PSYC 213 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Air Traffic Control, Information Theory, Cognitive Psychology

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25 Apr 2012
Chapter 1
What is cognition?
Not easy to give a precise definition of cognition, cognition means different things to different people
Solution: examine ways in which “cognition” is used in everyday life
Folk-Psychology: A set of assumptions and theories based on everyday behaviours of ourselves and others
One meaning for cognition= faculty of knowing
Cognition is the action of knowing
Cognition is a faculty
Study of cognition= study of processes
G.A Miller (1986) is one of the founders of cognitive psychology
Concepts associated with cognition:
Personal acquaintance
Cognitive Psychology and information-processing theory
We take in and act on information in countless ways
Everyday activities such as attending, comprehending, remembering, problem-solving = thinking for most people
But to psychologists they are information-processing.
Information-processing came into psych from telephone and radio engineering
Shannon (1948), Shannon and Weaver (1949): all forms of communication can be broken down into a sequence
of events with at least 3 major stages
1. Sender encodes message through signals
2. Communication channel transmits the message
3. Receiver decodes the signals to get the message
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.
The information provided by a particular message is not determined solely by the signal itself, but rather by the
whole array of possible messages
The amount of information provided by the occurrence of an event can be quantified in terms of “bits”
Information theory: The information provided by a particular event is inversely related to its probability of occurrence.
The less likely a message is, the more info it conveys.
Bit: Short for Binary digit- an event that occurs in a situation with 2 equally likely outcomes provides one bit of
Early tests of information theory
Merkel (1885): people appear to respond more slowly to less likely signals
Participants were required to make appropriate responses to the occurrence of one of
a set of possible signals
Normal digits (1 to 5) and roman digits (I to V) were presented
Each stimulus was assigned to one of 10 buttons (1 for each finger)
Result: as number of possible responses ↑, response time also ↑
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