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Chapter 8

Chapter 8 - PSY100.docx

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSY100H1
Professor
Dan Dolderman
Semester
Fall

Description
Chapter 8 Thinking and Intelligence Dread Risks: Gerd Gigerenzer proposed that low-probability events that are highly publicized and have dire consequences, such as the deaths associated with the hijackings of 9/11 can result in fears called dread risks  Caused a large amount of people to start driving instead of flying even in countries where hijackings are unlikely; even though more people die every year because of car crashes then then number who die in airplane disasters o Humans do not always weigh the actual probabilities of different actions, we may be influenced by factors that may not always be rational (prominence of events/images in our minds) o Gigerenzer believes the biases that typically affect decision making after highly unlikely tragic events should be publicized, so that education about dread risks might prompt people to reconsider choices that could result in additional negative consequences o Way we think about info makes important differences in the quality of our lives- both individually and collectively How Does the Mind Represent Information? Some people seem to be better at using information than others, we describe this ability as intelligence  For the most part our thinking is adaptive, we make rules for making fast decisions, ability to use information rapidly is a critical human skill  Unconscious cognitive processes not only influence thought and behaviour but also affect decision making and problem solving  Intuition develops over years of experience  Cognition: mental activity such as thinking or representing information o we use representation to understand objects we encounter in our environments o cognition is directly associated with manipulating these representations  challenge for cognitive psychologists is to understand the nature of our everyday mental representations two basic types of representations:  Analogical Representations: a mental representation that has some of the physical characteristics of an object, it is analogous to the object (maps)  Symbolic Representations: an abstract material representation that does not correspond to the physical features of an object or idea, usually words or ideas (the word violin has no direct systematic relationship to what violin looks, sounds like etc.) o These two representations form the basis of human thought, intelligence and the ability to solve problems Mental Images are Analogical Representations Experiment where participants were shown an object in its normal orientation (e.g. R) and then showed it with various amounts of rotation, they study showed the bigger the angle of rotation the longer the participant took to decide whether it was a mirror image or in its normal orientation. Fig 8.3  The same brains areas activate when we view something and when we think of images o Shows that at least some thoughts take the form of mental images  Visual imagery is associated with activity in visual perception- related areas of the brain (primary visual cortex); same brain areas activated when we view something are active hen we think in images  When you retrieve info from memory, the representation of that pic in your mind’s eye is parallels the representation in your brain the first time you saw the pic o This process is like having an eye that faces into the brain instead of the outside world, there is no actual image in your head though; mental image is not perfectly accurate either Limits of Analogical Representations  We can represent only a limited range of knowledge analogically, and if something cannot be perceived wholly by our perceptual system then we cannot form a complete analogical representation of it  Mental maps involve a mixture of analogical and symbolic representations  Symbolic representations can lead to errors, we can only represent a limited range of knowledge analogically and thus use memory shortcuts unconsciously Fig 8.4 o The regularization of irregular shapes in memory is a shortcut we use unconsciously for keeping info in memory Concepts are Symbolic Representations Most of our thinking reflects not only visual representations of the world but also our general knowledge of the world (what you do with a lemon depends on how you think about it)  Categorization: grouping things based on shared properties, reduces the amount of knowledge we must hold in memory- which is an efficient way of thinking  Concept: a mental representation that groups or categorizes objects, events or relations around common themes, ensures that we do not have to store every instance of an object, or quality individually, instead we store abstract relations based on the properties particular items/ideas share (violins are smaller than violas)  Defining Attribute Model Fig 8.6: the 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 (for musical instrument it would be device that produces sound) o This model suggests membership in these categories on an all-or none principle, when really there are exceptions (most people would say birds can fly, even though not all do or some people use spoons as instruments-which is not usually categorized as instrument) o