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Midterm 3

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Western University
Psychology 2135A/B
Patrick Brown

Language 1 11/23/2012 8:19:00 PM What is Language? th - 19 century Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure distinguished between langue and parole  langue is the underlying system of language o produced by groups of people – eg., a population who share a native language o because it is produced by large groups of people, no individual person can change it  parole is language as it is used o refers to what is produced by a speaker on a given occasion – influenced by that person’s life history and their current state (eg., anxious, tired, angry, ecstatic, etc.)  linguists typically are typically concerned with langue but psychologists are interested in parole – and langue to the extent that it influences parole - American linguist Noam Chomsky distinguished between competence and performance  competence is what people know about their language o not produced by a group or population – it resides in the individual  performance is how people use that knowledge  linguists are concerned with competence, not with performance  psychologists are interested in both - linguists study the underlying system of language and an idealized form of what a speaker knows about their native language  underlying system is called a grammar o each person develops a grammar of their language during acquisition - psychologists study how people actually use language – how that is influenced by a person’s language skills and by social situation, mood nd attention, among other things Is Language Uniquely Human? - in order to answer this question, we have to specify at least a working definition of language - remembering our discussion of concepts, we could describe the concept language in terms of a set of features Hockett’s Design Features of Language - linguist Charles Hockett (1966) proposed a set of features that animal communication systems may have – but only human language has all of these features - Hockett said that the first five of these features are common to the vocalizations of many land mammals 1 – vocal-auditory channel  this allows the hands to be free for other tasks, and makes language available even at night (in the dark) 2 – broadcast transmission & directional reception  anyone can hear spoken messages – they’re not ‘aimed’ at one person – but each listener can tell who broadcast a spoken message 3 – rapid fading  the speech signal is transient – available only in the moment it is uttered; then it disappears 4 – interchangeability  each person capable of sending a message can understand the same message 5 – total feedback  a speaker can hear and understand what he is saying as he says it - Hockett considered the next 3 features to be found only in primates - however, today, some of these next 3 are known to be found in other mammals and in some birds 6 – specialization  the organs used for producing speech are specially adapted for that task 7 – semanticity  the linguistic signal is meaningful – it is about something 8 – arbitrariness  the signal does not resemble the thing that it refers to – eg., the word dog is not furry and does not have four paws 9 – discreteness  the basic unit of speech (eg., sounds) are perceived categorically o eg., a sound will be perceived as either a [p] or a [b] – not half one and half the other - Hockett argued that the next 4 features are specific to early hominoids and modern humans - hominoids: a family of primates that includes great apes and humans 10 – traditional transmission  although the capacity for language is provided by genetics, we each learn the specific speech sounds, words, and syntaxes of our language community 11 – displacement  the speaker can talk about things that are not physically present – such as China – or that do not even exist – like unicorns and Obi Wan Kenobi 12 – prouctivity  the speaker can say novel utterances that have never been said before 13 – duality of patterning  the discrete parts of a language can be rearranged in a systematic way to create new forms o c-a-t can be reordered to produce a-c-t or t-a-c 14 – prevarication  speakers can make utterances that they know to be false, with the intention of misleading their listener 15 – reflexiveness  speakers can use a language to talk about language (as I am doing now)  this is a new level of complexity 16 – learnability  speakers are not constrained by their genes to learn not only the language of their biological parents The Structure of Language - language can be analyzed in terms of units of different sizes – from the individual speech sound to whole texts - the most commonly used levels of analysis are:  phonetics o study of physical speech sounds o it’s about the differences in a) how speech sounds are made and b) in what they sound like o has nothing to do with meaning  phonology o about which differences between one sound and another