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Thinking (cognition)

Mental activity that goes on in the brain when a person is organizing and attempting to understand information and communicating information to others.

Mental Images

Mental representations that stand for objects or events and have a picture-like quality


ideas that represent a class or category of objects, events, or activities. Like "birds" we can think about the concept of "birds" without dealing with each and every specific bird.

Superordinate concept

the most general form of a type of concept, such as "animal" or "fruit"

basic level type

an example of a type of concept around with other similar objects are organized, such as "dog" "cat" or "pear"

subordinate concept

the most specific category of a concept, such as one's pet dog, or a pear in one's hand

formal concepts

concepts that are defined by specific rules or features

natural concepts

concepts people form as a result of their experiences in the real world

problem solving

process of cognition that occurs when a goal must be reached by thinking and behaving in certain ways

trial and error (mechanical solution)

problem-solving method in which one possible solution after another is tried until a successful one is found


a very specific, step-by-step procedure for solving a certain type of problem


an educated guess based on prior experiences that helps narrow down the possible solutions for a problem. Also known as "rule of thumb"

means-end analysis

heuristic in which the difference between the starting situation and the goal is determined and then steps are taken to reduce the difference

functional fixedness

a block to problem solving that comes from thinking about objects in terms of only their typical functions

mental set

the tendency for people to persist in using problem-solving patterns that have worked for them in the past

comfirmation bias

the tendency to search for evidence that fits one's beliefs while ignoring any evidence that does not fit those beliefs


the process of solving problems by combining ideas or behavior in new ways

convergent thinking

type of thinking in which a problem is seen as having only one answer, and all lines of thinking will eventually lead to that single answer, using previous knowledge and logic

divergent thinking

type of thinking in which a person starts from one point and comes up with many different ideas or possibilities based on that point


the ability to learn from one's experiences, acquire knowledge, and use resources effectively in adapting to new situations or solving problems

g factor

the ability to reason and solve problems, or general intelligence

s factor

the ability to excel in certain areas, or specific intelligence

triarchic theory of intelligence

Sternberg's theory that there are three kinds of intelligence: analytical, creative, and practical

analytical intelligence

the ability to break problems down into component parts, or analysis, for problem solving

creative intelligence

the ability to deal with new and different concepts and to come up with new ways of solving problems

practical intelligence

the ability to use information to get along in life and become successful


the tendency of a test to produce the same scores again and again each time it is given to the same people


the degree to which a test actually measures what it's supposed to mesure

deviation IQ scores

a type of intelligence measure that assumes that IQ is normally distributed around a mean of 100 with a standard deviation of about 15


process of giving the test to a large group of people that represents the kind of people for whom the test is designed


scores from the standardization group, the standards against which all others who take the test would be compared

Standard deviation

the average variation of scores from the mean


Wechlser adult intelligence scale


Wechsler intelligence scale for children


Wechsler preschool and primary scale of intelligence

developmentally delayed

condition in which a person's behavioral and cognitive skills exist at an earlier developmental stage than the skills of others who are the same chronological age. A more acceptable term for mental retardation

Adaptive behavior

skills that allow people to live independently


the 2 percent of the population falling on the upper end of the normal curve and typically possessing an IQ of 130 or above

emotional intelligence

the awareness of and ability to manage one's own emotions as well as the ability to be self-motivated, able to feel what others feel, and socially skilled


a system for combining symbols so that an unlimited number of meaningful statements can be made for the purpose of communicating with others


the system of rules governing the structure and use of a language


the system of rules for combining words and phrases to form grammatically correct sentences


the smallest unites of meaning within a language


the rules for determining the meaning of words and sentences


the basic unites of sound in language


knowing just what rhythm and emphasis to use when communicating with others


aspects of language involving the practial ways of communicating with others, or the social "niceties" of language

Cognitive reserve

the ability of the brain to build and maintain new neurons and the connections between them

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