Thinking and Intelligence February 4, 2014
When we think of thinking – which psychological perspective might we MOST think it
Thought: Elements of Cognition
• A mental category that groups objects, relations, activities, abstractions, or
qualities having common properties.
• Basic concepts: concepts tat have a moderate number of instances and that are
easier to acquire than those having few or many instances.
• Prototype: an especially representative example of a concept.
• Proposition: A unit of meaning that is made up of concepts and expresses a single
• Cognitive schemas: Integrated mental network of knowledge, beliefs, and
expectations concerning a particular topic or aspect of the world
• Mental images: Mental representation that mirrors or resembles the thing it
represents (occur in most sensory modalities)
How Conscious is Thought?
• Mental processes occurring outside of conscious awareness but accessible to
consciousness when necessary (e.g., driving a car)
• Mental processes occurring outside of and not available to conscious awareness
(e.g., getting the milk out of the fridge).
Types of Nonconscious Processes
• Learning that occurs when you acquire knowledge about something without being
aware of how you did so and without being able to state exactly what it is you
• Mental inflexibility, inertia and obliviousness to the present context.
Reasoning: Drawing conclusions or inferences from observations, facts, or assumptions.
Formal reasoning problems: problems solved using established methods (algorithms
and logic) usually a single correct solution.
Informal reasoning problems: there is often no clearly correct solution.
Deductive Reasoning • When a conclusion follows necessarily from certain premises
• If premises true, conclusion must be true
Examples: all men are mortal. Joe is a man. Therefore Joe is mortal.
Bachelor’s are unmarried men. Bill is unmarried. Therefore, Bill is a bachelor.
When the premises provide support for a conclusion, but it’s still possible for
conclusion to be false. (txt book diagram)
Premise true + premise true + possibility of discrepant info = conclusion probably
Examples: Suzy is a doctor. Doctors are smart. Suzy is assumed to be smart.
All observed brown dogs are small dogs. Therefore, all small dogs are brown.
All small fuzzy animals are cats. Not necessarily true because of skunk
• Rule of thumb that suggests a course of action or guides problemsolving but does
not guarantee an optimal solution
• Process in which opposing facts are weighed and compared in order to determine
the best solution or resolve differences
Critical Thinking (Reflective Judgment)
Prereflective stages: assumption that correct answers can be obtained through the
senses or from the authorities
Quasireflective stages: recognize limits to absolutely certainty, realize judgments
should be supported by reasons, yet pay attention to evidence that confirms beliefs.
Reflective stages: consider evidence from a variety of sources and reason dialectically.
Barriers to Reasoning Rationality
Exaggerating the improbable
• Common bias to exaggerate the probability of rare events (e.g., getting in a plane
• Affect heuristic: tendency to consult one’s emotions instead of estimating
• Availability heuristic: tendency to judge *** finished def.
• Avoiding Loss Million Dollar Win
WE respond more cautiously when choices are farmed in terms of the risk of
losing something than if same choice framed in terms of gain
Framing Effect: The tendency for people’s choices to be affected by how a
choice is presented or framed
Goal to minimize losses
Barriers to Reasoning Rationally
The Fairness Bias • A sense of fairness often takes precedence over rational selfinterest when people
make economic choices
The Hindsight Bias
• The tendency to overestimate one’s ability to have predicted an event once the
outcome is known; the “I knew it all along” phenomenon
The Confirmation Bias: the tendency to look for or pat attention to only info that
confirms one’s own belief.
Mental Sets: A tendency to solv