are meaningful o a sound difference that produces a meaning difference is phonological o a sound difference that does not produce a meaning difference is phonetic  morphology o study of the smallest units of meaning  syntax o study of the structure of sentences o seen as a system consisting a set of elements and a set of rules for combining them o behaviorists built models of language use based on the idea of chaining – each word is a stimulus for the next word in the sentence  eg., the  dog  I  saw  you  with  last  week  ate  my  sandwich  on the behaviorist view, the language user is not doing very much: just responding to S-R associations o Chomsky argued for two kinds of rules: phrase structure (PS) rules that generate tree structures and transformations that change one structure into another  eg., A – the class did well on the exam; B – did the class do well on he exam?  PS rules generate sentence A, and then a transformation turns it into sentence B (if you want to ask a question) o notice that on this view, the language user is doing significant cognitive work: generating and transforming  semantics o study of meaning o do not yet have a complete theory of how meaning is coded into language o any theory of semantics must deal with a number of important aspects of meaning  anomaly – why are some sentences meaningless?  Eg., colorless green ideas sleep furiously  self-contradiction – why is it contradictory to say ‘my dog is not an animal?’ what does ‘contradictory’ mean?  Ambiguity – if I say ‘put your hat on my palm’, why is not clear where I want you to put your hat (on my hand? Or on my tree?)  Synonymy – how do we know that ‘Fred is fatter than Barney’ and ‘Barney is thinner than Fred’ mean the same thing, when their forms are quite different?  Entailment – how do we know that ‘Terry is pregnant’ implies that Terry is female? o Also involves syntax – eg., the following two sentences have very different meanings, due to their different word orders:  The professor failed the student  The student failed the professor  Pragmatics o About the social rules of language, including etiquette, and conventions that guide conversations o Eg., you might call your closest friend ‘an idiot’ to their face – but you wouldn’t do this with a professor  This distinction in the way you behave towards your best friend and your professor is a pragmatic one Evidence for Hierarchical Organization (Speech Errors) - speech errors are unintended deviations from a speech plan - errors can be divided into different types, depending on the size of the linguistic unit involved in the error  exchange errors: error where two linguistic units are substituted for each other during sentence production  word exchange: an error in which two words are substituted for each other in a sentence  morpheme exchange: error where two morphemes are substituted for each other during sentence production  phoneme exchange: an error where two phonemes are substituted for each other during sentence production Language 2 11/23/2012 8:19:00 PM Words as Grammatical Clues - the rules that generate sentences are too powerful – they need to be constrained - otherwise, they would generate many grammatical but meaningless sentences - consider these two sentences  Clayton ate the sandwich  The sandwich ate Clayton - a system of phrase structure rules could generate both, but only one is meaningful - how do we prevent our grammar from generating meaningless sentences?  word meaning provides clues that constrain development of a sentence structure - Dr. Ken McRae and his colleagues have shown clear evidence of an effect of meaning on syntactic analysis of garden-path sentences Dr. McRae’s Studies of Garden Path Sentences 1 – the policeman arrested by the detective was convicted of theft 2 – the crook arrested by the detective was convicted of theft - participants have more trouble with sentence 1 than sentence 2 - syntactic analysis of sentence 1 at first puts ‘the policeman’ in the role of subject because arresting is the sort of thing policemen do  this shows an effect of semantics on syntactic analysis Modularity - for many years, psychologists have argued about the idea of modularity of cognitive processes - Jerry Fodor (1983) argued that cognitive processes like perception & language are modular – halfway between reflexes and high-level processes like decision making - modular processes are  domain specific – they operate with certain kinds of input but not others  informationally encapsulated – they operate independently of the beliefs and other information available to the processor - Fodor argued that perception and language processes are encapsulated  for example, high-level understanding about visual illusions does not prevent you from seeing those illusions - but Dr. McRae’s work clearly shows an affect of semantics on a process (syntax) that should be encapsulated – and that challenges modularity Carpenter & Daneman’s Model (1981) - we don’t often hear or read a single sentence