Secondly model suggests that all attributes are equal in terms of defining the category. However some attributes are more important and the boundaries between categories are much fuzzier then the model suggests (has wings is salient in how we think about birds while is warm blooded is less so) o Thirdly the model posits that all members of a category are equal in membership (no one fit is better than the other) (a 30 year old is more of a bachelor than a 16 year old boy)  Prototype Model (alternative to defining attribute model): an approach to object categorization is based on the premise that within each category some members are more representative than others “prototype” o Allows for flexibility in the representation of concepts  Drawback is that a particular prototype can be chosen for different reasons (is it most common example of that particular category?)  Exemplar Model: information stored about the members of a category is used to determine category membership, all the examples (exemplars) of category membership form the concept (your representation of dogs is made up of all the dogs you have encountered in your life, no single representation of a concept); some members are more prototypical than others because those are those we have encountered more o The defining attribute and prototype models explain how we classify objects we encounter and how we represent those objects in our minds Schemas Organize Useful Information about Environments  Schemas enable us to interact with the complex realities of our daily environments, help us perceive, organize and process information, knowledge regarding situations and social contexts  Scripts are schemas about the sequences of events in certain situations (going to the movies)  We can employ schemas because o 1. Common Situations have consistent attributes (libraries are quiet) o 2. People have specific roles with situational contexts  Sometimes have unintended consequences such as reinforcing sexist or racist beliefs (when kids asked to draw scientist they usually draw males)  Gender Roles: the prescribed behaviours for females and males are a type of schema that operates at the unconscious level-we should become aware of these schema, gender related bias in orchestra  Scripts dictate appropriate behaviours  Relational schemas influence what people expect from others in their social interactions (script for dating, man drives and pays for dinner)  Schemas and scripts children learn will most likely affect their behaviour when they are older, see alcohol and cigarettes as a script for adult social life Scripts and schemas minimize the amount of attention given to familiar environments, also allows us to recognize and avoid dangerous situations Thinking about objects, events and circumstances allows us to make appropriate actions, make intelligent decisions and function efficiently in our every day lives. How Do We Make Decisions and Solve Problems Reasoning: using information to determine if a conclusion is valid or reasonable Decision Making: attempting to select the best alternative among options Problem Solving: finding a way around an obstacle to reach a goal  You have a problem when a gap/barrier exists between where you are and where you want to be People use Deductive and Inductive Reasoning Deductive Reasoning: Using a belief or rule to determine if a conclusion is valid (follows logically from the belief or rule); from general to specific (expect a person from Vancouver to be nice because of what you have heard)  Use logic to draw specific conclusions under certain circumstances or premises  Often presented as syllogisms, logical arguments containing premises and a conclusion: o Conditional: If A (premise) is true then B is true , if you can assume the premise is true, you can be certain about the conclusion (if your friend has good taste then the restaurant he recommends will have good food) o Categorical: contains two premises and a conclusion All A are B. All B are C. Therefore all A are C, this can sometimes lead to valid but incorrect conclusions; also can be valid but not make much sense in the real world (all foods made with spinach are delicious, cake is made with spinach, valid conclusion would be that the cake is delicious-most people would say otherwise) A conclusion follows logically from its premises, it is valid, but it may or not be true Inductive Reasoning: using examples or instances to determine if a rule or conclusion is likely to be true based on general premises; from specific to general (decide people from Vancouver are friendly because those you have met from there are friendly; researchers find that university students in clubs have higher GPA’s then those that don’t, researchers then induce a general principle from the specific instances of the students in the experiment). We are strongly influenced by those that are close to us. Decision Making Often Involves Heuristics Research on decision making has been influenced by:  Normative Models: view humans as optimal decision makers, choosing what has highest gain  Descriptive Models: tried to account for human’s tendencies to misinterpret the probabilities underlying many decision making scenarios and to act irrationally when they understand the probabilities o We usually make decisions without