Cognition, Language
and Creativity
Chapter 10
McElhaney
Basics
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Language is used to encode information
Animals are capable of rudimentary language
use only with aid of human intervention.
Problem solving = acquired knowledge +
strategies
Creative Thinking= is novel, new, divergent
What is thinking?
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Cognition- mentally processing information
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Cognitive Psychology- is the study of human
information processing.
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Thinking is an internal representation (mental
expression) of a problem or situation
Basic Units of Thought
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Images
Concepts: ideas, representations- by class of
related concepts
Language: words symbols + rules for combining
them
Mental Imagery
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People use Visual Images
Auditory Images
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Synesthesia: images cross
normal sensory barriers
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Colors, tastes, odors
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People use imagery:
Decision makingproblem solving
Change Feelings
<thinking>
To improve skill and
prepare for action
To aid memory
Mental Images are 3-D
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Mental rotation is possible making imagined
movements
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The Minds Eye1. Brain areas where memories are stored
2. Send signals back to visual cortex
3. Where images are created
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Using Mental Images
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We use stored images
Info from memory is used
We apply past experiences to problem solving
Created images are- ideas/images not
remembered but created
Artists see the image and it is created
Kinesthetic Imagery
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Muscular sensations
Important in music, sports, and dance
Micro-movements= occur in connection
between muscle activity + thinking
Concepts
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Idea that represents a class of objects or events
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Very abstract
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Identify features of objects
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Conceptual thinking is the ability to classify into
categories
Concept Formation
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Concepts are learned
Process of classifying information into
meaningful categories
Concepts are identified by:
Positive Instances vs. Negative Instances
 Items are classified as either part of a concept or
not.
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Conceptual Rules
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Help us decipher–
Help us order concepts
Types of Concepts
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Conjunction ConceptsMust have 2 or more
features
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“In conjunction with”
Relational ConceptsWith principal
definitions of
concept based on
relations
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Example:
Sister and brother
Below and under
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Disjunctive Concepts
Concepts must have one
of several possible
features
“It must have this feature
or that feature”
Either or qualities
Types of Concepts 2
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Prototypes- ideal models to identify concepts
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Examples of concept
Connotative Meaning: emotional or personal
meaning/understanding
Connote = Ideas about, signifies
 Measured by Semantic Differential- qualitative rating
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Based on a scale
Denotive Meaning- word definition, is exact
definition
Faulty Concepts
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Are understandings that lead to thinking errors.
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Example= Social Stereotypes
Over simplified (beliefs or) concepts of people
 One dimensional thought
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Language
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Thinking relies heavily on language
Words encode (translate) the world into
symbols.
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Semantics = study of the meaning if words
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Words get meaning from Context
Semantics affect thinking when words we use
alter meaning
Debate over Acquisition of
Language
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Skinner:
Behaviorist: Operant
Learning of language
Association- sights of things
with sounds of words
Imitation- of words and
syntax modeled by others
Reinforcement- with success
and smiles
“The vocal musculature
became susceptible to
operant conditioning”
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Chomsky = inborn universal
grammar
Behavior explanation is over
simplified
Language naturally occurs
But still needs nurture
Thinking process
Children learn their
environment’s language
Children begin using
morphemes in a predictable
order
Chomsky 2
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All human languages have the same grammatical
building blocks = Universal Grammar
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Nouns, verbs, subjects, objects, negations, questions
Our Brains are pre-wired for language
We all start speaking in nouns,
 It happens naturally
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Or brains have a language acquisition device
But need to be exposed to language
Structure of Language
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Phonemes: basic speech
sounds
Morphemes: sounds with
meaning “sounds collected
into meaningful units”
Grammar: set of rules for
making sounds into words
and sentences
Syntax: rules for word order
“man bites dog”
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ChomskyUnspoken rules we use to
change ideas into sentences
Universal core patterns:
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Past
Passive
Negative
Question
Language is
productive
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We can generate new
thoughts or ideas
Gestural Language
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Language
Is not limited to speech
American Sign Language
Animal Languages?
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No evidence of formal
language
Only simple messages
Examples:
Vicki
Washoe chimp (the
Gardners)
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Used sign language
240 signs
6 word sentences
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Sarah
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Chimp
Used magnetic symbols
Learned to question
Label things
Classify objects, color, size, and
shape
Kanzi
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Chimp
Found chimps able to produce
language based on Lexigramsmachine buttons + symbols
primitive sentences
Criticism of Animal Language
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People say it doesn’t work
Simply an operant response to get food
Counter response- said yes they use symbols
hold conversations
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Patterns + Similar to conversations like young
children
Problem Solving
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Mechanical solutions
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Trial and error
Rote- thinking is guided by a learned set of rules
Solving by Understanding
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Deeper Comprehension of a problem (helps solving)
Discover general properties of a solution
General solution identifies the requirements for success
Proposes a series of functional (workable) solutions
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Then chooses the best one
Algorithms and Heuristics
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Algorithm
A step-by-step procedure
that guarantees a solution
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Heuristics
A strategy for identifying
and evaluating problems
and solutions
Then random search
limiting the number of
alternatives then apply
trial and error
IDEAL Strategy
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Heuristic=have a general thinking strategy
Bransford- researcher, 5 steps
Identify
Define- problem clearly
Explore- possible solutions + relevant
knowledge
Act-= try a possible solution oir hypothesis
Look at results and learn from results
Insight
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Involves selective encoding- selecting infor that
is relevant to a problem
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Selective Combinations
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Ignore distractions
Bringing together seemingly unrelated bits of useful
information
Selective Comparison
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Ability to compare new problems with old info or
with problems already solved
Insightful Solutions
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Insight = seeing a solution
Rapid and clear info-ideas about a topic
Create insight by reorganizing a problem
See it in new ways and then see new solutions
Barrier to Problem Solving:
Fixation
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Characterized by- becoming blind to alternatives
Tendency to be “hung up” on wrong solutions
Caused by unnecessary restrictions on our
thinking
Restricted Thinking
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Functional Fixedness- not able to think outside
the box
In ability to see new uses for familiar objects
 or things we use in a particular way
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Other Barriers
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Emotional Barrier
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Cultural Barriers
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Cultural views prevent creative problem solving
Learned Barriers
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Inhibition, fear of making a fool of oneself
Fear of making a mistake
Inability to tolerate ambiguity
Excessive self-criticism
Conventions about userTraditional views limit possibilities
Perceptual Barriers
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Habits lead to lack of solutions
Creative Thinking
Inductive
Logical
Deductive
Illogical
Fluency- total # of suggestions
Flexibility- # of times you shift from one class of possible uses to another
Originality- refers to ow novel or unusual the suggestions are
Creative Thinking
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Must be practical or sensible
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Inductive Thinking
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Deductive Thinking
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Going from general principles to specific principles
Logical Thinking
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Specific to the facts or general principles
Proceeding from given information to new conclusions on the bais of explicit
rules
Conclusions base don formal principals of reasonsing
Illogical
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Intuitive, associated or personal
Creative Thinking
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Divergent Thinking
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Convergent thinking
Test of Creativity
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Unusual Uses Test
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Consequences Test
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Person tries to think of as many possible uses for some
object
Goal to list the consequences that would follow a basic
change
Anagram Test
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Use a word
Find as many new words as possible by rearranging the letters
Stages of Creative Thought
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Orientation
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Preparation
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Time is needed to process and think
Illumination
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Collect and use as much info as possible
Incubation
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Define problems, Identify dimensions
Insight gained “light bulb” goes off
Verification
Creative Personality
Creative Characteristics
Logic and Intuition
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Cognition and Language - Point Loma High School