in isolation – usually, we receive new utterances in a context of some kind: a paragraph or a text - Carpenter & Daneman developed a model of ‘how readers initially interpret words and how they detect and revise incorrect interpretations’ Carpenter & Daneman (1981) - semantic information is stored in a network of nodes and links - activated concepts are retrieved to STM - capacity of STM is an individual difference variable - when a concept is retrieved depends upon the activation it receives from the prior context as well as the encode word - context includes structures in STM produced by combining information from the previous text with information from semantic memory and the reader’s goals, as well as word-level associations (eg., policeman – arrested) - when a concept is retrieved, an attempt is made to integrate it into the developing text representation by computing semantic and syntactic relations with previous text - if an inconsistency is detected, error-correcting heuristics are invoked Semantic Context and Word Recognition - humans know so much about the world that to retrieve one bit of knowledge on a given occasion is a challenge – but contexts help by focusing efforts on a particular part of semantic store - Schwanenflugel & Shoben (1985) compared processing of high-constraint and low-constraint sentences  those that either do or do not create expectations for particular words - Schwanenflugel’s results show that high-constraint sentences produced expectations about the word that would come next – and if that word appeared, lexical decision responses were fast - low-constraint sentences produce a large set of expectations, which were not so useful in processing the target word – so the priming effects were much smaller Semantic Context and Ambiguity - sometimes selecting the appropriate words is not enough – you also have to select the appropriate meaning of a word if it has more than one meaning  eg., with newspaper headlines: ‘Cheating more common than thought’ - Swinney & Hakes (1976) used a dual-task procedure - basic idea is to see how variation in difficulty of one task influences efficiency of response to a second, simultaneous task  task 1: listen to two sentences and judge how closely they are related  task 2: listen for a word beginning with a particular phoneme appearing in one of the sentences  prediction: when target phoneme immediately follows ambiguous word, detection will be slower (than in control condition) because more resources are being used to process ambiguity  prediction: when target phoneme immediately follows ambiguous word in disambiguating context, detection will not be slower (than in control condition)  result: predictions were correct – processing ambiguous words delayed phoneme detection but only when there was no disambiguating context  does this mean that a disambiguating context can prevent activation of irrelevant meaning of an ambiguous word (eg., ‘hidden microphone’)? - Swinney (1979) ran a similar experiment, but change the second task to lexical decisions – now, auditory presentation of sentence + visual presentation of letter string for decision task  prediction: if only the contextually appropriate meaning of ‘bugs’ is activated, then only lexical decisions to ANT should be primed – not to SPY  result: lexical decision responses were faster to words related to both meanings of the prime (eg., ANT and SPY are both related to bugs and responses to both were primed)  this suggests that both meanings of an ambiguous word are initially activated, but earlier experiment suggests that irrelevant meaning is quickly ‘squelched’ Embodied Cognition - traditional models of cognitive psychology invoke abstract codes (‘mental representations’) that are arbitrarily related to the things in the world they represent - for example, knowledge is thought of as a network of connected nodes, in which the nodes themselves are empty  that is, the node specifies only the relationship of a given concept to other concepts, an abstract quality - this school of thought has little reason to be interested in perception (input) or motor (output) systems - there is growing support for the idea that the mind evolved to guide and control the actions of a physical body that moves in a world subject to physical constraints (eg., gravity) - important purposes of the first nervous systems included movement, digestion and breathing  the nervous system evolved to support these functions - Margaret Wilson (2002) reviewed six separate ideas that had been offered in the literature as the meaning of ‘embodied cognition’ - Wilson offered arguments against the first five of these views and concluded that the sixth was the one best supported by the existing data Wilson (2002) 1 – cognition is situated 2 – cognition is time-pressured 3 – we off-load cognitive work onto the environment 4 – the environment is part of the cognitive system 5 – cognition is for action 6 – offline cognition is body based - Wilson: ‘Even when