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all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating


a mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, or people


a mental image or best example of a category. provides a quick and easy method for sorting items into categories


a methodical, logical rule of procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem; contrast with the usual speedier --but also more error prone - use of heuristics


a simple thinking strategy that often allows us to make judgments and solve problems efficiently: usually speedier but more error prone than algorithms ("rule of thumb")


a sudden, often novel realization of a solution to a problem; it contrasts with a strategy-based solution

confirmation bias

a tendancy to search for information that supports our preconceptions and to ignore or distort contradictory evidence


the inability to see a problem from a new perspective, by employing a different mental set

mental set

a tendency to approach a problem in one particular way, often a way that has been successful in the past

functional fixedness

the tendency to think of things only in terms of their usual function; the impediment to problem-solving

representative heuristic

judging the likelihood of things in terms of how well they seem to represent, or match, particular prototypes; may lead us to ignore other relevant information

availability heuristic

estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory; if instances come readily to mind (perhaps because of their vividness), we presume such events are common


the tendency to be more confident than correct - to overestimate the accuracy of our beliefs and judgments

belief perseverance

clinging to ones initial conceptions after the basis on which they were formed has been discredited


the way an issue is posed; how an issue is framed can significantly affect decisions and judgments


our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning


in language, the smallest distinctive sound unit


in a language, the smallest unit that carries meaning; may be a word, or part of a word (such as a prefix)


in a language, a system of rules that enable us to communicate with and understand others


the set of rules by which we derive meaning from morphemes, words, and sentences in a given language; also, the study of meaning


the rules for combining words into grammatically sensible sentences in a given language

babbling stage

beginning at about 4 months, the stage of speech development in which the infant spontaneously utters various sounds at first unrelated to the household language

one-word stage

the stage in speech development, from about age 1-2, during which a child speaks mostly in single words

two-word stage

beginning at about age 2, the stage in speech development during which a child speaks mostly two word statements


impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage, either to Broca's area (impairing speech) or to Wernicke's area (impairing understanding)

Broca's area

controls language experssion - an area of the frontal lobe, usually in left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movements involved in speech

Wernicke's area

controls language reception - a brain area involved in language comprehension and expression; usually in the left temporal lobe

linguistic determinism

Whorf's hypothesis that language determines the way we think

analogical representation

A mental representation that has some of the physical characteristics of an object; it is analogous to the object.

belief bias

the tendency for one's preexisting beliefs to distort logical reasoning, sometimes by making invalid conclusions seem valid, or valid conclusions seem invalid

Noam Chomsky

"father of language research" - humans have a universal grammar device that predisposes us to learn language. [deep structure = true meaning, surface structure = grammar of learned language]

cognitive dissonance

The theory that we act to reduce the discomfort we feel when two of our thoughts are inconsistent. For example, when our awareness of our attitudes and our actions clash, we can reduce the resulting dissonance by changing our attitudes.


the ability to produce novel and valuable ideas

critical periods

times during which certain environmental influences can have an impact on the development of the infant

deductive reasoning

reasoning in which a conclusion is reached by stating a general principle and then applying that principle to a specific case (The sun rises every morning; therefore, the sun will rise on Tuesday morning.)

defining attribute model

The idea that a concept is characterized by a list of features that are necessary to determine if an object is a member of the category.

inductive reasoning

deriving general principles from particular facts or instances ("Every cat I have ever seen has four legs; cats are four-legged animals").

linguistic relativism

The worldview of a culture is shaped and reflected by the language its members speak.


a new way of thinking about a problem that aids its solution

stereotype threat

the apprehension experienced by members of a group that their behavior might confirm a cultural stereotype

symbolic representation

an abstract mental representation that does not correspond to the physical features of an object or idea

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