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. 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