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


a mental image or best example of a category. This provides a quick and easy way to categorize new stimuli


a methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem. Not as fast as the use of heuristics, but more accurate


a simple thinking strategy that often allows us to make judgments and solve problems efficiently


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

Confirmation bias

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


the inability to see a problem from a fresh perspective.

Mental set

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

Functional fixedness

a tendency to think of only the familiar functions for objects, without imagining alternative uses

Representativeness heuristic

judging the likelihood of things in terms of how well they seem to represent, or match, particular prototypes. This may lead to ignorance of other relative 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 one's initial conceptions after the basis on which they were formed has been discredited


an effortless, immediate, automatic feeling or though, as contrasted with explicit, conscious reasoning


the way an issue is presented


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


in language, the smallest distinctive sound unit. For example, chat has three - ch, a, and t.


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


a system of rules that enable us to communicate with and understand each other.


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

Receptive language

an infant's ability to comprehend speech. Begins very early and by about seven months, they can segment spoken sounds into individual words

Productive language

a baby's ability to produce words

Babbling stage

beginning at about four 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 one to two during which a child speaks mostly in single words

Two-word stage

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

Telegraphic speech

early speech stage in which a child speaks like a telegram ("go car") using mostly nouns and verbs

Skinner and Operant learning

the theory that language development comes from association (the sights of things with the sounds of words), imitation (of the words and syntax modeled by others), and reinforcement (smiles and hugs from parents when something is said correctly

Chomsky and inborn universal grammar

the theory that, given adequate nurture, language will occur naturally. This theory comes from the fact that children learn untaught words and grammar at an incredibly fast rate and they generate sentences they've never heard, some with errors like adding -ed to make things past tense


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

Broca's area

an area of the frontal lobe, usually in the left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movement involved in speech

Wernicke's area

an area usually in the left temporal lobe that is involved in language comprehension and expression

Angular gyrus

an area in the brain that receives visual information and recodes it into auditory form

Linguistic determinism

Benjamin Lee Whorf's hypothesis that language determines the way we think

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