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PSYC 300W (11)
Lecture 3

Week 3 Readings

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V.Gordon Rose

PSYC 300W Week 3 Reading Notes The Belief Engine By: J. Alcock Belief-generating engine – produces beliefs without any particular respect for what is real or true and what is not - Selects information from the environment, shapes it, combines it with information from memory, and produces beliefs that are consistent with beliefs already held Components of the belief engine 1. The Learning Unit o “magical thinking” – interpreting two closely occurring events as causal o Seeking the truth does not always promote survival, and fleeing on the base of an erroneous belief is not always such a bad thing to do o Pairings have a greater effect on our learning than non-pairings o More prone to error when rare or emotionally laden events occur 2. The Critical Thinking Unit – acquired through experience and explicit education o Sometimes strong emotion interferes with the application of critical thought o This unit can be switched on and off by choice 3. The Yearning Unit –we yearn to reduce anxiety; fallacious beliefs can satisfy those yearnings 4. The Input Unit – information enters through raw sensory experience or in the form of organized, codified information (i.e. books) 5. The Emotional Response Unit – experiences accompanied by strong emotion may leave an unshakeable belief in whatever explanation appealed to the individual at the time 6. The Memory Unit – we come to believe in the reliability of our memory unit o Memory is actually subject to serious biases and distortions o Involved in processing incoming information and the shaping of beliefs, but also strongly influenced by current beliefs 7. The Environmental Feedback Unit – feedback from the external world strengthens or weakens our beliefs o BUT beliefs themselves influence how we receive information – often we can r
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