Lecture 13, 14 Chp 9 2/28/2013 11:46:00 AM
Chapter 9: Thinking and Intelligence
Thinking and Intelligence:
Humans are amazing, we have built civilizations and cured diseased.
But we have also created ward and products that slowly kill us
So are we intelligent?
Sure we are, its just our intelligence is complex ad intermixes with out patterns
of judgment and decision making which aren’t perfect.
How do we think?
Concepts are important for cognition
o Mental category that groups objects, activities or abstractions with
Elephant, dog, and car are all mammals
Baseball, basketball and hockey are all sports
Apples, hamburgers and ice cream are all food
o Having concepts help us make decision easier; a new mammal, sport, or
food will be easier to understand because of our existing concept.
Moderates number of instances (or members)
Easier to acquire basic concepts than concepts with few or many instances
“apple” is a basic concept
o more instances that “McIntosh”
o children learn these first, adults use them most because they convey the
Characteristics of concepts:
different instances of a concept will have different features
o not all apples are red
o not all cats have fur
we usually decide whether something is part of a concept based on a prototype
o representative example of the concept
o fruitiest fruit, doggiest dog.
Culturally specific and learned. Do labels shape thought?:
Evidence that our concepts for space, time, location and also our memory can be
shaped by how we label things; called “Whorf hypothesis”
Papua New Guinea they have one word for clue and green, but have specific
words for two specific shades of green.
The Whorf Hypothesis:
Papa New Guinea people are better at remembering distinctions between shade
of green than differences between green and blue
English speakers were the opposite.
More on language affecting thinking
Spanish: key is feminine
German: key is masculine
Spanish speakers more likely to describe key as “golden, intricate, lovely, shiny”
German speakers more likely to describe key as “heavy, jagged, serrated, useful”
Gender playing a role?
How would concepts affect thinking?
That’s the term for ideas, or the connections between concepts
“Dylan likes psychology” “cats are selfish” are both propositions
propositions are all linked together in a complex web affected by our experience,
our expectations ad our personality.
**concept, basic concept, proposition, prototype important for exam.
Is all of our thinking conscious?
The stuff we can talk about it (that’s the definition of conscious)
But much is “subconscious”
Highly learned tasks can be done without attention
o Knitting, some driving, reading a word
o Can enter our thoughts with effort.
Multitasking is a misconception: Multitasking is less efficient
Even (eating and reading) is slower than eating then reading.
Multitasking on electronic devices is particularly problematic.
o Time to do each task increases, more errors, and memory for what you
have done suffers.
Attention is capacity limited and needed for complex tasks and for encoding.
Subconscious thinking can enter consciousness… can think a bout “how we
Nonconscious think is never something that enters consciousness.
When we want to know where an idea cam from, we don’t always know.
Often call this thinking “intuition”.
Intuition and implicit learning:
Probably involves several stages of nonconscious thought.
Often used in problem solving.
Implicit learning is learning when we cant explain how we learned something or
what it is that we know.
o Native language, walking up the stairs are examples.
Sometimes we are thinking consciously, we just aren’t trying very hard so we say
or do “mindless” things.
We do a lot of things mindlessly… and make a lot of mistakes because of it!
But mindlessness allows our attention to be immediately available if we need it.
Most people allow B or C even though “I need money” is really a meaningless
statement; it sounds legitimate so people MINDLESSLY step aside.
Some theorists argue that we spend most of our lives in “mindless” mode only
using effortful processing when absolutely necessary
You must admit it “feels” different to study or write an exam than to go through
every day life.
o See it on standardized tests o There Is one correct answer and it can be answered using the information
given using an algorithm or rule
o Recipes are also allegories.
E.g. if A, then B
How well do we use this logic?
people have trouble with formal logic
tend to assume if A then B = if B then A
think of a concrete example
o if you want to drink alcohol you must be 19
o not equivalent to if you are 19 you must drink alcohol!
When problems are concrete we deal with them better.
We use this the most
Many of life’s problems don’t have one correct answer and we don’t always have
all the available information
Use “heuristics” which are easy to remember tricks to solving problems o
“dialectical reasoning” in these cases.
Heuristics and Dialectical Reasoning:
Heuristics used in chess games and card games (for example)
Dialectical reasoning involved comparing two sets of arguments and deciding
which carries more weight (e.g. pro vs. con)
o Juries are supposed to do this as are voters.
Barriers to reasoning rationally:
We say how people have trouble with formal logic in the “card problem:
People have the capacity for formal reasoning, dialectical reasoning and making
rational judgments so why don’t we do it more?
Exaggerating the improbable:
We play lotteries with little chance of winning
We buy flood insurance with little chance of flooding
We are equipped to exaggerate the improbable when it could affect survival. o Irrational fears, gambling for resources.
We use our emotions, not logic, when making decisions.
Hearing about 2 cases of “mad cow disease” triggered emotions and led to
reduces beef consumption
Hearing about BSE (the technical name for mad cow disease) did not affect
:mad cow” is alarming, “BSE” is not.
Tendency t make judgments based on what we can retrieve from memory
Tend to retrieve very improbable events, like shark attacks and plane crashes.
Don’t retrieve things that may actually be a threat, like asthma or car accidents
which are actually more dangerous.
This is related to the “framing effect”
How a problem is presented will effect behaviour
Will buy a ticket with “2% chance of winning”
Wont buy a ticker with a “98% chance of losing”
Most people choose the question framed in such a way that loss seems
minimized, even when probability of loss is the same in both cases.
100% chance of 200 people being saves = 200
66% chance of 600 being lost = 200
we prefer the first
people only take a risk to avoid loss.
Game where the other player can give you any amount of money from $0 to $20
Should take any amount because any amount is more than 0 but people don’t
It varies but culture but most reject offers less than 20% (or 5$)
Always an amount that people consider unfair and refuse even though all offers
Studies by all sorts of social scientists.
We will always reject based on the assumption that the world should be fair. Biology and economic choice:
Not just humans who weight fairness against gain.
Monkeys who see another monkey get a reward may refuse a lesser reward
when offered later.
Neuroscientists have found that when given an unfair offer the area of the brain
related to “disgust” is activated.
Could you have predicted that “Argo” would have won best picture?
Most people believe they could have come to the correct conclusion if asked.
Make sense of the past with one outcome instead of the multiple outcomes
Has adapted properties; allows us to learned without having to admit we were
Cognitive Dissonance and Judgment:
When the world didn’t end last December what did doomsday folks say?
NOT that they were wrong!
They say they calculated the date wrong (or prayer saved us) to avoid cognitive
Many cases where this happens
o People continue to smoke by disregarding evidence that it is bad or by
saying “they will die anyway”
Question for you
What is intelligence?
There is no legitimate definition