Thinking, Language, & Intelligence


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  • We humans are a funny species. As a civilization, we have invented the wheel, kept historical records to guide present and future generations, landed space ships on the moon, unlocked the atom, cracked the genetic code, and revolutionized the face of all we do with computers that bring us into the global Internet. When you stop to think about it, our list of triumphs is long and very impressive. Yet at the same time, we massacre each other in war, wreak havoc on the environment, discriminate against racial and ethnic groups different from our own, mistreat our partners in marriage, throw hard-earned money away in games of chance, take drugs that make us sick, and deceive ourselves into believing in alien abductions. What is it about the way we humans think that lead us to be both rational and irrational? How do we solve difficult problems and then evaluate the solutions, and what kinds of errors are we prone to make along the way? Are we logical in our reasoning, or are the judgments and decisions we make infected with bias? And what role does language have to play in the way we think? What is language and is it this capacity that most clearly separates humans from other animal species? In the coming days, we will examine some of the basic processes of thought and language, then address the question of how they are related. But first, let’s examine concepts – the basic building blocks of abstract thought and language.
  • Thinking, Language, & Intelligence

    1. 1. Thinking, Language, & Intelligence “ The best way to have a good idea is to have lots of ideas.” Lines Pauling
    2. 2. Thinking <ul><li>What is it? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Manipulation of words & images </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cognitive psychology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Studies how the mind </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Organizes perceptions </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Processes information </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interprets experience </li></ul></ul></ul>
    3. 3. Concept Formation <ul><li>Concept </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A mental grouping of persons, places, ideas, events, or objects that share common properties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Priming </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>When one concept is ‘activated’, others nearby in the network are primed </li></ul></ul></ul>
    4. 4. Concept Formation <ul><li>Prototype </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Best representative of a concept </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ex: Sport </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Football </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Basketball </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Golf </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chess </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>NASCAR </li></ul></ul></ul>
    5. 5. Problem Solving Strategies <ul><li>Trial & error </li></ul>
    6. 6. Problem Solving – Trial & Error <ul><li>Identify problem </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Car won’t start </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Gather information </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Outta gas? Dead battery? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Try a solution </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Not outta gas, so I’ll dry off the wires </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Evaluate results </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Car starts - yeah! </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Car doesn’t start - try another solution </li></ul></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Problem Solving Strategies <ul><li>Trial & error </li></ul><ul><li>Algorithm </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A systematic, step-by-step problem-solving strategy, guaranteed to provide a solution </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Heuristic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A rule of thumb that allows one to make judgments that are quick but often in error </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>L K C C O </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Insight </li></ul>
    8. 8. Water Problem
    9. 9. Problems with Problem Solving <ul><li>Mental set </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The tendency to use a strategy that has worked in the past </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Functional Fixedness </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A tendency to think of objects only in terms of their usual functions, a limitation that disrupts problem solving </li></ul></ul>
    10. 10. Problems with Problem Solving <ul><li>Confirmation Bias </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The inclination to search only for evidence that will verify one’s beliefs </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Belief Perseverance </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The tendency to cling to beliefs even after they have been discredited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Anderson (1980) </li></ul></ul>
    11. 11. Decision Making <ul><li>Try to make best choice from alternatives </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Utility: value of given outcome </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Probability: likelihood you’ll achieve it </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Representativeness Heuristic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A tendency to estimate the likelihood of an event in terms of how typical (how similar to the prototype) it seems </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Availability Heuristic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A tendency to estimate the </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>likelihood of an event in terms of </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>how easily instances of it can be </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>recalled </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Language <ul><li>Formal system of communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Spoken,written, and/or gestures </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Between 5,000 and 6,000 languages, worldwide </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most languages also have many dialects </li></ul></ul>
    13. 13. Properties of Language <ul><li>Semantic </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are separate units in a language and these units have meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Phoneme : basic building block of spoken language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Morpheme : smallest unit that carries meaning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Generative </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Combing language in novel ways </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Displacement </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The property of language that accounts for the capacity to communicate about matters that are not in the here-and-now </li></ul></ul>
    14. 14. Structure of Language <ul><li>Grammar </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The rules of a language </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Syntax </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Specifies how words can be arranged </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Semantics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Specifies how meaning is </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>understood & communicated </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Transformational grammar </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Any one thought can be expressed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>in different ways </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Language Acquisition <ul><li>Birth </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cooing, crying, gurgling </li></ul></ul><ul><li>4-6 months </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Babbling </li></ul></ul><ul><li>12 months </li></ul><ul><ul><li>First words </li></ul></ul><ul><li>2 yrs & up </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Telegraphic speech </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Overextension </li></ul></ul>