decoupled from the environment, the activity of the mind is grounded in mechanisms that evolved for interaction with the environment – that is, mechanisms of sensory processing and motor control’ - examples of offline cognition being body-based:  imagery – uses the visual system but does not involve actual sensation  working memory – using the articulatory apparatus for maintenance rehearsal  mental models used in reasoning – eg., the Buddhist monk problem o prove that a monk climbing a mountain from sunrise to sunset one day & descending the next day must be at some particular point on the path at exactly the same time on both days - Wilson: mental structures that originally evolved for perception or action are run offline  that is, independent of any sensory inputs or motor outputs – as a form of thinking - because this system uses the resources of the sensory and motor systems, it can create simulations of the world, allowing us to represent the world that way, and to make inferences about possible behaviors Clark (1973) - we learn that ‘forward is good, backward is bad’ because of the nature of the body  eg., eyes in front so movements occur more safely and efficiently when we go forward Vitruvius (c. 80BC – c. 15BC) - Roman architect – said that the difference between humans and animals is that our long axis is vertical, so we can look up and see the stars Lakoff & Johnson’s Metaphor Model - abstract concepts are rooted in sensorimotor experience  eg., we use basic bodily experiences such as traveling through space to understand abstract concepts such as romantic love and time Barsalou’s Perceptual Symbol Systems Model - says the same thing: a concept is a simulation of ‘what it is like to be in the world interacting with that entity’ Williams, Huang & Bargh (2009) - features of abstract concepts are mapped onto well-understood concepts based on the body’s experience  eg., infants are safe and comfortable in mother’s arms, her body is warm o infant learns to associate physical warmth with the abstract idea of ‘a caring person’ – warmth is now social - the abstract & physical concepts are connected – so that, for example, people made to feel socially excluded (‘out in the cold’) express stronger desire to have hot soup or coffee - abstract concepts inherit qualities of the physical experiences used to understand them  eg., the way to attain physical cleanliness involves avoidance behaviors and emotions such as disgust  the way to attain moral purity is analogous: avoid immoral people and be disgusted by immoral acts (such as sins)  eg., the goal of achieving moral purity is structured by the goal of staying physically clean  Comprehension 1 11/23/2012 8:19:00 PM Larger Units of Knowledge - texts might be single paragraphs or a whole encyclopedia or anything in between - to make the distinction clear:  whale is a concept  Moby Dick is a text, in fact, a story about a whale and the man who hunted it - a text may be a very large unit of knowledge  for example: Moby Dick is a story of Captain Ahab’s injury and his obsession with revenge. - but of course, there is more to Moby Dick than just that – the author’s message fills the whole book  how can we store it in memory? The Challenge - acquiring a text’s message is like concept acquisition in childhood, but it has to happen much faster - think about how children acquire concepts:  the process involves repetition and successive refinement  eg., doggie: o first, all four-legged animals o then small four-legged animals o the just dogs  as children, we have years to accomplish this process - reading a text, we go through a similar process with larger units of knowledge in a much shorter time – perhaps minutes - ‘reading a text’ may mean reading words written on a page or listening to a speaker or ‘reading’ a situation - reading a text, we have to acquire and hold in memory a representation of what the text is about  how do we do this? Three Influences on Comprehension - the task is to read and remember a text-level message - what influences our ability to encode, store and retrieve larger units of meaning?  The reader’s knowledge  The structure of the text  The interaction of these two The Reader’s Knowledge - two questions  what kind of knowledge influences comprehension?  Which processes do schemas influence? What Kind of Knowledge Influences Comprehension? - Bransford & Franks: Schema knowledge - our knowledge can be thought of in terms of schemas – organized structures in memory - how do schemas influence our ability to encode and later retrieve information presented in a text? Bransford & Johnson (1973) - asked people to listen to a paragraph, trying to understand and remember it  a recall test followed  one group was shown the image before hearing the paragraph  a second group saw the image after hearing the paragraph  a third group was not shown the image - dependent variable was # of propositions recalled from the paragraph (basically, the number of ideas)  before: 8.0  after: 3.6  no image: 3.6 - conclusions:  1 – you can’t remember what you don't comprehend – because you don't encode it into memory in the first place  2 – knowledge of the world (in the form of schemas) helps you understand new texts – and thus encode them into memory - the Bransford story is about a weird event – what would happen if the story was about a more familiar experience?  