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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

What does thinking include?

Memory, verbal "stream of consciousness," images and words in a person's mind

What is thinking?

It is being aware of information, making decisions on it, comparing it to other information and using it to solve problems

Mental Images

Tool used in the thinking process; mental representations that stand for objects or events and have a picture-like quality (visual image or mental picture of a word)

How long does it take to remember smaller things versus bigger things?

Bigger things take longer to remember as compared to small things because bigger things have more aspects to it

What is an example of imagery?

Asking someone to report all of the windows that they have in their house

How long does it take to rotate an image in our head?

As long as it would take us to rotate the image in our hands

How do we use mental imagery daily?

Used to find where we parked our car, creating day dreams, getting around town with our learned "mental maps"

How is creating a mental image different than seeing an actual image in terms of the brain?

An image is perceived in the "minds eye" when areas of the cortex with stored knowledge sends information to the visual cortex

What does a PET scan show in mental imagery?

This shows the role of the visual cortex

What does the fMRI show in mental imagery?

This shows the overlap between visual imagery and visual perception


The ideas that represent a class or a category of objects, events, or activities

Idea of concepts

Two people can talk about birds even if two people aren't thinking of the same type of bird

What do concepts allow for?

They allow for the identification of new objects that may fit a certain concept

Superordinate Concept

The most general form of a type of concept; refers to the highest status/standing

Example of a superordinate concept

Animal or fruit

Example of Basic Level Type

Dog or an apple

Basic Level Type

An example of a type of concept around which other similar concepts are organized

Subordinate Concept

The most specific category of a concept; refers to the lowest in status/standing

Example of a subordinate concept

Cockapoo or a granny smith apple

Formal Concept

Concepts that are defined by specific rules or features

Example of formal concepts

Triangles, squares, conditioned stimuli

Natural Concepts

Concepts people form as a result of their experiences in the real word; "fuzzy"

Where are formal concepts learned?

Learned in school

Where are natural concepts learned?

Learned in everyday life

Example of Natural concepts

Vehicle-bobsled; fruit - tomato


An example of a concept that closely matches the defining characteristics of the concept

Example of a prototype

US - apple; Tropical area - coconuts or papayas

How do prototypes develop?

They develop according to the exposure a person has to objects in that category; also effected by cultures

What are the most typical prototypes or the least typical prototypes?

Most typical prototypes is the thinking that comes quickest to the brain; the least typical is the thinking that comes slowest; when thinking of a fruit the most would be an orange and the least would be a tomato or an olive


Mental generalizations about objects, places, events, and people

Example of Schemas

Library has books and shelves


Schemas that include a familiar sequence of activities

Example of a Script

The idea of going to a movie includes travel, purchase of the ticket, purchase of snacks, finding a seat, enjoyment of the movie

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

Example of trial and error

Finding the correct password for an email after several tries


Very specific rote solution, step-by-step procedures for solving certain types of problems


Learned set of rules

What type of problem solving always results in a correct solution?



An educated guess based on prior experiences that helps narrow down the possible solutions for a problem; "rule of thumb"

Example of an algorithm

Mathematical formula, rubik's cube, computers

Example of Heuristics

When you are having trouble with format on word, you can either read entire manual or type "format" into the help box

What type of problem-solving is the quickest?

Heuristics, but they are not always accurate

Representative Heuristic

Assumption that any object (or person) sharing characteristics with the members of a particular category is also a member of that category

Availability Heuristic

Estimating the frequency or likelihood of an event based on how easy it is for us to recall information from memory or how easy it is for us to think of related examples

When is representative heuristic useful?

Useful with plants but not with humans

Means-end Analysis

Heuristic in which the difference between the starting situation and the goal is determined and then steps are taken to reduce that difference by various means or methods

Example of means-end analysis

Learning how to make cute wedding invitations by hand because the pre-made ones are too expensive by breaking the process down into subgoals

Who and what was the experiment done with availability heuristic and the results?

Tversky and Kahneman asked which appeared more: the letter K at the beginning or in the third letter of the word in a book; people thought the beginning of a word would contain more K but it is actually the third letter of the word


When the solution to a problem seems to come suddenly to the mind; "aha!" moment discussed by Kohler in Sultan's Chimpanzee experiment

What is thinking?

