COURSE NOTES: Introductory Psychology
Thinking, Language, and Intelligence
Notes for Psychology 101: based on Myers's text, Exploring Psychology, with supplements and modifications by the instructor, Prof. Cloninger.
| denotes a term that you should know how to define, and to recognize and give examples.
denotes an important person. You should remember this person's name and what (s)he has done.
denotes an important research finding.
denotes an issue that you should be able to discuss or explain.
concepts: "mental groupings of similar objects, events, and people"
examples (from Zimbardo video):
- all examples of a physical object (shoes)
- events (walking)
- living organisms (a person)
- attribute (fast)
- abstractions (love)
Concept problem (from Zimbardo video)
Which of these does not belong?
- "Sun shines."
- "Stars twinkle."
- "Bats sleep."
Might more than one answer be correct?
Might ambiguities like this cause bias in testing?
prototype: a best example of a particular category
robin (not turkey) as a prototypical bird
algorithm: "a step-by-step procedure that guarantees a solution"
ex: following a mathematical formula or procedure
heuristics: "simple rule-of-thumb strategies"
ex: "control the center of the board" as a strategy in playing chess
insight: "sudden flashes of inspiration"
ex: Köhler's apes
Obstacles to Problem Solving
confirmation bias: "searching for information that confirms our ideas"
fixation: "the inability to see a problem from a fresh perspective"
How would you arrange 6 matchsticks to form 4 equilateral triangles?
functional fixedness: "our tendency to perceive the functions of objects as fixed and unchanging
With a candle, thumbtacks, and a box of wooden matches, how would you mount the candle on a bulletin board?
Making Decisions and Forming Judgments
Using and Misusing Heuristics
The Representativeness Heuristic
"to judge the likelihood of things in terms of how well they represent particular prototypes"
A short, slim person who likes to read poetry is more likely to be:
a. a professor of classics at an Ivy League university
b. a truck driver
The Availability Heuristic
"when we base our judgments on the availability of information in our memories"
Is K more often the first or the third letter of words in English?
"a tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our knowledge and judgments"
framing: "the impact of the way we present an issue"
example: anchoring (length of Mississippi river)
The Belief Perseverance Phenomenon
"our tendency to cling to our beliefs in the face of contradictary evidence"
People who listen to mixed information about the death penalty continue to believe what they already believed (Lord et al, 1979; cited in Myers, p. 301).
Remedy: Consider the opposite!
language: "our spoken, written, or gestured words and the ways we combine them as we think and communicate"
Language Includes Various Abilities
Clinical cases of language disturbances make this point emphatically. Consider the 70-year-old man who developed great difficulty printing lower-case letters, but who was unimpaired in printing upper-case letters, or in writing cursively regardless of case.
vocabulary is, on average, 80,000 words by high school graduation, or about 13 new words each day from age 1 to 18
Acquiring Language: stages
- babbling stage
resembles family language by about 10 months (losing unused sounds)
- one-word stage: age 1
- two-word stage: telegraphic speech
- longer phrases
Explaining Language Development
nurture: Skinner (operant learning)
nature: Chomsky (inborn universal grammar)
cognitive scientists: statistical learning
Experience Influences Biology!
Brain waves confirm what behavior also shows: that native speakers of Japanese do not distinguish English language "r" and "l" sounds (which are not present in the Japanese language). Researchers believe that the brain structure and functioning has been affected by the presence or absence of the "r" and "l" stimuli heard by young children (Buchwald et al, 1994).
Thinking and Language
What is the relationship between thinking and language? (ideas and words)
Language Influences Thinking
Whorf's linguistic relativity hypothesis: "Language itself shapes a man's basic ideas"
gender of pronouns
bilingual advantage on intelligence tests
deaf sign language
Sign Language is Real Language!
When deaf people communicate using sign language, we might wonder whether they are using the same language centers in the brain that speaking people use. It appears that they do. The left hemisphere is dominant for signs, as it is for spoken words (Hickok, Bellugi, & Klima, 1996).
