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Chapter 9

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Psychology 1000

Chapter 9: Thought, Language, and Intelligence 1. What are mental representations? How are they involved in thinking and communicating? - Mental representations: cognitive representations of the world, including images, ideas, concepts, and principles, that are the foundations of thinking and problem solving o We are engaged in some of these mental activities now o To the extent that we are communicating effectively via the written word, mental representations are being transferred from their minds to ours through the medium of language o The process of education is all about transferring ideas and skills from mind to mind - Communication is essentially a transfer of mental representations from our minds to yours through the medium of language 2. Define three properties common to any human language - Language has three critical properties o 1) symbolic – language uses sounds, written signs, or gestures to refer to objects, events, ideas, and feelings  Language allows the communicators to form and then transfer mental representations to the mind of another person  Displacement feature: past, future, and imaginary events and objects that are not physically present can be symbolically represented and communicated through the medium of language (helps free us from being restricted to the past) o 2) structure – language has rules that govern how symbols can be combined to create meaningful communication units o 3) generative – the symbols can be combined to generate an almost infinite number of messages that can have novel meaning 3. Differentiate between surface structure and deep structure - Psycholinguists study the psychological properties of language and the underlying mechanisms that produce it - Surface structure: consists of the way symbols are combined within a given language o The rules for such combination are called the syntax (rules of grammar) - Deep structure: refers to the underlying meaning of the combined symbols o The rules for connecting the symbols to what they represent are known as semantics - Often, sentences can have different syntax, but similar semantic meaning - The rules for surface structure and deep structure are both stored in long-term memory o However, when we recall something, we are likely to retrieve deep structure (meaning) rather than specific words 4. What are phonemes and morphemes? Where do they fit in the hierarchy of language? - Phonemes: smallest units of sound that are recognized as separate in a given language (lowest rung on the ladder) o There are 46 phonemes consisting of various vowel and consonant sounds  Humans can produce several hundred phonemes; the world’s languages vary in phonemes o Phonemes are combined into morphemes, the smallest units of meaning in a language  Syntax rules determine how phonemes can be combined into morphemes o Morphemes combine to form words o Words combine to form phrases o Phrases combine to form sentences 5. What scientific evidence supports the notion that human language has a biological basis? - Several facts suggest a biological basis for language acquisition o 1) children, despite their limited thinking skills, begin to master language early in life without any formal instruction o 2) despite their differences at the phoneme level, all adult languages throughout the world seem to have a common underlying deep structure 6. What findings indicate that learning interacts with biology to affect language development? What evidence exists for a sensitive period? - Cooing: between one and about three months of age, infants vocalize the entire range of phonemes found in the world’s languages - Babbling: at about six months of age, a young child’s vocalizations gradually become more and more similar to the language to which they are exposed o They also begin to lose the ability to perceive differences in the sounds of other languages (Japanese children don’t know the difference between r and l) o Deaf kids can also babble with their hands o With exposure to language, children also extract the complex rules of syntax - Sensitive period: a period during which language is most easily learned; this period typically extends from infancy to puberty o Language-deprived children who were found when they were past puberty seemed unable to acquire normal language skills o As well, recovery of language is rare if the damage to brain occurs after puberty (but if damage occurred before puberty, you are likely to gain language back) o Importance of early language exposure applies to any language, not just spoken language (so sign languages work too) 7. Describe how biological, maturational, and social learning factors are involved in language acquisition. What sex difference exists in language functions within the brain? - Broca’s area: left hemisphere’s frontal lobe; speech production - Wernicke’s area: rear portion of temporal lobe; speech comprehension o Damage to one of these areas cause apahsia, a disruption in speech comprehension and/or production - Biological – infants master language even though they lack thinking skills - Maturational – humans have what is known as sensitive period (after puberty, they typically cannot learn language skills) - Social – B.F. Skinner believed that children’s language development is strongly governed by adults’ reinforcing appropriate language and non-reinforcing of inappropriate verbalization o Parents keep children’s interest by conversing with them in motherese (high-pitched intonation that is worldwide) o But, more realistically, parents typically do not correct their children’s grammar as language skills are developing o And also, children learn very fast o Parents focus on truth value (deep structure) o Still, social learning is crucial, but not the sole factor - Sex differences – neural systems involved in at least some aspects of language seem to be organized differently in women than in men (women tend to have less lateralization) o Men with left hemisphere damage most likely winds up having aphasia o Women with left hemisphere damage is most likely spared 8. What factors affect the learning of a second language and its effects on thinking? - Second language is learned best when you are in sensitive period - Bilingual children actually show superior cognitive processing when compared to their monolingual peers o The brain area that governs two languages appears to be common when language is learned (different areas when language is learned late) 9. Define the linguistic relativity hypothesis and evaluate its validity. How does language influence thought? - Linguistic relativity hypothesis: language not only influences, but also determines what we are capable of thinking o i.e. people reared in a culture whose language lacks a past tense, such as the Hopi Indians, would have difficulty remembering past events o but most linguists do not agree with this