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Chapter 8 - Thinking and intelligence
-For the most part, our thinking is adaptive. e.g. develop rules for making fast decisions in
-Thoughts guide much of our behaviour
How does the mind represent info?
-Cognition: mental activity such as thinking or representing info
Cognitive psychology was first based on the notion that the brain represents information and
that act of thinking (cognition) is directly associated with manipulating these representations.
Two types of representations (most often corresponding to images and words):
1) Analogical: has some of the physical characteristics of an object; are analogous to
objects (maps, family trees)
2) Symbolic: abstract, does not correspond to physical features of an object or idea
(most often words or ideas, i.e. notice there is little correspondence between what a
violin looks or sounds like and the letters that make up the word).
Mental images are analogical representations (take on picturelike qualities)
-Experiment (Shepard): participants were asked to view letters and numbers and to
determine whether given object was in its normal orientation or mirror image.
oThe length of time subjects took to determine whether an object was normal or
mirror depended on its degree of rotation
-Experiment (Kosslyn): analogical representations activate the primary visual cortex
-Experiment (Farah): patient with damage to temporal cortex was deficient in calling up
mental images but not at spatial tasks. Ability to use spatial info is tied to maturation
of child’s nervous system
-The representation of picture in mind’s eye parallels that which was in our brain the
first time we saw the picture.
Analogical has limits: something too big. Mental maps involve mixture of analogical and
symbolic representations: which is farther north, Seattle or Montreal? Seattle is but even if
have analogical representation of map, symbolic knowledge tells you Canada is north.
Concepts are symbolic
Grouping things together based on shared properties, categorization, reduces the amount of
information we need to store in memory and is an efficient way of thinking. E.g., musical
Concepts: refer to a class or category that includes some number of individuals or subtypes.
Concepts are mental representations of categories or relations. Allow us to organize
representations around common themes, so every instance of an object, relation, or quality is
not stored individually.
Defining attribute model – the idea that each concept is characterized by a list of features
that are necessary to determine if an object is a member of a category.
-Concepts are hierarchically organized, superordinate or subordinate
-Model has shortcomings.
oAll-or-none basis, but often have exceptions
oAssumes all attributes of a category are equally salient in terms of defining the
oAssumes all members of a category are equal in category membership e.g.,
bachelor - 16 year old kid or 20 year old man who goes on dates occasionally.
-To address shortcomings of defining attribute model, use:
Prototype model – approach some members in the category are more representative –
-Closely resembles how we organize our knowledge of objects
- Allows for boundaries to be imprecise (tomato, fruit or veggie).
-BUT not clear indication of what a prototype would be like
-To address shortcomings use:
Exemplar models - concepts are formed from many examples. When encountering a new
dog, compare with all the dogs you’ve encountered to determine that it is a dog.
-Assumes that experience forms fuzzy representations b/c no single representation
Prototypical category members are simply those that we have encountered more
Schemas – enables us to interact with the complex realities of daily environments
-Kind of knowledge regarding situations and social contexts
-Over time, we develop schemas about the different types of real-life situations we
-Scripts - schemas about sequence of events in different situations
o“going to the movies”
oOperate at unconscious level.
Essential elements of schemas:
1) Common situations have consistent attributes (library is quiet with books)
2) People have specific roles within a situational context (librarian or reader)
-Can have unintended consequences, like sexism or racism
-E.g. conductors schemas of women as inferior musicians interfered with ability to rate
auditioners objectively. With screens, number of women has increased fivefold.
Scripts dictate “appropriate” behavior, shaped by culture
Adaptive reason of schemas: reduces the amount of attention needed to recognize and
negotiate within a familiar environment. Also, allow us to recognize and avoid unusual or
How do we make decisions and solve problems?
-Ability to have rational thought and use it to guide decisions is considered a fundamental
characteristic of human cognition.
-Reasoning: evaluating info, arguments, and beliefs in order to draw conclusions.
1) Inductive reasoning:
-We develop general rules after observing specific instances
-reasoning from specific examples to general statement
a. E.g. using scientific method to discover general principles
2) Deductive reasoning:
-Logic is used to draw a specific conclusion from given premises
-General to specific, a conclusion drawn from a set of a more assumptions called initial
a. Presented in form of syllogisms: logical arguments containing premises and
then a conclusion.
b. Conditional syllogism: if A is true, then B is true. Conclusion depends on
whether premises is true.
c. Categorical syllogism: the logical argument contains two premises and a
conclusion (can be valid or invalid)
i. Valid: All A are B, All B are C, therefore all A are C.
ii. Invalid: All A are B, some B are C, therefore all A are C
Normative: humans are optimal decision makers
-Normative model: expected utility theory - computation of utility: overall value of
choice for each possible outcome, always choosing most desirable one.