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Psychology 102: Cognitive processes


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An overview of cognitive psychology and the study of cognition.

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Psychology 102: Cognitive processes

  1. 1. Psychology 102: Cognitive processes Dr James Neill Centre for Applied Psychology University of Canberra 2009
  2. 2. Reading Gerrig et al. (Chapter 8): Cognitive processes
  3. 3. The Brain: 1.5 kg of wet tissue
  4. 4. Cognitive Scenarios: A mysterious note At midnight, there's a knock on your door. When you answer, there is no one there, but you see an envelope on the floor. Inside the envelope is a handwritten message: “The cat is on the mat.” What do you make of this? Gerrig et al. (2008), p. 248
  5. 5. Cognitive Scenarios: Attention, Problem Solving, Memory... Kris is sitting at a desk reading some interesting papers to help with an assignment. Without removing her eyes from the paper she is reading, she reaches for a bag of sweets, unties a wrapper and pops a sweet into her mouth. Suddenly she stops and wonders: “What is happening here?” Gerrig et al. (2008), p. 248
  6. 6. <ul><li>Studying cognition
  7. 7. Language use
  8. 8. Concepts & their organisation
  9. 9. Problem solving & reasoning </li></ul>Overview
  10. 10. Studying cognition <ul><li>Cognitive science
  11. 11. Cognitive psychology
  12. 12. Cognition
  13. 13. Processes of attention </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>Framing decisions
  15. 15. Consequences of decision making </li><ul><li>Decision aversion </li></ul></ul>Decision making
  16. 16. Cognitive Science
  17. 17. Cognitive Psychology
  18. 18. <ul><li>Processes of knowing </li><ul><li>Attending,
  19. 19. Remembering
  20. 20. Reasoning </li></ul><li>Content of the processes e.g., </li><ul><li>Concepts
  21. 21. Memories </li></ul></ul>Cognition
  22. 22. <ul><li>Thinking
  23. 23. Knowing
  24. 24. Remembering
  25. 25. Communicating </li></ul>Cognition
  26. 26. <ul><li>Discovering the process of mind </li><ul><li>F.C. Donders: Reaction time </li><ul><li>The amount of time it takes experimental participants to perform particular tasks </li></ul></ul></ul>Studying cognition
  27. 27. <ul><li>Serial processes </li><ul><li>Carried out in order, one after the other </li></ul><li>Parallel processes </li><ul><li>Carried out simultaneously </li></ul></ul>Mental processes & resources
  28. 28. <ul><li>Attentional processes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Distribute the limited processing resources over different tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Controlled processes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Require attention </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Automatic processes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Do not require attention </li></ul></ul>Mental processes & resources
  29. 29. Language use <ul><li>Language production
  30. 30. Audience design
  31. 31. Speech execution & errors
  32. 32. Language understanding
  33. 33. Language & evolution
  34. 34. Linguistic relativity
  35. 35. Visual representations </li></ul>
  36. 36. What people say, sign, and write and the processes they go through to produce the message <ul><ul><li>Speakers versus listeners </li></ul></ul>Language production
  37. 37. Shaping a message depending on the audience <ul><ul><li>H. Paul Grice
  38. 38. Cooperative principle </li><ul><li>Speakers should produce utterances appropriate to the setting and meaning of the ongoing conversation </li></ul></ul></ul>Audience design
  39. 39. <ul><li>Herbert Clark </li><ul><li>Common Ground </li><ul><li>Community membership
  40. 40. Linguistic co presence
  41. 41. Physical co presence </li></ul></ul></ul>Audience design
  42. 42. <ul><li>Spoonerism </li><ul><li>“You have tasted the whole worm!”
  43. 43. “Tips of the slung” </li></ul><li>Processes
  44. 44. Representations </li></ul>Speech execution & speech errors
  45. 45. <ul><li>Resolving ambiguity </li><ul><li>Lexical ambiguity
  46. 46. Structural ambiguity </li></ul><li>Products of understanding </li><ul><li>Representations
  47. 47. Propositions </li></ul></ul>Language understanding
  48. 48. <ul><li>Fully human speech anatomy first appears in the fossil record ~50,000 years ago. </li></ul>Language & evolution <ul><li>May have evolved with walking, running, tool making, & complex group organisation. </li></ul>
  49. 49. <ul><li>Language structure </li><ul><li>Washoe & ASL
  50. 50. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh </li><ul><li>Bonobos </li></ul></ul><li>Audience design </li><ul><li>Dorothy Cheny & Robert Seyfarth </li><ul><li>Veret monkeys </li></ul></ul></ul>Cross-species comparisons <ul><li>Language structure </li><ul><li>Washoe & ASL
  51. 51. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh </li><ul><li>Bonobos </li></ul></ul><li>Audience design </li><ul><li>Dorothy Cheny & Robert Seyfarth </li><ul><li>Veret monkeys </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Language structure </li><ul><li>Washoe & ASL
  52. 52. Sue Savage-Rumbaugh </li><ul><li>Bonobos </li></ul></ul><li>Audience design </li><ul><li>Dorothy Cheny & Robert Seyfarth </li><ul><li>Veret monkeys </li></ul></ul></ul>
  53. 53. Language development <ul><li>Babbling stage : 4 months, sounds like “ah-goo”
  54. 54. One-word stage : ~1 year old.