notion; instead, they believe that language influences how we think, not determine  i.e. students rated the attractiveness of a career in psychology when given two phrases only differing in pronoun, “he”  students (especially females) favored psychology when it was described as being a “humanly (not manly)” occupation 10. Describe three major models of though - Language also influences how well we think in certain domains - 1) Propositional thought – a mode of thought that takes the form of verbal sentences that we seem to hear in our minds - 2) Imaginal thought – consists of images that we can see, hear, or feel in our mind - 3) Motoric thought – relates to mental representations of motor movements, such as throwing an object o All these modes enter into our abilities to reason, solve problems, and engage in many forms of intelligent behavior 11. What are propositions, and how are they formed? - Propositions: statements that express facts (this is an example of thinking) o Propositions consist of concepts combined in a way 12. What are concepts, and what is the role of prototypes in concept formation? - Concepts: basic units of semantic memory - Prototypes: many concepts are defined by this; the most typical and familiar members of the class o The use of prototypes can help you form concepts because it requires only that we note similarities among objects o Since prototypes may differ due to personal experience, there is considerable room for arbitrariness and individual difference in prototypic concepts o How we state propositions about a problem or decision can influence how we try to solve the problem, reason through to a decision, or make a judgment  Thus, language is more than describing experiences; it can be used to solve problems 13. What evidence supports the position that animals can exhibit true language? What evidence is used to dispute that position? - Some researchers taught a 10-month-old chimpanzee sign languages; it learnt more than 160 signs o Replications of this experiment showed the similar results o However, one experiment suggested that some chimpanzees cannot express through sign languages (Nim produced what appeared to be sentences, but did not convey any information) 14. Distinguish between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning. Why is deductive reasoning seen as the stronger form of reasoning? - Deductive: we reason from top down; from general principles to a conclusion about a specific case (basis of math and logic) - Inductive: we reason from bottom up; starting with specific facts and trying to develop a general principle (scientists and their findings) o Deductive is seen as stronger because the conclusion cannot be false if the premises are true o Inductive leads to likelihood rather than certainty o Sometimes, scientists combine deductive and inductive reasoning to come up with valid hypotheses  They call this hypothetico-deductive approach 15. How is a combination of inductive and deductive reasoning involved in scientific activity? - Both inductive or deductive reasoning are used in problem solving o First, scientists use inductive reasoning to explain a certain behavior o Then, they use deductive reasoning to formally test if-then hypotheses to come up with conclusions 16. Summarize three factors that can interfere with the correct application of deductive reasoning. What is meant by belief bias? - 1) Distraction by irrelevant information – people often fail to solve problems because they simply don’t focus on the relevant information - 2) Failure to apply deductive rules – people sometimes fail to apply problem-solving methods in certain situations (they must know when and how to apply the knowledge) - 3) Belief bias – tendency to abandon logical rules in favor of our own personal beliefs 17. Describe the four stages of problem solving - 1) Understanding, or framing, the problem – how we mentally represent, or frame, a problem can make a huge difference in solving a problem (our initial understanding of a problem is a key step toward a successful solution) - 2) Generating potential solutions – determine which procedures and explanations will be considered; then determine which of these solutions are consistent with the evidence that has so far been observed - 3) Testing the solutions – consider the possible solutions that remain; mental set is the tendency to stick to the solutions that have worked in the past (this can result in less effective problem solving) - 4) Evaluating results – evaluate solutions (would there have been a better way to accomplish the same objective?) o This may lead to additional problem-solving principles that may be applicable to future problems 18. What are problem solving schemas? How do they relate to expertise, and to the strengths and weaknesses of human memory? - Problem solving schemas: step-by-step scripts for selecting information and solving specialized classes of problems (somewhat like shortcuts we take to solve something) o Schemas help explain what it means to be an expert o Experts have developed many schemas to guide problem solving in their field (they are much better than novices at recognizing when each schema should be applied) o Schemas reside in human long-term memory  Expertise leads to alterations in brain functioning that increase processing efficiency (also happens in animals) – refer to expert neurons  Experts have spacious long-term memory  Novices rely on working memory to solve problems; this taxes their working memories (the weakest link in the human mind) 19. Differentiate between an algorithm and a heuristic - Algorithm: formulas or procedures that automatically generate correct solutions - Heuristics: general problem-solving strategies that we apply to certain classes of situations (may or may not provide correct solutions) o Considered to be a mental shortcut - Means-ends analysis: one example of heuristic; compare present situation to desired situation o This is accompanied by subgoal analysis; building intermediate goals toward a solution 20. Describe two commonly used problem-solving heuristics - 1) Means-ends analysis: identify differences between the present situation and one’s desired state, or goal, and then make changes that will reduce these differences - 2) Subgoal analysis: intermediate steps toward a solution o Break big tasks down into subgoals o Heuristics is applicable in problem solving and judgments and decisions (this may lead to errors in judgment) 21. Describe the representativeness heuristic and indicate how it applies to people’s response to the Linda problem - Representativeness heuristic: infer how closely something or someone fits our prototype for a particular concept (how likely is it that this person represents that class?) o We often confuse representativeness with probability o We can’t assume Linda is a bank teller and a feminist; she is as likely to be a bank teller as she can be both 22. How does the av
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