Thinking & Intelligence Unit 5
Thinking and Intelligence • GerdGigerenzer has written about fears that he calls dread risks • Dread risks can result when events with dire consequences receive a lot of publicity, even when the publicized events have a low probability of recurring • The resulting fears can profoundly affect reasoning and decision making • 9/11 caused many more people to fear flying even though the number of people who die in car accidents every year far exceeds the number who die in airline disasters or hijackings
What Is Thought? Distinguish between analogical and symbolic representations. Describe the defining attribute, prototype, and exemplar models of concepts. Discuss the positive and negative consequences of using schemas and scripts.
Thinking Is the Manipulation of Mental Representations The field of cognitive psychology is the study of thought. It was originally based on two ideas: The brain represents information Thinking is the mental manipulation of these representations Our thoughts consist of mental representations of the objects and information that we encounter in our environments Cognition includes thinking and the understandings that result from thinking
Thinking Involves Two Types of Representations • Analogical representations: mental representations that have some of the physical characteristics of objects, e.g. maps • When we think of an object, we often bring to mind a visual image, or analogical representation, of the object • Pause and think about a lemon: What form did your “lemon” thought take? • Symbolic representations: abstract mental representations that do not correspond to the physical features of objects or ideas, e.g. words or ideas • Neural activity occurs when we look at objects, and it can be reactivated when we recall the objects
Mental Maps Combine Representation • Mental maps can include both analogical and symbolic representations • Symbolic representations can lead to errors, because we can represent only a limited range of knowledge analogically and thus use memory shortcuts unconsciously • Which is farther east, San Diego, California, or Reno, Nevada? • Which is farther north, Seattle, Washington, or Montreal, Canada?
Concepts Are Symbolic Representations • Grouping things based on shared properties, categorization, reduces the amount of knowledge we must hold in memory and is therefore an efficient way of thinking • Much of our knowledge of the world is based on concepts, or categories of items organized around common themes • concept: a mental representation that groups or categorizes objects, events, or relations around common themes
Defining Attribute Model Defining attribute model: In this way of thinking about concepts, a category is characterized by a list of features that determine if an object is a member For example, a “bachelor” is characterized by being unmarried and male The model suggests: membership within a category is on an all-or-none basis; all of a given category’s attributes are equally important in defining that category; all members of a category are equal in category membership We often make exceptions in our categorizations, and some attributes are more important for defining membership The boundaries between categories are much fuzzier than the defining attribute model suggests Is every unmarried male a “bachelor”?
Prototype Model • Prototype model: Within each category, there is a best example—a prototype—for that category • One positive feature of the prototype model is that it allows for flexibility in the representation of concepts • One drawback related to such flexibility is that a particular prototype can be chosen for different reasons: Life experiences, culture, or location can influence the prototype for a category
Exemplar Model • Exemplar model: All members of a category are examples (exemplars); together they form the concept and determine category membership • It assumes that, through experience, people form a fuzzy representation of a concept because there is no single representation of any concept • It accounts for the observation that some category members are more prototypical than others: The prototypes are simply members we have encountered more often How would you explain the difference between a dog and a cat to someone who has never seen either? Most dogs bark, but a dog is still a dog if it does not bark
Schemas Organize Useful Information about Environments • Schemas are cognitive structures that help us perceive, organize, and process information • Scripts are schemas that dictate appropriate behavior. • What we view as appropriate is shaped by culture • Schemas and scripts are adaptive in that they enable us to make quick judgments with little effort What sequence of events does the script going to the movies include? How would you feel if a stranger sat next to you in the theater, or started talking?
Schemas Organize Useful Information about Environments Schemas and scripts may lead us to think and act in stereotypical ways stereotypes: cognitive schemas that allow for easy, fast processing of information about people based on their membership in certain groups Gender roles are the prescribed behaviors for females and males and represent a type of schema that operates at the unconscious level The schemas and scripts that children learn are likely to affect their behavior when they are older
Psychology: Knowledge You Can Use—How Can Dating Scripts Help Me Navigate in My Romantic Life? • According to Amiraian and Sobal (2009), “Dating scripts are shared cognitive representations of likely sequences of dating events and sets of appropriate dating behaviors based on social norms and previous experiences that direct decisions and behavior on dates.” • Knowing how a date is likely to unfold removes some of the ambiguity of an event • Following a generally accepted script and behaving consistently with a set of culturally accepted rules helps manage the impressions that other people form about you • Let your values and beliefs guide your behavior; collaborate on a date that feels right to you
How Do We Make Decisions and Solve Problems? • Distinguish between deductive and inductive reasoning. • Distinguish between normative and descriptive models of decision making. • Explain how heuristics, framing, and affective forecasting influence decision making. • Review strategies that facilitate insight and problem solving.
