Chapter 10
Thinking and
Language
10-1
10-1 Thinking
1. Describe the nature of concepts and the role of prototypes in concept formation.
2. Discuss how we use trial and error, algorithms, heuristics, and insight to solve
problems.
3. Describe how the confirmation bias and fixation can interfere with effective problem
solving.
4. Explain how the representativeness and availability heuristics influence our
judgments.
5. Describe the effects that overconfidence and framing can have on our judgments
and decisions.
6. Discuss how our beliefs distort logical reasoning, and describe the belief
perseverance
phenomenon.
7. Describe artificial intelligence, and contrast the human mind and the computer as
information processors.
10-1
Thinking
 Q1. A man bought a horse for $60 and sold it for $70. Then he bought
the same horse back for $80 and again sold it for $90. How much money
did he make in the horse business?
 Q2. A man bought a horse for $60 and sold it for $70. Then he bought
firewood for $80 and again sold it for $90. How much money did he
make?
 Question 2 is much easier b/c of the way that the question is framed.
 Framing - the way an (issue or question) is posed
 how an issue is framed can significantly affect decisions and
judgments (it may or may not—ie open ended question)
 Another Example: What is the best way to market ground beef--as
25% fat or 75% lean?
10-1
Thinking
 thinking- the mental activity involved in the understanding, processing,
and communication of info
aka <<cognition>>
 Cognitive Psychologists
 study these mental activities
 concept formation
 problem solving
 decision making
 judgment formation
10-1
Thinking
 Concept
 mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, or people
 ex. concept of a ball-football, golf ball, basketball,
baseball, bouncing ball, crystal ball
 Concepts can be subdivided into hierarchies
 Prototype
 mental image or best example of a category
 matching new items to the prototype provides a quick and easy method
for including items in a category (as when comparing feathered creatures
to a prototypical bird, such as a robin)
10-1
Thinking
 Algorithm
 methodical,formulaic logical rule or procedure that guarantees
solving a particular problem
 contrasts with the usually speedier–but also more error-prone-use of heuristics
Thinking
 Heuristic
 “Cognitive shortcut”
 simple thinking strategy that often allows us to make
judgments and solve problems efficiently
 usually speedier than algorithms
 more error-prone than algorithms
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10-1
10-1
Thinking
Unscramble
SPLOYOCHYG
 Algorithm
 all 907,208 combinations
 Heuristic
 throw out all YY combinations
 other heuristics?
10-1
Thinking
 Insight
 sudden and often novel realization of the solution to a
problem without; an “epiphany”
 contrasts with strategy-based solutions
 Exc: The “Aha!” Experience
10-1
Thinking
Fig 1: side view of squinting face or soldier & dog passing archway?
Fig 2: ghoul & ears looking over fence or custodian cleaning floor?
10-1
Thinking
 You just me
 Stood
well
View
HUH?
What is the smallest # of links that need to be opened and resoldered to make a continous chain of 15?
10-1
Thinking

1.
2.
3.
Riddles:
The maker doesn’t want it, the buyer doesn’t use it, and the user doesn’t see it.
What is it?
Coffin
A man left home one morning. He turned right and ran striaght ahead. Then he
turned left. After a while, he turned left again, running faster than ever. Then he
turned left once more and decided to go home. In the distance he could see
two masked men waiting for him. Who were they?
The umpire and the other team’s catcher
Translate: YYURYYUBICURYY4ME
Too wise you are, too wise you be, I see you are, too wise for me.
10-1
Thinking
 Confirmation Bias
 tendency to search for information that confirms one’s
preconceptions and ignore contradictory information
 David Levy Study- Asked college kids to interview to determine introversion/
extroversion
 ½ were asked to det if interviewee was ext (asked ext rel q’s)
 ½ to det if int was int (asked int rel q’s)
 Therapists may selectively elicit clinical information that affirms
their initial diagnostic impressions
 Ie. Have you had occasion to drink alone? (who hasn’t – are we
all alcs?)
