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What do cognitive psychologists study?

study these mental activities:
- concept formation
- problem solving
- decision making
- judgment formation


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


mental image or best example of a category
(matching new items to the prototype provides a quick and easy method for including items in a category (feathered creatures relate to a prototypical bird)


methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem (i.e. a recipe)


["eureka!" - "I have it"] simple thinking strategy that often allows us to make judgments and solve problems efficiently
(usually speedier but more error-prone)


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


tendency to search for information that confirms one's preconceptions


inability to see a problem from a new perspective (impediment to problem solving) -- "think outside the box!"


[think: NOT MacGyver]
tendency to think of things only in terms of their usual functions (what else can an ice cube tray be used for?)
impediment to problem solving

Define Representativeness Heuristic

judging the likelihood of things in terms of how well they seem to represent, or match, particular prototypes (can lead to ignorance of other pertinent info)

Define Availability Heuristic

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


tendency to be more confident than correct
tendency to overestimate the accuracy of one's beliefs and judgments
"experts" - overvalued in our society
"I don't know" - undervalued


the way an issue is posed; how an issue is framed can significantly affect decisions and judgments...
Sale : ground beef- 25% fat or 75% lean
Water: Natural flavor

Belief Perseverance

clinging to one's initial conceptions after the basis on which they were formed has been discredited


our spoken, written, or gestured works and the way we combine them to communicate meaning (most nonverbal) -- we are all born to recognize speech sounds from all the world's languages

Five stages of language development

Babbling, One-Word, Two-Word, Telegraphic speech

Babbling Stage

beginning at 3 to 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

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

Two-Word Stage

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

Telegraphic Speech

early speech stage in which the child speaks like a telegram--"go car"--using mostly nouns and verbs and omitting "auxiliary" words; after this stage, language develops rapidly into complete sentences.


Whorf's hypothesis that language determines the way we think
(interplay of thought and language)


ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use knowledge to adapt to new situations


the widely used American revision of Binet's original intelligence (IQ) test revised by Terman at Stanford University (created originally to see which kids needed more attention; now mis-used as entrance exams)

Mental Age

a measure of intelligence test performance devised by Binet:
chronological age that most typically corresponds to a given level of performance (child who does as well as the average 8-year-old is said to have a mental age of 8)

Define "IQ"

Intelligence Quotient: defined ORIGINALLY as the ratio of mental age (ma) to chronological age (ca) multiplied by 100
[IQ = ma/ca x 100]
On contemporary tests, the average performance for a given age is assigned a score of 100

Factor Analysis

statistical procedure that identifies CLUSTERS of related items (called factors) on a test
used to identify different dimensions of performance that underlie one's total score

General Intelligence (g)

factor that Spearman and others believed underlies specific mental abilities
measured by every task on an intelligence test

Savant Syndrome

condition in which a person otherwise limited in mental ability has an exceptional specific skill (i.e. computation, drawing)

Social Intelligence

the know-how involved in comprehending social situations and managing oneself successfully (are cocktail parties terrifying or no big deal?)

Emotional Intelligence

ability to perceive, express, understand, and regulate emotions
(your own and others)


the ability to produce novel and valuable ideas
- expertise
- imaginative thinking skills
- venturesome personality
- intrinsic motivation
- creative environment


Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale is the most widely used intelligence test; subtests include verbal and performance (nonverbal). Mean is 100; 96% of people score between 70 & 130; 68% score between 85 and 115; very small % score below 55 or above 145.

Aptitude Test

a test designed to predict a person's future performance
aptitude is "the capacity to learn"

Achievement Test

a test designed to assess what a person has learned


defining meaningful scores by comparison with the performance of a pretested "standardization group"

Normal Curve

the symmetrical bell-shaped curve that describes the distribution of many physical and psychological attributes
most scores fall near the average, and fewer and fewer scores lie near the extremes


the extent to which a test yields consistent results
assessed by consistency of scores on:
- two halves of the test
- alternate forms of the test
- retesting


the extent to which a test measures or predicts what it is supposed to (i.e. racism or social contact or an understanding of human rights)

Content Validity

the extent to which a test samples the behavior that is of interest (driving test that samples driving tasks)


behavior (such as college grades) that a test (such as the SAT) is designed to predict
the measure used in defining whether the test has predictive validity

Predictive Validity (aka criterion-related validity)

success with which a test predicts the behavior it is designed to predict (assessed by computing the correlation between test scores and the criterion behavior)

Mental Retardation

a condition of limited mental ability, indicated by an intelligence score below 70
- produces difficulty in adapting to the demands of life
- varies from mild to profound
- DOES NOT MEAN NOT INTELLIGENT - can be emotionally perceptive

Down Syndrome

retardation and associated physical disorders caused by an extra chromosome in one's genetic makeup
(historical change: people used to be institutionalized and sterilized)

Four degrees of mental retardation

Mild, Moderate, Severe, Profound (for profound, institutionalization may be the only option) - see table in textbook.


the proportion of variation among individuals that we can attribute to genes (variability depends on the range of populations and environments studied)

Stereotype Threat

A self-confirming concern that one will be evaluated based on a negative stereotype

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