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Chapter 1

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Dwayne Pare

Chapter 1: The Science of the Mind The Scope of Cognitive Psychology  Cognitive psychology was first launched, it was understood as the scientific study of knowledge  Cognitive psychology defined as the scientific study of acquisition, retention, and use of knowledge A Brief History  Modern form, cognitive psychology is roughly 50 years old  Earliest textbook in cognition published by Ulric Neisser in 1967  Enormous impact on the "cognitive revolution" within psychology o Took place across 1950s and 1960s o Change in the style of research used by most psychologists o New style was intended for studying problems of memory, decision-making, etc. The Years of Introspection  19th century, scholars Wilhelm Wundt and student Edward Bradford Titchener launched new enterprise of research psychology  Wundt regarded as "father of experimental psychology"  Defined their field for first time separate from philosophy or biology o Concerned with the study of conscious mental events -feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and recollections  Only way to study thoughts is for each of us to introspect or "look within" to observe and record the content of our own mental lives and sequence of our own experiences  Introspection could be not be casual; has to be trained: o Given vocabulary to describe what they observed o Taught to be careful as possible o Trained to report on their experiences, with a minimum of interpretation  Acknowledged that some thoughts are unconscious, meaning introspected is limited research tool o Concluded that introspection is the study of conscious experience and tells nothing about unconscious events The Years of Behaviourism  Abandoned introspection as research tool  Psychology needed objective data, which meant researchers needed to focus on data that is observable for all  Data concerned with behaviour are objective data  Stimuli in the world are in the same "objective" category o They are measurable, recordable, physical events  Beliefs, wishes, goals, and expectations CANNOT be directly observed or objectively recorded  Led to behaviorist movement, during first half of 20th century o Uncovered range of principles concerned with how behaviour changed in responses to various stimuli such as "rewards" and "punishments"  Many principles remain in place within contemporary psychology and provide the base for "learning theory"  By the late 1950s, behaviour could be explained with reference only to objective, overt events (such as stimuli and responses) o Why? The ways people act, and the ways that they feel, are guided by how they understand and interpret the situation, and not by the objective situation itself o If we follow the behaviourists' instruction and focus only on the objective situation, then we will regularly misunderstand why people are doing what they're doing and will make the wrong predictions about how they'll behave in the future  Demands that mental entities such as beliefs or memories not be discussed because they cannot be studied directly, and therefore cannot be studies scientifically  Must consider these entities to understand behaviour The Roots of Cognitive Revolution  Immanual Kant's transcendental method o You begin with the observable facts and then work backward from those observations o Also called "inference to best explanation" in most modern science o Physicists use this method to study objects or events that cannot be observed directly  We need to study mental processes; that's what we learned from the limitations of behaviourism o Mental processes cannot be observed directly o To study mental processes indirectly, relying on the fact that these processes, 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  Examining these effects produced by mental processes, we can develop and test hypotheses about what mental process must have been  Using Kant's transcendental method to develop a science that doesn't rest on direct observation Research in Cognitive Psychology: An Example  Cognitive psychologists applied Kantian logic to explain how people remember, make decisions, pay attention, or solve problems  Each case begins with a particular performance (for example, memory task) and then hypothesize a series of unseen mental events that made the performance possible  Hypothesis is tested by collecting more data; we seek to derive new predictions based on our hypothesis o If these predictions are tested and confirmed, this outcome suggests that the proposed hypothesis was correct Working Memory: Some Initial Observations  You are able to read, even though ordinary reading required you to integrate words that are widely separated on the page o Due to the form of memory that allows you to remember the early words in the sentence o Once you've read enough, you can integrate what you have decoded so far  Working Memory: memory you use for information that you are actively working on o Holds information in an easily accessible form, so it's instantly available o Instant availability is promoted by working memory's size o Hypothesized to have a small capacity, with only a few items, you will never have a problem locating them  Span test o Measures working memory's capacity  For example: we read to someone a list of four letters  The person has to report these back immediately in sequence  If they repeat these back correctly, then use 6 letters and so on, until we find a list that the person cannot report back accurately  Generally, people start making errors with sequences of 7 or 8 letters  Confirms that working memory is limited in size (7 units), and provides a simple example of how we can learn about this memory's properties by seeing how this (unseen) memory influences observable performance Working Memory: A Proposal  Procedure for measuring working memory's span also puts another observation into view -another "effect" for which we need to seek a "cause"  When measuring people's memory span, we find that they often make errors o They report letters that they hadn't heard at all o People make mistakes in this task, they generally substitute one letter for another with a similar sound (replace "V" with "B")  Alan Baddeley and Graham Hitch proposed a model to explain both this finding  Their model starts by stipulating that working memory is not a single entity  Working memory has several different parts, and they prefer to spea
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