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Chapter 1

PSY270 Chapter 1.doc

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Christine Burton

Chapter 1: Introduction to Cognitive Psychology Cognitive psychology: the branch of psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of the mind Cognitive Psychology: Studying the Mind Mind: • Creates and controls mental functions such as perception, attention, memory, emotions, language, deciding, thinking and reasoning o Reflects mind’s central role in determining our various mental abilities o Cognition- mental processes, what the mind does • System that creates representations of the world so that we can act within it to achieve our goals o Reflects mind’s importance for functioning and survival o How to mind operates and functions Studying the Mind: Early Work in Cognitive Psychology • In 1800s, ideas about mind dominated by belief that it isn’t possible to study the mind o Mind cant study itself o Properties of the mind can’t be measured • Franciscus Donders = decided to study the mind Donders’ Pioneering Experiment • Interested in determining how long it takes for a person to make a decision o Reaction time: how long it takes to respond to presentation of a stimulus  Simple reaction time task: light goes on  Choice reaction time task: light goes on right or left side • In choice reaction time task = mental response includes perceiving light and deciding which button to push • Mental responses can’t be measured directly but must be inferred from behaviour Ebbinghaus’ Memory Experiment • Interested in determining the nature of memory and forgetting – how information that is learned is lost over time o Presented nonsense syllables (DAX) using a device called a memory drum o Repeated the procedure until he made no errors – noted the number of trials to do this o After learning a list – employed delays • Saving methods: subtracted the number of trials needed to learn the list after a delay from the number of trials it took to learn the list the first time o Savings score: Savings = [(Initial repetitions) = (Relearning repetitions)/Initial Repetitions] x 100 • “savings curve” = memory drops rapidly for the first 2 days after initial learning and then levels off Wundt’s Psychology Laboratory • Structuralism: overall experience is determined by combining basic elements of experience called sensations o Wundt wanted a “periodic table of the mind” – include all basic sensations in creating an experience o Could achieve this via analytic introspection: trained participants described their experiences and though processes in response to stimuli William James • Taught Harvard’s first psychology course, made observations about the mind in his textbook o Principles of Psychology (1890) Abandoning the Study of the Mind Watson Founds Behaviourism • Became dissatisfied with the method of analytic introspection o Produced extremely variable results from person to person o These results were difficult to verify because they were interpreted in terms of invisible inner mental processes • Proposed behaviourism: observable behaviour provides the only valid data for psychology o Rejects introspection as a method o Observable behaviour, not consciousness is the main topic of study o Eliminates mind as a topic of study and replace it with the study of directly observable behaviour • Classical conditioning: pairing one stimulus with another, previously neutral stimulus causes changes
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