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Chapter 8

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 8: Stephen Kosslyn, Stereotype Threat, Kim Peek

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Chapter 8
How Does the Mind Represent Information?
- Thinking is adaptive (Ex. Encountering a person on the street who poses a potential threat, you will
change your route)
-Cognition: mental activity such as thinking or representing information
- Two types of mental representations: analogical and symbolic
-Analogical representation: mental representation that has some of the physical characteristics of an
object; it is analogous to the object
-Symbolic representation: abstract mental representation that does not correspond to the physical
features of an object or idea
Mental Images are Analogical Representations
- Stephen Kosslyn (1995) has shown that the same brain areas that are activated when we view
something are also active when we think in images
- Analogical representations cannot account for images that are not perceived by our perceptual system
Concepts are Symbolic Representations
- Symbolic representations consist of words
- How do we use knowledge about objects efficiently?
-Categorization: grouping things based on shared properties
-Concept: mental representation that groups or categorizes objects, events, or relations around
common themes (Ex. “violins are smaller than violas”, brightness, musical instruments)
-Defining attribute model: idea that a concept is characterized by a list of features that are necessary
to determine if an object is a member of the category
-> Suggests that membership within a category is all or nothing basis, but there are often exceptions in
categorizations (Ex. Bird category -> attribute = flying; but what about penguins and ostriches?)
-> Suggests that all of a given category’s attributes are equally salient in terms of defining that category
(Ex. Wings is considered a clear attribute of birds, so being warm-blooded is not salient in how we think
about birds)
-> Suggests that all members of a category are equal in category membership (Ex. A 16 year old boy
and a man in his 30s that goes on dates would both be considered a bachelor)
-Prototype model: approach to object categorization that is based on the premise that within each
category, some members are more representative than others; allows for flexibility in the representation
of concepts (Ex. When you think musical instruments, you think of violin before a zither)
-Exemplar model: info stored about the members of a category is used to determine category

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Schemas Organize Useful Information about Environments
- Schemas enable us to interact with the complex realities of our daily environments
- Schank and Abelson (1977) have referred to these schemas about sequences as scripts -> a familiar
process that we go through (Ex. At the movies)
- Schemas can be employed because
-> Common situations have consistent attributes (Ex. Restaurants serve food)
-> People have specific roles within situational contexts (Ex. Waiters serve food)
- Schemas and scripts can reinforce sexist or racist beliefs unconsciously (Ex. Gender roles)
- Schemas allows us to minimize the amounts of attention required to navigate familiar environments and
to recognize and avoid dangerous or unusual situations
How Do We Make Decisions and Solve Problems?
-Reasoning: using info to determine if a conclusion is valid or reasonable
-Decision making: attempting to select the best alternative among several options
-Problem solving: finding a way around an obstacle to reach a goal
People Use Deductive and Inductive Reasoning
-Deductive reasoning: using a belief or rule to determine if a conclusion is valid based on certain
assumptions or premises
-> Often presented as a syllogism, a logical argument containing premises and a conclusion
-> Conditional syllogism: if A is true, then B is true (Ex. If Bonnie has good taste, then the Thai
she recommends will have delicious food)
-> Categorical syllogism: all A are B, all B are C, therefore all A are C (Ex. All chimps are
primates; all
primates are mammals; therefore, all chimpanzees are mammals)
-> In deductive reasoning, a conclusion follows logically from its premises; it may be valid, but may not
be true
-> Our schemas alter what we believe to be true in certain syllogisms
-Inductive reasoning: using examples or instances to determine if a rule or conclusion is likely to be
Decision Making Often Involves Heuristics
-Expected utility theory: normative model that says we make decisions by considering the possible
alternatives and choosing the most desirable one
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