A complex process involving the use of mental imagery and various types of concepts to organize the events of daily life

What is problem solving?

A special type of thinking that involves the use of many tools, such as trial-and-error thinking, algorithms, and heuristics to solve different types of problems

Why do people have difficulties with solving problems?

Solutions to a problem remain just "out of reach" because the elements of the problem are not arranged properly or because people get stuck in certain ways of thinking that act as barriers to solving problems

Functional Fixedness

A block to problem solving that comes from thinking about an object in terms of only their typical functions; "fixed on the functions"

Example of Functional Fixedness

Looking for a screwdriver when you could use a dime because you see the dime only for its function as money

Mental set

The tendency for people to persist in using problem-solving patterns that have worked for them in the past; type of functional fixedness

Example of Mental Set

People draw in the lines when asked to connect the dots in two different ways

Confirmation Bias

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

Example of confirmation bias

Believers in ESP tend to remember the few studies that support it and "forget" the cases that don't


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

Example of convergent thinking

How are a pen and pencil similar? shape and use

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

Which person is a creative thinker, a divergent thinker or a convergent thinker?

A divergent thinker

Example of divergent thinker

What is a pencil used for? writing, poking holes, weapon

Why are divergent thinkers able to be more creative?

Divergent thinkers make links and connections at a level of consciousness just below alert awareness, so that ideas can flow freely without being censored by the higher mental processes; they are less prone to barriers of problem solving such as functional fixedness

What is a creative person (according to Csikszentmihalyi)?

1) have a broad range of knowledge about a lot of subjects and are good at using mental imagery
2) Aren't afraid to be different - they are more open to new experiences than many people, and they tend to have more vivid dreams and daydreams than others do
3) Value their independence
4) Often unconventional in their work, but no otherwise


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

What is intelligence needed for?

Adaptation and survival

G Factor

The ability to reason and solve problems, or general intelligence

What measures the G factor?

IQ tests

Who founded the G factor?

Charles Spearman

S Factor

The ability to excel in certain areas, or specific intelligence

Who founded the S Factor?

Charles Spearman

Who proposed that there were 120 types of intelligence?


Gardner's Nine Intelligences

1) Verbal/Linguistic
2) Musical
3) Logical/Mathematical
4) Visual/Spatial
5) Movement
6) Interpersonal
7) Intrapersonal
8) Naturalist
9) Existentialist

Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the ability to use language

Sample Occupation of Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence

Writers, speakers

Musical Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the ability to compose and/or perform music

Sample Occupation of Musical Intelligence


Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the ability to think logically and to solve mathematical problems

Sample Occupation of Logical/Mathematical Intelligence

Scientist and Engineers

Visual/Spatial Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the ability to understand how objects are oriented in space

Sample Occupation of Visual/Spatial Intelligence

Pilot, astronauts, artists, navigators

Movement Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the ability to control one's body motions

Sample Occupation of Movement Intelligence

Dancers, athletes

Interpersonal Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the sensitivity to others and understanding motivation of others

Sample Occupation of Interpersonal Intelligence

Psychologists, managers

Intrapersonal Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the understanding of one's emotions and how they guide actions

Sample Occupation of Intrapersonal Intelligence

Various people-oriented careers

Naturalist Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the ability to recognize the patterns found in nature

Sample Occupation of Naturalist Intelligence

Farmers, landscapers, biologists

Existentialist Intelligence

One of Gardner's Nine Intelligences that deals with the ability to see the "big picture" of the human world by asking questions about life, death, and the ultimate reality of human existence

Sample Occupation of Existentialist Intelligence

Various careers, philosophical thinkers

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

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

Who created the Triarchic Theory of Intelligence?


Analytical Intelligence

One of the triarchic theories of intelligence; the ability to break down problems into component parts, or analysis, for problem solving; "book smarts"

How is analytical intelligence measured?

Measure by intelligence tests

Creative Intelligence

One of the triarchic theories of intelligence; the ability to deal with new and different concepts and to come up with new ways of solving problems; also refers to the ability to automatically process certain aspects of information, which frees up cognitive resources to deal with novelty

Which triarchic theory of intelligence is the same idea of divergent thinking?

