Psychology 1000 Study Guide - Midterm Guide: Motor Coordination, Principes, Social Contract

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Chapter 9 Thought, Language, and Intelligence
The Nature and Structure of Language
Language a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can produce
an almost infinite number of possible messages and meanings
o Three critical properties of language:
Symbolic: Uses sounds, written signs, or gestures to refer to objects, events,
ideas, and feelings
Displacement capacity of language to represent objects and
conditions that aren‟t physically present
Structure: Has rules that govern how symbols can be combined to create
meaningful communication units
Generative: Symbols can be combined to generate an almost infinite number of
Language Structure
Surface structure consists of the way symbols are combined within a given language
o Syntax the rules for the combination of symbols
Deep structure refers to the underlying meaning of the combined symbols
o Semantics the rules for connecting the symbols to what they represent
Example: “Flying planes can be dangerous.” (surface)
o Deep 1: Planes are dangerous
o Deep 2: Piloting a plan is dangerous
Noam Chomsky: Transformational grammar
o Rules transform meaning of the deep structure to sequence of the surface structure
Sentence Phrases Words Morphemes Phonemes
Phonemes smallest units of sound recognized as separate in a given language
Morphemes smallest units of meaning in a language
o Include base words, prefixes, suffixes, etc.
Various forms of humor based on language:
o Phonological ambiguity confusion of sounds
o Lexical ambiguity confusion or double meaning of words
o Syntactic ambiguity confusion of structure
o Semantic ambiguity confusion of meaning
Children progress from phonological and lexical humor to syntactic and semantic
Acquiring a Language
Biological Foundations
o Several facts suggest biological basis for language acquisition
Human children, despite limited thinking skills, begin to master language at
early life without formal instruction
o Between 1-3 months: infants vocalize entire range of phonemes found in world‟s
languages (cooing)
o By 2 months, infacts show phoneme discrimination
o About six months: infants begin to make sounds of their native tongue and to discard
those of other languages
o Linguists believe there exists a critical period between infancy and puberty when
language is most easily learned
o Can children form language without hearing others speak?
Wild children no
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Isolated children maybe
Lack adult models for language (e.g. deaf kids with parents who don‟t use sign
language) maybe
Can develop signs with rudimentary syntax
Other animals - no
o Sex differences:
Broca‟s Lobe – Left Hemisphere‟s Frontal Lobe – Speech Production
Wernicke‟s Area – Rear part of temporal Lobe Speech Comprehension
Aphasia disruption in speech comprehension and or production.
Men who suffer left hemisphere strokes are more likely than women to show
severe aphasic symptoms (disruption in speech comprehension and/or
Suggests that women may share more language function with right
Social Learning Processes
o Motherese high pitched intonation used by parents to converse with infants
o B.F. Skinner developed operant conditioning explanation for language acquisition
Children‟s language development is strongly governed by adults‟ reinforcing
appropriate language and non-reinforcing of inappropriate verbalization
Children learn much too fast
Parents typically do not correct grammar as much as “truth value”
o Telegraphic speech two word sentences uttered during second year of life that consist
of a noun and verb (e.g. “Want cookie”)
Bilingualism: Learning a Second Language
o Learned best and spoken most fluently when learned during critical period of childhood
o If both languages are learned at early age, they often function in the same brain region
o After the age of 7 mastery of language becomes more difficult
Linguistic Influences on Thinking
Empiricists thought is a mental image
Behaviourists thought is a motor action
Linguistic relativity hypothesis (Benjamin Lee Whorf) language not only influences, but also
determines what we are capable of thinking
o Multiple studies have disproved the determination part
Modern view is that language can influence how we think, how efficiently we categorize our
experiences, and how much detail we attend to in our daily life experience
Language can help create and maintain stereotypes
Language also influences how well we think in certain domains
o English children consistently score lower than Asian children in mathematical skills due
to words and symbols used in each language to represent numbers
Chinese uses easier system to learn numbers (11 = “ten one”)
English speakers must use more complex system (11 = “eleven”)
Modes of thought
These modes of thinking enter into our abilities to reason, solve problems, and engage in many forms
of “intelligent” behavior.
Propositional thought a form of linguistically based thought that expresses a statement in
subject-predicate thought
Imaginal thought a form of thinking that uses images that can be from any sense modality
Motoric thought mental representations of motor movements
Concepts and Propositions
Propositions statements that express facts (most of our thinking occurs in this form)
o Consist of concepts combined in a particular way
Typically, one concept is a subject, another is a predicate
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Concepts basic units of semantic memory (mental categories into which we place objects,
activities, abstractions, and events that have essential features in common)
Prototypes most typical and familiar members of a class that defines a concept
o Use of prototypes is most elementary method of forming concepts
Requires only that we note similarities among objects
We often decide which category something belongs to by its degree of
resemblance to the prototype.
People tend to assign greater costs to negative outcomes than they assign value
to an equivalent positive outcome.
We acquire language during childhood with exceptional ease, and then with language to help us, we define
our world using concepts. We arrange these concepts into propositions so we can make statements about
our world.
Reasoning and Problem Solving
Two types of reasoning:
o Deductive reasoning reasoning from a general principle to a specific case
Top Down, that is from general principles to a conclusion about a specific case.
Basis of formal mathematics and logic
Viewed as stronger and more valid reasoning because conclusion cannot be false
if premises are true
Syllogism: If all humans are mortal (first premise), and Socrates is a human
(second premise), then Socrates must be mortal (conclusion)
o Inductive reasoning reasoning from specific facts to develop a general principle
Bottom Up start with specific facts and trying to develop a genereal principle
Leads to likelihood rather than certainty
New observations may disprove conclusion
Hypothetico-deductive approach to scientific theory conclude that an
explanation cannot be correct and must be revised or discarded.
Stumbling Blocks in Reasoning
o Distraction by irrelevant information causes people to fail at solving problems people
take into account irrelevant information that leads them astray
o Failure to apply deductive rules people think of problem solving methods as to be used
only in certain situations and cannot apply to new problems
o Belief bias tendency to abandon logical rules in favour of personal beliefs
Students claimed conclusion was not correct to following syllogism: All things
that are smoked are good for one‟s health, cigarettes are smoked, therefore
cigarettes are good for one‟s health
Many people confuse factual correctness with logical correctness
Problem Solving
Four stages of problem solving: (how well we carry out these stages determines our success in
solving the problem)
o Understanding, or framing, the problem problem must be framed optimally to have
chance of generating an effective solution. How we mentally represent or frame a
problem can make a huge difference. Initial understanding of a problem is a key step
toward a successful solution.
o Generating potential solutions once we interpreted our problem, we can begin to
formulate potential solutions or explanations. 1) Must determine which procedures and
explanations will be considered 2) which solutions are consistent with evidence that has
been observed.
o Testing the solutions remaining solutions must be tested and evaluated
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