  55. 55. Telegraphic speech : Before 2nd birthday, “want juice”
  56. 56. Complete sentences : 2+ years </li></ul>
  57. 57. Language development <ul><li>We learn language before learning numbers
  58. 58. Between 1 and 18, we learn on ~10 words/day or 3,500 per year.
  59. 59. Vocab of ~60,000 by end of high school </li></ul>Time Life Pictures/ Getty Images
  60. 60. Language development <ul><li>Operant Learning (Skinner) - language development can be explained on the basis of learning principles such as association, imitation, and reinforcement.
  61. 61. Inborn Universal Grammar (Chomsky) - the rate of language acquisition is so fast that it cannot be explained through learning principles, so most of it is inborn. </li></ul>
  62. 62. Phonemes <ul><li>The smallest, distinctive sound unit
  63. 63. bat, has three phonemes b · a · t
  64. 64. chat, has three phonemes ch · a · t </li></ul>
  65. 65. Morpheme Smallest unit of language that conveys meaning <ul><li>Bat
  66. 66. Pre
  67. 67. Un
  68. 68. Undesirables – 4 morphemes </li><ul><li>Un-desir-able-s </li></ul></ul>
  69. 69. Grammar - the rules <ul><li>Semantics – how we get meaning from the sentence, e.g., </li><ul><li>add “ed” and it happened in the past </li></ul><li>Syntax – rules for making a grammatically correct sentence </li></ul>
  70. 70. Semantics & syntax <ul><li>They are hunting dogs.
  71. 71. They are hunting dogs.
  72. 72. They are hunting dogs . </li></ul>
  73. 73. <ul><li>What are the relations between language, thought, and culture?
  74. 74. Linguistic relativity proposes that the structure of language has an impact on the way in which an individual and culture perceives, thinks, and acts in the world e.g., temporality (past, present, future), gender, taxonomies; i.e., language precedes and shapes thought </li></ul>Linguistic relativity (Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis)
  75. 75. Visual representations Perception Imagery Frontal cortex Temporal cortex Parietal Cortex Occipital cortex Perception-Imagery
  76. 76. Spatial Mental Model Combining verbal & visual representations
  77. 77. 5 minute break – have a stretch
  78. 78. Concepts & their organisation <ul><li>Concepts
  79. 79. Categories & hierarchies
  80. 80. Prototypes
  81. 81. Category boundary members </li></ul>
  82. 82. Concepts <ul><li>Group similar “things” together in our mind
  83. 83. Concept of “chair”: </li></ul>
  84. 84. Concept categories are hierarchically organised <ul><li>Hierarchies help to organise items in categories </li></ul>Animals Domesticated Wild Dogs Cats Mixed breed Pure breed Heeler x Husky “ mad dog Holly”
  85. 85. Prototypes <ul><li>Mental image or best example of a category
  86. 86. Closer something is to the prototype of a category, the easier it is to recognise as being in the category </li></ul>
  87. 87. Prototypes <ul><li>When an item is placed in a category, our memory of it later shifts towards the category prototype! </li></ul><ul><li>Categories can have blurry boundaries </li></ul>
  88. 88. Category boundary members <ul><li>Give your neighbour the name of an object that you think is very unrepresentative of its category.
  89. 89. Can your neighbour guess the category you are thinking of? </li></ul>
  90. 90. Problem solving & reasoning <ul><li>Problem solving methods
  91. 91. Obstacles to problem solving
  92. 92. Reasoning </li><ul><li>Deductive
  93. 93. Inductive </li></ul><li>Judging and deciding </li></ul>
  94. 94. <ul><li>Thinking that is directed toward solving specific problems
  95. 95. Moves from initial state to a goal </li></ul>Problem solving
  96. 96. Problem solving
  97. 97. <ul><li>Problem space </li><ul><li>Initial state
  98. 98. Goal state
  99. 99. Set of operations </li></ul><li>Well-defined problem
  100. 100. Ill-defined problem </li></ul>Problem solving
  101. 101. Problem solving: Trial & error <ul><li>Just keep going until you get it right!
