• ‘Thinking consists of the cognitive rearrangement or manipulations
of both information from the environment and the symbols stored in
• A symbol represents some event or item in the world: Images and
language are types of symbols
• AUTISTIC thinking: some thinking is highly private and may use
symbols with very personal meanings, e.g Dreams
• DIRECTED thinking: some thinking is aimed at solving problems or
creating something new.
• From another view point “thinking is the form of cognitive processes
that mediate , or go between, stimuli and response” e.g, you are
planning for buying new car, sales person suggests several cars to
you (stimuli), ultimately you purchase one of them (response).
The Thinking Process
• Words, language and images are the symbols that we use in
• Availability of language symbols, is what makes human thinking so
much more sophisticated than the thinking of other animals.
• IMAGES AND THINKING: some people use images in their thinking
• Example: imagine that you standing on a certain street corner, in a
section of a city, you know well. How would you walk or drive from
this point to some other part of the city- we usually make a visual
• LANGUAGE AND THINKING: for many people, much of the time, a
good deal of thinking involves use of word symbols and the rules of
grammar to join the words into phrases and sentences.
• These symbols and rules are stored in our semantic LTMs.
• A concept is a ‘symbolic construction that represents some common
and general feature or features of many objects or events’.
• The human ability to form concepts enables us to classify things into
categories. With the concept of red we can sort objects into ‘red’ and
• The feature we select define the concept and form the basis for
• Concepts are tools of thinking about the world & in solving the
How concepts are acquired?
II. Discrimination learning
III. By Definition
o Acquired easily
o Appear in thinking very early in life, and to some extent affect the way, brain
processes and sorts information
o Example: division of the colors of the spectrum into the categories: red, blue, green.
Other examples are chair, fruit, tree
II. Discrimination learning:
o Acquired slowly and with more effort
o Occurs when some responses are rewarded or reinforced and other responses are
o Example: concept of ‘apple’- child learns it by saying it and pointing at it and reward
is that mother says hat it is ‘right’.
III. By Definition:
o Many concepts acquired in the later stages of a person’s education are learned in
o Helps us acquire concepts by describing them in terms of other words or concepts
with which we are already familiar.
What is a Problem?
o It is any conflict or difference between one situation and
another situation we wish to produce-our goal.
o Thinking that we do in problem solving is goal directed
and motivated by the need to reduce the discrepancy
between one state of affairs and another.
o In trying to reach goal of problem solution, we use
information available from LTM.
o We process the information according the rules that tells
us what we can and cannot do.
Rules in Problem Solving: rules used in problem solving concern the
changes that are permissible in going from one situation to another.
1. ALGORITHM: is a set of rules which, if followed correctly, will
guarantee a solution to a problem.
Example: two numbers multiplication, you immediately starts
thinking all the rules for multiplication you have learned, and you
apply these algorithms to the problem.
2. HEURISTICS: are strategies, usually based on our past experience
with problems, that are likely to lead to a solution but do not
One common strategy, or heuristic is to break the problem down into
smaller sub-problems, each a little closer to the end goal.
MEANS END ANALYSIS: each step leads closer to the desired
Habits and set in Problem Solving: practice in solving problems in a
particular way tends to give people a set to use the same rules on other
Example: the joker spells words and asks another person to pronounce
them. He uses names beginning with Mac, like MacDonald, MacTavish;
then the word Machinery is spelled to see if the person pronounces it
‘MacHinery’. So with the set for names, person often falls into the trap.
SET may be induced by 1) immediately preceding experiences, 2) by long
established practices, 3) by instructions that revive old habits.
It biases thinkers
Directs them away from certain thoughts and towards others
It acts as an implied assumption
It can be either positive and negative in its effects
A particular form of set that can point thoughts in the wrong direction has
been called FUNCTIONAL FIXEDNESS. It is a set to use objects in the way
we are accustomed to using them, even if a different use might solve the
• Is a kind of problem solving in which we are presented
with several alternatives, among which we must choose.
• Example: why does person decides to buy one car and
• Why does an investor buy one stock and not another?
• In deciding this they are trying to make optimum
• They optimize utility: perceived benefit or psychological
value, in making their decisions. Example, poor and rich
persons, choices 10 euros now and 100 euros with wait
of one year.
• Utiliy of 10 euros is different for the two people
• Subjective Probabilities: most decisions are risky in the sense that we
cannot be sure of the outcome. Example, tossed coin-heads/tails-50/50
• But for some complex real life situations, we don’t know about precise
likelihood of various outcomes.
• But we can only make our own estimates of the probabilities.
• Such guessed at, or perceived , probability estimates are known as
• Subjective expected utility: given a choice among alternatives, we take utility
and Subjective Probabilities in to account, multiply them together and take
the alternative with highest product.