Thinking in Images
mental practice of music, athletics
some cognition occurs without language
Animal Thinking and Language
The Case of Apes
Washoe learned 181 signs by age 31 (Gardner & Gardner)
Washoe, Koko and Lana used creative phrases: "water bird" for swan; "elephant baby" for Pinocchio doll; "apple which-is orange" for orange (fruit)"
But can apes really talk?
semantic understanding is suggested by Savage-Rumbaugh's pygmy chimpanzees (understanding "make the dog bite the snake" as shown by behavior with stuffed animals)
intelligence: "the mental abilities needed to select, adapt to, and shape environments" (Sternberg's definition)
abilities measured by intelligence tests, including verbal and mathematical abilities, memory, and others
Intelligence has implications for important aspects of life, such as careers.
Intelligence in Various Careers [supplementary graphic presented in class]
(based on white data)
Source: Herrnstein & Murray, 1994, p. 488 (adapted)
The Origins of Intelligence Testing
Alfred Binet: Predicting School Achievement
Binet and Simon
mental age (MA)
Lewis Terman: The Innate IQ
IQ: intelligence quotient
IQ = (MA/CA) * 100
100 is average
2/3 of people score between 85 and 115
What is Intelligence?
One General Ability? or Several Specific Abilities?
Spearman's g: general intelligence
but g has been criticized as too restricted to academic intelligence
Howard Gardner: multiple intelligences
Multiple Intelligences (Howard Gardner's theory)
highly valued in our culture
ex: math; science
highly valued in our culture
ex: navigators; sculptors
ex: composers; musicians
ex: dancers; athletes
ex: salespeople; politicians
ex: introspective people
Robert Sternberg: 3 aspects of intelligence
one more model of intelligence
academic problem-solving skills
social intelligence (Cantor & Kihlstrom, 1987)
emotional intelligence (Salovey & Mayer, 1990): "the ability to perceive, express, understand, and regulate emotions"
Creativity and Intelligence
creativity: "the ability to produce ideas that are both novel and valuable"
correlated with intelligence to about IQ of 120
components of creativity
imaginative thinking skills
aptitude tests: to predict ability to learn a new skill
achievement tests: to reflect what you've learned
Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS): most widely used
separate "verbal" and "performance" scores
Principles of Test Construction
How does the individual compare with other people who have taken the test?
normal curve (normal distribution, "bell curve")
Is the person's score stable, or does it fluctuate too much to trust it?
Does the test measure what it claims to measure?
content validity (Do the questions look reasonable?)
criterion (Does the score correlate with something as it should?)
predictive validity (Does the score predict the criterion in advance?)
Extremes of Intelligence
gifted: IQ over 135 (Terman)
healthy, well-adjusted, academically successful
mental retardation: IQ below 70 and difficulty adapting to normal demands of independent living (1% of population)
Down syndrome: extra chromosome
Degrees of Mental Retardation
(graphic in class, based on Myers, p. 283)
Genetic and Environmental Influences on Intelligence
identical twins more similar in IQ than fraternal twins, even if reared apart
Correlations Between Relatives: Evidence for Heredity of IQ
(graphic presented in class; Source: Daniels, Devlin, & Roeder, in Intelligence, Genes, and Success, p. 56)
genes shape experiences; genes and experiences interact
"Heritability" estimates genetic effects in populations.
Even if heritability is high, intervention programs can have a substantial effect.
deprived children in orphanages
Project Head Start
Effect of Adoption on WISC IQ [graphic presented in class]
Impoverished Children Who Stayed at Home or Were Adopted into Professional Homes
Source: p. 76 of Wahlsten in Intelligence, Genes, and Success
Intervention Programs Raise IQ
Source: Wahlsten, pp. 82-83
Group Differences in Intelligence Test Scores
Ethnic Similarities and Differences
IQ's impact on education and income
Is the racial gap caused by genetics or environment?
Gender Similarities and Differences
Math and Spatial Abilities
males do better on spatial abilities and math SAT
mental rotation test
females remember locations better
prenatal hormones enhance spatial skills
The Question of Bias
Are intelligence tests biased and discriminatory?
statistical prediction: not biased
conditions at test taking influence performance
Changes in SAT scores over time [graphic presented in class; Source: The Bell Curve, p. 425]
Intelligence test scores reflect only one aspect of personal competence.
Students: You can also use resources for this text supplied by the publisher. These include a chapter overview, self-tests, and other resources.
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