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University of Guelph
PSYC 2650
Anneke Olthof

1 Cognitive Psych Final Exam Notes Chapter 13 Confirmation and Disconfirmation Deduction is a process through which we start with general premises and then ask what follows from these premises -if you believe that red wine gives you headaches, what follows from this? -if relationships based on physical attraction never last, what follows from this? -Imagine a rooster who believes that his crowing causes the sun to rise -this belief has a great deal of confirming evidence: every day the rooster crows, and then the sun rises -to test his hypothesis, the rooster needs to seek disconfirming evidence: one day he must not crow and see that the sun still rises -Confirmation bias is a tendency to be more responsive to evidence that confirms one‟s beliefs and less responsive to evidence that challenges one‟s beliefs -in a classic demonstration of confirmation bias, Wason (1966) presented sequences like “2-4- 6.” -participants had to figure out a rule by generating other sequences and getting feedback from the experimenter regarding whether the sequence followed the rule -participants tended only to generate sequences that confirmed their original beliefs about the rule and not generate sequences that could potentially disconfirm the rul -memory for disconfirming evidence is often remembered selectively so as to leave the person‟s beliefs intact -for instance, gamblers who bet on football games tend to believe their original betting strategy was good even after a series of losses, i.e. “they would have won except for…” -Belief perseverance is a tendency to continue endorsing a belief even when evidence has completely undermined it -for instance, in a study by Ross et al. (1975), participants first had to categorize “suicide notes” as authentic or fake the experimenters gave false feedback, having already put participants into success or failure groups, and later debriefed participants of this fact -however, the arbitrary grouping continued to affect self-ratings of social sensitivity Logic -human errors in logical reasoning are also ubiquitous Categorical syllogisms are logical arguments containing two premises and a conclusion and Syllogisms can be valid or invalid -Is this syllogism valid? -All P are M -All S are M -therefore, all S are P 2 -In concrete terms: -all plumbers are mortal -all sadists are mortal Therefore, all sadists are plumbers -the errors people make on syllogisms tend to fall into predictable categories -one pattern is belief bias – if the syllogism‟s conclusion is something people already believe to be true, they are more likely to judge the conclusion as following from the premises -people also incorrectly rely on a low-level matching strategy between the words in the premises and those in the conclusions (the atmosphere effect) -Some A are not X -Some B are not X -Therefore, some A are not B (invalid) Conditional statement has the format “If X, then Y.” -the first part (antecedent) provides a condition under which the second part (consequent) is guaranteed to be true one type of conditional statement is modus ponens, or affirming the antecedent. -If P is true, then Q is true -P is true -Therefore, Q must be true -people generally reason well with problems that rely on modus ponens -Another type of conditional statement is modus tollens, or denying the consequent. -If P is true, then Q is true -Q is false -Therefore, P must be false -people generally reason poorly with problems that rely on modus tollens -Two common errors are affirming the consequent. -If P is true, then Q is true -Q is true -Therefore, P must be true (invalid) -And denying the antecedent -If P is true, then Q is true -P is false -Therefore, Q must be false (invalid) 3 -for both syllogisms and conditional statements, errors are more likely when: -negatives are involved and he terms are abstract (e.g., letters) and not concrete -this fly is making the error of denying the antecedent Wason‟s four-card task: -sometimes used to test how people reason about conditional statements: “If a card has a vowel on one side, then it must have an even number on the other side.” - Which cards must be turned over to test this rule? -the correct answer was only given by 4% of participants: the “A” and the “7” must be turned over, but many people understand why to turn over “A.” -but, why “7” needs to be turned over and not “6” is usually harder to understand -what happens if we make the problem more concrete? -“If a person is drinking beer, then the person must be over 19 years of age.” -which cards must be turned over to test this rule? -now, 73% of participants know the correct answer: “drinking a beer” and “16 years of age.” -note that the form of the logic is exactly the same between the two examples -why are some versions of the four-card problem difficult and others easy? -some evolutionary psychologists argue that the difference depends on the fact that one problem is based in the rules of social interaction and the other is not 4 -according to this proposal, people will reason well when they have to “detect cheaters” who are not following rules of social interaction -alternatively, the difference may depend on whether a pragmatic reasoning schema can be applied Pragmatic reasoning schema: set of rules derived from experience that define the inferences appropriate to a specific situation -one schema may define rules appropriate to thinking about the situation “permission” whereas another is used for “cause and effect” relations -for instance try the following problem: “If a form says „entering‟ on one side, then the other side must include „cholera.