Myers’ EXPLORING
PSYCHOLOGY
(5th Ed)
Chapter 9
Thinking, Language, and
Intelligence
Thinking (cognition)

Thinking:

Mental activities associated with:

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
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processing
understanding
remembering
communicating
Thinking

Concepts:

mental groupings of similar objects or
ideas

examples:
truck
 dog
 sad

Concepts – formed by definition

Example: shape with 3 sides
Concepts – formed by developing
prototypes

Prototype  mental image or best example
Thinking: Solving Problems

Insight:



suddenly realize the solution to a problem
doesn’t require use of strategies
example: “getting” a joke
Thinking: Solving Problems

We also use strategies

Algorithms:
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
methodical
step-by-step
can take longer
Heuristics:

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
simpler strategies
quicker
more error-prone
Problem Solving Obstacles

Confirmation Bias

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

we tend to search for info that confirms our ideas
overlook contradictory info
example: communication with deceased
Fixation

inability to see a problem from a new perspective
The Representativeness Heuristic


judge likelihood of things by how well they
match prototypes
ignore other info
Representativeness Heuristic

A person is short, slim, and likes to read
poetry.

more likely to be a professor of classics at Ivy
League university or truck driver?
Availability Heuristic

judging likelihood of events based on how
readily they come to mind (memory)


quickly comes to mind  we assume it is
common
sometimes true, but not always

results in errors
Availability Heuristic

Does the letter k appear more often as the
first or third letter in English usage?

examples of 1st letter: knife, king, know


think of examples quickly
examples of 3rd letter: take, likelihood, ask

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harder to think of
but actually more likely
Overconfidence

tend to overestimate:

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
examples

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accuracy of our knowledge
our performance in tasks
school assignments (take longer than we expect)
can also be positive

people who have more overconfidence:

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
happier
find it easier to make decisions
seen as more credible
Framing

same information, presented differently can
lead us to feel differently

hearing that 10% die from a surgery vs. hearing
that 90% survive


risks framed with numbers cause more fear than
percentages


risk is rated as greater when we hear 10% die
10 people out of 10 million will die versus .000001 will
die
survey questions can be framed to support or
reject viewpoints
Belief Perseverance


stick with our beliefs even if they have been
discredited
example: opposing views of capital
punishment

subjects were shown mixed evidence:

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more impressed by the study that supported their beliefs
disputed the other study
Fear: Why do we fear the wrong things?


Flying versus driving
Ancestral history

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Fear what we cannot control


driving we control (flying we don’t)
Fear what is immediate


(snakes, heights)
smokers may fear flying
Fear what is most readily available in memory

dramatic tsunami (killed 300,000) vs. malaria killing similar
# of children every few months
Language

Language

spoken, written, signed words


combined to communicate meaning
1st birthday to high school graduation

we learn 60,000 words (10 per day)
Language

Babbling Stage

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beginning at 3 to 4 months
infant spontaneously utters various sounds
at first: unrelated to the household language


can’t identify language (e.g., English, Korean)
at 10 months: household language can be
identified
Language

One-Word Stage


the stage in speech development during which a
child speaks mostly in single words
from about age 1 to age 2
Language

Two-Word Stage



starts about age 2
two word statements
Telegraphic Speech

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early speech stage (age 2)
child speaks like a telegram


“go car”; “want milk”
mostly nouns and verbs
Language
Summary of Language Development
Month
(approximate)
Stage
4
Babbles many speech sounds.
10
Babbling reveals household
language.
12
One-word stage.
24
Two-word, telegraphic speech.
24+
Language develops rapidly into
complete sentences.
Language

Influences

Biological

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brains are wired to use language
Environmental

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need exposure early on
differences in environment influence language
ability
http://a.abcnews.com/Health/MindMoodNews/story?id=77337
49&page=1
Language
Percentage
correct on
grammar
test

100
90
80
70
60
50
Native 3-7
8-10 11-15 17-39
Age at arrival
Second
language
learning
gets harder
with age
Language

Linguistic determinism (1950s)
Benjamin Lee Whorf
 hypothesis that language
determines the way we think


Now:
“determines” is too strong…
 but language influences thinking

Language Influences Thinking

English –


more words for self-focused emotions (e.g.,
anger)
Japanese –

more words for interpersonal emotions
(e.g., sympathy)
Do Animals Think?


Animals (especially great apes) display
capacity for thinking
Form concepts


monkeys learn to classify cats and dogs; different
neurons respond
Display Insight



fruit and long stick placed beyond reach
chimpanzee given short stick in cage
couldn’t reach fruit, gave up, suddenly used short
stick to get long stick
Do animals exhibit language?
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They can comprehend and communicate
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Monkeys: different alarm cries depending on
predator
Whales: clicks and wails
Honeybees: dance to inform others of food source
location
Dogs: interact with us; can fetch items by name
Do animals exhibit language?

Depends on definition of language

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Previously thought that animals could not:
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ability to communicate through meaningful
symbols? yes (apes)
expression of complex grammar? no
plan, form concepts, count, use tools
show compassion
use language
Animal research has found that animals CAN
do all of these
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Psych 101 – Chapter 9 - Part 1