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Chapter 9

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Gillian Rowe

Chapter 9 (Visual Imagery) History of imagery  imagery – “seeing” in the absence of visual stimulus  Wundt  founder of the first laboratory of psychology  images are one of the three basic elements of consciousness, along with sensations and feelings  proposed that studying images was a way of studying thinking  gave rise to imageless-thought debate  some psychologists took up Aristotle’s idea that “though is impossible without image”, others said the opposite  Galton observed that people who were not capable of forming visual images were still capable of thinking  arguments for and against ended with behaviourism John Wilson (founder of behaviourism) – images are “mythological and unproven” thus not worthy of study  cognitive revolution (1950s)  Paivio  found out that memory for concrete nouns (hotel-student) is better than for abstract nouns (knowledge-honour)  conceptual peg hypothesis – concrete words create mental images that other words can “hang onto” (boat-hat: create image of the boat and where the hat could be placed)  Roger Shepard (used mental chronoetry)  participants saw pairs of different pictures and had to, as quickly as possible, say if they were the same; the time it took to decide was directly proportional to the degree of rotation shows that people were mentally rotating the pics to see if they matched  Imagery and perception  the idea that there is special correspondence between imagery and perception is supported by Kosslyn experiments involving mental scanning, where participants had to create mental images and then scan them in their minds  experiment 1: people were asked to imagine the boat, then focus on one part of it, such as anchor, then asked to look for another part; resultit took longer to find parts that were further apart (concluded that imagery is special in nature)  another explanation: it took longer b/c people may have seen some other interesting parts that caught their attention  experiment 2: people were told to image an island; then mentally scan the distances between two locations; resultit still took longer to travel greater “distances”  imagery debate  debate whether imagery is based on spatial mechanisms(involves perception) or propositional mechanisms (involves language)  Kosslyn argued imagery was spatial; Polyshyn claimed that it was propositional, saying that mental images is epiphenomenon –something that accompanies the real mechanism but is not part of the mechanism (ie: epiphenomenon can be lights flashing, it tells us that something is going on inside the computer but it does not tell us what exactly, mental images are similar since they tell us that something is going on inside our mind but does not tell how its happening)  cat under the table: 1. spatial representation would involve a picture of a cat and a table (called depictive representations because they are depicted by the picture; 2. propositional representation would be represented by notation (under (cat, table))  Kosslyn’s boat would be represented by words and dashed lines (similarly to the semantic networks); it would explain why it takes longer to travel longer “distances”  tacit-knowledge explanation – participants unconsciously use knowledge about the world when making judgements; Polyshyn suggested that because people know that it takes longer to travel longer distances, they stimulate longer reaction times in Kosslyn’s experiment counter argument by Frinke and Pinker four dot display: people were presented with four dots on the screen, then the dots disappeared and the arrow was presented; people were asked to say if the arrow pointed to any of the dots than wer
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