Knowledge about a familiar event is helpful in comprehension only if you bring it to bear on the task Which Processes Do Schemas Influence? - Bransford & Franks showed that schema knowledge influences encoding  it also influences retrieval - recall Anderson & Pichert’s (1978) study in which people read a passage about a house and then recalled it either from the burglar or the house- buyer perspective  this is an effect at retrieval - Sulin & Dooling (1974) asked people to read passages describing famous historical persons, but some participants read these passages with the famous person’s name changed  for some participants, other names were used in the same stories o Carol Harris  Helen Keller o Gerald Martin  Adolf Hitler  Either 5 minutes or 1 week after reading, participants given a recognition test – say which set of statements had been in the original passage Sun & Dooling (1974) - ‘new’ sentences included three varying in relatedness to each of Hitler and Helen Keller  he confronted these groups directly and so silenced them  he hated the Jews particularly and so persecuted them - 1 week later, participants were more likely to falsely recognize a statement that reported something well known to be true about the famous person - conclusion: prior knowledge is used in memory for a text  sometimes it helps (eg., in the balloon and burglar examples)  sometimes it hurts (as in the Helen Keller examples) - schemas can have positive or negative effects at both encoding and retrieval  if what you’re seeing or recalling is schema-consistent, the schema will help  if what you’re seeing or recalling is schema-inconsistent, the schema will hinder  which is more likely? Conclusion - note that prior knowledge is said to hurt memory if what is needed is memory for a particular occasion – eg., reading a particular passage - what the reader knows is important in the process of extracting and storing meaning from text Comprehension 2 11/23/2012 8:19:00 PM Global vs. Local Structure - comprehension and memory for text are affected by  a story’s global structure  a story’s local detail - to illustrate the global-local difference, let’s look at Bernstein’s West Side Story and the play it is based on, Romeo & Juliet Romeo & Juliet vs. West Side Story - global structure (briefly):  feuding social groups  young lovers from opposing sides  their love overwhelms reason  dire results - local detail (R & J):  Capulets & Montagues th  16 century Europe  horses  swords - local details (WSS):  Jets & Sharks (gangs)  20 thcentury America  cars  guns Global vs. Local Structure - global structure strongly influences story comprehension and thus memory - aspects of local detail may also affect ease of understanding and memory for a text - first, we’ll consider two models of the global structure in a story - then, we’ll look at some local detail effects on comprehension and memory Thorndyke (1975) - a grammar of storytelling - basic idea is similar to grammar of a sentence: stories have hierarchical structure - a story grammar is a pattern:  description of a problem,  attempts to solve the problem,  a chain of events leading to resolution,  characters’ reactions to events - experiments show that manipulating story structure influences both comprehension and memory performance - in experiments, rated comprehensibility of stories and memory for those stories were correlated - that correlation was produced by structure: when narrative structure was recognized, story was easy to understand and easy to remember Mandler & Johnson (1977) - argued that folktales show basic structure – that’s why they’ve survived for centuries: the structure aids memory for the stories  ‘boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets girl back again.’ - 6 elements:  setting  beginning  (protagonist’s) reaction  attempt  outcome  ending - the point to take from that tree diagram is that stories have internal structure  that structure matters to our engagement with stories Bower, Black & Turner (1979) - hypothesis: because goals are such an important part of the story structure, obstacles to goals would be well-remembered - obtained ratings of event typicality for a set of scripts – eg., going to a restaurant - wrote stories with those typical events plus an unexpected event: an obstacle to achieving a goal - result: people who read these stories recalled the obstacles better than the scripted events - the scripted (typical) events provide a framework to remember the story and the obstacles are attached to that framework Propositions - local structure is made up of propositions - a proposition is the smallest