Chapters 10 & 11, Guest lecture

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6 Apr 2011
PSYB57 Final Notes
Universal standards of thought
ClarityCould you elaborate further on that point? Could you express that point in another way?
Could you give me an illustration? Could you give me an example?
Its the gateway standard: if a statement is unclear, we cannot determine whether it is accurate or
Accuracy Is that really true? How could we check that?
Clear but not accurate, as in "Most dogs are over 300 pounds in weight."
Precision Could you give more details? Could you be more specific?
A statement can be both clear and accurate, but not precise, as in "Jack is overweight."
We don’’t know how overweight Jack is, one pound or 500 pounds
eHow is that connected to the question? How does that bear on the issue?
A statement can be clear, accurate, and precise, but not relevant to the question at issue.
Often, the "effort" that the student puts in does not measure the quality of student learning
When this is so, effort is irrelevant to their appropriate grade
DepthHow does your answer address the complexities in the question?
How are you taking into account the problems in the question? Is that dealing w the most
significant factors?
No depth = superficial
"Just say No!" which is often used to discourage children and teens from using drugs, is [all of the
Nevertheless, it lacks depth because it treats an extremely complex issue, the pervasive problem
of drug use among young people, superficially
It fails to deal with the complexities of the issue
BreadthDo we need to consider another point of view? Is there another way to look at this question?
What would this look like from a conservative standpoint? What would this look like from?
As in an argument from either the conservative or liberal standpoint which gets deeply into an
issue, but only recognizes the insights of one side of the question
LogicDoes this really make sense? Does that follow from what you said?
How does that follow? But before you implied this, and now you are saying that; how can both be
When the combination of thoughts are mutually supporting and make sense in combination, the
thinking is "logical."
Fairness Do I have a vested interest in this issue? Am I sympathetically representing the viewpoints of
Human thinking is often biased in the direction of the thinker
We must actively work to make sure we are applying the intellectual standard of fairness to our
Chapter 10 Thinking, Problem Solving and Reasoning
What is thinking?
Going beyond the information given (Bruner, 1957)
Complex and high-level skill that fills up gaps in the evidence (Bartlett, 1958)
Process of searching through a problem space (Newell & Simon, 1972)
What we do when we are in doubt about how to act, what to believe, or what to desire (Baron,
Introspection = detailed, concurrent, nonjudgmental observation of the contents of your
consciousness as you work on a problem
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Provides the basis for hypotheses and tests using more objective measures
Key to proper use of this technique: to avoid doing more than is asked for
Dont explain/ justify what youre thinking about, just report it
2 types of thinking Focused thinking = goal based, problem solving
Unfocused thinking = daydreaming, unintentional, creative thinking
Types of problemsWell-defined = have beginning and end, rule or guidelines, clear goal
Ill-defined = dont have goals, starting info, or steps spelled out
Problem solving techniques
Generate &
testGenerate a number of solutions, then test the solutions
Useful if there is a limited number of possibilities
Problematic if too many possibilities
oNo guidance over generation
oCant keep track of possibilities tested
Means-endsProblem space (Newell & Simon, 1972)
oInitial state: conditions at beginning of problem
oGoals state: condition at the end of problem
oIntermediate states: the various conditions that exist along pathways
between the initial and the goal state
oOperators: permissible moves
Goal: reduce the difference between initial state and goal state
Involves generating a goal and then sub-goals
Comparing goal with subgoals and determining the best one
Any sequence of moves beginning at the initial state and ending at the final goal
Crypt arithmetic problems = problems in which letters stand for digits
Not the most optimal way to reach a soln, becuz sometimes the optimal way
involves taking a temp step backward and further from the goal
backwardsInvolves creating sub-goals and reducing differences between the current state
and the goal state (like means-ends analysis)
But sub-goals are created working backwards from the goal state
Most effective when the backward path is unique, making the process more
efficient than working forward
Backtracking Problem solving often involves making working assumptions
In order to correct mistakes in problem solving, need to:
oremember your assumptions
oassess which assumptions failed
ocorrect the assumptions
Reasoning by
analogyFind comparisons between two situations and apply the solution from one
situation to the other
Dunbar: scientists would use 3-15 analogies in a single one-hour lab meeting
To understand unexpected experimental findings, fix experimental problems,
formulate new hypotheses
Dunbar & Blanchette: politicians and journalists used sources from very distant
domains other than politics ~75% of the time
Politicians were basing their analogies not on superficial features but rather on
structural similarities, showing that ppl effectively use analogy on a daily basis
Gick &
Holyoak (1980)Presented participants with the tumor problem
But before each person read the story of the General
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Some were told the story of the General had a hint relevant to the tumor problem
and others were not
o75% of the individuals told the story of the General had a hint solved
the problem correctly
oOnly 30% of the individuals not told noticed the analogy
oOnly 10% solved the problem without the story
Blocks in problem solving
Mental set
Tendency to adopt a certain framework, strategy, or procedure or, more generally, to see things
in a certain way instead of in other, equally plausible ways
~ to a perceptual set = tendency to perceive an object/ pattern in a way on the basis of your
immediate perceptual experience
Induced by even short amounts of practice
Causes people to make certain unwarranted assumptions w/o being aware of making them
Can be induced by Fxnal Fixedness: adoption of a rigid mental set toward an object
Eg: two-string problem (Maier, 1930, 1931)
Person is shown to a room that has 2 strings attached to the ceiling
Strings are placed so far apart the person cant hold on to them at the same time
Task: to tie the strings tgt somehow
Materials = table, book of matches, screwdriver, few pieces of cotton
Soln = use the screwdriver as a weight to make one of the strings into a pendulum
Swing this string, walk to the other string and grab it, wait for the pendulum to swing toward
you, grab it, and tie the 2 strings tgt
<40% of participants solved this w/o a hint
one source of difficulty = unwillingness to think of other fxns for a screwdriver
Lack of problem specific knowledge
Most problems studied by cognitive psychologists are about equally unfamiliar to everyone
Ppl go about solving them in basically the same way
Other kinds of problems (Eg: chess or other skilled games; textbook problems in physics,
geometry, or electronics; computer programming; and problems in diagnosis) —seem to be
different in kind from the puzzles we have been talking about
Experts and novices approach most such problems differently
Familiarity with a domain of knowledge seems to change the way one solves problems within
that frame of reference
DeGroot (1965)Examined chess masters and novices
Both considered the same number of possible moves
But masters somehow chose the best move more easily
Chase & Simon
(1973)Experts able to extract more information from brief exposure
Experts can recall more items from a 5 second exposure of a chessboard
But only when the pieces are configured to depict a possible chess game
The more expertise a chess player had, the more info he extracted even from brief
exposure to chessboards set up to reflect an ongoing chess game
Gobet & Simon
(1996)Examine the sophtistication of play of Kary Kasparov
His superiority came from his ability to recognize patterns more from his ability to
plan future moves
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