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Western University
Psychology 1000

Mental representations (forms include images, ideas, concepts, and principles) are being transferred from one mind to another via language LANGUAGE Q: the brain achieved its present form 50,000 years ago, so why did it take so long to store knowledge outside of the brain (in the form of writing)? A: tells us that behaviour depends on more than the physical structure of the brain Language: believed to have evolved as humans gathered to form larger social groups; the most important of cognitive skills THE NATURE AND STRUCTURE OF LANGUAGE Language: consists of a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways that can produce an almost infinite number of possible messages and meaning Language is symbolic: -uses sounds, written signs, or gestures to refer to different things -allows communicators to form and then transfer mental representations to another person’s mind Displacement: imaginary events and objects that are not physically present can be symbolically represented and communicated through language (not restricted to the present) Language has structure: -there are rules which govern how symbols can be combined to create meaningful units (ex. rules of grammar) -you may not be able to verbalize the rules, but you know them implicitly Language is generative: -its symbols can be combined to generate an almost infinite number of messages that can have novel meaning Psycholinguists: study the psychological properties of language and the underlying mechanisms that produce it 1) Surface Structure -The ways symbols are combined within a given language; syntax- the rules of such combinations 2) Deep Structure -The underlying meaning of the combined symbols; semantics- rules for connecting symbols with what they represent -the rules for surface and deep structure are stored in the long-term memory, but when we recall something, we are more likely to retrieve the deep structure (meaning) rather than specific words Human languages have hierarchal structure Smallest: Phonemes: -smallest units of sound that are recognized as separate in a given language -English has 46 phonemes (ex. sh, h, t) -humans can produce hundreds of phonemes (from different languages) but no one language uses all of them (most use 40-50) Morphemes: -smallest units of meaning in language (ex) prefixes, suffixes, hat, sick, er) -syntax rules determine how phonemes can be combined into morphemes -in English, 46 phonemes can be converted to 100,000 morphemes Words phrases sentences Largest: ACQURING LANGUAGE: -language experts believe that humans are born linguists; with a biological readiness to recognize and eventually produce the sounds and structure of whatever language they are exposed to. Biological Foundations: -children begin to master language early in life without any formal instruction -despite differences in the phoneme level, all adult languages throughout the world (including sign language) have a common underlying structure Stages for a Child: (LOOK IN TEXTBOOK FOR MORE) 1) Cooing: infants vocalize the entire range of phonemes found in the world’s languages (called cooing because of the coo like sounds that the infants make when happy) 2) Babbling: a young (six months old) child’s vocalizations become more similar to the language in which they are exposed; children lose the ability to perceive the differences in the sounds of other languages -found that deaf children will babble sign language just as hearing children babble vocally -with exposure to language, children extract the complex rules of syntax 3) Telegraphic Speech: two years old uttering two word sentences that consist of a noun and verb Sensitive period: -linguistics believe it is the time where language is most easily learned; from infancy to puberty -Proof: when children are isolated; a six year old can be taken and acquire normal language skills, where a child past puberty cannot (even with extensive training) -brain damage; recovery of language is rare if the damage occurred after puberty Sex Differences: Aphasia: a disruption in speech production (Broca’s Area) or speech comprehension (Wernick’s Area) For women language function is shared with the right hemisphere whereas it is localized in the left hemisphere for men -men who suffer left hemisphere strokes are more likely to show severe aphasia symptoms than women -men exhibited left-hemisphere activation during language task, whereas brain activation occurred in both hemispheres for women Social Learning Processes: -early on, parents attract a child’s attention by conversing in a high-pitched intonation used all over the world (called motherese) -Operant Explanation: -B.F Skinner; language development is governed by adults reinforcing appropriate language -most psycholinguists doubt that this is the only explanation for language development Problems: children learn too much to fast -observational studies show that parents do not correct children’s grammar (parents focus on the deep structure) Learning a Second Language (Bilingualism) -a second language is learned best and spoken most fluently when it is learning during the sensitive period -vocabulary of a language can be learned at any age; syntax and grammar depends on early acquisition -children at first may confuse the two languages, but by age two they can differentiate and code mixing is not lasting Ex) French Immersion Schools -originated by a group of English speaking parents in Quebec and Wally Lambert (psychologist); 1965 -found that bilinguals scored just as well if not better on performance tests; now found that bilingual children show superior cognitive processing -people who learn the two languages early on in life show representation of the two languages in the same cortical area -people who learned the