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Chapter 9

Chapter 9 detailed notes- Thinking and Intelligence.docx

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Eileen Wood

Chapter 9: Thinking and Intelligence Though: Using What We Know Some cognitive psychologists see the mind as an information processor – the brain does not passively record info, but actively alters and organizes it. When we take action, we physically manipulate the environment; when we think, we mentally manipulate internal representations of objects, activities and situations The Elements of Cognition Concept: a mental category that groups objects, relations, activities, abstractions or qualities having common properties  Concepts simplify and summarize info about the world so that it is manageable and we can make decisions quickly & efficiently Basic concepts: concepts that have a moderate number of instances and that are easier to acquire than those having few or many instances (e.g. apple vs. fruit – more basic vs. more abstract) Prototype: an especially representative example of a concept – when we need to decide whether something belongs to a concept, we are likely to compare it to a prototype Benjamin Lee Whorf’s theory: words used to express concepts may influence or shape how we think about them; language moulds cognition and perception; grammar and the tenses in which we speak affects how we think about the world  e.g. feminine word in French is described as elegant, soft but the same word in Spanish is describe as strong, sturdy Proposition: a unit of meaning that is made up of concepts and expresses a unitary idea – represents their relation to each other Cognitive schema: an integrated mental network of knowledge, beliefs, and expectations concerning a particular topic or aspect of the world (e.g. gender schemas) Mental images: a mental representation that mirrors or resembles the thing it represents; mental images occur in many and perhaps all sensory modalities; they are the construction of cognitive schemas  Can also happen with hearing a song or slogan [in your mind’s ear] Concepts  propositions  cognitive schemas  mental images How Conscious is thought?  Solving a problem, drawing up plans, making calculated decisions: done consciously SUBCONSCIOUS THINKING Subconscious processes: mental processes occurring outside of conscious awareness but accessible to consciousness when necessary  Allow us to handle more info and perform more complex tasks than if we depended entirely on conscious & deliberate thought (e.g. driving, decoding letters to make a word becomes automatic)  Multitasking is usually inefficient: toggling between 2+ tasks increases the time required to complete them, stress increases, errors increase, reaction times lengthen and memory suffers  When you do two things at once, brain activity devoted to each task decreases – while switching between tasks, prefrontal cortex [which prioritizes and enables higher-order thinking] becomes relatively inactive NONCONSCIOUS THINKING Nonconscious processes: mental processes occurring outside of and not available to conscious awareness – remains outside of consciousness (e.g. seeing a puzzle, not knowing how to solve it and hours later you have a revelation on how to do it)  Insight & intuition involve several stages of mental processing o Clues in the problem automatically activate certain memories or knowledge; begin to see a pattern, although you cannot yet say what it is o Eventually your thinking becomes conscious and you become aware of a probable solution  feels like a sudden revelation pops into your mind from nowhere Implicit learning: learning that occurs when you acquire knowledge about something without being aware of how you did so and without being able to state exactly what it is you have learned MINDLESSNESS  Mental inflexibility, inertia and obliviousness to the present context (e.g. acting, speaking, and making decisions out of habit without stopping to analyze what we are doing and why)  Keeps us from recognizing when a change in a situation requires a change in behaviour  Jerome Kagan argued that fully conscious awareness is needed only when we must make a deliberate choice, when events happen that cannot be handld automatically and when unexpected moods and feelings arise Reasoning Rationally Reasoning: the drawing of conclusions or inferences from observations, facts or assumptions; a purposeful mental activity that involves operating on information in order to reach conclusions Formal Reasoning: Algorithms and Logic Formal reasoning problems: the info needed for drawing a conclusion is specified clearly, and there is a single right answer Algorithm: a problem-solving strategy guaranteed to produce a solution even if the user does not know how it works Deductive reasoning: a form of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from certain premises; if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true  Premise true + premise true = conclusion must be true  I have no work Saturday + today is Saturday = I have no work today Inductive reasoning: a form of reasoning in which the premises provide support for a conclusion, but it is still possible for the conclusion to be false  Premise true + premise true + possibility of discrepant info = conclusion probable true  People often think it is generalizing from specific observations in past experience, but premises can also be general, and can also have specific conclusions Informal Reasoning: Heuristics and Dialectal Thinking Heuristic: a rule of thumb that suggests a course of action or guides