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Chapter 1&4

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PSYC 2650
Roderick Barron

PSYC*2650 – Cognitive Psychology Chapter 1 Summary (p. 3-16 for MIDTERM 1) The Scope of Cognitive Psychology - The scientific study of knowledge – how is knowledge acquired? Retained? Used? - Is it possible to have “better memory”? o Ex. While studying - A huge range of our actions, thoughts and feelings depend on knowledge o Ex. Consider the simple story – “Betsy wanted to bring Jacob a present. She shook her piggy bank. It made no sound. She went to look for her mother.”  This 4-sentence story is easy to understand but only because you provided some important bits of background yourself.  Ex. The presents need money to buy, that money is stored in piggy banks, that coins make noise when they are shook and therefore her piggy bank must have been empty, etc. o Many (and perhaps all) of your encounters with the world depend on your supplementing your experience with knowledge that you bring to the situation - Amnesia – cases in which someone, because of brain damage, has lost the ability to remember certain materials o Case of H.M  Patient had no trouble remembering prior events to the surgery but unable to recall any event after  Without memory, H.M had no way to come to terms with his uncle’s death (which happened after the surgery) - Each of us has a conception of who we are, and what sort of person we are, and that conception is supported by numerous memories o Without memory, there is no self - Cognitive psych can help us understand capacities relevant to virtually every moment of our lives o Self-concept depends on knowledge o Emotional adjustment depends on memories o Our abilities to understand a story we’ve read, a conversation or presumably any of our experiences, depends on our supplementing that experience with some knowledge A Brief History - Roughly 50 years old - “Cognitive Revolution”  1950’s and 60’s o Changed the intellectual map of our field The Years of Introspection - Wundt – “the father of experimental psychology” - Wundt and Titchener o Launched the new enterprise of research psychology o Largely concerned with the study of mental events – feelings, thoughts, perceptions and recollections o Concluded that the only way to study thought is for each of us to introspect, or “look within”, to observe and record the content of our own mental lives and the sequence of our own experiences o Introspectors had to be meticulously trained to report on their experiences with minimal interpretation o Psychologists gradually because disenchanted with this method because some thoughts are unconscious - Problems with introspection o 1. Introspection is the study of conscious events and therefore tells us nothing about unconscious events o 2. In order for any science to proceed, there must be some way to test its claims – with introspection testability of claims is unattainable because reports come from a single person  Ex. No way to tell who’s headaches are “worse” because cannot compare the reports of pain from two different people The Years of Behaviourism - Problems with introspection led psychologists to abandon it as a research tool and focus on data that were out in the open, for all to observe o Organisms’ behaviour and stimuli in the world are in the same objective category – these are measurable, recordable, physical events o Can also record how the pattern of behaviours changed with the passage of time and with the accumulation of experience (learning history) o However, beliefs, wishes, goals and expectations are all things that cannot be objectively recorded th - Behaviourist movement – roughly the first half of the 20 century o Uncovered a range of principles concerned with how behaviour changes in response to various stimuli (rewards and punishments) - Watson – advocate for the behaviourist movement – intrigued by babies’ behaviour and learning (ex. Grasp reflex) - Behaviourists’ perspective demands that we not talk about mental entities (beliefs, memories, etc.); however these subjective entities play a pivotal role in guiding behaviour and so we must consider these entities to understand behaviour o The ways people act and feel are guided by how they understand or interpret the situation  Ex. The “Betsy and Jacob” story – responses to questions about this story (ex. Why did Betsy shake her piggy bank”) depends much more on a person’s understanding of the story than the physical stimulus (the 29 syllables of the story itself)  Ex. “Pass the salt” and “This sure could use more salt” are physically dissimilar, however would produce the same behaviour (passing the salt) – need to consider what the stimuli means to you o Indicates the impossibility of a complete behaviourist psychology The Roots of the Cognitive Psychology - If we wish to explain or predict behaviour, we need to make reference to the mental world – But how should we study the mental world? - Caught in a trap: The only direct means of studying the mental would is introspection which is scientifically unworkable – thus, we need to study the mental world but we can’t - Transcendental Method – suggested by Immanuel Kant many years ago o Begin with the observable facts and the work backward from these observations o Ask “What must the underlying causes be that led to these effects”? o Aka. “inference to best explanation”  Ex. No physicist has ever observed and electron but this has not stopped them from learning