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Chapter 1

jan 09, chapter 1 history.docx

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Susanne Ferber

Jan 9, 2012 PSY270- chapter 1 History  Cognition – describes the acquisition, storage, transformation, and use of knowledge  Cognitive psychology – deals with how people perceive, learn, remember, and think about information  Cognitive approach – a theoretical orientation that emphasizes people’s knowledge and their mental processes  Traces its origin to the classical Greek philosophers but the contemporary version emerged only within the last 60 years  Aristotle (384-322BC): Ancient Greece (1300 - 300 BC): 3 assumptions of early philosophers would influence later psychologists: 1. The world can be understood & predicted 2. Humans are part of that world 3. Explanations should be of this world  Middle ages: not a lot of sitting around and contemplating the workings of the mind  Rene Descartes (1596-1690): The Renaissance (1400 -1700) return of two assumptions: 1. The world can be understood & predicted 2. Explanations should be of this world  The scientific method: new emphasis on observation  The origin of knowledge: 1. Nativism: knowledge is innate 2. Rationalist: contemplation, logical analysis 3. Empiricism: knowledge is gained through experience, tabula rasa  Franciscus Donders (1818-1889): Mental chronometry: Professor of Physiology in Utrecht; authority on eye diseases; mental chronometry: measuring how long a cognitive process takes; using differences in human reaction time to infer differences in cognitive processing  Interested in determining how long it takes for a person to make a decision- experimented with reaction time tasks.  Reaction times (RTs) experiment: Measures interval between stimulus presentation and person’s response to stimulus  Simple RT task: participant pushes a button quickly after a light appears  Choice RT task: participant pushes one button if light is on right side, another if light is on left side o Simple RT: no decision, just detection o Choice RT: decision required o Choice RT – Simple RT = Time to make a decision o Choice RT = 1/10th sec longer than Simple RT o Concluded that people take 1/10th sec to make decision o Mental responses cannot be measured directly but can be inferred from the participant’s behavior. o Presenting stimulus causes mental response which leads to behavioural response. Mental response must be inferred from behavior  Hermann Ebbinghaus (1859-1909) : Savings in relearning. Interested in determining the nature of memory and forgetting, how information that is learned is lost over time  Read list of nonsense syllables (QEH) aloud many times (initial repetitions) to determine number of repetitions necessary to repeat list without errors  After some time (retention interval), he relearned the list (relearning repetitions) Jan 9, 2012 PSY270- chapter 1 History  Learned many different lists at many different retention intervals (19 minutes or 31 days)  Forgetting curve: for short intervals (say 19 minutes or 1 hour), it took fewer repetitions to relearn the list than initially required  Savings formula: [(initial repetitions)-(
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