Chapter 8.docx

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20 Mar 2012
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Most part of our thinking is adaptive
Being able to instantly size up whether a person is trustworthy allows us to avoid harm, this can
happen with or without our conscious awareness.unconcious cognitive processes can affect
thought and behaviour. We will see this is also true for decision making and problem solving .
Cognition Mental activity such as thinking or representing information . The challenge for
cognitive psychologists is to understand the nature of those everyday mental representations
Analogical representation - A mental representation that has some of the physical
characteristics of an object, it is analogous to the object
Symbolic representation - An abstract mental representation that does not correspond to the
physical features of an object or idea.
What Shepard and one of his colleagues found was that the length of time subjects took to
determine whether an object was normal or a mirror image depended on its degree of rotation .
Thoughts can indeed can take the form of mental images. Visual imagery is associated with
activity in perception related areas of the brain ( that is , the primary visual cortex ) . These
areas are likely responsible for providing the spatial aspects , such as size and shape , of
analogical visual imagery.
Participants were asked to recall images they had just memorized, demonstrating that
analogical representations activate the primary visual cortex.
The ability to use spatial information is tied to the maturation of a child’s nervous system
Inaccurate mental images are still analogical representations.
Grouping things together based on shared properties, known as categorization reduces the
amount of knowledge we must hold in memory and is therefore an efficient way of thinking.
Concept- A mental representation that groups or categorizes objects, events or relations around
common themes.
Defining attribute model- The idea that a concept is characterized by a list of features that are
necessary to determine if an object is a member of a category . Although the defining attribute
model is intuitively appealing ,it fails to capture many key aspects of how we organize things in
our heads.1. membership within a category is on an all or none basis-but in reality we often
make exceptions in our categorization 2. All attributes of a category are equally salient in terms
of defining the given category. However , research demonstrates not only that some attributes
are more important for defining membership than others .
Prototype model- An approach to object categorization that is based on the premise that within
each category, some members are more representative than others.
Exemplar models- There is no single best representation of a concept, instead of all the
examples, or exemplars, of category members from the concept. Exemplar models assume that
experience forms fuzzy representations of concepts because , in essence , there is no single
Prototypical category members are simple those that we have encountered more often.
A whole different class of knowledge, called schemas, enable us to interact with the complex
realities of our daily environments
Elements of schema are 1. Common situations have consistent attributes, such as a library’s
being quiet and having books 2. People have specific roles within the situational context
Scripts dictate appropriate behaviours
They also allow us to recognize and avoid unusual or dangerous situations .
Being able to manipulate our mental representations that is, to think about objects ,events
and circumstances- allows us to take appropriate actions ,make intelligent decisions ,and
function efficiently in our daily lives.
The ability to have rational thought and use it to guide decisions and actions is considered a
fundamental characteristic of human cognition.
Deductive reasoning- A form of reasoning in which logic is used to draw a specific conclusion
from given premises
Deductive reasoning uses logic to draw specific conclusions under certain assumptions, or
premises. Deductive reasoning tasks are often presented in the form of syllogisms, which are
logical arguments containing premises and a conclusion. Thus in a conditional syllogism , the
argument is in the form : If A is true , then B is true
Categorical syllogism- in which the logical argument contains two premises and a conclusion
,which can be determined to be either valid or invalid .
Deductive reasoning allows the reasoner to determine the truth of a statement given the
The ambiguity of the word nothing causes a logical error in this syllogism .Determining general
conclusions from specific instances is the basis of inductive reasoning
Research on decision making has been influenced by normative approaches and descriptive
approaches .
Normative models of decision making have viewed humans as optimal decision makers ,
whereas more recent descriptive models have tried to account for the tendencies humans have
to misinterpret and misrepresent the probabilities underlying many decision making scenarios.
Normative model of how humans should make decisions- a model known as expected utility
theory . The theory breaks down decision making into a computation of utility, an indication of
overall value , for each possible outcome in a decision-making scenario
Heuristics- In problem solving ,shortcuts used to minimize the amount of thinking that must be
done when moving from step to step in a solution space.
Availability heuristic- Making a decision based on the answer that most easily comes to mind
Representativeness heuristic- A rule for categorization based on how similar the person or
object is to our prototypes for that category
The availability heuristic created a bias in reasoning that led more people to drive on their
vacations and trips. This ultimately resulted in an increase in the overall number of traffic
Basing the selection on the extent to which Helena reflects what we believe about psychologists
is an example of the representativeness heuristic . For instance there are many more postal
workers in the world than cognitive psychologists.
Representativeness heuristic can be an important factor in racial sterotypes
Confirmation bias- A tendency to search for and believe evidence that fits our existing views.Its
a natural tendency
Framing- The effect of presentation on how information is perceived.
Loss aversion- People are generally much more concerned with costs than with benefits .
Insight- is the stereotypical mental light bulb going on in one’s head, a metaphor that is used to
capture the phenomenon of suddenly realizing the solution to a problem
Restructuring- the representation of a problem can lead to the sudden ‘aha! Moment that is
characteristic of insight
Mental set- A problem solving strategy that has worked in the past
Functional fixedness- A tendency in problem solving to think of objects only as they are most
commonly used
Restructuring the problem, breaking out of a mental set, and overcoming functional fixedness
are all techniques that require the problem solver to view a problem differently and restructure
the initial mental representations.
Two common heuristic strategies to overcome obstacles in problem solving are working