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Chapter 8: Thinking and Intelligence

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Ashley Waggoner Denton

Chapter 8: Thinking and Intelligence - Dread risks: low probability events that are highly publicized and have dire consequences, such as the deaths associated with the hijackings of 9/11, can result in fears; can profoundly affect reasoning and decision making How Does the Mind Represent Information? - Cognition: mental activity such as thinking or representing information - Brain represents information and that the act of thinking –that is, cognition –is directly associated with manipulating these representations - We use representations to understand objects we encounter in our environments - Analogical representation: a mental representation that has some of the physical characteristics of an object; it is analogous to the object (ex. Maps which correspond to geographical layouts, and family trees which depict relationships between relatives) - Symbolic representation: usually words or ideas; an abstract mental representation does not correspond to the physical features of an object or idea (ex. Violin stands for musical instrument, no correspondences between what a violin looks like or sounds like and the letters or sounds that make up the word violin) Mental Images Are Analogical Representations - the same brain areas activated when we view something are active when we think in images - scientific method: the further an object rotated from its upright position, the longer participants took to determine whether the object was in its normal orientation or mirror image. Participants were fastest when the object was at or close to upright; they were slowest when it as at 180-degree rotation Limits of Analogical Representations - symbolic representations can lead to errors, because we can represent only a limited range of knowledge analogically and thus use memory shortcuts unconsciously. In this case, you probably were not taking into account the way southern California juts east Concepts Are Symbolic Representations - categorization: we group objects into categories according to the object’s shared properties - concept: mental representation that groups objects, events, or relations around common themes - defining attribute model: the idea that a concept is characterized by a list of features that are necessary to determine if an object is a member of the category o suggests that membership within a category is on an-all-or-none basis, but in reality we often make exceptions in our catergorizations, allowing memers into group even if they don’t have all attributes or excluding them even if they have all the attributes o suggests that all of a given category’s attributes are equally salient in terms of defining that category; research demonstrates not only that some attributes are more important for defining membership than others but that the boundaries between categories are much fuzzier than this model suggests o posits that all members of a category are equal in category membership –no one item is a better fit than any other - prototype model: an approach to object categorization that is based on the premise that within each category, some members are representative than others o allows for flexibility in the representation of concepts - exemplar model: information stored about the members of a category is used to determine category membership o assumes that through experience people form a fuzzy representation of a concept because there is no single representation of any concept o accounts for the observation that some category members are more prototypical than others: the prototypes are simple members we have encountered more often o ex. Even strange looking feline – a brown tortie white and tabby sphinx –is an exemplar of the category cats Schemas Organize Useful Information about Environments - Script Theory of Schemas: according to this theory, we tend to follow general scripts of how to behave in particular settings. (a) At the movies, for example, we expect to buy a ticket, the cost of which depend on moviegoer’s age and the time of day. (b) Next, we might opt to buy a snack before selecting a seat. (c) Although quiet talking might be appropriate before the movie, most of us expect talking to cease once the feature begins - we can employ schemas because o (1) common situations have consistent attributes (eg. Libraries are quiet and contain books), and (2) people have specific roles within situational contexts (eg. A librarian behaves differently in a library than a reader does) - Schemas and scripts, like prototypes, sometimes have unintended consequences, such as reinforcing sexist or racist beliefs - Gender roles, the prescribes behaviours for females and males, are a type of schema that operates at the unconscious level: we follow them without consciously knowing we are doing so - Scripts dictate appropriate behaviours and what we view as appropriate is shaped by culture - Relational schemas influence what people expect from others in their social interactions - If scripts and schemas are potentially problematic, why do they persist? Their adaptive value is that they minimize the amounts of attention required to navigate familiar environments o Allow us to recognize and avoid unusual or dangerous situations How Do We Make Decisions and Solve Problems - Reasoning: using information to determine if a conclusion is valid or reasonable - Decision making: attempting to select the best alternative among several options - Problem solving: finding a way around an obstacle to reach a goal People Use Deductive and Inductive Reasoning - Deductive reasoning: using a belief or rule to determine if a conclusion is valid (follows logically from the belief or rule) general  specific - Inductive reasoning: using examples or instances to determine if a rule or conclusion is likely to be true; specific  general Deductive Reasoning - Using logic to draw specific conclusions under certain assumptions, or premises - Syllogisms can be conditional or categorical - In conditional syllogism, the argument takes the form if A is true, then B is true. The argument’s conclusion is conditioned on whether the premise –the part that follows if –is true. If you can assume the premise is true, you can be certain about the conclusion. These conclusions are deductively valid, they follow the rules of “if, then” reasoning. The conclusions may or may not be true. - In categorical syllogism, the logical argument contains 2 premises and a conclusion, which can be determined to be either valid or invalid. All A are B. All B are C. Therefore, all A are C. This conclusion is valid in that is follows logically from the premises o Ambiguity of word nothing causes a logical error in this syllogism o Our prior beliefs (schemas) about typical events and situations can influence our performances on reasoning tasks o Deductive reasoning, a conclusion follows logically from its premises, it is valid, but it may or may not be true Inductive Reasoning - In some situations