• People usually make decisions that will maximize Subjective expected
• This model of utility and subjective probabilities has had some success in
predicting decisions in-simple situations
• But in real life situations, people seem to use other ways of making
decisions, like heuristics in deciding among alternatives.
• Heuristics and Biases in Decision making: heuristics can be used for
estimating subjective probability of outcomes, but it can also lead to biases
• Heuristic decision making rules are:
1. Representativeness: in this we first decide whether the current situation is
similar to one we have encountered before and then we act accordingly.
In other words , whether the current situation is a representation of
something we have already experienced.
This method can work sometimes, but it may result in our being misled by
It may be possible that, the original situation which serves as our basis for
comparison, may not be representative of true state of affairs.
II. Availability: some events are easier to remember or imagine
because they are frequently occurring, and also the easily
remembered events are likely to be more frequent than others.
• Thus the ease with which we remember certain things help us in
making subjective probability estimates.
• It can be useful, but neglecting events that are harder to remember
can also lead to misjudgment about the likelihood of certain
III. Adjustment: we start with some subjective probability and raise or
lower it depending on the circumstances. When we make this
adjustment, outcome depends upon the starting point.
• If we start with high estimate, even if we adjust it downward out
probability estimate will be higher than if we started with low
• It is like if the initial level provided an ‘Anchor’ that biased our
estimate, and therefore this biasing effect is often called anchoring
• WEIGHING ALTERNATIVES: the decision maker can assess the utility of
each attribute, multiplying by the weight to give an overall value for that
attribute. Finally the overall score can be summed to give a single weighted
utility for each alternative
• Attribute’s utility × weight = value of attribute
attribute weight Perceived utility for three
(weight × utility)
Morgan King Sam Morgan King Sam
Cost 1 3 2 1 3 2 1
Previous record of
2 1 2 3 2 4 5
Average run given 3 1 2 3 3 6 9
4 1 2 3 4 8 12
Condition of arm 5 1 3 2 5 15 10
Sums 17 35 38
• Thinking something ‘new’
• Trying to create ‘new’
• Product of creative thinking may be a new and unique
way of conceptualizing the world around us
• Emphasis in the creative thinking is on the word ‘NEW’
• Involves considerable amount of unconscious
rearrangement of symbols
• The sudden appearance of new idea is called ‘Insight’
Insight in Creative thinking
• The thinker at first makes little progress, but
then, perhaps triggered by a fortuitous set of
circumstances, a new idea seems to ‘bubble up’
into awareness, in a seemingly spontaneous
• Example of the role of insight in creative
thinking: King Hiero and Archemedes.
• Golden crown in a temple as a thank offering to
Stages in Creative thinking
• Graham Wallas- studied the steps involved in the
thinking of creative people
• One way of looking at creative thinking is five stages:
1. Preparation: thinker formulates the problem and collect
the facts and materials considered necessary for the
• Sometimes they cant find the solution
• Failing to solve the problem, the thinker either
deliberately or involuntarily turns away from it
Stages in Creative thinking
2. Incubation: Some of the ideas tat were interfering with the
solutions tends to fade. In addition, the creative thinker may have
experiences that provide clues to the solutions
• Unconscious thought process involved in creative thinking are also
at work during this period of incubation
3. Illumination: occurs with it ‘aha!’ insight experience; an idea for
the solution suddenly comes in to the consciousness
4. Evaluation: apparent solution is tested to see if it satisfactorily
solves the problem and sometimes thinker requires modification
5. Revision: revise everything about problem solving
• Another way of looking at creative thinking is how it differs from the
more routine kinds of thinking, we do.
Nature of Creative Thinking
• Two types of creative thinking:
1. Convergent Thinking: concerned with particular end
• Gathers information about problem and proceeds with
problem solving rules for right solution.
• Result of convergent thinking is usually a solution that
has been previously arrived at by someone else.
• It is not used in creative thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking
2. Divergent Thinking: variety of the thoughts involved
• When thinking creatively, people tend to think in a divergent
manner, thus having many varied thoughts about a problem
• Divergent thinking also includes Autistic thinking and some
• Creative thinker may use convergent thinking to gather information
and thoughts and at times person may drift into autistic thinking in
which symbols of thought have private meaning
• During the autistic thinking, some useful ideas that would have
been missed by concentrating strictly on the problem, may occur.
Characteristics of Creative thinkers
• High in intellectual ability
• Talented in some special way- in music, mathematics
• Strong motivation to work at solving a problem
• People who think creatively have some personality features in common:
I. Prefer complexity
II. Independent in their judgment
III. Self assertive and Dominant
V. Rejects suppression at impulses
• A personality dimension called ORIGENCE has been shown to related to
• A person high on this dimension ‘resists conventional approaches that have
been determined by others and would rather do his own thing, even if it is
unpopular or seems to be rebellious’.