10-1
Thinking
Objectives:
3. Describe how the confirmation bias and fixation can interfere with effective
problem solving.
4. Explain how the representativeness and availability heuristics influence our
judgments.
6. Discuss how our beliefs distort logical reasoning, and describe the belief
perseverance
phenomenon.
8. Describe the structure of language in terms of sounds, meanings, and
grammar.
10-1
Thinking
 Fixation
 inability to see a problem from a new perspective
 impediment to problem solving
 Once we incorrectly represent the problem, it’s hard to
restructure how we approach it
The Matchstick
Problem
10-1
10-1
 How would you arrange
six matches to form four
equilateral triangles?
The Matchstick
Problem
10-1
 Solution to the
matchstick problem
10-1
Thinking
 Mental Set
 tendency to approach a problem in a particular way
 especially a way that has been successful in the past
but may or may not be helpful in solving a new problem
 Like a perceptual set but it affects problem solving
 << ment set is a type of fixation as is functional
fixedness>>
10-1
Thinking
 What number is next in this series?
10,4,3,11,15……..?
a. 14 b. 1 c. 17 d. 12
Ten
Four
Three
Eleven
Fifteen
fourteen
10-1
Thinking
 Functional Fixedness
 tendency to think of things only in terms of their usual
functions
 impediment to problem solving
 Ie. Looking all over house for a screwdriver instead of
using nickel in pocket.
 Walking through rain w/ newspaper under arm rather
than using as umbrella
The Candle-Mounting
Problem
10-1
 Using these
materials, how
would you mount
the candle on a
bulletin board?
The Candle-Mounting
Problem
10-1
 Solving this
problem requires
recognizing that a
box need not
always serve as a
container
Heuristics
 Representativeness Heuristic
 judging the likelihood of things in terms of how well
they seem to represent, or match, particular
prototypes
 may lead one to ignore other relevant information
10-1
10-1
Heuristics – Rep
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
>>the probability of 2 uncertain events occurring together is always
less than the odds of either happening alone.
P 389-390: Truck Driver or Poet??

10-1
10-1
10-1
Heuristics
 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
 Example: airplane crash seen on news leads one to
drive
 Classroom exc-deaths per 100k
10-1
Thinking
 Overconfidence
 tendency to be more confident than correct
 tendency to overestimate the accuracy of one’s
beliefs and judgments
10-1
Thinking
 Belief Bias
 the tendency for one’s preexisting beliefs to distort
logical reasoning
 sometimes by making invalid conclusions seem valid or
valid conclusions seem invalid
10-1
Thinking
No Gox box when in purple socks.
Jocks is a Gox wearing purple socks.
Therefore Jocks does not now box.
Logical Conclusion?
No cars run when they’re out of fuel.
My car is out of fuel.
Therefore my car does not now run.
Logical Conclusion?
10-1
Thinking
 >>both are valid but we are not strictly logical thinkers
and beliefs can distort logic which is why the 2nd
conclusion is easier to ascertain
10-1
Thinking
Some A are B.
Some B are C.
Therefore some A are C.
Seems Logical, Right?
Some women are Democrats.
Some Democrats are men.
Therefore some women are men.
 Maybe not.
>>both are invalid
10-1
Thinking
Some A are B.
Some B are C.
Therefore some A are C.
Some cars are Toyotas.
Some Toyotas are trucks.
Therefore some cars are trucks.
10-1
Thinking
 Belief Perseverance
 clinging to one’s initial conceptions after the basis on
which they were formed has been discredited
 Once we form belief, we ignore contrary evidence
 Once beliefs form and get justified, it takes more
compelling evidence to change them than it did to
create them
 Ex p 396 Mark Lepper firefighters as cautious or risk
taker pers type
10-1
Artificial Intelligence
 “Mary saw a bicycle in the store window. She wanted it.”