    16. 16. Language Acquisition <ul><li>No one disputes the stages of language development </li></ul><ul><li>But there are two main questions in terms of what it all means </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is language acquisition a product of nature or nurture? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Which comes first – language or thought? </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. …the answers… <ul><li>Is it nature or nurture? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Skinner vs. Chomsky </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Skinner: Children learn language the way animals learn mazes </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Chomsky: The brain is hard-wired for learning lang. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Critical period </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>During the first few years of life, we are most receptive to language learning </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>What comes first – thought or language? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Both: sometimes children use words to communicate what they already know and sometimes they form concepts to fit the words they hear </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Linguistic Relativity <ul><li>Hyde, 1984 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wudgemaker story: “he” “she” “he or she” “they” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Males equally good regardless </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Females better in “she” stories, worse in “he” version </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The hypothesis that language determines, or at least influences, the way we think </li></ul>Eyeglasses Dumbbell
    19. 19. Intelligence …the test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function… F. Scott Fitzgerald
    20. 20. Intelligence <ul><li>What is intelligence? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The capacity to learn from experience and adapt successfully to one’s environment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reflects how well we function </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Francis Galton </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Believed that intelligence was inherited </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Based intelligence on: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Muscular strength </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Size of your head </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Speed at reacting to signals </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Your ability to detect slight differences </li></ul></ul></ul>
    21. 21. Binet-Simon & Stanford-Binet Scales <ul><li>Binet-Simon scale (1905) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Assigned mental age based on # items correct </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Stanford-Binet </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lewis Terman at Stanford (1916) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Added items suitable to adults </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Converted scale to a single score </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IQ = mental age x 100 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> chronological age </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This doesn’t work for adults & was adjusted </li></ul></ul></ul>
    22. 22. The Wechsler Scales <ul><li>David Weschler </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Intelligence is </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The global capacity to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IQ ratio breaks down as we get older </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Deviation IQ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Compares scores to the mean of peer group </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>WAIS </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Measures intelligence for late adolescence through adulthood </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two parts: verbal & performance subtests </li></ul></ul>
    23. 23. Issues to Consider in IQ Testing <ul><li>Standardization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The procedure by which existing norms are used to interpret an individual’s test score </li></ul></ul>
    24. 24. Distribution of IQ scores 100 115 85 130 70 68% 95% Mental Retardation Mentally Gifted
    25. 25. Issues to Consider in IQ Testing <ul><li>Standardization </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The procedure by which existing norms are used to interpret an individual’s test score </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Reliability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Degree to which test gives consistent results </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Validity </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Does the test measure what it </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>claims to measure </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Factor Theories of Intelligence <ul><li>Spearman’s G factor (1904) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Proposed that general intelligence (g) underlies all mental abilities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Factor analysis </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>A statistical technique used to identify clusters of test items that correlate with another </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Thurstone’s Primary Mental Abilities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>7 factors which correlate but not enough to represent 1 underlying factor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Verbal comprehension, word fluency, number facility (math), associative memory, perceptual speed for stimulus recognition, reasoning, and spatial visualization </li></ul></ul></ul>
    27. 27. Factor Theories of Intelligence <ul><li>Triarchic theory of intelligence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Robert Sternberg </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Analytical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The mental steps of ‘components’ used to solve problems </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>This is what traditional IQ tests assess </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Creative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intellectual and motivational processes that lead to novel solutions, ideas, artistic forms, or products </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Practical </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>The ability to size up new situations and adapt to real-life demands </li></ul></ul></ul>
    28. 28. Gardner’s ‘Frames of Mind’ <ul><li>Multiple intelligences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>There are seven types of intelligence </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Linguistic: verbal aptitude </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Logical-mathematical: mathematical aptitude </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Spatial: ability to visualize objects </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Musical: ability to appreciate the tonal qualities of sound, compose, and play </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Bodily-kinesthetic: ability to control movement </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Interpersonal: ability to understand people </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Intrapersonal: ability to understand oneself </li></ul></ul></ul>
    29. 29. The Nature & Nurture Debate <ul><li>Nature’s influence on IQ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Identical twins reared together are more similar than fraternal twins reared together </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Siblings who grow up together are more similar than unrelated individuals who grow up in the same house </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Children are more similar to their biological parents than to adoptive parents </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Nurture’s influence on IQ </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Prenatal care, exposure to alcohol and other toxins, birth complications, malnutrition in the first few months of life, intellectual stimulation at home, stress, high-quality education, the amount of time spent in school </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Head Start programs (and those like it) </li></ul></ul>
    30. 30. Extremes in Intelligence <ul><li>Mental retardation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IQ below 70 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Difficulties with: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Self-care </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>School / work </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Social relationships </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Four categories </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Mild, Moderate, Severe, Profound </li></ul></ul></ul>
    31. 31. Causes of Mental Retardation <ul><li>Cultural-familial </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Inadequate mental stimulation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Poor diet, little or no medical care </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Genetic defects </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Down syndrome </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Brain damage </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Fetal alcohol syndrome </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Hypoxia </li></ul></ul></ul>
    32. 32. Mental Giftedness <ul><li>IQ above 130 </li></ul><ul><li>MENSA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Limits membership to top 2% of population </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Sidis Fallacy </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Contrary to popular belief, geniuses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>don’t tend to “burn out” at early age </li></ul></ul>