second language later in life (and are less fluent) show the two languages represented in different areas; also less able to switch back and forth between languages ****TABLE 9.1 (Pg. 341) LINGUISTIC INFLUENCES ON THINKING: Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis (Benjamin Lee Whorf): -language not only influences, but also determines what we are capable of thinking -Ex) being raised in a culture that doesn’t use past tense; people would have trouble recalling past events Problem: the Dani of New Guinea could discriminate and remember a wide assortment of colours even though they only describe colours as being either warm or cold -now linguists believe that language influences how we think -language can help create and maintain stereotypes; ex) by speaking to all human beings as he -as children’s vocabulary expands, they become capable of thinking in more sophisticated ways -language influences how well we think in certain domains -English language hampers the development of skills using numbers whereas the Asian language facilitates it -Thinking is the “language of the mind”; Modes of Thinking: Propositional thought: thought takes the form of sentences that we seem to “hear” in our minds (expressed a proposition of a statement) Imaginal thought: consists of images that we can “see”, “hear”, or “feel” in our mind Motoric thought: relates to mental representations of motor movements (ex. throwing a ball) All three modes of thinking enter into our abilities to reason, and engage in “intelligent” behaviour CONCEPTS AND PROPOSITIONS: Propositions: statements that express facts; consist of concepts (one is a subject and the other is a predicate) -how you state a proposition can influence how we try to solve the problem; ex) the glass is half empty or half full (difference on how we verbally represent a situation can cause a difference in our perception and decision) Concepts: basic units of semantic memory; mental categories into which we place objects -can be acquired through explicit instruction or by our own observation of similarities and differences between objects -Many are difficult to define explicitly; concepts are defined by prototypes-the most typical and familiar members of a class Prototypes: -the most simple method of forming concepts; only requires us to note the similarities between objects; therefore, children’s early concepts are based on prototypes -may differ as a result of experience SUMMARY: we acquire language at a young age we use language to define our world using concepts we arrange these concepts into propositions REASONING AND PROBLEM SOLVING -our capacity for logically thinking has been honed by evolutionary forces because of its adaptive value -the most primitive way of problem solving is trial and error; reasoning helps us avoid the hazards and time consuming efforts REASONING 2 types of reasoning: 1) Deductive reasoning: -“top-down”; from general principles to a conclusion about a specific case; occurs when they begin with premises (propositions that something is true) and determine how they imply to a specific case -basis for formal mathematics and logic -the conclusion cannot be false if the premises (factual statements) are true 2) Inductive reasoning: -“bottom-up”; starting with specific facts and trying to develop a general principle -used with scientists trying to find a general principle by different experiments -leads to likelihood rather than certainty -both can be used in problem solving and decision making Ex) psychologists make informal observations which cause them to make an explanation about a process (inductive); since this explanation could be wrong, they design specific experiments to test their explanation of the process (deductive)- hypothetico-deductive approach; if the tests don’t support the hypothesis, they know their explanation can be discarded Stumbling Blocks in Reasoning: Factors may prevent us from reasoning effectively: Distraction by irrelevant information: -it is difficult to separate the relevant from irrelevant information in a problem (make a problem much more complex) Failure to apply deductive rules: -the failure to take the logic and formulas used to solve one problem and apply it to another problem -knowledge is not enough; one must have the wisdom to know when and how to apply the knowledge Belief Bias: -Belief Bias: the tendency to abandon logical rules in favour for our own personal beliefs Ex) students presented with a premise (factual statement) that all things smoked are good, and therefore cigarettes are good; students said this was logically incorrect based on their belief that the first premise was incorrect -in the example, factually cigarettes are not good for your health, but logically it is true (if the first premise was correct) PROBLEM SOLVING Four Stages of Problem Solving: 1) Understanding or Framing the Problem -how we mentally represent or frame a problem can make a difference on how we solve it -the initial understanding is key; if we frame a problem poorly we have a little chance of getting the answer 2) Generating Potential Solutions -formulate potential solutions or explanations I) determine which procedures and explanations will be considered II) Determine which solution is consistent with the evidence that has so far been observed; rule out solutions that do not fit the evidence 3) Testing the Solutions -see if there is a test to disconfirm one of the possible solutions -mental set- the tendency to stick to solutions that have worked in the past; may result in less effective problem solving; become fixated on one approach if we knew there was a degree of success with that approach before 4) Evaluating Results: -after solving a problem, ask “Would there be an easier or more effective way?” -may lead to additional problem solving principles that could be