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Chapter 1

PSYC 221 Chapter 1: PSYC221 Chapter 1 Textbook Notes

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Queen's University
PSYC 221
Monica Castelhano

PSYCHOLOGY 221: COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY WEEK 1 Chapter 1: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology - Within a short period of time, someone can have so much happening inside of their minds, related to all of the chapters in this book o Perceive the environment (Perception) o Paying attention to one thing after another (Attention) o Remembers something from the past (Memory) o Distinguishes items in a category (Knowledge) o Visualizes the book on his desk (Visual imagery) o Understand and produce language (Language) o Works to solve a problem (Problems Solving) o Make a decision (Reasoning and Decision Making) Cognitive Psychology: Studying the Mind What Is the Mind? - Consider how “mind” is used in everyday conversation - The mind creates and controls mental functions such as perception, attention, memory, emotions, language, deciding, thinking and reasoning o Minds importance in determining our various mental abilities - Another definition is that the mind is s system that creates representations of the world so that we can act within it to achieve our goals o Functioning for survival and how the mind achieves this - These two definitions are not incompatible o The first definition indicates different types of cognition whereas, o The second definition indicates something about how the mind operates and its function ▪ Note that all the cognitions in the first definition are needed to achieve those goals - Remember that most routine things, like recognizing a person, having a conversation etc, become analyzing things when we consider the properties of the mind Studying The Mind: Early Work In Cognitive Psychology - In the 1800s, people thought that it is not possible to study the mind o Also idea that properties of the mind could not be measured - Dutch physiologist Franciscus Donders did the first experiment in 1868, that would later be coined a cognitive psychology experiment Donders’ Pioneering Experiment: How Long Does it Take to Make a Decision - He determined decision making time by measuring reaction time, or how long it takes for a person to respond to a stimulus - Asked participants to press a button upon presentation of a light and called this simple reaction time - 1 - PSYCHOLOGY 221: COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY - In the second part of the experiment, he presented two lights, one on the left and one on the right with a designated button for each light and called this a choice reaction time - The reaction time (dashed line) is the time between presentation of the stimulus and the behavioural response - Donders reasoned that choice reaction time, shown in (b), would be longer than simple reaction time because of the additional time it takes to make the decision - CONCLUSION: the difference between simple and choice decisions would indicate how th long it takes to make the decision (1/10 of a second to decide what button) o Demonstrated that mental responses cannot be measured directly, but can be inferred from behaviour o This principle holds true for all cognitive psychology experiments Eddinghaus’s Memory Experiment: What is the Time-Course of Forgetting - Herman Ebbinghaus (1885/1923) was interested in determining the nature of memory and forgetting – how it is learned and lost over time - He tested this on himself by presenting nonsense syllables like DAX and QEH to himself one at a time o First time (a) he looked at one syllable at a time, trying to memorize in order o Second time (b) he would remember the first, see if it was correct, then remember the second, and check if it was correct o He noted how many trials it took him to remember all of the syllables without at errors (c) - He used the savings method to analyze his results, calculating the savings by subtracting the number of trials needed to learn the list after a delay from the number of trials it took to learn the first time (initial) - Savings score was calculated by: o Turned out that savings were bigger for short intervals than for long o Ex. If it took 6 trials to learn the list a second tie, his savings would be 33% - 2 - PSYCHOLOGY 221: COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY - Indicates that memory drops significantly for the first 2 days after the initial learning - CONCLUSION: memory can be quantified and functions, like forgetting curve, can be used to describe a property of the mind like this, ability to retain information Wundt’s Psychology Laboratory: Structuralism and Analytic Introspection - In 1879, he founded the first lab of scientific psychology in Germany - This was called structuralism which says that our overall experience is determined by combining basic elements of experience, called sensations o Comparison to periodic table, he wanted to create a “periodic table of the mind” including all of the sensations involved in creating experience - Used analytic introspection, where people describe their experiences and thought process in response to stimuli o Ex. Wanted to know if, when 5 note chord was played, participants heard it as a complete note or all of them individually - Never achieved his goal in explaining behaviour in terms of sensations William James: Principles of Psychology - Taught Harvard’s first psychology course and made significant observations about the mind in this textbook - Were not based on results of an experiment, but introspections about the operation of his own mind o Covers many cognitive subjects such as thinking, consciousness, attention, memory, perception, imagination and reasoning - 3 - PSYCHOLOGY 221: COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY Abandoning the Study of the Mind Watson Founds Behaviourism - He had two main problems with the method of analytic introspection o It produced extremely variable results from person to person o These results were difficult to verify because they were interpreted in terms of invisible inner mental processes - Introduced behaviourism o Watson rejects introspection as a method o Observable behaviour, not consciousness, is the main topic of study ▪ Consciousness would involve unobservable processes such as thinking, emotions and reasoning - Goal was to eliminate the mind as a topic of study in psychology and replace it with the study of observable behaviour - Started to ask “What is the relation between stimuli in the environment and behaviour” instead of “what does behaviour tell us about the mind” o Study shifted away from the mind - Most famous experiment: Little Albert where a 9 month old was subject to loud noise every time a rat came close to him o After pairing, Albert reacted to the rat by crawling away fast - Ideas are associated with classical conditioning where pairing one stimulus (noise) with another, previous neutral, causes changes in response to neutral stimulus - His inspiration was Pavlov’s dog experiment - Used classical conditioning to say that behaviour can be analyzed without any reference to the mind o What was happening mentally did not matter o Only pairing mattered Skinner’s Operant Conditioning - Focused on how behaviour is strengthened by the presentation of positive reinforcers, such as food or withdrawal of a negative reinforcer like shocks - Wanted to focus on relationship between stimulus and responses - Ideas of relationship between stimuli
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