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Unit 7B vocab


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. Matching new items to a prototype provides a quick and easy method for sorting items into categories (as when comparing feathered creatures to a prototypical bird, such as a robin).


a methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem. Contrasts with the usually 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 also more error-prone than algorithms.


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


the ability to produce novel and valuable ideas.

confirmation bias

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


(1) the inability to see a problem from a new perspective, by employing a different mental set. (2) according to Freud, a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage, in which conflicts were unresolved.

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 uses or purposes; an impediment to problem solving.

representativeness heuristic

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

availability heuristic

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


the tendency to be more certain 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 thought, as contrasted with explicit, conscious reasoning.


the way an issue is posed; how an issue is presented 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 a part of a word (such as a prefix).


in a language, a system of rules that enables 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 to 2, 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 mostly statements made up of only a couple of words.

telegraphic speech

early speech stage in which a child speaks using mostly nouns and verbs such as "go car".

linguistic determinism

Whorf's hypothesis that language determines the way we think.

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