 We draw from vast amts of knowledge and schemas that have nothing to do
w/ syntax. We know 100 mil things about the world.
 Does a computer know what Mary wants?
 Artificial Intelligence designing and programming computer systems
 to do intelligent things
 to simulate human thought processes
 intuitive reasoning
 learning
 understanding language
 Check out: http://www.cyc.org
10-1
Artificial Intelligence
 Computer Neural Networks
 computer circuits that mimic the brain’s
interconnected neural cells
 performing tasks
 learning to recognize visual patterns
 learning to recognize smells
Language
Language Structure
phonemes – smallest distinctive sound unit of a language
a set of basic sounds
ex. b, a, t, ch, k, s
English language has about 40
consonant phonemes carry more info than vowel phonemes
<<The treth of thes statement shed be evedent frem thes bref
demenstrtretien.>>
 people who grow up learning one set of phonemes usually have
difficulty pronouncing phonemes from other languages
 ex. th sound tough for a German, says “dis” for this
 Ich (German for I) is tough for native Eng spkrs
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10-2
Language
Chat- How many phonemes?
3 – CH
A
T
morpheme- the smallest unit of language that carries meaning
usually a combo of 2 or more phonemes
however, some phonemes are also morphemes
ex. I
some morphemes are words like bat, but prefixes and suffixes are
also morphemes
 —bat(s)- 2 morphemes
 Undesirables- How many morphemes?
 4- UN
DESIR
ABLE
S
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10-2
Language
grammar- system of rules that enables us to communicate w/ and
understand others
– made up of syntax and semantics
semantics – the set of rules by which we derive meaning from
morphemes, words and sentences
ex. adding –ed to a verb makes it past tense
syntax – rules for ordering words into sentences
ex. adj. Come before nouns
-not true in Spanish (white house v casa blanca)
10-2
10-2
10-2 Language


9. Trace the course of language acquisition from the babbling stage through
language explosion stage.
10. Explain how the nature-nurture debate is illustrated in the various theories
of language development.
10-2
Language Development
 U know apx 80k words
 After age 1 – learn avg of 13/ day and 5k/ yr
 Most parents struggle stating rules of syntax but before children
can add 2+2, they’re creating grammatically correct sentences
 Preschoolers comprehend & speak w/ a facility that puts college
students trying to learn for lang to shame
 Children know that sounds comm meaning and thus move from
babbling to one word stage
10-2
Language Development
 Acquiring Language
 infants are born w/ no language
 by 4 months can understand cause and effect and discriminate
speech sounds
> marks beginning of the babbling stage
 when babies utter nonsense sounds unrelated to the language of
their parents
-ex. ah-goo, da-da-da-da-da
 not an imitation of adult speech
 you can’t discern nationality from babbling and deaf children also
babble
 before 10 months babies can make a wide variety of phonemes,
they begin to lose this ability at this point
 by 10 months babbling has changed enough to guess nationality
10-2
Language
 We are all born to recognize speech sounds from all the
world’s languages
Percentage able 100
to discriminate
90
Hindi t’s
80
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Hindispeaking
adults
6-8
months
8-10
months
10-12
months
Infants from English-speaking homes
Englishspeaking
adults
Language
 One-Word Stage (12 mos)
10-2
Language
 Two-Word Stage
 beginning about age 2
 the stage in speech development during which a child
speaks in mostly two-word statements
 Also Called: Telegraphic Speech
 child speaks like a telegram-–“go car”--using mostly
nouns and verbs and omitting “auxiliary” words
10-2
10-2
Language
Summary of Language Development
Month
(approximate)
Stage
4
Babbles many speech sounds.
10
Babbling reveals households
language.
12
One-word stage.
24
Two-word, telegraphic speech.
24+
Language develops rapidly into
complete sentences.