• Language is said to be communicated when others understand the meaning
of our sentences, and we, in turn, understand theirs.
• Linguistic Competence: our knowledge of the rules governing the use of
• This knowledge is used automatically and almost effortlessly to generate
and comprehend meaningful speech.
• Linguistic Competence comprises of
I. The sounds or written elements of language and the rules for combining
them into units, such as words, that have meaning
II. Rules of combining words into meaningful sentences, knowledge of
III. Semantic memory
IV. How to use speech in order to have an intended impact
V. Rules for processing and interpreting the speech of
• LINGUISTICS: study of language as structured system
• PSYCHOLINGUISTICS: is concerned with the ways in
which people use linguistic competency to generate
and understand language
• How behavior is influenced by language
• Phones: Speech sounds, are made by adjusting the vocal cords
and moving the tongue, lips, and mouth in wonderfully precise ways
to produce vibrations in the airflow from the lungs.
• Not all the speech sounds(Phones) are important
• Only a limited number of all the possible PHONES are important to
the understanding of the speech; these are known as Phonemes
• The sounds comprising phonemes are perceived as belonging
together as a category of sounds, a phenomenon called the
categorical perception of phonemes
• Example: sound ‘k’ in cool and key- same category
‘p’ in put and phone- different category
• Syllable: is the smallest unit of the speech perception
• Evidence for syllable s perceptual units has been found in a number
• Example: syllable beginning with the sound ‘b’ and syllable ‘boog’
• Demonstrates that people perceive the whole syllable before they
perceive its separate parts
• Morphemes: are the smallest unit of meaning in speech perception
• Consider the word ‘distasteful’- morphemes are dis, taste, ful
• ‘Dis’ means negation, ‘taste’ is a meaningful word, ‘ful’ means
• Each morpheme is composed of syllable, but what makes them
morphemes is that they convey meaning.
• Words are combined by rules of grammar into ‘clauses’, and
clauses are formed into sentences.
• A clause consist of a verb and its associated nouns, adjectives and
• Clauses are ‘the major units of perceived meaning in speech’.
• When we hear a sentence with more than one clause, we tend to
isolate the clauses, analyzing the meaning of each.
Grammar and Meaning
• Grammar/syntax (meaning-joining together)
• Theory of transformational grammar:
• When a person intends to communicate a simple sentence (the
chicken crossed the road), the words are organized in what is called
the deep phrase structure (deep structure), mental representation of
what the person intends to say.
• By combining the elements according to phrase structure
grammatical rules, a sentence with meaning is generated.
• Continuing with the theory:
• It is a PROPOSITION (a combination of verbs and nouns)- that says
that a subject (chicken) does something (crosses) with respect to an
• Expressed sentence is called ‘surface structure’.
Grammar and Meaning
• Proposition can be expressed in a different way.
• Passive way: the road was crossed by the chicken.
• There are set of rules for changing the proposition into sentences
with different surface structure but the same underlying meaning.
These rules are called “TRANSFORMATION RULES’
• The surface meaning of underlying proposition can be changed by
same rules- like: the chicken did not cross the road.
• Meaning of the sentence is partly determined by grammatical
relationship and partly by transformational rules.
Meanings of words and concepts
• Study of meaning of words and concepts is called semantics
• Without meaning communication would be impossible.
approach: dictionary definition of words (not always helpful)
• Based on past learning- we have our own dictionaries of word and
concept meanings in our heads.
approach: meanings are represented in our mental dictionaries-
by in terms of ‘Family resemblance structure’ and ‘prototypes’
• Game-a prototypal game has many features
• Basketball and solitaire
• When another game name is given to us, we can say something
about that because it belongs to game family.
• Speaking to have an impact on others is known as the pragmatics of
• There are rules:
1. Context and Situation: ‘John was on time yesterday.’
• This sentence has two meaning depending on the context
• One: simple meaning
• Second: john is usually late everyday, shown by word yesterday.
• Situation: consider how your use of language changes as the
situation around you changes.
2. Status: The way language is used, often gives the listener
immediate knowledge about the social standing of the speaker
• Status has a role to play in the way we address people in english.
3. Conversation rules: rules specify the manner in which we start a
conversation, or discontinue, with another person.
• How conversation starts and stops? 6 basic ways.
1. Request for information, what time is it?
2. Request for social response. What a slow bus this is!
3. Offer of information, did you hear about the robbery last night?
4. Emotional expression, ouch! Whoopee! look at this!
5. Stereotyped statements, hello, I’m sorry, thanks a lot.
6. Substitute a statement
• A short pause usually intervene between the
end of the utterance of one person and the
beginning of speech by the other in the
• Ends: when-one signals to another that he/she
no longer wishes to continue.
• Some signals may be nonverbal like: he may
stand up, gaze out window, not paying