a great deal about them  Their presence results in visible effects from an invisible cause  Scientists can reproduce experiments and vary them to test hypotheses (giving science it’s power) - Psychologist work in the same fashion – an the notion that we could work in this fashion was one of the great contributions of the cognitive revolution o Need to study mental processes indirectly – relying on the fact that these processed, 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  By examining these (and other) effects produced by mental processes, we can develop – and then test – hypotheses about what the mental processes must have been Chapter 4- Paying Attention INTRO How can we manage to avoid the distractions and focus our attention on the things we wish, selecting only one input of many? And what are the limits to multitasking? When can we do two things at the same time and when can’t we? SELECTIVE ATTENTION William James, a historical giant in cognitive psychology describes in a quote he wrote 120 years ago that attention takes possession of the mind and only if we concentrate, can we deal with things over other things (distractions) as noted on page 119.  Dichotic Listening: setup where participants wore headphones, and heard one input in the left ear and a different input in the right ear. Participants were asked to pay attention to one of the inputs (the attended channel) and told to ignore other channel (unattended channel) o Shadowing (task to make sure participants were paying attention): asking participants to repeat a speech that they are hearing back word for word. (performance generally close to perfect)  Participants who shadowed however couldn't report what the unattended channel was about at all  This is also true for visual stimuli (the invisible gorilla experiment: participants asked to keep track of how many times basketball players passed the ball- failed to notice the person in a gorilla suit strolling through the scene) o Does this mean people are completely oblivious to the unattended channel? NO. People can report whether audible stimuli contained human speech, male/female voice, speaking loudly or softly. These attributes are known as physical attributes of the unattended channel  Some unattended inputs are detected o Words with some personal importance to you (names, favourite movie or food, etc.) will catch your attention if you're attending to the attended channel o This is known as cocktail party effect: imagine you're at a party, there are conversations going on all around you (that you "tune out"). If someone a few steps away from you mentions your name or a close friend's name, it will catch your attention and you will momentarily switch to that conversation, oblivious to the conversation that you were just in  Perceiving and the Limits on Cognitive Capacity o The proposal is that you somehow block processing of the inputs you're not interested in, much as a sentry blocks the path of unwanted guests but stands back and does nothing when legitimate guests are in view, allowing them to pass through the gate unimpeded  It is easy for us to "block out" input that is not meaningful to us in order to attend to another input, HOWEVER it is difficult when the unattended input is meaningful to us  Other evidence provides that it isn't about blocking out unwanted input, it's promoting the processing of desired input  Inattentional Blindness: not seeing something directly in front of our eyes because we focus our attention on another stimulus o An experiment where participants needed to stare at a dot the centre of a screen and note whether an image of a cross (+) appeared different in their peripheral view following pattern masks (meaningless jumble). Participants failed to notice that the dot in the middle of the screen changed shapes over time, EVEN THOUGH they were staring directly at it. o Our normal ability to see what's around us, and to make use of what we see, is dramatically diminished in the absence of attention- There is no perception w/o attention  Conscious Perception, Unconscious Perception o Mack and Rock argue there is no conscious perception w/o attention o A line experiment demonstrated that participants unconsciously detected (and were influenced by) patterns of the dots surrounding two horizontal lines when choosing which line was bigger- however they could not recount a change in the dots following the experiment. (more of this in chap. 13)  Change Blindness: observers inability to detect changes in scenes they're looking at directly o A video of a conversation between two women; whenever the camera shifted, something would change (the colour of the plates, gaining or losing a scarf, etc.) but remarkably, the majority of the viewers did not pick up on these changes  Early vs. Late Selection o Two ways we think about change blindness: we either cannot see the stimuli, or we are limited on memory (we see the stimulus but immediately forget what we just saw) Which is true?  According to the early selection hypothesis: the attended input is identified and privileged from the start, so that the unattended input receives little analysis (and so is never perceived)  According to the late selection hypothesis: all inputs receive relatively complete analysis, and the selection is done after all analysis is finished  What do these have in common? The stimulus crosses the consciousness AT SOME POINT and selection is done so that only the
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