Psychology 102: Cognitive processes


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An overview of cognitive psychology and the study of cognition.

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  • Image source; Remix of,_G_Reisch.png (public domain) and (GFDL by ) by James Neill Acknowledgements: This lecture is based on 2008 lecture notes by Dr, Thea Vanags and the instructor slides and material provided by Pearson Education for Chapter 15 from Gerrig et al. (2008) Psychology and life (Australian edition).
  • Image source: Cover of Gerrig et al. (2008)
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: License: Public domain Image source: License: CC-BY-A 2.5 Author:
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: Unkown
  • Image source: Gerrig et al. (2008)
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: Gerrig et al. (2008)
  • Fully human speech anatomy first appears in the fossil record in the Upper Paleolithic (about 50,000 years ago) and is absent in both Neanderthals and earlier humans (Lieberman, 2007). Image description: Woman in museum, USA License: Unknown
  • Image source: Gerrig et al. (2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008) Unfamiliar language – all the syllables run together Infants can detect word breaks at 8 months old
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Gerrig et al. (2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Iimage source (left): Public domain Image source (right): Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: License: Public domain
  • Image source: License: Unknown
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: License: CC-by-A 2.0 Germany Author: &amp;quot;Alnatura&amp;quot; Availability heuristic: A person begins with a first approximation (anchor) and then makes adjustments to that number based on additional information. The availability heuristic is a phenomenon (which can result in a cognitive bias) in which people predict the frequency of an event, or a proportion within a population, based on how easily an example can be brought to mind.
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • Image source: Image source: Unknown (Vanags, 2008)
  • 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