we can determine the validity of a conclusions about a specific instance based on general premises, or statements we assume to be true - Ex. Researchers would induce a general principle from the specific instances of the students in the experiment - Scientific methods dictates that scientists meet certain standards when inducing principles from several specific instances o These standards are designed to guard against biases in inductive reasoning. Example is researchers need an adequately large sample size to infer that a hypothesis is likely true - We are often strongly influenced by anecdotal reports, especially when an anecdote comes from someone close to us –even from someone we known remotely, such as friend’s uncle –more than a conclusion drawn from a faceless mass of research participants Decision Making Often Involves Heuristics - Normative models of decision making have viewed humans as optimal decision makers, who always select the choice that yields the largest gain, which usually means the most money because these theories were developed from traditional economics - Descriptive models have tried to account for humans’ tendencies to misinterpret and misrepresent the probabilities underlying many decision making scenarios and to act irrationally even when they understand the probabilities - Expected utility theory is one normative model of how humans should make decision: views decision making as a computation of utility, the overall value for each possible outcome in a decision making scenario o We make decision by considering the possible alternatives and choosing the most desirable one o To arrive at the most desirable alternative, we first rank the alternatives in order of preference, determining whether each is more desirable, less desirable, more equally desirable compared with each competing alternative - Heuristics: in problem solving, the shortcuts (rules of thumb or informal guidelines) used to reduce the amount of thinking that is needed to move from an initial state to a goal state o Allows us to decide quickly rather than weighing all the evidence each time we have to decide o Can result in biases, which may lead to errors or faulty decisions o Common heuristic is that a high price = high quality; one type of soap is basically as good as any other, high prices have convinced many consumers that “fancy” saps are superior - Algorithm is a procedure that, if followed correctly, will always yield the correct answer (ex. Math formula) Critical Thinking Skill: Understanding How the Availability and Representativeness Heuristics Can Affect Thinking - Availability heuristic: making a decision based on the answer that most easily comes to mind - Representativeness heuristic: a rule for categorization based on how similar the person or object is to our prototypes for that category o can lead to faulty reasoning if you fail to take other information into account, such as the base rate, or the frequency of an event’s occurring. o People pay insufficient attention to base rates in reasoning and instead focus on whether the information presented is representative of one conclusion or another Framing Effects - Framing: how information is presented can alter how people perceive it o ex. Framing the decision to emphasize gains or losses affects the decision making - Prospective theory: a major theory in decision making; 2 main components o The need to take into account people’s wealth in predicting their choices o The fact that because losses feel much worse than gains feel good, people try to avoid situations that involve losses - Loss aversion: losing is much worse than gaining is good; potential losses affect decision making more than potential gains do Affective Forecasting - People are not good at knowing how they will feel about something in the future, even more important, people generally do not realize how poor they are at predicting their future feelings - After a negative event, people engage in strategies that help them feel better, such as rationalizing why it happened and minimizing the event’s importance - Affecting forecasting can also influence our perceptions of positive events; disappointment is clear from the facial expressions and body language of (a) Mo Tae- Bum, who won silver medal, and (b) Jamie Sale and David Pelletier who initially won silver medal Good Decision Markers - Participants who performed better on the decision making test reported fewer negative life events than those who performed poorly on the test; - Applying critical thinking skills can positively affect multiple areas of a person’s life. Problem Solving Achieves Goals Organization of Subgoals - Using subgoals is important for many problems; breaking down a problem into subgoals is an important component of problem solving, although identifying the appropriate steps or subgoals and their order can be challenging for complex problems in which there is no obvious next step Sudden Insight - Insight: the sudden realization of a solution to a problem - Example: after pondering the problem, the chimp had the insight to join the sticks into a tool long enough to reach the banana. Having solved that problem, the chimp transferred this solution to other similar problems and solved them quickly - Example: once the participants saw the brushed string swinging, most immediately solved the problem, as if they had experienced a new insight. However, these participants did not come up with it independently Changing Representations to Overcome Obstacles - Restructuring: a new way of thinking about a problem that aids its solutions - Mental sets: a problem solving strategy that has worked in the past - Mental representations about object’s typical functions can also create difficulties in problem solving. - Overcoming functional fixedness requires the problem solver to reinterpret an object’s potential function o Example: The task: is to attach a candle to the bulletin board using only a box of matches a box of tacks. The solution: requires restructuring our concept of the matchbox by using it as a stand for the candle Conscious Strategies - Working backward: when the appropriate steps for solving a problem are not clear, proceeding from the goal state to the initial state can generate helpful strategies - Finding an appropriate analogy: using a strategy that works in one context to solve a structurally similar problem –requires paying attention to each problem’s structure. Analogous problems enhance our ability to solve each one. Analogous solutions work only if people recognize the similarities between the problem they face and those they have solved The Paradox of Choice - Too much choice can be frustrating, unsatisfying, and ultimately debilitating - 30% of those with the limited choice bough jam, whereas only 3% with the greater variety did so. In a subsequent study, the same investigators found that people choosing among a small number of chocolates were more satisfied with the ones they selected than were people who chose from a wider variety - Satisficers: live
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