How Do We Make Decisions and Solve Problems? Thinking enables us to do the following: reasoning: using information to determine if a conclusion is valid or reasonable decision making: attempting to select the best alternative among several options problem solving: finding a way around an obstacle to reach a goal
People Use Deductive and Inductive Reasoning • When drawing conclusions, we engage in deductive and inductive reasoning • Errors, such as making biased choices in what evidence to consider, can lead to false conclusions in both deductive and inductive reasoning tasks
Deductive Reasoning • In deductive reasoning, you use logic to draw specific conclusions under certain assumptions (premises) • deductive reasoning: using general rules to draw conclusions about specific instances • In research, a deductive reasoning task is often expressed as a syllogism, e.g. If A is true, then B is true • We can come up with a valid but incorrect conclusion, however, if the premises use terms inconsistently or ambiguously • Consider the following: • Nothing is better than a piece of warm apple pie • A few crumbs of bread are better than nothing • Therefore, a few crumbs of bread are better than warm apple pie How might prior beliefs or schemas interfere with deductive reasoning?
Inductive Reasoning • Inductive reasoning involves reasoning from the specific to the general • inductive reasoning: using specific instances to draw conclusions about general rules • For example, if your Italian friend is fashionable, you may induce that Italians in general are fashionable How might inductive reasoning lead to erroneous conclusions?
Inductive and Deductive Reasoning Combined • You always bump into your roommate at the coffee shop • Through inductive reasoning, you believe she really likes coffee • Therefore you decide through deductive reasoning to get her a Starbucks gift card for her birthday
Reasoning and the Scientific Method • The use of the scientific method to discover general principles is one example of inductive reasoning • The scientific method dictates that scientists meet certain standards when inducing general principles from several specific instances • These standards are designed to guard against biases in inductive reasoning • In day-to-day life, however, we may be more likely to reach inappropriate conclusions when reasoning about general principles from everyday circumstances • People are strongly influenced by anecdotal reports
Decision Making Often Involves Heuristics • In their research on decision making, psychologists have studied normative models and descriptive models: • Normative models of decision making view people as optimal decision makers • Descriptive models account for actual behavior • Expected utility theory is one normative model of how we should make decisions by considering the possible alternatives and choosing the most desirable one • Research has demonstrated, however, that we are not always rational in making decisions
Decision Making Often Involves Heuristics Tversky and Kahneman identified several common heuristics heuristics: shortcuts (rules of thumb or informal guidelines) used to reduce the amount of thinking that is needed to make decisions Heuristic thinking often occurs unconsciously and allows us to free up some cognitive resources Heuristic thinking can be adaptive in that it allows us to decide quickly rather than weighing all the evidence each time we have to decide Heuristics can also result in biases, which may lead to errors or faulty decisions An algorithm is a procedure that, if followed correctly, will always yield the correct answer
Framing Effects • How information is presented can alter how people perceive it • framing: the effect of presentation on how information is perceived
Framing Effects To account for framing’s effects, Kahneman and Tversky came up with prospect theory, a major theory in decision making Prospect theory has two main components: a person’s wealth affects his or her choices loss aversion: Because losses feel much worse than gains feel good, a person will try to avoid situations that involve losses
Critical Thinking Skills: Understanding How Heuristics Can Affect Your Thinking • Prototypes are readily available in memory. We tend to rely on prototypes in making decisions • availability heuristic: making a decision based on the answer that most easily comes to mind • We base decisions on the extent to which each option reflects what we already believe about a situation • representativeness heuristic: placing a person or object in a category if that person or object is similar to one’s prototype for that category • Heuristics can lead to faulty reasoning if you fail to take other information into account, such as the base rate (how frequently an event occurs) • Once we know that such shortcuts can lead us to make faulty judgments, we can use heuristics carefully as we seek to make rational decisions
Affective Forecasting • Gilbert and Wilson have found that people are not good at affective forecasting, or predicting how they will feel about a future event • People tend to overestimate the extent to which negative events will affect them in the future • We engage in adaptive strategies — such as rationalizing why an event happened and minimizing the event’s importance — to cope with negative events.
Affective Forecasting • People seem unaware that they can find positive outcomes from tragic events, and typically when considering a hypothetical aversive event, they overestimate the misery and underestimate how well they will cope with the event • Affective forecasting can also influence our perceptions of positive events: • How would you feel if you won an Olympic medal? • Now, compare winning the silver medal vs. the gold.
The Paradox of Choice • Psychological reactance occurs when we are told what to do and what not to do; we react by wanting to do exactly what is forbidden to us even if we had no strong preferences before our choices were restricted • Iyengar and Lepper’s study indicates that having many possibilities can make it difficult to choose one item • According to psychologist Barry Schwartz, the consequence of nearly unlimited choice makes some people miserable and may help explain the increase in clinical depression. He divides the world into satisficersandmaximizers. • Satisficerslook around until they find something that most closely matches what they want and buy it, without worrying about whether better or cheaper products are available • Maximizers always seek to make the best possible choices. They hesitate in making decisions, and they feel paralyzed by indecision when they have to select between equally attractive choices. As a result, they generally are more disappointed with their decisions and more likely to experience regret
Problem Solving Achieves Goals • A person has a problem when he or she has no simple and direct means of attaining a particular goal • To solve the problem, the person must use knowledge to determine how to move from the current state to the goal state • Often, the person must devise strategies to overcome obstacles • How the person thinks about the problem can help or hinder that person’s ability to find solutions
Organization of Subgoals • One approach to the study of problem solving is to identify people’s steps in solving particular problems • Breaking down a problem into subgoals is an important component of problem solving • When you are facing a complex problem, identifying the appropriate steps or subgoals and their order can be challenging