Psych 2H03: Human Learning and Cognition
Chapter 1: What is Cognitive Psychology?
Cognitive psychology: the branch of psychology that identifies our mental
processes and how they affect our ability to interact with the world around us.
Cognition: those processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced,
elaborated, stored, recovered, and used.
Symbolic distance effect: the more discriminable two objects are (larger or
smaller), the faster the judgment of which is larger or smaller.
Memory: the mental operations that store information as well as recover and
retrieve it at appropriate times.
Behaviourists: a scientist who looks exclusively at observable actions (what can be
seen), rather than hypothesizing about mental processes (what cannot be seen).
Information processing: a way of thinking about human behaviour: analyzing the
flow of events, in both our external and internal environments, shows how past
knowledge helps us understand present events.
Gestalt psychology: the study of principles that determine how people’s perception
of the whole is derived from their perception of individual parts.
Human factors: research that focuses on our mental capacities and how they
constrain our actions, which helps us to perform tasks more efficiently and safely.
Cognitive neuroscience: the scientific study of the relationship between brain
structures, neurological activity, and cognitive function.
Cognitive science: an interdisciplinary field that embraces research and theory
from many areas of specialization (e.g., anthropology, artificial intelligence,
linguistics, philosophy, as well as cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience)
and is devoted to studying mental activity and intelligent behaviour.
Response latency: the amount of time it takes for participants to make a response;
usually considered the time between the moment a stimulus is presented and the
moment a participant makes a response.
Transfer of training: a technique researchers use to determine whether one
method of presenting information contributes to better understanding than another
method, often determined by whether the participant can use the information in
different circumstances. Advance organizers: preview materials that help people learn new information
based on the ordering of the material before they are asked to learn specific details.
1. How do scientists define cognition?
Cognition is those processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced,
elaborated, stored, recovered, and used.
2. What is the symbolic distance effect and why is it used as an illustration of internal
The symbolic distance effect is the phenomenon in which the larger the difference in
size between objects, the faster the judgment is made. It is used as an illustration of
internal processing as it must be the result of a mental transformation of the visual
stimulus by our brains. It is our internal processes rather than what our senses
perceive that account for the judgments we make.
3. Is a person’s memory of an event more like a photocopy or more like a jigsaw
A person’s memory is more like a jigsaw puzzle as information is store in a reduced
form and elaborate on when it is recalled indicating that it is not like a photocopy.
4. What four disciplines contributed to the rise of modern cognitive psychology?
The four disciplines that contributed to the rise of modern cognitive psychology are
Gestalt psychology and human perception, human factors, computer simulation and
5. What point of view does cognitive psychology reflect?
Cognitive psychology is not only a discipline of study, it is also a way of thinking
about human behaviour called information processing. This approach to human
behaviour analyzes the flow of events both in the external environment and in the
internal environment of the person and shows how our past knowledge helps us
understand present events.
6. What issues did Gestalt psychologists study?
The earliest research in human perception was performed by scientists who wanted
to understand how people take in what they see, hear, touch, or smell and transform
them into organized patterns. Gestalt psychology seeks to discover the principles
that determine how people’s perception of the whole is derived from their
perception of individual parts. 7. What is human factors research, and what contributions did researchers in this area
make to cognitive psychology?
Human factors research is concerned with helping people to perform tasks
efficiently and safely. The human factors approach has been an important early
contributor to cognitive psychology because its research focuses on the limits of our
mental capacities and how they constrain our actions.
8. What metaphors for cognition come from the field of computer simulation?
It is natural to speak about human intellectual activity in terms of memory capacity,