Chapter 9: Thinking and Language 10/15/2013
Cognitionrefers to all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and
Some problems we solve by trialanderror, and others by using algorithms.
Algorithmsmethodical, step by step procedures that guarantee a solution. Often timeconsuming.
Heuristicssimple thinking strategies that allow us to solve problems efficiently. Heuristics are usually
speedier but more error prone.
Confirmation Biasour tendency to search for information that supports our preconceptions and to ignore
Fixationour inability to see a problem from a new perspective, employing a different mental set.
Functional Fixednessour tendency to think of things only in terms of usual functions.
Making Decisions and Forming Judgments
The Representativeness Heuristicjudging the likelihood of things in terms of how well they seem to
represent, or match, particular prototypes.
The Availability Heuristicestimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory; that is,
how readily they come to mind. For example, although flying is much safer than driving, many people insist
Our use of intuitive heuristics (representative and availability) and our eagerness to confirm the beliefs we
already hold (confirmation bias) combine to create overconfidence.
Overconfidencea tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our knowledge and judgments. This can create
problems, big and small.
Belief Perseveranceour tendency to cling to our initial concepts even after the basis on which they were
formed has been discredited.
Framingthe way an issue is posed; how an issue is framed can significantly affect decisions and
Languagerefers to our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them as we think and
communicate. Language is arbitrary: sounds produced to resemble a word do not reflect the meaning of the