useful information
      3. Subordinate
        1. Very specific regarding features
        2. Examples are sedan, cocker spaniel, beach chair
      4. Understanding of concepts refined through use
        1. Positive instance—concept is exemplified
        2. Negative instance—experience does not fit concept
  5. Problem Solving
    1. A cognitive process—mental strategies are used to solve problems
    2. Previously discussed methods are insight, trial and error
    3. Useful problem-solving strategies
      1. Algorithms
        1. Step-by-step set of rules for solving a problem
        2. None may apply specifically to given problem
      2. Heuristics
        1. A rule of thumb that aids in problem solving and decision making
        2. Backward-working heuristic—start from solution and see if it fits problem
        3. Means-end heuristic—compare current situation and desired end result; create steps to connect or resolve difference
        4. Creating subgoals heuristic—divide objective into smaller units and solve each individually
      3. Analogies
        1. Use and apply knowledge from similar problems solved in the past
        2. Effective unless past and present problems not really very similar
      4. Incubation periods
        1. Take a break from attempting to solve problem
        2. Passage of time may actually help in seeing problem clearly
    4. Mental roadblocks to problem solving
      1. Mental set
        1. Relying on strategies that worked well in previous situations
        2. May lead to quick solution to current problem
        3. Hinders ability to find solution when prior method not effective
      2. Functional fixedness—inability to see how familiar objects can be used in new ways
      3. Irrelevant information—attending to this distracts from truly relevant factors
    5. Mental roadblocks in decision making
      1. Decision making—problem solving where one course of action is selected from among alternatives
      2. Examples of decision-making roadblocks:
        1. Confirmation bias—sticking to initial approach despite evidence that does not support (preference is to confirm existing belief, ignore facts that might necessitate reconsideration)
        2. Representativeness heuristic—assuming given sample is like all other cases; no true basis for believing this is so
        3. Availability heuristic—basing decision on information that most readily comes to mind
        4. Framing—decisions are made based on how alternatives are described
  6. Creativity
    1. Thinking that leads to original, practical, meaningful solutions
    2. Thinking that generates new ideas or artistic expressions
    3. Everyone has potential for creativity; some show more than others
    4. Creativity associated with higher levels of intelligence
    5. Most intelligent not necessarily more creative; creativity extends beyond intelligence
    6. Measuring creativity
      1. Variety of tests (one is Alternate Uses Test)
      2. Most typically measure divergent thinking (finding new ways to view situations or objects)
      3. Convergent thinking not considered a measure of creativity (looks at finding the one “correct” solution only)
    7. Cognitive processes that underlie creative thinking
      1. Metaphor and analogy
        1. Metaphor—one object or concept is seen as like another
        2. Analogy—comparing two things having similar properties
      2. Conceptual combination—uniting two or more concepts into one novel result
      3. Conceptual expansion—extending a familiar concept to novel application
  1. Language
    1. A system of communication composed of symbols
    2. Symbols are arranged according to a grammar
  2. Grammar—a set of rules governing the proper use of words, phrases, and sentences to express meaning
  3. Components of Language
    1. Phonemes—basic units of sounds in a language
    2. Morphemes
      1. Formed by combinations of phonemes
      2. Smallest units of meaning in a language
      3. Include simple words (car, ball) but also prefixes and suffixes
    3. Syntax—rules of grammar that determine how words are ordered in a sentence (or phrase) to form meaningful expressions
    4. Semantics—the set of rules governing the meaning of words
  4. Language Development
    1. Children develop language in the same stages, at the same ages, universally
    2. Language acquisition in young children usually occurs very easily and naturally
    3. “Language acquisition device”—suggested by Chomsky; human is “prewired” to acquire a language
