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PSY274 Lecture 1 (Sept 10).docx

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Craig Chambers

PSY274 Lecture 1 - Course content o Focusing on language and music o Does not have applied aspect or looking at differences in individuals o Focusing on aspects that are common in the human population o Survey of psychological research on human communication, from perspective of perception and cognition - Readings, lectures o Text: Language Matters o On-line readings (be on Blackboard) o Do readings BEFORE coming to class o Lecture slides are posted after lecture - Evaluation o 2 term tests and one exam - Office hours o TUES 2-3 PM or by appointment - Global overview of course o What is communication? (4 weeks)  Human vs. animal communication; features of spoken languages; signed languages; co speech gesture o Communication in relation to…(4 weeks)  Conversational interaction; bilingualism; mental concepts and categories; special uses in society (advertising) o Music as communication (2 weeks)  Basics of music perception and cognition; language and music compared - Vast topic and we can only take a peek of the topics - Today o How can we define “communication” o What makes HUMAN communication distinct and special? Does animal communication share any similarities with human communication? o Readings  Napoli: 1, 3, 6 - What is communication? o Message; method of relating message (channel); notion of interaction between more than one entities; content of the message itself; body language o Visual symbols o Traffic lights o Singing (lyrics) o Lion roaring o Faces of people - The canonical case o One organism “transmit information” to another o Can we make things more precise?  In what channel is information transmitted?  What is the content? - Modes of communication in the animal kingdom o Peacock visual o Dog o Tactile; grooming behaviours in primates o Vocal/auditory - Modes charactering human communication o Vocal-auditory o Visual o Tactile? - What constitutes information? o Different ways to approach this  Consider the FUNCTION  Consider the FORM the information take - Defining information in terms of function o Non-human animals  Communication = very limited of effect produced (e.g., mating call + potential response; threats related to territory) o Human communication  Extremely broad range of effects possible (social and emotional effects, requesting info, transmit, etc;) - Defining information in terms of its form o Distinction here: Pierce’s classification of “signs” o Pierce philosopher  View “sign” as a stimulus pattern that has some meaning  Clarified how meaning comes to be attached to the stimulus pattern - Pierce, subtypes of ‘signs’ o Icon  Stimulates pattern physically resembles what it “stands for”  Images in a mirror, symbol on a printer, “walk” symbol on streetlights o Index  Stimulus pattern signified something else because it is naturally correlated with it  Smoke-fire, dark clouds-rain, particular expression-surprise  One thing indicate another o Symbol  Stimulus pattern signifiers something due to arbitrary association  Sound pattern of words in language, punctuation marks in writing  Saying the word “dog” does not mean dog will appear - Note 1: distinction between 3 types is sometimes not clear-cut o No cellphone sign o Combination of symbol and icon - Note 2: sometimes a sign’s categorization changes over time o Iconic  symbolic o Bloodletting; paid someone to cut you and they thought it could get rid of any diseases and illnesses in a person’s body - Note 3: precise significance typically depends on context o Most are context dependent in order to decipher symbol correctly - Pierce and human communication o As we will see, the use of Peirce’s third type is particularly widespread and sophisticated in human communication (symbols lie at the heart of language.) - Animal communication in the wild: o Case study: alarm calls o Triggered by external event (perception of a predator) o Used primarily by social animals o Used to alert other group members o Examples  Ground squirrels  Two acoustically distinct sounds  Reflect predator distance  Chickens  Two distinct calls, reflecting aerial vs. terrestrial predators o Hawks or raccoons o Seems to convey an escape strategy and not the identity of the predator itself  Vervet monkeys  Lives in an environment where everything eats them  Involves three kinds of calls o Has an eagle call o Has a leopard call o Has a snake call - Is this language? o Vervet system = more sophisticated than ground squirrels, but somehow this still “feels” very limited o Can we come up with some objective criteria to give substance to this feeling? - Capturing the precise nature of human language: the design features o Semanticity o Arbitrariness o Discreteness o Duality of patterning o Productivity o Displacement - Note before we continue: o Different researchers favour different design features o Course text focuses on “universal characteristics” that are different from what we are going to talk about today. These reflect some idoiosyncratic choices of the authors - Semanticity o Means something stands for something else o Association between some sensory pattern and some denoted concept (X “stands for” Y) o Mere presence of sensory signals means that there are semanticity o Simple
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