Chapter 8 Language, Thinking, and Intelligence Language • Communication: the sending and receiving of information – Language: the primary mode of communication among humans • A systematic way of communicating information using symbols and rules for combining them • Speech: oral expression of language – Approximately 5,000 spoken languages exist today. Language & the Brain • Broca’s area: small clump of neurons near front of brain • Influences brain areas that control the muscles of the lips, jaw, tongue, soft palate, and vocal cords during speech; thus, Broca's area is important in language production. • May also be involved when using grammatical language rules in both producing and comprehending sentences. • Wernicke’s area: connected by nerve bundle to Broca’s area • Important for language comprehension Broca’s & Wernicke’s Areas Do Animals Use Language? • Since 1930s, numerous attempts have been made to teach language to a few select species. • The most appropriate conclusion to draw: – Nonhuman species show no capacity to produce language on their own, but – Certain species can be taught to produce languagelike communication. Infants Born Prepared to Learn Language • Language acquisition – learning vs. inborn capacities – Behaviorism’s language theory • People speak as they do because they have been reinforced for doing so. • Behaviorists assumed children were relatively passive. • The problem with this theory is that it does not fit the evidence. • Operant conditioning principles do not play the primary role in language development. Infants Born Prepared to Learn Language – The nativist perspective: • Language development proceeds according to an inborn program. • Language Acquisition Device (Noam Chomsky): humans are born with specialized brain structures (Language Acquisition Device) that facilitates the learning of language. – Interactionist perspectives: • Propose environmental and biological factors interact together to affect the course of language development. • Social interactionist perspective strongly influenced by Lev Vygotsky’s writings Infants Born Prepared to Learn Language • Assessing the three perspectives on language acquisition: – General consensus: • Behaviorists place too much emphasis on conditioning principles. • Nativists don’t give enough credit to environmental influences. • Interactionist approaches may offer best possible solution. Stages of Language Development • All human languages are composed of: – Phonemes: smallest sound units in speech – Morphemes: smallest units that carry meaning Stages of Language Development • Language development begins with children using primitive-sounding phonemes. • • • One-word stage—use only one-word phrases. Consequently, they overextend their words—application of the process of assimilation. By the age of 2—two-word stage—begin using two separate words in the same sentence. – A phase of telegraphic speech begins. • Child-directed speech—motherese • Parents help infants recognize specific language forms and skills necessary for future language learning by the way they talk to them (slowly, high pitch, simple words, heightened expression). Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development - Four Stages • Jean Piaget contended that cognitive development occurs as children organize their structures of knowledge to adapt to their environment. • A schema is an organized cluster of knowledge that people use to understand and interpret information. Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development - Four Stages • Acquisition of knowledge occurs through the complementary processes of assimilation and accommodation. – Assimilation: the process of absorbing new information into existing schemas – Accommodation: the process of changing existing schemas to absorb new information Piaget’s Stages • Sensorimotor stage (birth–2 years): – experience the world through actions (grasping, looking, touching, and sucking) • One of the major accomplishments at this stage is the development of object permanence. • Preoperational stage (2–6 years): – represent things with words and images but having no logical reasoning Piaget’s Stages • Concrete operational stage (7–11 years): – think logically about concrete events; understanding concrete analogies and performing arithmetic operations • Formal operational stage (12 years– adulthood): – develop abstract reasoning The Three-Mountains Problem Conservation Conservation of Mass Conservation of Number Piaget’s Conclusions Have Been Questioned • Development may be less “stagelike” than he proposed. • Children may achieve capabilities earlier than he thought. • All adults may not reach formal operational thought. Evaluating Piaget • Despite criticisms, most developmental psychologists agree that Piaget has generally outlined: – An accurate view of many of the significant changes that occur in mental functioning with increasing childhood maturation; and – That children are not passive creatures merely being molded by environmental forces, but that they are actively involved in their own cognitive growth. The Linguistic Relativity Hypothesis • Does language determine thought? • Benjamin Lee Whorf’s linguistic relativity hypothesis – Proposed that the structure of language determines the structure of thought (without a word to describe an experience, you cannot think about it). – However, research indicates that just because a language lacks terms for stimuli does not mean that language users cannot perceive features of the stimuli. – The answer is no. Most psychologists believe in a weaker version of Whorf’s hypothesis—that language can influence thinking. Thinking • Thinking—cognition – The mental activity of knowing – The processes through which knowledge is acquired – The processes through which problems are solved Concept Formation • Concept: a mental grouping of objects, ideas, or events that share common properties – Concepts enable people to store memories in an organized fashion. • Categorization is the process of forming concepts. – We form some concepts by identifying defining features. – Problem with forming