problem-solving but does not guarantee an optimal solution  Used when someone is faced with incomplete information on which to base a decision and may therefore need to resort to rules of thumb that have been proven effective in the past Dialectal reasoning: a process in which opposing facts or ideas are weighed and compared, with a view to determining the best solution or resolving differences  What a jury has to do to arrive at a verdict  consider arguments for and against the defendant’s guilt, point and counterpoint Reflective Judgment AKA Critical Thinking  7 cognitive stages on the road to reflective judgment – at each stage, people make different assumptions about how things are known and use different ways of justifying or defending their beliefs: o 2 Pre-reflective stages: tend to assume that a correct answer always exists and that it can be obtained directly trough the senses “I know what I’ve seen” or through authorities “They said so on the news” – people do not distinguish between knowledge and belief or between belief or evidence & see no reason to justify a belief o 3 Quasi-reflective stages: people recognize that some things cannot be known with absolute certainty and they realize that judgments should be supported by reasons, yet they pay attention only to evidence that fits what they already believe – they will defend a position saying “We all have a right to our own opinion” o 2 Reflective stages: people at the reflective stages are willing to consider evidence from a variety or sources and to reason dialectically  A person’s reasoning can vary across two or three adjacent stages depending on the problem or issue  Gradual development of thinking skills amount uni students represents an abandonment of “ignorant certainty” in favour or “intelligent confusion”. Barriers to Reasoning Rationally Exaggerating the Improbable (and Minimizing the Probable)  Inclination to exaggerate the probability of rare events (e.g. lotteries & disaster insurance) but to not be alarmed by serious future events such as global warming Affect heuristic: the tendency to consult one’s emotions (affect) instead of estimating probabilities objectively  Emotions can often help us make decisions by narrowing our options or allowing us to act quickly in times of danger but they can also mislead us by preventing us from accurately assessing risk  E.g. mad cow diseases  makes us act emotionally to the name, whereas the scientific name makes us think more objectively Availability heuristic: the tendency to judge the probability of a type of event by how easy it is to think of examples or instances  E.g. tornadoes kill people, but a fraction of the number that asthma kills  Catastrophes and shocking accidents evoke a strong emotional reaction in us & stand out in our minds Avoiding Loss  In general, people try to avoid or minimize risks and losses when they make decisions Framing effect: the tendency for people’s choices to be affected by how a choice is presented, or framed; for example, whether it is worded in terms of potential losses or gains  E.g. a condom that has a 95% success rate is seen as more effective than one with a 5% failure rate  People will take a risk if they se it as a way to avoid loss The Fairness Bias  A sense of fairness often takes precedence over rational self-interest when people make economic choices  The desire for fair play sometimes outweighs the desire for economic gain  The ultimatum Game: your partner gets $20 and must decided how much to share with you – you either accept the offer and you each get something, or you reject the offer & nobody gets anything o People will reject the offer once it gets below 20-30%  MRI scans show that the brain toggles between “yes money is good” and “ugh this guy is treating me like crap” or the prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula The Hindsight Bias The hindsight bias: the tendency to overestimate one’s ability to have predicted an event once the outcome is known; the “I knew it all along!” phenomenon  Shows up in evaluating relationships, medical judgments and military opinions  Hindsight biases represent the dark side of successful learning and judgment – when we are sure that we knew something all along, we are also less willing to find out what we need to know in order to make accurate predictions in the future “I should’ve known it was a tumor!”  Can be adaptive: when we try to make sense of the past, we focus on explaining jut one outcome, the one that actually occurred, because explaining those that did not occur is a waste of time The Confirmation Bias Confirmation bias: the tendency to look for or pay attention to only information that confirms one’s own belief & to find fault in that which points in a different direction Mental Sets Mental set: a tendency to solve problems using the same heuristics, strategies and rules that worked before on similar problems  Makes human learning and problem solving efficient  General mental set is to find patterns in events – it is adaptive because it helps us understand and exert some control over what happens in our lives but also makes us see meaningless patterns The Need for Cognitive Consistency  Mental sets and confirmation bias cause us to avoid evidence that contradict our beliefs, but what happens when the disconfirming evidence finally SMACKS us in the face? Cognitive dissonance: a state of tension that occurs when a person holds two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent, or when a person’s belief is incongruent with his or her behaviour
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