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Exam #1 notes

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Jonathan Fugelsang

1aIntroduction to History Methods and ParadigmsWelcome to the first module of this course in Cognitive psychology Cognitive psychology is a fascinating topic that attempts to uncover the secrets of the inner workings of the human mind A cursory look through the textbook will reveal to you that there are many facets to the study of cognition In this first module I am going to introduce you to the topic of Cognitive psychologySo what is cognitionWell to get a better feel for the domain of Cognitive psychology lets consider a real life example of a cognitive activitySo youre in a crowded place such as a shopping mall during the holiday season Throngs of people push past you and youre hot and tired You head for a nearby bench aiming to combine some rest with some people watching As you make your way a young woman about your age jostles up against you and you both apologize for bumping into each other glancing at each other as you do She immediately exclaims Oh its you How are you I never thought Id run into anyone I knew herecan you believe it You immediately paste a friendly but vague smile on your face to cover your frantic mental search Who is this woman She looks familiar but why Is she a former classmate Did you and she attend camp together Is she saying anything that you can use as a clue to place herThis everyday example illustrates several key cognitive processesFirst and perhaps most obvious to notice that the woman is familiar you rely on your memory That is you might get an automatic sense of familiarity indicating that you have seen this person beforeThere are also more subtle cognitive processes going on as well ones that might not be overly obvious to you For example you are using your perceptual and pattern recognition system to note that the thing you are talking to is indeed a female person These processes are going on without you consciously being aware of themTo communicate with her you are using your language This language is based on your complex lexicon that part of your memory system that stores information about word meaningsEventually youll have to use decision making to determine how to deal with this situation Will you admit your forgetfulness or will you try to cover it up by avoiding itAs this example illustrates pretty much every activity of our daily lives makes use of our cognitive abilities In addition even a very simple task such as carrying on a conversation with someone often involves several interacting cognitive processes And again like I noted above much of this goes on without us being consciously aware of itAs cognitive psychologists our task is to find ways to examine the key mechanisms underlying the complex cognitive processes For example a cognitive psychologist might ask what are the key mechanisms underlying how forgetting occurs That is what are the mechanisms underlying how we could not place who that woman was in the last example In order to draw firm conclusions about such mechanisms cognitive psychologists need to design experiments with sufficient experimental control At the same time however cognitive psychologists need to make sure that the laboratory tests that they develop really do preserve the essential workings of the processes under study That is scientists often run the risk of creating an experimental paradigm that is twostrip down and thus the results cant easily be generalized to the real world This balance is crucialThroughout this course we will cover studies that use both tightly controlled experiments and more real world investigations that have the goal of uncovering the mechanisms underlying cognitive processes In this first module I will provide the background necessary to understand the remainder of this course I will begin by providing a bit of a historical perspective of the main influences that served as a foundation for the field of Cognitive psychology I will then discuss the major precursors to what has been referred to as The Cognitive Revolution We will then end by discussing some of the major paradigms of Cognitive psychologyI will also note here that there is a section in the text on research methods as well that Im not going to cover in this module as Im sure that you have all been exposed to all of that in introductory psychology However do make sure you give those pages a read through to make sure that you are up to speed on the different research methods used by experimental psychologists1bAntecedents of Cognitive psychologyIn this section of the module were going to discuss the major influences on the study of cognitionSo how did the field of cognitive psychology developWell you might be surprised to hear that when your grandparents were going to school and reading books there was no such thing as cognitive psychology In fact cognitive psychology is a relatively recent discipline only really taking off as a separate discipline in the 1960s However when one looks through the history of science in general one sees hints of cognition throughout Im only going to touch on some of these just in order to give you a sense of the key influences of cognitive psychologySo to begin with and to give you some historical perspective discussions of the nature of the human mind date back to at least the time of Aristotle and Plato But were going to jump right up to the 17th and 18th century to start our discussionDuring this time philosophers began to seriously debate the nature of the human mind and knowledge Two central philosophical traditions concerning the nature of the human mind that emerged during this time and that in many respects are still with us today are that of Empiricism and NativismEmpiricism which was supported by David Locke John Hume and Stuart Mill to name a few rests on the tenet that knowledge comes from an individuals own experience That is all knowledge that we have is acquired from the observation and analysis of events that we
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