*18 mo – go from 1 new word/ wk to 1/ day
Language
10-2
 Genes design
the
mechanisms for
a language,
and experience
activates them
as it modifies
the brain
10-2
Language
Percentage
correct on
grammar
test
 New language
learning gets
harder with age
100
90
80
70
60
50
Native 3-7
8-10 11-15 17-39
Age at school
Explaining Language
Development
 Nature v. Nurture Debate resurfaces
 Chomsky v. Skinner
 BF Skinner (behaviorist-Nurture)-explained lang dev w/
learning principles
1. Association-sight of things w/ sound
2. Imitation/ Modeling/ Observational Learning-of
words spoken by others
3. Reinforcement-success, smiles & hugs
10-2
Language
 Noam Chomsky (Nativist Theory)—disagrees
 Believes children do learn from environment <<BUT>>
 They acquire untaught words & grammar too quickly to be explained solely
by learning.
 Stated Skinner failed to exp how kids learn syntax w/o having been taught
grammar
>>children generate unique, complex sentences that they’ve never heard
>>idea of L.A.D. – Language Acquisition Device and Critical Period
>>principles of language are in our genes
>>Lenneberg
>>Overregularization/ Overgeneralization of Grammar supports idea of
universal grammar/ language (Chomsky)
ie. He “holded” the candy.
10-2
10-2
Language


11. Discuss Whorf’s linguistic determinism hypothesis and the relationship
between thought and language.
12. Describe the research on animal intelligence and communication and
discuss the controversy over whether animals have language.
10-2
Thinking & Language
Linguistic Determinism (Linguistic Relativism)
 Whorf”s hypothesis that language determines the way we think
 Hopi no past tense (Whorf thought they couldn’t conceptualize past)
 Eng v Jap (Eng-lots of self-focused vocab, Jap-more vocab for interpersonal
relations)-bilinguals report different sense of self depending on what language
they’re using
 Univ of Waterloo Study (2002) asked China-born bilingual students to desc self in
Chinese and English
 In English-self desc mostly positive self statements
 In Chinese-equal positive and negative self-statements (balance)
>>lang shaped how they thought about themselves
Language
10-2
 The interplay of
thought and language
Animal Thinking and
Language
Animals communicate
Does their communication = language?
Aristotle thought lone honeybee led others to honey source
1901-German rsrchr trapped lone bee when it returned to
hive; others still flew straight to honey
 Karl von Frisch (1950) won Nobel Prize for experiment
showing that explorer bee communicated honey location
through a dance
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10-2
Animal Thinking and
Language
Direction of
nectar source
 The straight-line part of the
dance points in the direction
of a nectar source, relative
to the sun
 Duration of dance indicates
distance
 Dance signals # of
landmarks passed in route
>>bees do communicate but
not w/ complexity of
humans
10-2
Animal Thinking and
Language
 Do animals think?
 Monkeys display object permanence
 Rsrchrs found 39 local customs related to chimp tool
use, grooming, courtship
 Tool development and use shows that chimps can
solve problems shaped by reinforcement
 Chimps display insight
>>Wolfgang Kohler (1925) exp with Sultan (p413)
 Animals do not show Theory of Mind (p 414 & p151)
10-2
Animal Thinking and
Language
 Chimps are our closest genetic relative
 1969 Allen & Beatrix Gardner teach chimp Washoe sign
language (learns 132 signs)
>>generated scientific & public interest in animal language
10-2
Animal Thinking and
Language
 Human Lang may’ve evolved from Gestured Communication
10-2
Animal Thinking and
Language
10-2
 Is this really
language?
Animal Thinking and
Language
 Critics: It’s just operant behavior.
 Chimp uses “you tickle” and “tickle you”
interchangeably
>>chimps do not develop language (syntax)
 Perceptual sets at work in trainers’ wishful thinking in
interpreting chimp signs as language
>>Washoe signing water bird is just separately naming
water and bird
10-2
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Introduction to Psychology