Creative intelligence

Practical Intelligence

One of the triarchic theories of intelligence; the ability to use information to get along in life and become successful; "street smarts"

What can a person with practical intelligence do?

Tactful , can manipulate situations, and use the inside information to increase their odds of success

Experiment done with the triarchic theory of Intelligence

Analytical - runs statistical analysis on data
Creative - designs the experiment
Practical - gets funding for experiment from donors

What did Sternberg found in comparison between practical and analytical intelligence?

There is a low relationship between practical intelligence (success) and academic (analytical) intelligence

Who came up with a test that could distinguish between fast and slow learners as well as different age groups?

Binet and Theodore Simon

Who create the mental age?

Binet and Theodore Simon

Mental Age

Average age at which children could successfully answer a particular level of questions

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

A number representing a measure of intelligence, resulting from the division of one's mental age by one's chronological age and then multiplying that quotient by 100

Chronological Age

Number of years since birth

Equation of IQ

MA/CA X 100 = IQ

Example of IQ

A 10 year old scores a mental age of 15. His IQ is 15/10 X 100 = 150

What does the IQ allow?

Allows testers to compare the intelligence levels of people of different age groups

How is the IQ used today?

To place people academically according to age-group comparison norms

Who adopted the IQ idea of William Stern?

Lewis Terman

Wechsler Tests

Tests designed for specific age groups that has a verbal and performance scale and an overall score of intelligence (like Stanford-Binet IQ)

What are the different Wechsler Tests and who are they desiged for?

WAIS-IV = Adults; WISC-IV = Children; WPPSI-IV = Preschool

What are the four specific cognitive domains in Wechsler Tests?

Verbal comprehension, perceptual reasoning, working memory, and processing speed


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

When is a test unreliable?

When the tests don't produce the same results when the person has not changed


The degree to which a test actually measures what it is supposed to measure

Ecological Validity

The extent that an obtained score accurately reflects the intended skill or outcome in real-life situations

Example of Ecological Validity

To get a driver's license, you are tested on operating a vehicle

Can a test fail validity and still be reliable?

Yes, as long as the results are the same each time.


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

What is standardization require?

A random sample given under the same conditions


Scores from the standardized group

Normal Curve

Distribution in which the scores are the most frequent around the mean and become less and less frequent from the mean they occur at



What allows IQ scores to be more accurately measured?

The normal curve

Standard Deviation

Average variation of scores from the mean

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

Example of Deviation of IQ Scores

IQ score of 130 would be two standard deviations above the mean; 70 would be two below the mean

What are intelligence tests useful for?

They are useful for measuring intelligence but should not necessarily be assumed to be measures of all types of intelligent behavior

Cultural Bias

A term referring to the tendency of IQ tests to reflect, in language, dialect, and content, the culture of the person or persons who designed the test

How to we try to avoid cultural bias?

Attempt to make tests that are culturally fair

Culturally Fair

Don't create a disadvantage for people whose culture differs from that of the majority; employ nonverbal (to avoid verbal knowledge that might be culturally specific)

What do IQ tests do well to predict?

They do well to predict academic success for those at the higher and lower ends of the normal curve

How do neuropsychologists use IQ tests?

Use intelligence testing in diagnosis, tracking progress of individuals with disorders, and in monitoring recovery

What type of scores do geniuses have?

Above average scores

What type of scores do the intellectually delayed have?

They have IQ scores below the mean of the normal curve

Intellectual Disability

(formerly mental retardation); 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; may also referred to as developmentally delayed

What characteristics classify a person as intellectually delayed?

1) IQ score must be below 70 or two standard deviations below the mean of the normal curve
2) The person's adaptive behavior is severely below a level appropriate for the person's age
3) Must be present before the age of 18

Adaptive Behavior

Skills that allow people to live independently

Developmentally Delayed

Behavioral and cognitive skills exist at an earlier developmental stage than the skills of others who are the same chronological age

What percentage of the population is developmentally delayed?

About 3%

What are some causes for people being developmentally delayed?

Unhealthy exposure to environment, poor nutrition, lack of oxygen at birth, damage to fetus, diseases and accidents during childhood

Familial Retardation

A delay related to living in poverty conditions and one that usually produces relatively mild intellectual disability

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome

Results from exposing a developing embryo to alcohol

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