taking time to consider pros and cons which is useful for dealing with many challenges (quick decisions)  Expected Utility Theory: one normative model of how humans should make decisions, views decision making as a computation of utility (the overall value for each possible outcome in a decision making scenario), picking most desirable alternative (compare all options)  Heuristics: in problem solving, shortcuts (rules of thumb or informal guidelines) used to reduce the amount of thinking that is needed to move from an initial state to a goal state, occurs unconsciously and lets us focus attention on other things, may lead to biases (all soaps are the same, but some people think the more expensive one is better) o Availability Heuristic: making a decision based on the answer that most easily comes to mind o Representativeness Heuristic: a rule for categorization based on how similar the person or object is to our prototypes for that category often fail to take into account the base rate (frequency of an events occurring); we may conclude that someone is a psychologist based on fact that they are more similar to a psychologist then a postal worker, but there are much more postal workers then psychologists  Algorithm: is a procedure that if followed correctly will always give the correct answer (an informed guide, eg. recipe) Framing Effects  Framing: the effect of presentation on how information is perceived, framing the decision to emphasize the gains or losses affects the decision making (when emphasizing the certain amount of lives to be saved we choose that situation over one who may not save any lives at all, but when situation emphasizes the amount of certain deaths we pick it over one that may kill all the population) pg. 357 o The framing decision to emphasize gains or losses affects decision making  Prospect Theory: o 1. Need to take into account people’s wealth in predicting their choices (poorer person more likely will take $200 for over the risk in winning $1000 or nothing, while richer will take the risk) all money does not have the same subjective value o 2. The fact that because losses feel much worse than gains feel good, people try to avoid situations that involve losses (loss aversion) Affective Forecasting (Daniel Gilbert/ Timothy Wilson) People are not good at knowing how they will feel about things in the future, people don’t realise this either  People think loss of loved ones will have much worse effects on them then they really do (overestimate), only consider the immediate intense pain and don’t realise life goes on, overestimate the pain and underestimate how well they will cope with it o Making sense of an event helps reduce its negative emotional consequences  Affective forecasting can also influence our perceptions of positive events o Bronze medal winners are happier than those who win silver o Depends on context, winning any medal seems like quite the achievement but to an athlete winning silver does not match up to winning gold  Affective forecasting errors may be involved in racism (people said they would be very distraught if they saw an act of racism, but when they did they showed little distress) Good Decision Makers  Those who perform better on decision making tests report fewer negative life events than those who perform poorly on the test  Applying critical thinking skills can positively affect multiple areas of a person’s life Problem Solving Achieves Goals To solve a problem people must use knowledge to determine how to move from their current state to the goal. How the person thinks about the problem can help or hinder the person’s ability to find solutions. Organization of Sub-goals  Breaking down a problem into sub-goals is an important part of problem solving however it may be hard when there is no obvious next step  The tower of Hanoi problem Sudden Insight  Problems are not problem until they seem unsolvable (keys in ignition of your locked car is only a problem once you see it)  Insight: the sudden realization of a solution to a problem  Wolfgang Kohler- convinced that some nonhuman animals could behave intelligently (chimp put sticks together in order to get a banana)  Norman Maier-put people in room with 2 strings hanging from the ceiling and were asked to tie the strings together (pliers were also in the room), they were too far apart, solution was to tie pliers onto one string and use it as a pendulum and grab it while it was swinging, he induced this insight on some people by brushing up against the string causing it to swing back and forth o Insights can be achieved when a problem initially seems unsolvable Changing Representations to Overcome Obstacles Restructuring: a new way of thinking about a problem that aids its solution  Scheerer’s Nine Dot Problem o Solving the problem requires restructuring the representation by eliminating assumed constraints  Mental Set: a problem solving strategy that has worked in the past o Are often useful buts sometimes make it difficult to find the best solution o Exp.: filling cups of water, when people were used to complex methods of using all three cups they tried to do the same when given a simpler problem  Overcoming functional fixedness requires the problem to solver to reinterpret the objec
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