Chapter summary imageHow can we solve problems and make thoughtful decisions?

WHAT IS COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY?

  • Cognition comprises the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating.
  • Cognitive scientists assess the attention and steps associated with mental processes.

WHAT IS INTELLIGENCE, AND HOW CAN WE MEASURE IT?

  • Intelligence is the capacity to reason, solve problems, and acquire new knowledge.
  • Intelligence tests, such as the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, measure aptitude rather than achievement. They give you an intelligence quotient (IQ) score that is based on your mental age and chronological age.
  • Genetics are believed to influence intelligence levels more than environmental factors do.
  • Intelligence seems to be located in many parts of our brain.
  • Many psychologists believe there are multiple types of intelligence.

HOW DO WE REASON, SOLVE PROBLEMS, AND MAKE DECISIONS?

  • We group similar objects, events, and people into concepts. We develop typical examples that represent key features of a concept, called prototypes.
  • We use current and remembered information to find a solution to a task. We can use specific strategies (such as algorithms) to solve problems, and we occasionally experience insight. If we are unable to find a solution to a problem, it may be due to functional fixedness, an inability to think in unconventional ways.
  • Reasoning is the process of organizing information into a series of steps to reach conclusions. Overconfidence, belief bias, confirmation bias, and the conjunction fallacy may all lead to errors in reasoning.
  • Decision making is the process of selecting and rejecting available options. Rational choice theory and prospect theory both explain aspects of human decision making.

HOW DOES ATTENTION HELP US PROCESS INFORMATION?

  • Attention—the way the brain selectively processes important information—is either endogenous (goal-directed) or exogenous (stimulus-driven).
  • Our attention is limited to a few stimuli at any one given time.

HOW ARE VERBAL AND VISUAL COGNITION RELATED?

  • Language is the system of symbols that enables us to communicate. We modify our style of speaking depending on our audience, called style shifting.
  • According to the linguistic relativity hypothesis, the language we speak influences the way in which we perceive the world.
  • According to dual-coding theory, we process words for concrete concepts both visually and verbally, but we code words for abstract concepts only verbally.