Cognition: Thinking, Problem
Solving, Creativity, and
Language
Introduction
T / F – People more easily detect male prejudices against females
than females against males or females against females.
2) T / F – Humans are the only creatures to display insight.
3) T / F – Exceptionally creative architects and engineers usually score
no higher on intelligence tests than their less creative peers.
4) T / F – We all have a tendency to approach a problem with the mindset of what has worked for us previously.
5) T / F – In general, people underestimate how much they really know.
6) T / F – It takes less compelling evidence to change our beliefs than it
did to create them in the first place.
7) T / F – People are more likely to be afraid of snakes and spiders than
they are of driving a car, even though driving is more dangerous.
8) T / F – The babbling of a infant at 4 months of age makes it clear
whether the infant is French, Korean, or Ethiopian.
9) T / F – Many bilinguals report that they have different senses of self,
depending on which language they are using.
10) T / F – Imagining a physical activity triggers action in the same brain
areas that are triggered when actually performing the activity.
1)
Introduction
• Cognition (thinking)
• Complete Need for Cognition Scale
• Complete the Thinking Styles Inventory
Thinking
In order to think about the world, we form……..
Concepts
• What are they?
• Concepts are
similar to
Piaget’s idea
of….
Schemas
These animals all look
different, but they fall under
our concept of “dogs”.
Cognitive Complexity
• = How simple or elaborate a person’s system
of personal constructs is
• Think of a person you like and someone you dislike. Take 5
minutes to write descriptions of these people. Pay special
attention to the person’s habit, beliefs, ways of treating others,
mannerisms, and similar attributes – any aspect of the person’s
personality or behavior, but NOT physical characteristics.
• Like –
• Dislike –
We base our concepts on ….
Prototypes
Which better fits your
prototype of a bird?
• 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
• If a new object is similar to our
prototype, we are better able
to recognize it.
If this was my prototype of a
man; then what am I? 
Prototypes
• Why does this matter?
– Prejudices –
• Less likely to recognize prejudice &
discrimination that does not fit our prototype
– Faces Experiment
• Faces Experiment
– Shown a face 70% Caucasian, people
remembered the face more Caucasian than
it actually was. (Same for Asian)
Problem Solving
Problem Solving
• Tower of Hanoi Problem
– Move the tower from the left peg to the right peg,
moving only 1 disk at a time and never putting a
larger disk on a smaller disk.
Solving Problems
Strategies
• Trial & Error
• Algorithms
– Step-by-step
• Heuristic
• Insight
Trial and Error
Algorithms
• Methodical, logical
rule or procedure
that guarantees
solving a particular
problem.
• Usually by using a
formula.
• They work but are
sometimes
impractical.
Heuristics
Who would you trust to
baby-sit your child?
• A rule-of-thumb
strategy that often
allows us to make
judgments and solve
problems efficiently.
• It is fast, but…
o Can be prone to errors
Your answer is based on your heuristic
of their appearances.
Insight
• A sudden and often
novel realization of the
solution to a problem.
• No real strategy
involved
The “Aha” Experience
• Sudden flash of insight
• What do you see in each?
• What is the relative position of “just?”
– you just me
• What do the words communicate?
– Stood
– Well
– View
Creativity
• Creativity
• Strernberg’s five components
– Expertise
– Imaginative thinking skills
– A venturesome
personality
– Intrinsic motivation
– A creative environment
Creativity
• Creativity Test #1
– You have 2 minutes to come up with as many uses as
possible for the following object:
• Creativity Test #2
– Try to think of at least 4 – 8 things that might happen
(changes) if we suddenly had three arms?
Obstacles to Problem Solving
• Confirmation bias
• Fixation
–Mental set
–Functional fixedness
Confirmation Bias
• A tendency to
search for
information that
confirms one’s
preconceptions.
For example, if you believe that during a
full moon there is an increase in
admissions to the emergency room
where you work, you will take notice of
admissions during a full moon, but be
inattentive to the moon when admissions
occur during other nights of the month.
Confirmation Bias
• We look for evidence to
confirm our beliefs and
ignore evidence that
contradicts them.
• For example, if one
believes that most of NJ
are Italians who are in
the mafia or are all
about GTL, then they
turn on MTV or HBO.
Look…I knew it was true!!!
But is it really?
Match Problem
Can you arrange these six matches into four
equilateral triangles?
Match Problem
Fixation
• The inability to
see a problem
from a new
perspective.
Mental set
• a.k.a. rigidity
• A tendency to approach a
problem in a particular way,
especially if it has worked in
the past.
(established thought patterns)
• May or may not be a good
thing.
• Door Problem
– You come to this door and
want to get to the room on the
other side…
– WHAT DO YOU DO?!
Mental set
• Mental Set # 1
– There are 6 eggs in a basket. Six people take one
of the eggs each. How is it that one egg can still be
left in the basket?
• Mental Set #2
– What occurs once in June, once in July, and twice
in August?
