PSYC101 Lecture 9 Notes
- What if your mind didn’t automatically categorize everything?
o “Funes the Memorious” (Jorge Luis Borges)
▪ book where a person can’t categorize objects
▪ challenging to categorize based on change in rotation, perspective, etc.
- we need concepts and categories to understand the world
o concepts: idea that group things together by similar properties (objects, events,
- early concepts: do infants form categories? Do they have the capacity to learn categories
that aren’t built in?
o babies use perceptual features (things you can see on the surface, like color and shape)
o perceptual categorization: grouping according to similar appearances
▪ experiment: 3 and 4-month-olds (that cannot reach for things) are measured by
looking time and habituation. Can babies form mental categories for cats?
Habituated babies to many different pictures of cats. If babies are habituated
through one category, they should be bored by all types of cats they see. Found that
they could categorize. When shown a new cat, still habituated. When shown a dog,
o at 2 years old, kids use shapes to categorize things, rather than size or color, since
shape, more often, helps people identify things
o can also categorize by function by preschool age (chair shaped like a hand)
▪ also use intended function to categorize objects
• something that is a drink warmer that is used as a hamster holder is still
considered a drink warmer in their minds
- deeper causal understanding helps learning and memory
o experiment: told 4 and 5-year-olds about 2 creatures, wugs and gillies (novel words).
Group A only heard physical descriptions about the wugs and gillies. Group B heard
causal reasons as well as physical descriptions. When asked to categorize the pictures,
group B categorized more accurately
o why does this happen?
▪ Kids are not just learning isolated facts; they are trying to explain and tie ideas
together into a mental theory
- Children create mental theories
o Organize facts into mental theories: ideas about why or how things work, used to
organize related information
o Like scientific theories, they predict and explain events
o Early-developing foundation (core knowledge) for categorization is built on by
experience and learning
THEORY OF PSYCHOLOGY: understanding other people’s minds
- Foundations of psychological concepts
o Identifying social partners starts at birth o Understanding goals/intentions starts in the first year
o Understanding preferences starts at 18 months
- Understanding desires/preferences
o Experiment: give 14-month-old choice of broccoli and goldfish. Child prefers goldfish.
Experimenter shows that she prefers broccoli. Then asks child to give her either the
broccoli or goldfish. Child gives her goldfish. Then test 18-month-old and gives broccoli
- How would we test belief understanding and that people have different beliefs?
o Experiment: first show child a box with a cat inside. Then show a person looking inside
the box and ask, “what does she believe is in the box?” The child says, ‘a cat’
o However, can’t know if the child is reporting what is in the person’s mind or their own
o Solution: use the fact that beliefs are independent of what’s true. When do children