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Chapter 1- readings

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Ashley Waggoner

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Chapter 1: History - Cognitive psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of the mind What is the mind? - The mind creates and controls mental functions such as perception, attention, memory, emotions, language, deciding,thinking, and reasoning - This definition reflects the minds central role in determining our various mental abilities, which are reflected in the titles of the chapters in this book - The mind is a system that creates representations of the world so that we can act within it to achieve our goals - The first definition indicates the different types of cognition- the mental processes such as perception attention, memory, and so on, that are what the mind does - The second definition indicates something about how the mind operates (it creates representations) and its function (it enables us to act and to achieve goals) Studying the mind: Early work - 1800s believed that it wasn’t possible to study the mind - Their reasoning was it is not possible for the mind to study itself and the idea that properties of the mind simply cannot be measured - Franciscus Donders (1868) did one of the first cognitive psychology experiments Donders’ Experiment: How long does it take to make a decision? - Measured reaction time which is how long it takes to respond to presentation of a stimulus - Asked his participants to press a button upon presentation of a light (simple reaction time) - 2 part of the experiment, he made the task more difficult by presenting two lights, one on the left and one on the right - Participants task in this part of the experiment was to push one button when the light on the left was illuminated and another button when the light on the right was illuminated (choice reaction time) - Choice reaction time would be longer than simple reaction time because of the additional time it takes to make the decision and that the difference in reaction time between the simple and choice conditions would indicate how long it took to make the decision - Conclusion: it took one-tenth of a second to decide which button to push - Importance: Mental responses (perceiving the light and deciding which button to push) cannot be measured directly, but must be inferred from behavior (found in all research in cognitive psychologyEbbinghaus’s Memory Experiment: What is the time-course of forgetting? - Interested in determining the nature of memory and forgetting - Used nonsense syllables (DAX, QEH, LUH, and ZIF) so that his memory would not be influenced by the meaning of a particular word - First time: tried to learn them in order - Second time: Remembering the first syllable on the list, look at it in the memory drum to see if he was correct - Noted how many trials it took him to remember all of the syllables without any errors - He used the savings method to analyze his results, calculating the savings by subtracting the number of trials needed to learn the list after a delay from the number of trials it took to learn the list the first time Formula: Savings= [(initial repetitions)-(relearning repetitions)/initial repetitions] x100 - Found that the savings were greater for short intervals than for long - “savings curve” was important because it demonstrated that memory could be quantified and that functions like the forgetting curve could be used to describe a property of the mind (in this case retain information) Wundt’s Psychology Laboratory: Structuralism and Analytic Introspection - Founded the first laboratory of scientific ps
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