concepts by definition is that many familiar concepts have uncertain or fuzzy boundaries. Concept Formation • Thus, categorizing has less to do with features that define all members of a concept and has more to do with features that characterize the typical member of a concept. • The most representative members of a concept are known as prototypes. When Is It a “Cup,” and When Is It a “Bowl”? Fuzzy Boundaries • Determine whether something belongs to a group by comparing it with the prototype. • Objects accepted and rejected define the boundaries of the group or concept. • This is different for different people. Problem-Solving Strategies • Common problem-solving strategies: – Trial and error: trying one possible solution after another until one works – Algorithm: following a specific rule or stepby-step procedure that inevitably produces the correct solution – Heuristic: following a general rule of thumb to reduce the number of possible solutions – Insight: sudden realization of how a problem can be solved “Internal” Obstacles Can Impede Problem Solving • Confirmation bias: the tendency to seek information that supports our beliefs, while ignoring disconfirming information • Mental set: the tendency to continue using solutions that have worked in the past, even though a better alternative may exist • Functional fixedness: the tendency to think of objects as functioning in fixed and unchanging ways and ignoring other less obvious ways in which they might be used The Candle Problem Decision-Making Heuristics • Representativeness heuristic: – the tendency to make decisions based on how closely an alternative matches (or represents) a particular prototype – Availability heuristic: • the tendency to judge the frequency or probability of an event in terms of how easy it is to think of examples of that event Decision-Making Heuristics Five conditions most likely to lead to heuristic use: • People don’t have time to engage in systematic analysis. • People are overloaded with information. • People consider issues to be not very important. • People have little information to use in making a decision. • Something about the situation primes a given heuristic. Intelligence • Intelligence consists of the mental abilities necessary to adapt to and shape the environment. – Intelligence involves not only reacting to one’s surroundings but also actively forming them. Early IQ Testing Shaped by Racial/Cultural Stereotypes British Sir Francis Galton founded the eugenics movement to improve the hereditary characteristics of society. • Eugenics proposed that: – White and upper-middle-class individuals—who were assumed to have high mental ability—should marry and have children. – Lower-class Whites and members of other races —who were assumed to have low mental ability—should not reproduce. Early IQ Testing Shaped by Racial/Cultural Stereotypes • Unlike Galton, French psychologist Alfred Binet: – Made no assumptions about why intelligence differences exist. Believed intellectual ability could be increased through education. • Over Binet’s objections, American Henry Goddard used Binet’s intelligence test to identify the feebleminded so they could be segregated and prevented from having children. Aptitude & Achievement Tests • Two categories of mental abilities measures: – Aptitude tests: measure capacity to learn new skill – Achievement tests: measure what is already learned • Scholastic Assessment Test (SAT): measures learned verbal and mathematical skills – SAT scores influenced by quality of test takers’ schools • Difference in intent/use of the test Aptitude & Achievement Tests – Stanford-Binet Intelligence Test: the widely used American revision of the original French intelligence test. • Intelligence quotient (IQ): originally, the ratio of mental age to chronological age multiplied by 100 (MA/CA 100). • Today, IQ is calculated by comparing how a person’s performance deviates from the average score of her or his same-age peers, which is 100. – Wechsler Intelligence Scales: the most widely used set of intelligence tests, containing both verbal and performance (nonverbal) subscales Test Standardization • Process of establishing uniform procedures for administering a test and interpreting its scores – Reliability: the degree to which it yields consistent results – Validity: the degree to which a test measures what it is designed to measure Content validity Predictive validity: degree to which test results predict other behaviors or measures The Normal Distribution Are intelligence tests culturally biased? – Critics claim that Whites and higher SES individuals have had greater exposure than ethnic minority and lower-class individuals to topics on most commonly used IQ tests. – Supporters of IQ tests respond that although IQ tests do not provide an unbiased measure of cognitive abilities, they do provide a fairly accurate measure of academic and occupational success. What is Intelligence? One or Several Distinct Abilities? • One of the primary questions about the nature of intelligence is whether it is best conceptualized as: – A general, unifying capacity or – Many separate and relatively independent abilities. What is Intelligence? One or Several Distinct Abilities? • British psychologist Charles Spearman concluded there was a general intelligence, or g, factor underlying all mental abilities. • Louis Thurstone argued there were seven primary mental abilities: – Reasoning, verbal fluency, verbal comprehension, perceptual speed, spatial skills, numerical computation, and memory What is Intelligence? One or Several Distinct Abilities? – Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences contends that intelligence consists of at least eight independent intelligences: • Linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, naturalist, interpersonal, and intrapersonal What is Intelligence? One or Several Distinct Abilities? • Robert Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence proposes that intelligence consists of analytical, creative, and practical abilities. • Research still supports both perspectives: – There is evidence that we have distinct mental abilities and a general intelligence factor. Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory of Intelligence People Differ in Their Neural Complexity & Quickness – Brain size has a moderately high correlation (r = +.44) with IQ scores. • Some neuroscientists point to the fact that larger brains have more neurons than do smaller brains. • Another possibility: brain size-IQ correlation is related to different levels of myelin in the brain. People Differ in Their Neural Complexity & Quickness – Intelligence is partly based on neural complexity, quickness, and efficiency. – Additional studies suggest that smarter brains become more efficient with practice. – These findings suggest that intelligence is a product of both our biology (nature) and our experience (nurture). People Differ in Their Neural Complexity & Quickness • Extremes of intelligence – Diagnosis of mental retardation given to people who: • Have an IQ score below 70 and also have difficulty adapting to the routine demands of independent living. • Only 1-2 percent of the population meets both criteria. • Males outnumber females by 50 percent People Differ in Their Neural Complexity & Quickness • Extremes of intelligence – About 75 percent of mental retardation cases thought to result from unfavorable social conditions or subtle and difficult-to-detect physiological effects – Remaining 25 percent of cases considered to have a specific organic cause, such as fetus or infant exposed to harmful substances • Down syndrome caused by an extra chromosome coming from either the mother’s egg (the primary source) or the father’s sperm. People Differ in Their Neural Complexity & Quickness • The gifted category used for IQs above 130 or 135 • U.S. federal law designates that giftedness should be based on superior potential in any of six areas: • General intelligence, specific aptitudes (for example, math and writing), performing arts, athletics, creativity, and leadership Twin and Adoption Studies of Intelligence • Twin studies indicate that the average correlation of identical twins’ IQ scores is .86, while fraternal twins’ correlation is .60. – Fraternal twins—who are genetically no more similar than regular siblings, but who are exposed to more similar experiences due to their identical ages—have more similar IQ scores than other siblings. – In addition, nontwin siblings raised together have more similar IQs (r = .47) than siblings raised apart (r = .24). The Nature-Nurture Debate Twin and Adoption Studies of Intelligence – Adoption studies • Children who were adopted within 2 weeks to 1 year of birth have higher IQ correlations with biological parents than with adoptive parents. – Based on twin and adoption studies: • Heredity accounts for a little over 50 percent of the variation in intelligence, and • Environmental factors account for a little less than 50 percent. Figure 8-12 Reaction Range Gender Differences in IQ Scores • Gender differences: male and female IQ scores are virtually identical—few differences in certain aptitudes – Females tend to do better on verbal aptitude tests, while males tend to do better on visualspatial tests. – Gender differences have also been found in mathematical ability. Gender Differences in IQ Scores – Some studies suggest female-male differences in verbal and spatial abilities might be linked to differences in the organization of brain areas controlling verbal and spatial abilities and to hormonal fluctuations – Other studies suggest that these differences are a product of gender socialization and the different skills taught to girls and boys. Group Differences in IQ Scores • African Americans score between 10 and 15 points lower than White Americans and Asian Americans. • Hispanic Americans achieve IQ scores somewhere in between those of Blacks and Whites. • Asian Americans score about 5 points higher than White Americans. Group Differences in IQ Scores • These IQ test differences also occur on nonverbal test items that do not appear to be culturally biased against ethnic minorities. • Numerous studies suggest that it is “highly unlikely” that genetic differences between the races cause these group IQ differences. Racial Differences in IQ Scores Sources: Data from N. J. Mackintosh. (1998). IQ and human intelligence. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Neisser, U. (1998). The rising curve: Long-term gains in IQ and related measures. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. Plant-Pot Analogy Cultural Factors May Explain Group IQ Differences • Studies in various countries indicate that involuntary minorities achieve lower IQ scores than voluntary minorities. • Many social scientists believe that the primary causes are: – Persisting negative cultural stereotypes within the dominant culture concerning involuntary minorities’ intellectual abilities (self-fulfilling prophecies), and – The self-protective defensive reaction many involuntary minority members subsequently develop against the rejecting mainstream culture (oppositional identities). Cultural Factors May Explain Group IQ Differences • Stereotype threat: disturbing awareness that your task performance might confirm that you personally fit the negative stereotype – According to Claude Steele, when highly motivated minority students take an IQ test & worry that a low score will confirm a “mentally inferior” stereotype, the added pressure significantly hinders their performance. • Many studies inform us that negative stereotypes can create damaging self-fulfilling prophecies among members of many different social groups by inducing stereotype threat. Performance and Stereotype Threat Cultural Factors May Explain Group IQ Differences • Intellectual growth is nurtured when parents and the larger culture stress the: – Value of education and – Importance of working hard to achieve intellectual mastery. • Intellectual growth is stunted when cultural beliefs impress upon the child that their academic success is either: – Unlikely (due to negative cultural stereotypes) or – Not highly valued (due to it being incompatible with other cultural values).