‟” -Which forms must be turned over to test this rule? -most people find this problem easier with additional context that activates a “permission schema.” -“If a passenger wishes to enter the country, he or she must first receive a cholera inoculation.” -another alternative reason for why some versions of the four-card problem are more difficult than others is that some “ifs” identify a necessary condition - “If Jacob passed his driver‟s test, then it‟s legal for him to drive.” -and others identify a sufficient condition - “If Solomon is eligible for jury duty, then he is over 21.” Summary of Logic: -People commonly rely on reasoning strategies that are different from the principles of formal logic -Some of these principles are simple, such as the “matching strategy.” -Others are more sophisticated, such as a “permission schema,” but may only be triggered under the right circumstances Decision Making -according to utility theory, people make decisions by calculating the expected value of each of their options -expected value = (probability of a particular outcome) x (utility of the outcome) -for example, the expected value of a lottery ticket that gives you a 1% chance of winning $200 is $2 -many of our decisions follow the principle of utility maximization, or choosing the option with the greatest expected value, however, many decisions do not follow this principle -for instance, consider the following problem, framed either in terms of lives saved or lives lost -people tend to choose the less risky Program A if the problem is “positively framed” in terms of lives saved, however, they tend to choose the riskier Program B if the problem is “negatively framed” in terms of lives lost 5 -note that the choices in each example are identical from the perspective of utility theory -another example of how decisions can be risk-seeking or risk-averse, depending on how the problem is framed: More people prefer the first option in problem 1, and more prefer the second option in problem 2 -framing effects can also be demonstrated simply by changing the wording of the question and not the wording of the outcomes -to which parent would you award full child custody? To which parent would you deny full child custody? 6 -although most of the examples we are considering are from the laboratory setting, framing effects have also been observed in the real world, including in casinos -clearly, many of our decisions are not driven by utility maximization, as predicted by utility theory -an alternative view is known as reason-based choice, the idea that people make a decision only when they detect what they believe to be a persuasive reason for making that choice -In the first example, most participants buy the single, on-sale item (the Sony) -In the second example, a quarter buy the Sony, another quarter buy the Aiwa, and half of the participants decide to wait -from a reason-based choice perspective, there are good reasons to decide on the Sony only in the first scenario -note that the reasoning in reason-based choice is subject to the various biases and heuristics that we have discussed 7 -for instance, when participants are asked which of two experiences they would like to repeat, they seem to focus on a biased sample of memory that is not representative -emotions play a role in decision making, through what might be called affective heuristics -for instance, decisions that involve assessing risk may depend on the feeling of dread of an undesirable outcome, or anticipating the feeling of regret for having made the wrong choice -note that the latter involves predictions about our future emotions, which are not necessarily accurate -the orbitofrontal cortex seems to be essential for the evaluation of somatic markers – body states like a tight stomach or a fast heart rate – when making a decision -our descriptive theory of decision making suggests that we do not follow the principle of utility maximization -instead, our decisions sometimes seem inconsistent and open to framing effects -what a normative theory of decision making would be is an open question with important moral implications Chapter 14 General Problem-Solving Methods Problem solving is a process in which one begins with a goal and seeks steps that will lead to that goal i.e. you want to go to the store, but how do you get there without a car? -problem solving can be thought of as a search, as if you were navigating a maze. Initial state – the knowledge and resources you have at the outset Goal state – the state you are working towards Operators – available tools or actions Path constraints – limits that rule out some operations -the problem space is the set of all states that can be reached in solving a problem, as one moves, by means of operators, from the initial state towards the goal state -one option would be to explore the entire problem space, but for most problems the space is too vast -for instance, in a game of chess, the problem space has billions of paths within just a few turn -for such problems, we can‟t explore the entire problem space; we need heuristics -one method for studying problem solving is to ask people to think aloud while working on a problem -the written record of these thoughts is a problem-solving protocol -the hill-climbing strategy is the heuristic to choose an option that moves you in the direction of the goal, however, many problems require you to move away from the goal state -for instance, some Orcs and Hobbits must be carried back from the second bank to the first -a hill-climbing strategy also is not helpful for the “Tower of Hanoi” problem -the rings must be moved one at a time, and with each move, a ring cannot be placed on a smaller ring -in means-end analysis, the problem-solver asks at each step how the current state can be made more similar to the goal state, using available operators -typically this results in breaking the problem into smaller subproblems, each with its own goal -a related idea involves working-backward from the goal -means-end analysis is used in reverse, asking how the goal state can be made similar to the 8 current state -Mental imagery can also help in problem solving -by visualizing the problem, it becomes clear that the bookworm does not actually need to chew through either volume A or volume Z -for many problems, creating a mental