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Chapter 1

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PSYC 213
Jelena Ristic

PSYC213 Chapter 1 Note Definitions: Folk Psychology: A set of assumptions and theories based on everyday behaviours of ourselves and others Information Theory: The information provided by a particular event is inversely related to its probability of occurrence Bit: Short for ‘binary digit’ - an event that occurs in a situation with two equally likely outcomes provided one ‘bit’ of information Filter Model: Based on the idea that information-processing is restricted by channel capacity Channel Capacity: The maximum amount of information that can be transmitted by an information-pro- cessing device Introspection: The act of observing one’s own thoughts and feelings as they seem to oneself Primary Memory: Consists of what we are aware of in the ‘immediately present moment’; often termed ‘immediate memory’ of ‘short-term memory’ Secondary Memory: The knowledge of a former state of mind after it has been absent from awareness for some period of time; also called ‘long-term memory’ Brown-Peterson Task: An experimental paradigm in which subjects are given a set of items and then a number. Subjects immediately begin counting backward by threes from the number. After a specific inter- val, subjects are asked to recall the original items Ecological Approach: A form of psychological inquiry that reflects conditions in the real world Affordances: The potential functions or uses of stimuli in the real world Information Pickup: The process whereby we perceive information directly Schema: Our expectations concerning what we are likely to find as we explore the world Perceptual Cycle: The process whereby our schema not only guides exploration of the world, but also is shaped by what it finds there Cognitive Ethology: A new research approach that links real-world observations with lab-based investi- gations Metacognition: The knowledge people have about the way certain cognitive processes work; how accu- rately you can assess you own cognitive processes What is Cognition: • No definite definition of cognition; instead, examine the ways ‘cognition’ has been used in everyday life • We try to refine folk psychology concepts we find expressed in ordinary language • Oxford English Dictionary lists the definition of cognition as ‘the action or faculty of knowing’ • Cognition is the ‘action’ of knowing: study of processes to become acquainted with things • Cognition can be seen as a faculty; divide the mind into faculties that represent the different mental activities of which we are capable • Other concepts associated with cognition include awareness, comprehension, intelligence, intuition, personal acquaintance, recognition, skill, and understanding • G.A. Miller observed that a good way of increasing a person’s vocabulary with respect to a particu- lar subject is to provide information about the relations between the words that are characteristic of that area • Awareness: Do we have to attend consciously to information in order to acquire it? Can unattended to information influence subsequent cognitive processes? • Intelligence: Is intelligence best measured by how quickly someone can process information, or is there more to it than that? • Intuition: The sudden knowing of insight to yield answers effortlessly • Personal acquaintance: Many of our cognitive processes have a very personal side to them. How are they related? Recognition: Fundamental cognitive process that means ‘to know again’ • • Skill: To apply a reasoned approach to solving a problem. Skill can manifest itself in a variety of ways • Understanding: Basic concept of cognition and has many facets. The ability to make good deci- sions, reasonable judgements, and to comprehend what is going on around us Cognitive Psychology and Information-Processing Theory: • To many people, everyday activities such as attending, comprehending, remembering, and prob- lem-solving fall under the general heading of ‘thinking’ • Information-processing is the subject matter of cognitive psychology Information-processing came into psychology from telephone radio engineering through three bro- • ken down processes • A sender: encodes the message with what s/he wants to communicate • Communication channel: transmitted via a communication channel (i.e. Air, wire, or printed page) • Receiver: decodes the message and translates it Information Theory: • Information reduces uncertainty in the mind of the receiver • The amount of information provided by a message is proportional to the probability of that message occurring • Idea underlying information-processing theory is that the information provided by a particular mes- sage is not determined solely by the signal itself, but rather by the whole array of possible mes- sages of which this particular signal is just one • The amount of information a message conveys is an increasing function of the number of possible messages from which that particular message could have been selected; • Information theory posits that the information provided by a particular message is inversely related to its probability of occurrence; the less likely a signal is, the more information it conveys • Amount of information can be quantified by bits which stands for ‘binary digit’ Early Tests of Information Theory: • Merkel demonstrated that people appear to respond more slowly to less likely signals • Hick suggested that stimulus ‘information is intimately concerned with response time’ • When the set of possible stimuli is small, there is little uncertainty as to which signal will occur; thus information produced by stimulus is small • When ensemble of possible signals grow in size, uncertainty increases as to which signal will occur; the amount of information produced by a stimulus increases • Response time increases with the number of possible stimulus alternatives because response time is ‘intimately concerned’ with the information conveyed by a particular stimulus; the more information a signal contributes, the more time it takes a subject to produce the appropriate re- sponse • The various studies all showed the time it takes a person to react to any one stimulus is not deter- mined solely by that stimulus itself, but rather by the entire complex of situations of which this par- ticular signal is just one • Regardless of how the signal information is produced, people take longer to react to an improbable stimulus (which conveys more information) than a probable stimulus (which conveys less informa- tion) • To recap: response time is proportional to signal information whether the information is varied by • Altering the number of equally probable alternatives • Manipulating the frequency of stimulus occurrence • Introducing sequential dependencies into the presentation schedule of stimuli Information-Processing Limitations: • The time it takes for information to flow through the nervous system
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