Chapter 9: Language and Thought
Chapter Outline
1.
2.
3.
Language
The relationship between language and thought
Thought
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Language
 Language is defined as a set of symbols used for
communication
 Facilitates thinking, problem solving, and decision
making
 Unique to humans
 Supports creative and progressive social interaction
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Components of Language
 Language production—the structured and
conventional expression of thoughts through words
 Speech—the expression of language through sounds
 Language comprehension—the process of
understanding spoken, written, or signed language
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Language Structure
 Phonology—the study of how individual sounds or
phonemes are used to produce language

Phoneme—the smallest unit of sound in a language, an
individual sound
 Example: The word pig has three phonemes: /p/, /i/, /g/
 Semantics—the study of how meaning in language
is constructed of individual words and sentences


Morpheme—the smallest unit of a language that conveys
meaning
 Example: The word pigs has two morphemes: pig and s
Lexical meaning—dictionary meaning of a word
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Language Structure
 Syntax—the system for using words (semantics) and
word order to convey meaning (grammar)
 Pragmatics—the practical aspects of language usage,
including speech pace, gesturing, and body language
 Non-verbal communication—body language
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Language: How We Develop
 Sequence of language learning
Prevocal learning—2–4 months old
 Babies distinguish all phonemes they will later use
for language; cooing (vocalization of vowel-like
sounds)
 Babbling— ~6 months old
 Meaningless experimental sounds preceding actual
language
 First words— ~ 1 year old
 Simple single-word talking begins with
comprehension exceeding speech

© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Language: How We Develop
 Sequence of language learning (continued)
Telegraphic speech—by 2 years of age
 Simple (two-word) sentences omitting all but
essential words
 Pragmatics—by 3 years of age
 Basic understanding of practical information
regarding language
 Grammar—by 4 years of age
 Basic rules of grammar are understood without
formal education

© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Three Theories of How Language Develops
Nature—children are genetically programmed at
birth to learn language (Chomsky)
 We are born with a language acquisition device
in our brain that allows us to easily learn
language.
 Nurture—language is entirely learned (Skinner)
 When babies are given rewards (praise or
attention) for a word/sound, they are more
likely to repeat that word/sound
 Nature and nurture (interactionist perspective)
 Both theories are important

© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Critical/Sensitive Periods in
Language Development
 Critical period
 Stage
when an individual is particularly open to
specific learning; in this case, language learning
 Sensitive period
 Stage in development when an individual can best
acquire specific skills
Ability to learn language later in life requires
considerable effort
Many psychologists believe the years prior to age
13 are vital for language development
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Environmental Impact on Language
Development
 Child-directed speech
Simple, high-pitched, slow-paced, emotion-charged
speech used by adults when speaking with babies and
young children
 May help babies learn words by keeping them
interested
 Grammar development is affected by the environment
 Overregularization—the process by which
elementary school children apply learned grammatical
rules to improperly “correct” an irregular verb
 Example: “thinked” instead of “thought”

© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Language Centres in the Brain
 Broca’s area




Critical for speech
production
Associated with grammar
comprehension
Agrammatism—inability to
speak with proper grammar
Located in frontal lobe
 Wernicke’s area


Critical for language
comprehension
Located in temporal lobe
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Aphasia
 Aphasia—a type of language loss
 Broca’s aphasia—unable to produce coherent speech.
Patient describing the story of Cinderella:
 Cinderella...poor...um 'dopted her...scrubbed floor, um,
tidy...poor, um...'dopted...Si-sisters and mother...ball.
Ball, prince um, shoe... Cinderella hooked prince.
(Laughs.) Um, um, shoes, um, twelve o'clock ball,
finished.
 Wernicke’s aphasia—unable to comprehend speech.
Patient describing picture of a child taking a cookie:
 This and this and this and this. These things going in
there like that. This one here, these two things here.
And the other one here, back in this one.
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Gender Differences in Language
 Language production and
comprehension tend to
occur at an earlier age in
girls than in boys
 Girls score higher in English
than boys in elementary
school
 No substantial male-female
differences in reading or
writing scores by young
adulthood
 Women are more likely to
use both hemispheres of the
brain to process language
information
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Learning Multiple Languages
 Children in bilingual and
multilingual homes acquire
language at a slightly
slower pace.
 Young children readily
learn a second or third
language
 The earlier we learn a
language, the more
proficient we become
 Language learning ability
declines as we age
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Language and Thought
Thinking without words
 Mental imagery involves picturing or visualizing a
sensory experience mentally
 Visualizing an event or activity activates many of
the same regions of the brain as the actual event or
activity
 Spatial navigation uses visual imagery to navigate
through space
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Influence of Language on Thought
 Linguistic relativity
hypothesis
 The vocabulary
available for objects or
concepts in a language
influences how speakers
of that language think
about them
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Cultural Conceptions of Living Things
 English speakers have
more words for “living
things” than those in
Indonesia
 Therefore Indonesian
children can properly
understand and master
the concept of living
things at an earlier age
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Thought
Controlled processing—effortful, and relies on a
limited-capacity system
 Cognitive control
Ability to guide thinking and actions despite distraction
 Ability to guide attention
 Ability to pursue complex behaviour

