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Chapter 5

PSY321H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 5: Semiotics, Psyccritiques, Counterfactual Thinking

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Simone Walker

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Psychologists use the term cognition to denote all the mental processes we use to transform sensory
input into knowledge
Attention refers to the focusing of our limited capacities of consciousness on a particular set of
stimuli, more of whose features are noted and processed in more depth than is true of non-focal
Sensation refers to the feelings that result from excitation of the sensory receptors (touch, taste,
smell, sight, hearing)
Perception refers to our initial interpretations of the sensations
Culture is generally viewed as a set of mental representations about the world
o “mental programming” Hofstede
o Like computer software
Priming is a method used to determine if one stimulus affects another
Perception and Physical Reality
Our perception doesn’t necessarily match the physical realities of the world
o Humans have blind spot in each eyea spot w/ no sensory receptors, where the
optic nerve goes through the layer of receptor cells on its way back toward the
o Microsaccades micro eye movements
Cultural Influences on Visual Perception
Optical Illusions are perceptions that involve an apparent discrepancy b/w how an object
looks and what it actually is
o Often based on inappropriate assumptions about the stimulus characteristics of the
object being perceived
o E.g. Mueller-Lyer illusion
Carpentered world theory suggest that people (at least most Americans) as used to seeing
things that are rectangular in shape and unconsciously come to expect things to have
squared corners
Front-horizontal foreshortening theory suggest that we interpret vertical lines as horizontal
lines extending into the distance
Symbolizing three dimensions in two theory suggest that people in Western cultures focus
more on representations on paper than do people in other culturesand in particular,
spend more time learning to interpret pictures
Wagner found that the effect of the Ponzo illusion increased w/ age, but only for urban
people and people who continued their schooling
Pollak and Silvar suggest that the cultural differences could be explained by racial
differences in retinal pigmentation
Masuda and Nisbett

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o First task
Asked American and Japanese students to look at animated scene
Both recalled the focal image
Japanese remembered more of the background images
o Second task
Showed them stimuli and asked if they had seen them before in the original
fish scene
Japanese were much more influences by the changes in the background
Background didn’t affect the Americans
Analytical perception
o Western cultures tend to engage in context-independent and analytic perceptual
processes by focusing on a salient object (or person) independently from the
context in which it is embedded
Holistic perception
o People in East Asian cultures tend to engage in context-dependent and holistic
perceptual processes by attending to the relationship b/w the object and the
context in which the object is located
Culture and Categorization
People categorize on the basis of similarities and attach labels (words) to groups of objects
perceived to have something in common
Categorization is universal
Culture and Memory
Serial position effect suggest that we remember things better if they are either the first
(primary effect) or last (recency effect) item in a list of things to remember
Wagner hypothesized that the primacy effect depends on rehearsalthe silent repetition of
things you are trying to rememberand that this memory strategy is related to schooling
Hindsight bias refers to the process in which individuals adjust their memory for something
after they find out the true outcome
o E.g. when someone is asked to guess the # of jelly beans in a jar, they may say 350,
when they find out later that the actual # is 647, people will often remember their
original estimate to be 450, or some # closer to the true outcome (universal)
Episodic memory refers to the recollection of specific events that took place at a particular
time and place in the past
o European and Euro-American adults and children often exhibit greater episodic
memories in the recollection of autobiographic events than Asian and Asian-
o Memories of generic events (e.g. going to church every Sunday) often imply social
conventions and interactions w/ others, and individuals w/ self-constructs may be
more motivated to attend to and remember such events
Culture and Math Abilities
Asian countries have the highest % of students reaching the advanced International
Benchmark, representing fluency on items involving the most complex topics and reasoning
Science: highest performing countries at 4th grade Singapore (36%) and Chinese Taipei (19%)
at or above Benchmark
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