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PSYC*2650 Ch 1.doc

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PSYC 2650
Anneke Olthof

Wednesday, Jan 16, 2012 Chapter 1: The Science of the Mind - virtually everything that we feel or say, depends on our cognition - what we know, what we remember, and how we think The Scope of Cognitive Psychology - cognitive psychology was initially understood as the scientific study of knowledge - a huge range of actions, thoughts and feelings all depend on knowledge - in general, our understanding of stories or ordinary conversations depends on memo- ry-depends on our drawing key bits of information from our storehouse of knowledge - H.M. didn’t know himself - without memory, there is no self - our self-concept depends on our knowledge - our emotional adjustments rely on our memories - cognitive psychology may help understand capacities that are relevant to virtually ev- ery waking moment of our lives A Brief History - cognitive psychology is roughly 50 years old - the “cognitive revolution” took place in the 1950s and 1960s and represented a striking change in the style of research and theorizing employed by most psychologists - the cognitive revolution changed the intellectual map of our field The Years of Introspection - in the late 19th century, Wundt and Titchener believed that psychology needed to be concerned largely with the study of conscious mental events - our feelings, thoughts, perceptions and recollections - believed the only way you could study thoughts is for each of us to Introspect or look within, to observe and record the content of our own mental lives - gradually psychologists became disenchanted with introspection - one concern was that some thoughts are unconscious meaning introspection was limit- ed - another problem was that there was no way of testing its claims The Years of Behaviorism Wednesday, Jan 16, 2012 - psychology could not be considered a science if it relied on introspective data, it need- ed objective data - behaviour, stimuli and learning history can all be objectively recorded - beliefs, wishes, goals and expectations cannot be directly observed so they were ruled out - the Behaviorist Movement dominated america for roughly the first half of the 20th cen- tury - this movement was in many ways a success and uncovered a range of broad princi- ples concerned with how our behaviour changes in response to different configurations of stimuli - in the late 1950s, psychologists were convinced that a great deal of our behaviour could not be explained in the ways that behaviorists claimed (only with reference to ob- jective, overt events) - there is no way to study mental entities like beliefs and memories but they play such a pivotal role in guiding behaviour so we must consider them if we want to understand be- haviour The Roots of the Cognitive Revolution - how people act is shaped by how they perceive the situation, how they understand the stimuli - if we wish to explain or predict behaviour, we need to make reference to the mental world - the world of perceptions, understandings, and intentions - the solution was suggested by Immanuel Kant’s Transcendental Method, which be- gins with observable facts and then works backward from these observations - what must the underlying causes be that led to these effects? - method sometimes called “inference to best explanation” - it is at the heart of most modern science - like police asking what a crime must have been like if it left that clue - psychologists do this by studying mental processes indirectly, relying on the fact that these processes, themselves invisible, have visible consequences: measurable delays in producing a response, performances that can be assessed for accuracy, errors that can be scrutinized and categorized etc - we can develop and then test hypotheses about what the mental processes must have been Research in Cognitive Psychology: An Example Wednesday, Jan 16, 2012 Working Memory: Some Initial Observations - you can read because you rely on some form of memory which allows you to remem- ber the early words in the sentence as you forge ahead - this is called Working Memory - this is the memory you use for information that you are actively working on - working memory holds information in an easily accessible form, so that the information is at your fingertips, instantly available when you need it - working memory is hypothesized to have only a small capacity so there will never be a problem locating just the item you want - one way to test working memory’s capacity is through a Span Test - we read someone a list of 4 items and the person has to report them back - you keep adding 1 item each time until the person cannot report them back accurately - most people’s letter span is about 7 or 8 Working Memory: A Proposal - if we measure people’s memory span, we find that they often make errors and these errors follow a simple pattern: when people make mistakes in this task, they generally substitute one letter for another with a similar sound - this also happens when letters are presented visually - Baddely and and Hitch proposed a model to explain this clue about working memory - they stipulate that working memory is not a single entity, it has several di
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