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Chapter 1

PSYC 2650 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Piggy Bank, Experimental Psychology, Cognitive Revolution

Course Code
PSYC 2650
Anneke Olthof

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Cognitive Psychology: Chapter 1
The Scope of Cognitive Psychology
- One way that we can define cognitive psychology is as the study of knowledge
How do we study and memorize?
How do we focus our attention and concentrate?
How do we make decisions?
- However, a much larger range of our thoughts, actions, and feelings depend on knowledge
Understanding a story or conversation depends on knowledge the reader already has
“Betsy wanted to bring Jacob a present. She shook her piggy bank. It made no sound. She went
to look for her mother.”
In order to understand a sentence, we make multiple inferences from our previous knowledge in order
for it to make sense
- H.M., a patient with amnesia (inability to learn anything new, to develop new memories), provides additions
examples of how thoughts, actions, and feelings depend on knowledge
- H.M. was diagnosed with amnesia after getting his hippocampus removed
Without the ability to form new memories, H.M. could not grieve for an uncle who had died, always
hearing the news as if for the first time
Without memory, there is arguably no sense of self. H.M. had no sense of whether he was honourable
or dishonest, industrious or lazy, etc.
- Scope of cognitive psychology is sued to understand things in our daily lives and how we respond to stimuli
A Brief History: Introspection
- Wundt and his student Titchener began the study of experimental psychology in the late 1800s (1879 was
basically when psychology was “born”)
For the first time, it was a discipline separate from biology and philosophy
The focus was on conscious mental events (feelings, thoughts, etc.)
- Introspection: the process through which one “looks within” (to their own stimulus) to observe and record to
contents of one’s own mental life
- Problems with introspection:
Much of mental activity is unconscious and not available to the method of introspection
-- Some scientists experimenting through introspection may have different meanings with their
results (E.g. Two scientists may say an orange is sour, but how do we know that they both have
the same idea of what “sour” is?)
Claims derived from introspection are subjective and not testable
A Brief History: Behaviourism
- The desire to be more scientific led to changes in psychology during the first half of the twentieth century
The focus switched to stimuli and behaviours that could be objectively studied
Introspection and other “mentalistic” approaches were avoided
- Behaviourism: uncovered principles of how behaviour changes in stimuli, such as rewards and punishments
- With behaviourism, we believe things have become more empirical and shifted in a very opposite direction than
- Problems with behaviourism:
Behaviour cannot be understood only in terms of stimuli and responses
Behaviour also depends on things like perception, understanding, interpretation, and strategy
- Example of passing the salt
Speech stimuli that are physically different from each other can result in the same response
Speech stimuli that are physically identical to each other can result in different responses
In both cases, it is the interpretation of meaning that determines the response
In other words, it’s not necessarily the behaviour that can result in a response, it’s the meaning behind
the stimuli that will cause a response
A Brief History: Cognitive Revolution
- From introspection and behaviourism, experimental psychologists learned that:
Introspective methods for studying mental events are not scientific
However, we need to study mental events in order to understand behaviour
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