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Final

Psychology 2135A/B Study Guide - Final Guide: Cognitive Psychology, Phrase Structure Rules, Monty Hall Problem

26 pages78 viewsFall 2013

Department
Psychology
Course Code
Psychology 2135A/B
Professor
Patrick Brown
Study Guide
Final

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Language
What is language?
Ferdinand de Saussure distinguished between langue and parole:
-langue- the underlying system of language
-produced by groups of people (ex. a population who share a native language), therefore
an individual person cannot change langue
-parole- language as it is used
-what a speaker produces on a given occasion
-influenced by a person's life history and their current state (ex. anxious, tired, angry)
Chomsky distinguished between competence and performance:
-competence- what you know about your language, resides in the individual
-performance- how you use that knowledge (psychologists study both of these, linguists only
study competence)
Psychologists study how language is influenced by: language skills, social situation,
mood, attention
Is language uniquely human?
Hockett's Design Features of Language- proposed a set of features that animal
communication systems may have- but only human language has all of these features
-the first 5 are common to the vocalizations of many land mammals (1-5)
-the next 3 can be found only in primates (6-8)
-the next 4 are specific to early hominoids (greats apes and humans) and modern humans
(10-13)
-productivity, displacement and reflexiveness are unique to human language
1. Vocal-auditory channel- allows the hands to be free for other tasks and makes
language available even at night
2. Broadcast transmission and 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
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5. Total feedback- a speaker can hear and understand what he is saying as he says it
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 ex. the word
dog is not furry and does not have four paws
9. Discreteness- the basic units of speech (ex. sounds) are perceived categorically
(ex. a sounds will be perceived as either p OR b- not half one and half the other
10. Traditional transmission- 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 don't even exist- such as unicorns
12. Productivity- the speaker can say novel utterances that have never been said
before (ex. i just heard that little white dog tapping the chorus to beethoven)
13. Duality of patterning- the discrete parts of a language can be rearranged in a
systematic way to create new forms (ex. cat to act or tac)
14. Prevarication- speakers can make utterances that they know to be false, with the
intention of misleading their listener
15. Reflexiveness- speakers can use language to talk about language (like right now)
16. Learnability- speakers are not constrained by their genes to learn only the
language of their biological parents
Structure of language
The most commonly used levels of analysis:
phonetics- study of how speech sounds are made and what they sound like (nothing to do
with meaning)
phonology-a sound difference that does produce a meaning difference (ex p sound in pit
vs. b sound in bit), a sound difference that does not produce a meaning difference is
phonetic (p sounds without the puff of air vs. with)
morphology- study of the smallest units of meaning (cats as two morphemes, cat and s)
syntax- study of structures of sentences, consists of a set of elements and a set of rules for
combining them
-behaviourists build models of language based on chaining- each word is a stimulus for
the next word in the sentence (overlooks the important relationship between words)
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-chomsky argued for two kinds of rules- phrase structure rules and generate tree
structures and transformations that change one structure into another (ex. phase structure
rules generate sentences- the class did well on the exam- and a transformation turns it
into sentences- did the class do well on the exam?
semantics- the study of meaning
1. Anomaly- why are some sentences meaningless?
2. Self-contradiction- why is it contradictory to say "my dog is not an animal", what
does contradictory mean?
3. Ambiguity- if I say “put your hat on my palm” why is it not clear where I want
you to put your hat (on my hand? Or on my tree?)
4. 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?
5. Entailment- how do we know that “Terry is pregnant” necessarily means that
Terry is female?
pragmatics- this is about the social rules of language, including etiquette, and conventions
that guide conversations (the way you behave towards your best friend and your
professor)
Two Issues
1. Modularity by Fodor
-argued that cognitive processes such as perception and language are modular
-modular processes are halfway between reflexes and high-level processes such as decision
making (they are separated in your brain, can't stop them from happening (reflexes)/ they have
intellectual content (cognitive content)
-domain specific- they operate with certain kinds of input but not others
-informationally encapsulated- they operate independently of beliefs and other information
available to the processor (ex. if believe that studying hard will get you a good mark then you
will study vs. if physician hits you on the knee, your leg will go up)
-ex. knowing you are looking at a visual illusion doesn't prevent you from seeing that illusion
-fodor says that decision making is modular but verbal/visual perception are not
2. Productivity in grammars
-most accounts involve a set of rules that produce sentences....problem- the rules that generate
sentences are to powerful, they can generate many grammatical but meaningless sentences
-fodor- language stands all by itself, independent from everything else
Semantic context in sentence comprehension
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