  102. 102. Can be inefficient – and no guarantee it will work, but some element of trial and error persistence is often key to solving problems. </li></ul>
  103. 103. Problem solving: Algorithms <ul><li>Step-by-step procedures that always provides the right answer
  104. 104. Follow a series of pre-defined steps guaranteed to work </li></ul>
  105. 105. Problem solving: Heuristics <ul><li>Cognitive strategies / Mental shortcuts (“rules of thumb”)
  106. 106. Shortcuts to solving complex inferential tasks
  107. 107. May or may not provide the right solution </li></ul>
  108. 108. <ul><li>Availability heuristic : Judgment based on information readily available in memory
  109. 109. Representative heuristic : Assigns an object to a category on the basis of a few characteristics
  110. 110. Anchoring heuristic : Insufficient adjustment up or down from an original starting value when judging the probable value of an outcome </li></ul>Problem solving: Heuristics
  111. 111. Problem solving: Insight <ul><li>Insight – a flash of inspiration! </li></ul>
  112. 112. Problem solving <ul><li>Think-aloud protocols </li><ul><li>Verbalising ongoing thoughts while working on a task </li></ul><li>Functional fixedness </li><ul><li>The inability to perceive a new use for an object previously associated with some other purpose </li></ul></ul>
  113. 113. Obstacles to problem solving <ul><li>Confirmation bias – eagerness to search for ideas that confirm what we think
  114. 114. Fixation – inability to see a problem from a different perspective </li></ul>
  115. 115. Obstacles to problem solving <ul><li>Functional fixedness – think only of what an item is usually used for
  116. 116. Mental set – use the mindset that has worked before </li></ul>
  117. 117. Reasoning <ul><li>Process of thinking in which conclusions are drawn from a set of facts </li><ul><li>Directed toward a given goal </li></ul></ul>
  118. 118. Deductive reasoning <ul><li>Drawing conclusions by logically following two or more statements </li></ul>1. All men are mortal 2. Socrates is a man 3. (Therefore,) Socrates is mortal
  119. 119. Belief bias <ul><li>Prior knowledge, attitudes, or values distort (pre-existing beliefs) can distort logical reasoning and lead to invalid conclusions </li></ul>
  120. 120. Belief bias: Examples <ul><li>Students like to drink
  121. 121. Lecturers are not students
  122. 122. Lecturers do not like to drink </li></ul><ul><li>Lecturers like to study
  123. 123. Students are not lecturers
  124. 124. Students do not like to study </li></ul>
  125. 125. <ul><li>Goes beyond the confines of current evidence; makes conclusions about the unknown based on probability estimates derived from available evidence and past experience.
  126. 126. e.g., All parties I ever been to are boring, therefore Jim's upcoming party will be boring too. </li></ul>Inductive reasoning
  127. 127. <ul><li>We make numerous judgments and decisions based on our intuition, seldom using systematic thinking.
  128. 128. Judgment : Forming opinions, reaching conclusions, and making critical evaluations
  129. 129. Decision making : Choosing between alternatives </li></ul>Judging & deciding
  130. 130. Judging & deciding: Heuristics <ul><li>Representative heuristic – judge the likelihood of something in terms of how well it matches our prototype
  131. 131. Availability heuristic – we base our judgements on how available the information is to us mentally. </li></ul>
  132. 132. Overconfidence <ul><li>Tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our beliefs and judgements
  133. 133. e.g., on the stock market, both the seller and the buyer may be confident about their decisions on a stock. </li></ul>
  134. 134. Exaggerated fear <ul><li>Opposite of overconfidence: exaggerated fear about what might happen
  135. 135. The 9/11 attacks saw a decline in air travel due to fear </li></ul>AP/ Wide World Photos
  136. 136. Framing decisions How information is presented affects decisions and judgements, e.g., <ul><li>Which is most fear-inducing? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>A disease will kill 1 person per million.
  137. 137. The fatality risk is .000001% </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What's a better way to market beef? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>25% fat
  138. 138. 75% lean </li></ul></ul>
  139. 139. Belief perseverance <ul><li>Clinging to initial conceptions after the information on which they were based has been discredited.
  140. 140. If you see that a country is hostile, you are likely to interpret their ambiguous actions as a sign of hostility (Jervis, 1985). </li></ul>
  141. 141. Review questions
  142. 142. What is cognition? The process and content of “knowing”, including thinking, remembering, and communicating.
  143. 143. How do we mentally organise information? <ul><li>We mentally organise information using concepts which are stored in hierarchically organised categories. </li></ul>
  144. 144. What are the components of language? <ul><li>Language is made up of phonemes, morphemes, syntax and semantics </li></ul>
  145. 145. What are 4 techniques we use for problem solving? <ul><li>We use trial-and-error, algorithms, heuristics and insight to solve problems </li></ul>
  146. 146. What are the obstacles to problem solving? <ul><li>Our problem solving is impaired by the confirmation bias, fixation, functional fixedness, and mental set. </li></ul>
  147. 147. What errors do we make in judgment and decision making due to cognitive bias? <ul><li>Our judgment and decision making is affected by heuristics, overconfidence, exaggerated fear, and belief perseverance. </li></ul>
  148. 148. Next week <ul><li>Lecture – No lecture
  149. 149. Tutorials – No tutorials </li></ul><ul><li>Essay – Time to get going! </li></ul>
  150. 150. <ul><li>Gerrig, R. J., Zimbardo, P. G., Campbell, A. J., Cumming, S. R., & Wilkes, F. J. (2008). Psychology and life (Australian edition). Sydney: Pearson Education Australia.
  151. 151. Jervis, R. (1985, April 2). Quoted in D. Goleman, Political forces come under new scrutiny of psychology. The New York Times , pp. C1, C4. (p. 396)
  152. 152. Lieberman, P. (2007). The evolution of human speech: Its anatomical and neural bases. Current Anthropology , 48 (1), 39-66. </li></ul>References