Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
CHAPTER 7:
Thinking and Language
Thought and Language
Concepts
Solving Problems
Making Judgments
Language
The Relationship Between Thought and
Language
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Concepts
 Concept

A mental grouping of persons, ideas, events,
or objects that share common properties
 Prototype

A “typical” member of a category, one that
has most of the defining features of that
category
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Concepts
A Semantic Network
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Representing the Problem
 Image

A mental representation of visual
information
 Mental Models

Intuitive theories about the way things work
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Representing the Problem
Mental-Rotation Tasks





Imagine a Capital letter T.
Rotate it 90 degrees to the right.
Put a triangle to the left of the figure, pointing to the right.
Rotate the figure 90 degrees to the right.
Which of these figures is the correct one?
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Representing the Problem
Can Baboons Mentally Rotate Objects?
 Baboons were trained to use
joystick
 Shown sample stimulus
 Then shown two comparison
stimuli, one was the rotated
form of the sample
 Task was to select the
comparison stimulus that
matched the original sample
 Baboons learned to pick the
correct stimulus 70% of the
time
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Generating Solutions
 Trial and Error

A problem-solving strategy in which several
solutions are attempted until one is found
that works
 Algorithm

A problem-solving procedure that is
guaranteed to produce a solution
 Heuristic

A mental shortcut that allows one to make
judgments that are quick but often in error
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Generating Solutions
Tower of Hanoi Problem
 The task is to move three rings from peg A to peg C.
 Only the top ring on a peg may be moved.
 A larger ring cannot be placed above a smaller one.
Hint:
It helps to
break the
task into
subgoals.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Generating Solutions
The Cheap-Necklace Problem
 Make a necklace for 15¢ or less.
 It costs 2¢ to open a link; 3¢ to close a
link.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Generating Solutions
The Nine-Dot Problem
 Connect all 9 dots.
 Use only 4 lines.
 Do not lift your pencil
from the page after
you begin drawing.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Generating Solutions
Duncker's Candle Problem
 Using only the objects
shown in the picture,
mount the candle to
the wall.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Solution to the Cheap-Necklace Problem
 Using all four chains is not necessary to solve the problem.
 Solving this problem may require an incubation period
followed by insight into the solution.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Solution to the Nine-Dot Problem
 People do not realize
that they their lines
can be drawn outside
the box.
 Failure to solve this
problem is often due
to representation
failure.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
Solution to Duncker's Candle Problem
 The thumbtack box
can also be used as
a shelf.
 Failure to solve this
problem is often
due to functional
fixedness.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems
“Blind Spots” in Problem Solving
 Functional Fixedness

Tendency to think of objects only in terms of their
usual functions
 Mental Set

Tendency to return to a problem-solving strategy
that worked in the past
 Confirmation Bias

Inclination to search only for evidence that will
verify one’s beliefs
 Belief Perseverance

Tendency to cling to beliefs even after they have
been discredited
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Making Judgments
A Conditional-Reasoning Problem
with a Familiar Context
 Each card has a drink
on one side, a person’s
age on the other.
 Are the beer drinkers
all over 21 years old?
 Test this idea using as
few cards as possible.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Making Judgments
Biases in Judgment
 Representativeness Heuristic

Tendency to estimate the likelihood of an event in
terms of how typical it seems
 Availability Heuristic

Tendency to estimate the likelihood of an event in
terms of how easily instances of it can be recalled
 Illusion of Control


Tendency for people to believe that they can control
chance events that mimic skill situations
This may explain why some people gamble.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Making Judgments
Biases in Judgment, continued
 Anchoring Effect

The tendency to use the initial value as a
reference point in making a new numerical
estimate
 Framing Effect

Biasing effects on decision making due to the
way in which a choice is worded
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Solving Problems and Making Judgments
Steps in Critical Thinking
Critical Thinking
The process of
solving problems
and making
decisions through
careful
evaluation of
evidence
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Language
Characteristics of Human Language I
 Semanticity


The property of language that accounts for the
communication of meaning
Phonemes
• Basic, distinct sounds of a spoken language

Morpheme
• The smallest meaningful unit of a language

Phrase
• A group of words that act as a unit to convey meaning

Sentence
• An organized sequence of words
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Language
Characteristics of Human Language II
 Generativity


The property of language that accounts for the
capacity to use a limited number of words to
produce an infinite variety of expressions
Syntax
• Rules of grammar that govern the arrangement
of words in a sentence
 Displacement

The property of language that accounts for the
capacity to communicate about matters that are not
in the here-and-now
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Can Animals Learn Language?
 Many apes of several species have learned
various different signing systems.
 Is it language?




Semanticity: “Language apes” satisfy this
criterion.
Generativity: Apes can use the same words in
different orders to initiate different actions.
Displacement: Researchers say apes refer to
past events, but most evidence is anecdotal.
This debate continues.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
The Relationship Between
Thought and Language
The Linguistic-Relativity Hypothesis


The hypothesis that language determines, or
at least influences, the way we think
This leads to a prediction that people of
different cultures, who speak different
languages, must think in different ways.
 Evidence indicates that language influences
but does not completely determine thought.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
The Relationship Between
Thought and Language
Labels Can Distort Memory
 Participants were
shown figures on the
left, with different
labels.
 When asked to redraw
the figures, the new
drawings fit the labels
they had been given.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
The Relationship Between
Thought and Language
Culture, Language, & Thinking
 The Dani – aboriginal
people of Papua New
Guinea – have only two
words for colors.

Mola (all colors on the
left) and Mili (all colors
on the right)
 They can distinguish
among the different
colors, however.
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
Psychological Impact of Sexist
Language
Guidelines for Nonsexist Language
Common Sexist Terms
Nonsexist Alternatives
Man, mankind
People, human beings
Manpower
Work force, personnel
He, his
He or she, his or her
Freshman
First-year student, frosh
Chairman
Head, chair, chairperson
Psychology, 4/e by Saul Kassin
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Thinking and Language