Psychology chapter 8 notes
C HAPTER 8: T HINKING AND INTELLIGENCE
For the most part, our thinking is adaptive. e.g. develop rules for making fast decisions
in everyday life
How does the mind represent 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
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).
Mental images are analogical representations (take on picture like 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.
o The 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
- 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 Montréal? 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 instruments.
Concepts: refer to a class or category that includes some number of individuals or
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. Psychology chapter 8 notes
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, super ordinate or subordinate
- Model has shortcomings.
o All-or-none basis, but often have exceptions
o Assumes all attributes of a category are equally salient in terms of defining
o Assumes 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
- To address shortcomings of defining attribute model, use:
Prototype model - 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.
- Assumes that experience forms fuzzy representations b/c no single
- 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
- S C R I P T - schemas about sequence of events in different situations
o “going to the movies”
o Operate 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
Scripts dictate “appropriate” behavior, shaped by culture Psychology chapter 8 notes
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 dangerous situations.
H OW 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: reasoning from specific examples to general statement
a. E.g. using scientific method to discover general principles
2) Deductive reasoning: general to specific. A conclusion drawn from a set of a
more assumptions called initial premises.
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 are 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.
Descriptive: humans often misinterpret and misrepr