    4. Both nature and nurture necessary to learn language
    5. Close relationship between language and thought
  5. Culture and Language
    1. Is the language one speaks related to how one thinks?
    2. Linguistic relativity hypothesis (Whorfian hypothesis)
      1. Proposes that language we use determines how we think
      2. Proposes that language we use determines how we perceive reality
      3. Research (e.g., by Rosch et al., 1972) does not support this notion
      4. Dani tribe just as capable as English-speaking participants at distinguishing colors
      5. There is support for notion that language influences how we think
  6. Is Language Unique to Humans?
    1. Communication is via American Sign Language (ASL) or another artificial language
    2. Simian communication gives evidence of a basic grammar
    3. Debate is whether true “language” or just product of imitation, reinforcement
    4. Ultimate conclusion depends on how “language” defined
    5. Animals do communicate among themselves with vocalizations and facial expression
  1. Intelligence
    1. Difficult to define
    2. David Wechsler (1975): “…the global capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment”
    3. May be multiple intelligences or many different forms of intelligence
    4. Alfred Binet (French)
      1. Commissioned (1904) by school officials in Paris to identify intellectually at-risk children
      2. Binet and Theodore Simon developed an intelligence test (1905)
      3. Test items scaled to what typical child of a given age could do
      4. Mental age—age level of work a child could do (derived from Binet and Simon’s intelligence test)
    5. IQ (Intelligence Quotient—suggested by William Stern, 1912)
    6. Lewis Terman (at Stanford University, USA)
      1. Adapted Binet-Simon test for use in United States
      2. Added many test items
      3. Established norms for comparison of scores
      4. Revised test known as the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (SBIS, 1916)
    7. Most widely used intelligence tests today: created by David Wechsler
      1. Developed for pre-school children, school age children, and adults
      2. Test based on idea that intelligence is a variety of abilities
      3. Score consists of a deviation IQ (how different from norm for that age group)
      4. Test includes verbal and performance subtests
  2. Characteristics of Good Intelligence Tests
    1. Standardization
      1. Establishing norms by administering test to large numbers of people (standardization sample)
      2. Sample must be representative of population to which it refers
      3. IQ score is based on difference (deviation) from norm
      4. Mean (average score) is 100
      5. 2/3 of scores from general population range from 85 to 115
      6. Uniform procedures must be followed when administering test
    2. Reliability—consistency of test scores over time
    3. Validity—when a test measures what it is supposed to test (e.g., a math test does test math ability not verbal or mechanical ability or ability to follow directions)
    4. Misuses of intelligence tests
      1. Parents and teachers may lose hope for children with low IQ scores
      2. Low expectations can become self-fulfilling prophecies
      3. Children may give up on themselves; accept label
      4. Too much emphasis may be placed on IQ scores—other measures of assessment should also be considered
      5. Tests may be biased against those not in majority culture
      6. Culture-fair tests have been developed, but not as good predictors of academic performance
  3. Extremes of Intelligence
    1. Mental retardation
      1. IQ score of 70 or below
      2. Difficulty in coping with age-appropriate tasks and life situations
      3. Causes may be biological, environmental, or both
    2. Mainstreaming—children with mild retardation are placed in regular classrooms
    3. Intellectual giftedness
      1. IQ of 130 or higher (98th percentile)
      2. May benefit from enriched, faster-paced academic programs
      3. Category also includes musical, artistic ability
      4. Research shows persistence, motivation always important
  4. Theories of Intelligence
    1. Spearman’s “g”—idea that there is a general underlying factor (ability in one area often correlated with ability in other areas)
    2. Thurstone’s primary mental abilities (7): verbal comprehension, numerical ability, memory, inductive reasoning, perceptual speed, verbal fluency, spatial relations
    3. Gardner’s model of multiple intelligences (8): linguistic, logical-mathematical, musical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist
    4. Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence
      1. Bringing together different aspects of our intelligence
      2. Intelligence has three aspects: analytic, creative, and practical
      3. More intelligent individuals integrate these aspects better
    5. Overview
      1. Traditional view is that people vary in “amount” of intelligence they have
      2. Clear that human intelligence involves multiple abilities, perhaps multiple intelligences (lack of data in support of latter)
      3. Cultural context is always important (e.g., societies vary in what they value as intelligence, and what they measure for)
  5. Intelligence and the Nature-Nurture Question
    1. Distinguishing between the influences of each
    2. Closer genetic tie corresponds to closer intellectual similarity (MZ twins more similar than DZ twins)
    3. Problem with kinship studies—close relatives tend to be raised in similar environments
    4. IQ scores of adopted children closer to that of biological parents
    5. Yet MZ twins raised together have more similar IQ than MZ twins raised apart (thus environment plays a role here too)
    6. Conclusion is environment and genetics influence together in complex ways
    7. Heritability of a trait—the degree to which genetic factor is a contributor
  6. Exploring Psychology: Racial/Ethnic Differences in IQ
    1. Racial disparity in scores even when income level accounted for
    2. The Bell Curve—proposed a widening gap between people with high and low IQ, with African Americans and recent immigrants have lower IQ than whites
    3. Early intervention can make a difference (IQ is not fixed at birth)
    4. Individual potential always unique
    5. IQ scores have been rising in recent generations, especially among African Americans (relative to Euro-Americans)
  1. Keys to Becoming a Creative Problem Solver
    1. Adopt a questioning attitude—be aware of various alternatives and their potential
    2. Gather information—use the many information sources available
    3. Avoid getting stuck in mental sets
      1. Mental sets can impair problem-solving efforts (cannot see real problem)
      2. Examine what the real requirement is of a question or challenge
    4. Generate alternatives
      1. Best to come up with many possible solutions, not just grasp the first one
      2. Try brainstorming
        1. Write down as many solutions to problem as can be come up with
        2. Don’t prejudge your list of solutions
        3. Seek all ideas, no matter how “off the wall”
        4. Let list sit a few days before contemplating
        5. Think of analogies—a prior problem related to what you are facing now
        6. Think “outside the box”
    5. Sleep on it—sleep enhances insight and creative thinking
    6. Test it out
      1. Try out your possible solutions
      2. Let situation “incubate” if necessary
      3. Remember danger of mental set—the tendency to stick with traditional solution

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