Functional Fixedness
• Tendency to think of things only
in terms of their usual functions
• Inability to see a new use for an
object.
Think of as many uses
as you can for a ……
Functional Fixedness
Functional Fixedness
Functional Fixedness
Functional Fixedness
Making Decisions and
Forming Judgments
Using and Misusing Heuristics
The Representative Heuristic
• Task #1 – A Die has 4 green sides and 2 red sides and will be
rolled several times. You will be paid $25 if either GRGRRR or
RGRRR occurs. Which would you choose?
• Task #2 – Linda is 31, single, outspoken, and very bright. She
majored in philosophy in college. As a student, she was deeply
concerned with discrimination and other social issues, and she
participated in antinuclear demonstrations.
– Which statement is more likely?
• A) Linda is a bank teller
• B) Linda is a bank teller and active in the feminist
movement.
Representative Heuristic
Task #3 – Who went to Harvard?
• If I tell you that Sonia Dara is a Sports Illustrated swimsuit
model, you would make certain quick judgments (heuristics)
about her…like about her interests or intelligence.
• She is an economics major at Harvard University.
Representative Heuristic
• A rule of thumb for
judging the likelihood
of things in terms of
how well they match
our prototype.
• Can cause us to ignore
important information.
Examples –
Below is Amy. She loves
books and hates loud noises.
Is Amy a librarian or a
beautician?
Chances are, she is a beautician!!!
• Why is it funny to think of Mr. Rockwell as a kindergarten teacher?
• Any stereotypes –
• Blondes are dumb (or have more fun), Irish are leprechauns (or drunks),
Germans are not funny, Psych teachers are awesome!
Using and Misusing Heuristics
The Base Rate Fallacy
• If a test detects a disease whose prevalence is 1 in
Tendency
to ignore
orrate
underuse
base-rate
1000
has a false
positive
of 5%, what
are the
chances
that a and
person
found be
to have
a positive
information
instead
influenced
byresults,
the
actually has the disease, assuming you know nothing
distinctive
features
else
about the
person? of the case being judged.
• Dr. Swinkels cousin, Rudy
– What do you think Rudy’s occupation most likely is?
– A) Farmer
C) Librarian
E) Lawyer
– B) Surgeon
D) Trapeze Artist
Using and Misusing Heuristics
• The Availability Heuristic
• Handout 7B-5
Availability Heuristic
• Estimating the
likelihood of events
based on their
“availability” in our
memory.
Although diseases kill many more
• If it comes to mind
people than accidents, it has been
shown that people will judge accidents easily (maybe a vivid event)
and diseases to be equally fatal.
we presume it is
common.
This is because accidents are more
dramatic and are often written up in the
paper or seen on the news on TV, and
are more available in memory than
diseases.
Availability Heuristic
Which place would you be more scared of getting mugged or
even murdered?
Camden, NJ
Orlando, FL
The crime rate of Camden, NJ is about the SAME as Orlando, FL, but when
you think of crime, which town comes to mind?
Example –
“The best pizza and wings are from my hometown.”
“Have you tried any others?”
“No”
Overconfidence
• FBI & Crime Questions
Overconfidence
• The tendency to be
more confident than
correct.
• To overestimate the
accuracy of your
beliefs and judgments.
• Results from 7B-5
Considering “overconfidence”
would you want to risk 1 million
dollars on an audience poll?
Overconfidence
The Belief Perseverance
Phenomenon
• Belief perseverance
– clinging to one’s initial
conceptions after the basis on
which they are formed has
been discredited.
• Belief Bias - People will tend to
accept any and all conclusions
that fit in with their systems of
belief, without challenge or any
deep consideration of what they
are actually agreeing with
– Capital Punishment Studies
• Effect?
• Consider the opposite
– Examples?
– Implications?
Language
The Effects of Framing
• Framing
–Framing experiments
The Effects of Framing
• Tasks
• The way a problem is presented can
drastically effect the way we view it.
• 90% of the population will be saved with
this medication…..or
• 10% of the population will die despite this
medication.
• Meat is 80% Fat-free! … or
• Meat is 20% Fat!
• Condoms have a 95% success rate! …. or
• Condoms have a 5% failure rate!
Language
Language
Introduction
• Definition –
– our spoken, written, or
signed words and the
ways we combine
them to communicate
meaning.
– Examples?
Language can be…..
Phonemes
• In a spoken language, the
smallest distinctive sound
unit.
• English has about 44
phonemes.
• Chug has three phonemes,
ch, u, g.
How many phonemes
does platypus have?
Phones make sound.
Phonemes Experiment
Morphemes
• The smallest unit of
meaningful sound.
– Most are combinations
of 2 or more phonemes
• Can be words like a or
but.
• Can also be parts of
words like prefixes or
suffixes…
– “ed” at the end of a
word means past tense.
Phonemes & Morphemes
Practice
• Phonemes
– How many phonemes (sounds) are in these words?
