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Chapter 1-12

PSYCH207 Chapter 1-12: Psych 207 Online - All Chapter Notes!

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Week 1: Chapter 1 - pp. 2-32
oCognitive psychology - branch of psychology concerned with how people acquire, store, transform, use and
communicate information
Deals with our mental life: what goes on inside our heads when we perceive, attend, remember, think,
categorize, reason, decide, and so forth
oThe cognitive processes depicted include attention, mentally focusing on some stimulus; perception, interpreting
sensory information to yield meaningful information; and pattern recognition, classifying a stimulus into a known
oIn recognizing the shape as something familiar, you no doubt called on memory, the storage facilities and
retrieval processes of cognition
oRecognition: the retrieval of information in which the processor must decide whether the information presented
has been previously presented
oRecall: the retrieval of information in which the processor must generate most of the information without aid
oReasoning: cognitive process(es) used in transforming given information, called premises, into conclusions.
Reasoning is often seen as a special kind of thinking.
oProblem solving: the cognitive process(es) used in transforming starting information into a goal state, using
specified means of solution
oKnowledge presentation: the mental depiction, storage, and organization of information
oLanguage: a system of communication that is governed by a system of rules (a grammar) and can express an
infinite number of propositions
oDecision making: the process(es) by which an individual establishes the criteria and options for considerations
Influences on the Study of Cognition
oEmpiricism rests on the tenet that knowledge comes from an individual's own experience - that is, from the
empirical information that people collect from their senses and experiences
oEmpiricists recognize individual differences in genetics but emphasize human nature's malleable, or changeable,
oThey believe people are the way they are, and have the capabilities they have, largely because of previous
oAssociation: A connection or link between two units or elements
oNativism, by contrast, emphasizes the role of constitutional factors - of native ability - over the role of learning in
the acquisition of abilities and tendencies
oNativists attribute differences in individuals' abilities less to differences in learning than to differences in original,
biologically endowed capacities and abilities
oNativism often suggest that some cognitive functions come built in, as part of our legacy as human beings
oHard-wired functions such as short-term memory, for example, are attributed to innate structures of the human
mind that are present in at least rudimentary form at birth and are not learned, formed, or created as a result of
oWilhelm Wundt wanted to establish a "science of mind", to discover the laws and principles that explained our
immediate conscious experience
oWundt wanted to identify the simplest essential units of the mind
oHe believed psychologists could determine how these units combine to produce complex mental phenomenon
oIntrospection: a methodological technique in which trained observers are asked to reflect on, and report on, their
conscious experience while performing cognitive tasks
oStructuralism: one of the earliest schools of cognitive psychology. It focused on the search for the simplest
possible mental elements and the laws governing the ways in which they could be combined
oWilliam James regarded psychology's mission to be the explanation of our experience
oJames was interested in conscious experience
oUnlike Wundt, James was not interested in the elementary units of consciousness
oJames asked why the mind works the way it does
oFunctionalism: a school of psychology emphasizing questions such as why the mind or a particular cognitive
process works the way(s) it does

