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Chapter 10&11

Chapters 10 & 11, Guest lecture

Course Code
Gabriela Ilie

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PSYB57 Final Notes
Universal standards of thought
ClarityCould 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?
It’s 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
eHow 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
DepthHow 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
BreadthDo 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
LogicDoes 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
Don’t explain/ justify what you’re thinking about, just report it
2 types of thinking Focused thinking = goal based, problem solving
Unfocused thinking = daydreaming, unintentional, creative thinking
Types of problemsWell-defined = have beginning and end, rule or guidelines, clear goal
Ill-defined = don’t have goals, starting info, or steps spelled out
Problem solving techniques
Generate &
testGenerate 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
oCan’t keep track of possibilities tested
Means-endsProblem 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 sol’n, becuz sometimes the optimal way
involves taking a temp step backward and further from the goal
backwardsInvolves 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 β€œworking assumptions”
In order to correct mistakes in problem solving, need to:
oremember your assumptions
oassess which assumptions failed
ocorrect the assumptions
Reasoning by
analogyFind 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 can’t 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
Sol’n = 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) β€”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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