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Chin (3)
Habits (5)
Thing (3)
Psychology (8)
Nation (5)
Quickly (6)
laughed (4)
Phonemes & Morphemes
Practice
• Morphemes
– How many prefixes or suffixes can be added to the word READ?
– How many morphemes are in the following words?
1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)
9)
10)
11)
People (1)
Redevelopment (3)
Language (1)
Waited (2)
George’s (2)—the “-‘s” is a morpheme
Desirability (3)
Unhappy (2)
Water (1)
Higher (2)
Houseboat (2)
Antidisestablishmentarianism (7)
Grammar
• A system of rules in
a language that
enables us to
communicate and
understand others.
Semantics
• The set of rules
by which we
derive meaning
in a language.
– Adding ed at the
end of words
means past tense.
The Chinese languages
do not have expansive
semantic rules. They
usually have totally
different symbols for
different tenses.
Syntax
• The rules for
combining words into
grammatically
sensible sentences.
• Noun/Subject then
Verb/Predicate
• In English, adjectives
come before nouns,
but not in Spanish!
Is this the White House or
the House White?
Casa Blanca
Language Development
When Do We Learn Language?
• Receptive language
– Ability to comprehend speech
• Productive language
– Babbling stage
• link
– One-word stage
• link
– Two-word stage
• Telegraphic speech
• link
Language Development
When Do We Learn Language?
Language Development
When Do We Learn Language?
Language Development
When Do We Learn Language?
Language Development
When Do We Learn Language?
Language Development
When Do We Learn Language?
Language Development
When Do We Learn Language?
4 Stages
How do we learn language?
Language Development
Explaining Language Development
• Skinner: Operant
Learning
– Learning principles
• Association
• Imitation
• Reinforcement
– Explanation?
Language Development
Explaining Language Development
• Chomsky: Inborn Universal
Grammar
– Language acquisition
device (LAD)
• We acquire language too quickly for it
to be learned.
• We have this “learning box” inside
our heads that enable us to learn any
human language.
– Universal grammar
• All languages have same grammatical
building blocks
Language Development
Explaining Language Development
• Critical (sensitive) period
– It appears that a person who is
not exposed to any language
(after about age 9) will never be
able to fully develop in any
language
– Once a person passes through
this period, ability to develop
language is diminished
– Genie
Thinking and Language
Language Influences Thinking
• Whorf’s linguistic determinism
• Bilingual advantage
Whorf’s Linguistic Relativity
• The idea that
language
determines the way
we think (not vive
versa).
•The Hopi tribe has
no past tense in
their language, so
Whorf says they
rarely think of the
past.
Do people that speak more than one
language think differently depending
on their language at that time?
Thinking in Images
• Implicit memory
Thinking without Language
• We can think in words.
• But more often we think in mental
pictures.
In 1977, Reggie
Jackson hit 3 HR’s
against the
Dodgers. He has
stated that before
each at bat, he
visualizes crushing
a home run. Do you
think visualization
helps?
The End
Cognition
= the mental activities associated with
thinking, knowing, remembering, and
communicating.
Concept
= a mental grouping of similar objects,
events, ideas, or people.
Prototype
= a mental image or best example of a
category.
Algorithm
= 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.
Heuristic
= a simple thinking strategy that often allows
us to make judgments and solve problems
efficiently; usually speedier but also more
error-prone than algorithms.
Insight
= a sudden and often novel realization of the
solution to a problem; it contrasts with
strategy-based solutions.
Creativity
= 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.
Fixation
= the inability to see a problem from a new
perspective, by employing a different
mental set.
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 functions; an
impediment to problem solving.
Representativeness Heuristic
= judging the likelihood of things in terms of
how well they seem to represent, or
match, particular prototypes; may lead us
to ignore other relevant information.
Availability Heuristic
= estimating the likelihood of events based
on their availability in memory; if instances
come readily to mind (perhaps because of
their vividness), we presume such events
are common
Overconfidence
= the tendency to be more confident that
correct – to over-estimate the accuracy of
our beliefs and judgments.
Belief Perseverance
= clinging to one’s initial conceptions after
the basis on which they are formed has
been discredited.
Intuition
= an effortless, immediate, automatic feeling
or thought, as contrasted with explicit,
conscious reasoning.
Framing
= the way an issue is posed; how an issue is
framed can significantly affect decisions
and judgments.
Language
= our spoken, written, or signed words and
the ways we combine them to
communicate meaning.
Phoneme
= in language, the smallest distinctive sound
unit.
Morpheme
= in a language, the smallest unit that
carries meaning; may be a word or a part
of a word (such as a prefix).
Grammar
= in a language, a system of rules that
enables us to communicate with and
understand others.
Semantics
= the set of rules by which we derive
meaning from morphemes, words, and
sentences in a given language; also, the
study of meaning.
Syntax
= 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 two-word statements.
Telegraphic Speech
= early speech state in which a child speaks
like a telegram – “go car” – using mostly
nouns and verbs.
Linguistic Determinism
= Whorf’s hypothesis that language
determines the way we think.
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