image may be just as effective as drawing a diagram -recall that mental images can sometimes be limited by a perceptual reference frame -putting an idea down on paper can help make a discovery that requires a change in the reference frame Relying on Past Knowledge -sometimes in solving a problem, we can make an analogy with another problem we have previously solved -try the “jealous husbands” problem. Have you seen something similar before? -in many cases, participants fail to map aspects of one problem to the other and only benefit when the experimenter points out the similarity -this underscores the importance of getting beyond superficial features of a problem (surface structure) and to think about the underlying logic (deep structure) -studies of expert problem solvers also confirm the importance of focusing on deep structure when making analogies -for instance, novice physics students tend to group physics problems based on surface structure -however, physics graduate students grouped the problems according to deep structure, the physical principles -chess masters have exceptional memory for the organization of pieces on a board, this is because they see the board in terms of its deep structure, strategy, and sub goals -comprehending the deep structure allows the expert to focus more on broad strategies without getting bogged down in the details -other general aspects of expertise: -typically have 10+ years of experience -knowledge is not only extensive, but heavily organized and easy to retrieve -readily see the analogies in deep structure -effectively choose between strategies -deal with common problems in a routinized manner Defining the Problem In a well-defined problem, the goal state as well as the available operators are clearly specified. In an ill-defined problem, the goal state and the available operators are not clearly specified. Functional fixedness refers to a tendency to be rigid in thinking about an object‟s function -the candle problem demonstrates functional fixedness -the participant must realize that the box is not just a container for the tacks, but can be used as a platform for the candle -the two-string problem also illustrates functional fixedness -how can these two strings be tied together, if they can‟t both be reached at the same time? -a related problem occurs when people get locked into a particular line of thinking when trying to 9 solve a problem -the problem-solving set is the collection of beliefs and assumptions a person makes about a problem -a related concept, Einstellung (“attitude”) refers to a problem-solver‟s perspective, including beliefs, habits, and strategies -consider the water-jar problem: you must measure out exactly 5 ounces of water, using water jars that hold 18, 43, and 10 ounces -if participants are given several water-jar problems that all have a similar solution: E.g., “fill the largest jar, pour once to the middle-sized jar, then pour twice to the smallest jar, leaving the desired amount.” -they may become locked into this problem-solving set or Einstellung and unable to solve a problem that does not fit the pattern -Problem-solving set or Einstellung can also be demonstrated with the “nine dot” problem -“Draw four straight lines, passing through all nine of these dots, without lifting your pencil from the page.” Creativity -also important to problem solving and vice versa -some potential “prerequisites” for exceptional creativity include: -knowledge and skill in the domain -certain intellectual capacities and personality traits -motivated by the pleasure of the work -a conducive social, cultural, and historical context -Wallas (1926) argued that creative thought proceeds in four stages: Preparation – information about the problem is gathered Incubation – the problem is set aside but still worked on unconsciously Illumination – a key insight or new idea emerges Verification – the details of applying the insight are worked out, and the problem is solved -Metcalfe (1986) conducted a study of the moment of illumination in which participants read problems like the ones below -As you read these problems, rate your degree of “warmth” with respect to how close you feel you are to the answer -participants‟ ratings of “warmth” increased during the 10-second period prior to providing their answer, however, this was true regardless of whether the answer was correct -many people find the incubation part of Wallas‟s theory to be appealing -we often have the experience of a solution popping into our heads to a problem that had been set aside -however, studies of the incubation effect have been somewhat unreliable -in addition, time away from a problem may help through other mechanisms (new information, new problem-solving set) -highly creative people seem to have an advantage in “divergent thinking” – for instance, thinking of novel uses for an object OR the ability to find new connections between ideas -even with some advantages in memory search and divergent thinking, however, many authors argue that no special mental mechanisms are needed to explain creativity 10 -the “ingredients” of creativity are available to all of us, if we acquire expertise in the relevant domain Chapter 15 The Cognitive Unconscious -Consciousness is a state of awareness of sensations or ideas, such that we can: -reflect on these sensations and ideas -know what it “feels like” to experience these sensations and ideas -report to others that we are aware of these sensations and ideas -as we have seen throughout the class, much of our cognition takes place “behind the scenes,” or unconsciously -the cognitive unconscious is the broad set of mental activities of which we are completely unaware that make cognition possible -in many cases we are aware of the products of cognition but unaware of the processes that lead to these products -retrieving information, such as a name, from long-term memory seeing and reading a written word, making inferences about mis
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