helpful in the future Problem Solving Schemas: Problem solving schemas: mental blueprints or step-by-step scripts for selecting information and solving specialized classes of problems; once the solution is mastered we no longer have to engage in a step-by-step formal procedure Experts: -develop many schemas to problem solve in their field and they can recognize when each schemas should be applied -schemas found in long term memory; experts can therefore pull the schema right away and not have to deal with the mind figuring out the problem based on generalized problem solving methods (don’t need to use the working memory) -Experts make alterations in the brain functioning to increase processing; the feature detectors neurons that responded to the specific stimuli of the task revealed quicker and stronger activity- “expert neurons” Algorithms and Heuristics Algorithms: -formulas or procedures that automatically generate correct solutions (ex. mathematical equations) -very time consuming (ex. trying to unscramble a word by seeing all the different combinations) Heuristics: -general problem solving that we apply to certain classes of situations (ex. when trying to unscramble to word we adopt a rule-of-thumb approach and only put consonants in as the first and last letter) -mental approaches that may get the correct answer; compare present fact with an existing schema/concept -also enter into judgments and decisions -Means-end analysis: -an example of heuristics; identify differences between the present state and the desired goal and then make changes to minimize the differences -often uses subgoal analysis: formulating intermediate steps to the solution Uncertainty, Heuristics, and Decision Making -the best we can hope for is a decision where there is a high probability of a positive outcome (not 100% certain) -heuristics underlie much of our inductive decision making (drawing conclusions from facts); misuse= thinking errors 1) The representativeness of Heuristics -infer how closely something or someone fits our prototype for a particular concept or class and therefore how likely it is a member of that class -people may confuse representativeness with probability 2) The availability of Heuristics -causes us to base judgments and decisions on the availability of information in memory -since we tend to remember events that are more significant or important, we may exaggerate the likelihood that it could occur (ex. after September 11 , the airline bookings, tourism, and demand for high tower office space declined) Confirmation Bias -One of the most challenging problem solving tasks is obtaining new evidence to test the hypothesis -rationally, we seek evidence that will disconfirm the ideas; -the best evidence we can obtain is ones that rule out the hypothesis -if we solidify our ideas with evidence, there’s a possibility that a future observation will disconfirm it -Confirmation bias: -people are often unwilling to challenge their own beliefs therefore they tend to look for evidence that confirms it rather than disconfirms it -can occur even when the hypothesis being tested doesn’t relate to a cherished belief Ex) telling people that “a card with a vowel has a even number” Result: most people will turn over a vowel to see if there is an even number Divergent thinking: the generalization of novel ideas that depart from the norm INTELLIGENCE Intelligence: a concept or construct that refers to the ability to acquire knowledge, to think and reason effectively, and to deal adaptively with the environment INTELLIGENCE IN HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE 2 Scientists studying the measurement of mental skills 1) Sir Francis Galton (England, 1869) -influenced by the theory of Evolution; showed through the study of family trees that genius seemed to occur across generations within certain families -thought that people “inherit mental constitutions” which make them more fit for thinking; dismissed the fact that the successful people studied came from privileged environments -attempted to demonstrate a biological basis for eminence by showing that people who were more socially and occupationally successful would do better on tasks that measured nervous system efficiency -thought that skull size = brain size = intelligence 2) Alfred Binet (France, early 1900s) -developed an “intelligence test”; interested in solving a practical problem than supporting a theory -made two assumptions about intelligence 1) Mental ability develops with age 2) The rate people gain mental competence is a characteristic of the person and is constant over time (Therefore if someone is below average at 5, they will also be below average at 10) -made standardized tests to see if a child was performing at the right mental level for their age; the result was a score called mental age -mental age was expanded by William Stern to provide a relative score for intellectual attainment Intelligent quotient (IQ) = (Mental Age/chronological age) x 100 (Therefore, if the child was performing exactly at their age, IQ=100) Today: no longer use mental age, since increases in mental age drastically slows down after 16 years old. - Some intellectual skills show a decrease at advanced ages rather than a growth th - In the 20 century, there was a “rising curve” in IQ, therefore the tests had to be recalibrated upward Deviation IQ: based on the person’s performance relative to samples of people in their age group; how much standardized distance a score is The Stanford-Binet and Wechsler Scales (1 on 1 testing) Stanford - Binet test: -a revised version of the Binet’s Test by Lewis Terman at Stanford for use in the USA by translating to English and rewriting some of its items so it was relevant to American culture -contained mostly verbal items and yielde
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