unit of meaning that can be true or false Effects of Local Detail - dog – no sense in which this can be true or false - the dog is blue – this can be true or false - during reading, local structure is built through 2 processes  referring a comment back to a topic within a proposition  building bridges between propositions Referring a Comment Back to a Topic - the more propositions appear between topic and comment, the tougher comprehension is - ‘the dog I saw that lady with the flowered hat walking yesterday was a spaniel’ Building Bridges Between Propositions - comprehension is influenced by whether a proposition is still in STM when a new reference to it appears  Lesgold, Roth & Curtis (1979) o in the first case, the irrelevant details between first and last sentence hinder comprehension by flushing ‘cloud of smoke’ out of STM - ease of comprehension is also influenced by whether bridges between sentences involve implicit or explicit propositions  ‘John threw a cigarette out of his window while driving through the forest. The fire destroyed hundreds of acres.’  The reader adds a bridging proposition that is implicit: the cigarette caused the fire - comprehension is easier if bridging propositions are explicit Haviland & Clark (1974) A – 1 – Horace got some beer out of the trunk. - 2 – The beer was warm. B – 1 – Horace was especially fond of beer. - 2 – The beer was warm. - task: press button when you comprehend second sentence. - people responded faster in condition A than in condition B  in B, extra time was necessary to make the bridge Kintsch (1974) - gave people sentences like the one about John and the fire above - some propositions were explicit and some were implicit - tested their memory for each type of proposition either immediately or 20 minutes later - immediate test: memory better for explicit propositions - later test: memory equal for two kinds - once new information is integrated into the story structure, actual words can be discarded - conclusions:  passage is stored in memory as a propositional structure  implicit and explicit propositions are equal in that structure Kintsch (1998) - construction-integration model  two-stage model of text processing - during construction, propositions are extracted from the text, and these activate other knowledge in LTM - integration involves selection among activated word meanings to construct a propositional representation of the sentence - comprehension is extended in time  it involves both bottom-up processes (the text) and top-down processes (the reader’s knowledge) Predicting Readability - approximately 50 readability formulas, most containing word and sentence variables  formulas that use variables like word frequency and sentence length to predict the readability of text - however, formulas lack a good way of measuring text organization - Kintsch defined readability as the number of propositions recalled divided by the reading time - two best predictors of readability were word frequency and the number of reinstatement searches - another theoretical measure that improves the readability predictions is the number of inferences required  an inference is required whenever a concept is not directly repeated - a limitation of measures that provide a single readability score is that they don't identify which skills are required for comprehension Problem Solving 1 11/23/2012 8:19:00 PM The Role of Problem Solving in the History of Cognitive Psychology - Lachman, Lachman & Butterfield were saying that we may have to choose – do we want to do experimental work? Or do we want to study complex behaviors like problem solving? - cognitive psychologists split into two schools on these issues, one led by Herbert Simon and Alan Newell, one led by Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky Simon & Newell - came out of the battle with behaviorism in the 1950s  both sides wanted models of complex behaviors - chose problem solving - argued that verbal reports were needed to study what matters: what thoughts enter the problem-solver’s mind as they work? - because analyzing verbal reports is a lot of work, they would test fewer people – which bothered some researchers Kahneman & Tversky - Kahneman and his colleagues were a generation younger than Simon and his group  they came out of cognitive psychology - they focused on representations and processes  these are not available to introspection, but are studied through ingenious experimental methods Simon vs. Kahneman - ultimately, cognitive psychology followed Kahneman; Simon was respected but his method left him on the fringe of cognitive psychology - however, both Simon (1979) and Kahneman (2002) were awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics for their work on decision making – the only psychologists thus honored Classifying Problems - two basic possibilities:  1 – every problem is like every other problem  2 – every problem is unique - if every problem is like
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