 Executive function—the brain’s ability to control and
manage the mental processing of information
 Dysexecutive syndrome—impairments in the ability
to control and direct mental activities
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Thought
Automatic processing
 Seems effortless
 Not usually disrupted much if we are distracted
 Requires less attention
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Thinking to Solve Problems
 Problem solving—involves thoughts and actions to
achieve a desired goal
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Three Steps to Solving a Problem
 Define the problem
Define your current state
 Define your ultimate goal
 Determine the difference between these two
 Find a strategy for solving the problem
 Algorithm—step-by-step procedure to solving problems that
guarantees a solution
 Heuristic—short cut to solving problems but does not
guarantee a correct solution
 Insight—sudden realization of answer—eureka!
 Evaluation
 Did you find a good solution?

© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Heuristics—Shortcut Thinking
 Working backward—this approach starts with a solution
and works backward through the problem
 Works well for problems with well-defined goals
 Forming subgoals—the current position is compared with
the desired goal and a series of steps are formulated to
close the gap between the two
 Divide a larger problem into smaller ones and
accomplish a series of subgoals
 Analogy heuristic—apply a solution used for a past
problem to a current problem that shares many similar
features
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Three Mental Stumbling Blocks to Solving
Problems
 Mental set—tendency to use problem-solving
strategies that have worked in the past
 Functional fixedness—our failure to use familiar
objects in novel ways to solve problems
 Confirmation bias—we often search for
information that confirms our expectations
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
The Water Jar Problem
1
2
3
4
5
A
21
36
11
2
15
B
127
151
76
16
39
C
3
9
5
2
3
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Goal
100
97
55
10
18
The Nine-Dot Problem
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Solution to the Nine-Dot Problem
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
The String Problem
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Solution to the String Problem
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Decision Making
 Decision making—the process of considering
alternatives and choosing among them
 Representative heuristic—guessing the probability
of something based on how closely a new object is
judged to resemble our existing stereotype of that
object
 Example: He is tall so he must be a basketball player
 Availability heuristic—guessing the probability of
something based on how quickly and easily information
bearing on it comes to mind
 Based on more frequent and more recent experiences
 Example: Smoking doesn’t harm unborn babies
because my cousin smoked and her baby was fine
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Decision Making
 Rational decision making
 Use probability of desired outcome to make decision.
 When information or options are limited, bounded rationality
minimizes cognitive effort necessary to make decision.
 Emotional decision making
 Particularly important in social interactions.
 People often make irrational decisions based on emotion.
 Framing refers to the way information is presented to
represent either a potential gain or a potential loss.

Practical Application:
 Advertising
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Metacognition
 Metacognition is thinking about one’s own thoughts




Reviewing memories
Considering past learning to understand events in the
present
Self-reflection
 Thinking about our own identities to evaluate and modify
our behaviour based on past experience
Theory of mind
 Thinking about another person’s feelings or intentions
 Many animals are capable of complicated thought and
seem to possess a theory of mind
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Metacognition: How We Develop
 Children develop theory of mind gradually
Preschool years
 Hiding eyes: “You can’t see me!”
 Diminishes around 4 years
 Lying to avoid punishment
 Emerges around 3 years and is fairly universal by 5
years
 Lying to make someone feel good
 Seems to increase with age
 Other forms of metacognition do not emerge until later in
development
 Thinking about one’s memories

© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Theory of Mind: What Happens in the
Brain?
 Mirror neurons
 Activated
when a person performs a task as well as
when they witness another perform a task
 Located in the frontal and parietal cortex
Overlapping circuitry may facilitate interpreting
others’ feelings and predicting others’ behaviour
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Thought: When Things Go Wrong
 Disorders characterized by inability to control one’s
thoughts:
 Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
Anxiety disorder characterized by the presence of
anxiety-producing thoughts or obsessions
Many with OCD perform compulsive actions to
help get rid of the obsessive thoughts
OCD affects about 1 percent of the population
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Thought: When Things Go Wrong
 Schizophrenia
Psychotic
disorder in which an individual has lost
touch with reality
People with schizophrenia experience
hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking
and speech, heightened perceptions,
inappropriate affect, and impaired working
memory
About 1.1% of people in Canada have been
diagnosed with some form of schizophrenia
© John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd.
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. All rights
reserved. Reproduction or translation of this work beyond that
permitted by Access Copyright (The Canadian Copyright
Licensing Agency) is unlawful. Requests for further information
should be addressed to the Permissions Department, John
Wiley & Sons Canada, Ltd. The purchaser may make back-up
copies for his or her own use only and not for distribution or
resale. The author and the publisher assume no responsibility
for errors, omissions, or damages caused by the use of these
programs or from the use of the information contained herein.
Descargar

Chapter 2: Psychology As a Science