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oA school of psychology that seeks to define psychological research in terms of observable measures,
emphasizing the scientific study of behaviour
oOne of the general doctrines of behaviorism is that references to unobservable, subjective mental states (such as
consciousness), as well as to unobservable, subjective processes (such as expecting, believing, understanding,
remembering, hoping, for, deciding, and perceiving), were to be banished from psychology proper, which
behaviourists took to be the scientific study of behavior
oB. F. Skinner argued that such "mentalistic" entities as images, sensations, and thoughts should not be excluded
simply because they are difficult to study
oHe objected to hypothesizing the existence of mental representations (internal depictions of information), which
he took to be internal copies of external stimuli
Gestalt Psychology
oA school of psychology emphasizing the study of whole entities rather than simple elements
oGestalt psychologists concentrate on problems of perception and problem solving and argue that people's
cognitive experience is not reducible to their experience of simple elements (for example, sensations) but, rather,
to the overall structures of their experience
oThe relationship among the elements as a whole- plays an important role in determining our experience
oGestalt psychologists thus rejected structuralism, functionalism, and behaviourism as offering incomplete
accounts of psychological and , in particular, cognitive experiences
The Study of Individual Differences
oGalton - Study of Individual Differences: stable patterns of performance that differ qualitatively and/or
quantitatively across individuals
oGalton's inventions of tests and questionnaires to assess mental abilities inspired later cognitive psychologists to
develop similar measures
oHis work challenged psychologists, both those who believed in the importance of genetic influences and those
strongly opposed of the idea, to think about the nature of mental - that is cognitive abilities and capacities
The "Cognitive Revolution"
oCognitive revolution, a new series of psychological investigations, was mainly a rejection of the behaviorist
assumption that mental events and states were beyond the realm of scientific study or that mental representations
did not exist
oCharacterized by a belief in the empirical accessibility of mental states and events
oHuman factors engineering: an applied area of research that focuses on the design of equipment and
technology that is well suited to people's cognitive capabilities
oPerson-machine system: the idea that machinery operated by a person must be designed to interact with the
operator's physical, cognitive, and motivational capacities and limitations
oLimited-capacity processes: a system that acquires, stores, manipulates, and/or transmits information but has
fixed limits on the amount or rate of processing that it can accomplish
oLocalization of function: the "mapping" of brain areas to different cognitive or motor functions; identifying which
neural regions control or are active when different activities take place
oComputer metaphor: the comparison of people's cognitive activities to an operating computer. Just as
computers have to be fed data, people have to acquire information
oComputer scientists working on the problem of artificial intelligence now study how to program computers to
solve the same kinds of problems humans can whether computers can use the same methods that people
apparently use to solve such problems
Current Trends in the Study of Cognition
oCognitive science: an interdisciplinary field drawing on research from cognitive psychology, computer science,
philosophy, linguistics, neuroscience, and anthropology. The central issues addressed involve the nature of mind
and cognition and how information is acquired, stored, and represented
oCognitive neuropsychology: a school of psychology that investigates the cognitive abilities and deficits of
people with damaged or otherwise unusual brain structures
Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology
oNaturalistic Observation
Consists of observer watching people in familiar, everyday contexts going their cognitive business
Observation studies have the advantage that the things studied really do occur in the real world and not
just in an experimental laboratory - ecological validity

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The disadvantage of naturalistic observation is a lack of experimental control
The observer has no means of isolating the causes of difference behaviours or reactions
A second problem is that an observer's recordings are only as good as her intial plan for what is important
to record
The observer observes his or her own mental processes
Participants might be asked to solve complicated arithmetic problems without paper or pencil and to think
aloud as they do so
One additional benefit is that observing one's own reactions and behaviour may give one better insight
into an experience and the factors that influenced it, yield a richer, more complete picture that an outsider
could observe
You may also be more biased in regard to your own cognition
People observing their own mental processes may be more concerned with their level of performance and
may be motivated to subtly and unconsciously distort their observations
They may be unwilling to admit when their cognitive processes seem flawed or random
oControlled Observation and Clinical Interviews
This method gives researchers a little more influence over the setting in which observations are
Investigators using this research method try to standardize the setting for all participants, in many cases
manipulating specific conditions to see how participants will be affected
In clinical interviews, the investigator tries to channel the process even more. The investigator begins by
asking each participant a series of open-ended questions
oExperiments and Quasi-Experiments
A true experiment is one in which the experimenter manipulates one or more independent variables )the
experimental conditions) and observes how the recorded measures (dependent variables) change as a
Between-subjects design, wherein different experimental participants are assigned to different
experimental conditions and the researcher looks for differences in performance between the two groups
In contrast, a within-subjects design exposes the same experimental participants to more than one
For example, participants might perform several memory tasks but receive a different set of
instructions for each task
The investigator then compares the performance of the [participants in the first condition to the
performance of the same participants in another condition
Studies that appear in other ways to be experiments but that have one or more of these factors as
independent variables (or fail to become true experiments in other ways) are called quasi-experiments
Scientists value experiments and quasi-experiments because they enable researchers to isolate causal
factors and make better-supported claims about causality than is possible using observational methods
Antecedents of Cognitive Psychology
Tradition Name Question Method
Individual differences Galton How do people differ? Tests, statistical analysis
Physiology Hebb What kinds of disruptions
accompany specific kinds of
brain damage
Tests, observations, autopsy
Structuralism Titchener What are the basic building
blocks of consciousness?
Introspection under
controlled conditions
Functionalism James Why does the mind have the
operations it has?
Introspection under
naturalistic conditions
Gestalt psychology Koffka What organization does the
mind impose on different
configurations of simple
Introspection under
controlled conditions
Behaviourism Skinner How is behavior affected by
Observation under
controlled conditions
Human factors engineering Broadbent What leads to maximally Observation under
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