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Thinking, Language , and Intelligence Thinking Language Intelligence. Thinking. Concepts Solving problems Making good (and bad) decisions and judgments Thinking critically about: The fear factor—why we fear the wrong things Thinking creatively Close-up: Fostering your own creativity

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Thinking, Language, and Intelligence

    • Thinking
    • Language
    • Intelligence
  • Concepts
  • Solving problems
  • Making good (and bad) decisions and judgments
  • Thinking critically about: The fear factor—why we fear the wrong things
  • Thinking creatively
  • Close-up: Fostering your own creativity
  • Do other species share our cognitive skills?
  • Cognition
    • All the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating
  • Concepts
    • Mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, and people
  • Prototypes
    • Mental image or best example of a category
solving problems trial and error
Solving Problems: Trial and Error
  • Algorithm
    • Methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees you will solve a particular problem
    • Contrasts with the usually speedier—but also more error-prone—use of heuristics
  • Heuristic
    • Simple thinking strategy that often allows one to make judgments and solve problems efficiently; usually speedier but also more error prone than algorithms
  • Insight
    • Involves sudden realization of the solution to a problem; it contrasts with strategy-basedsolutions
the aha moment

A burst of right temporal lobe EEG activity (yellow area) accompanied insight solutions to word problems (Jung-Beeman et al., 2004).

The red dots show placement of the EEG electrodes. The light gray lines show patterns of brain activity during insight.

From Marc Jung-Beeman, Northwestern University and John Kounios, Drexel University

solving problems
Solving Problems
  • Wason’sclassic study
    • Involves guessing the rule for three-number sets
  • Confirmation bias
    • The tendency to seek evidence for our ideas more eagerly than we seek evidence against them
is this fixation
Is this fixation?
  • Fixation
    • Inability to see a problem from a new perspective
    • Obstacle to problem solving



How would you arrange six matches to form four equilateral triangles?

making good and bad decisions and judgments
Making Good (and Bad) Decisions and Judgments
  • Life is full of judgments
  • How many of these judgment related terms can you define?
    • Intuition
    • Heuristics
    • Quick-thinking heuristics
    • Availability heuristics


An effortless, immediate, automatic feeling or thought, as contrasted with explicit, conscious reasoning


Asimple thinking strategy that often allows you to make judgments and solve problems efficiently; usually speedier but also more error prone than algorithms


Quick-thinking heuristic

A simple thinking strategy that often allows you to make judgments more error prone than algorithms

Availability heuristic

Involves judging the likelihood of an event based on its availability in memory; if an event comes readily to mind, we assume it must be common

did you get the correct answer
Did you get the correct answer?

Solution to the matchstickproblem Were you, by chance, fixated on two-dimensional solutions? Solving problems often requires taking a new angle on the situation.


The Fear Factor—Why We Fear the Wrong Things

  • We fear what our ancestral history has prepared us to fear.
  • We fear what we cannot control.
  • We fear what is immediate.
  • We fear what is most readily available in memory.

SCARING US ONTO DEADLY HIGHWAYS In the three months after 9/11, those faulty perceptions led more Americans to travel, and some to die, by car. (Adapted from Gigerenzer, 2004.)

solving problems1
Solving Problems
  • More confident than correct
    • Overconfidence is the tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our beliefs and judgments
  • Belief beyond evidence
    • Belief perseverance occurs when we cling to beliefs and ignore evidence that proves these are wrong
solving problems2
Solving Problems
  • Let me put it this way
    • Framing involves the way an issue is posed
    • It can be a powerfully persuasive tool
  • Framing can influence beneficial decisions

Can you think of any such decisions?

perils and powers of intuition
Perils and Powers of Intuition
  • Intuition is analysis “frozen into habit”
    • Intuition is implicit knowledge
  • Intuition is usually adaptive
    • Learned associations surface as “gut” feelings
  • Intuition is huge
    • Critical thinkers are often guided by intuition
thinking creatively1
Thinking Creatively
  • Robert Sternberg and his colleagues: Five ingredients of creativity
    • Expertise
    • Imaginative thinking skills
    • Venturesome personality
    • Intrinsic motivation
    • Creative environment
do other species share our cognitive skills
Do Other Species Share Our Cognitive Skills?
  • Using concepts and numbers
    • Several species demonstrate the ability to sort (e.g., pigeons and other birds; great apes; humans)
  • Displaying insight
    • Humans are not the only species to display insight (e.g., Chimpanzees)
  • Using tools and transmitting culture
    • Various species have displayed creative tool use (e.g., forest-dwelling chimpanzees; elephants; humans)

Life on white / Alamy

  • Language development
  • The brain and language
  • Thinking without language
  • Do other species have language?
  • Language
    • Involves our spoken, written, or signed words and the ways we combine them to communicate meaning
    • Used to transmit civilization’s knowledge from one generation to the next
    • Connects humans
language development
Language Development
  • When do we learn language?
    • Receptive language: Infant ability to understand what is said to them around 4 months
    • Production language: Infant ability to produce words beginning around 10 months

What is the difference between receptive and productive language, and when do children normally hit these milestones in language development?

how do we learn grammar

Susan Meiselas/ Magnum Photos


CREATING A LANGUAGE Young deaf children in Nicaragua were brought together as if on a desert island (actually a school). They drew upon sign gestures from their own home to create their own Nicaraguan Sign Language, complete with words and intricate grammar.

how do we learn grammar1
How Do We Learn Grammar?
  • Language diversity
    • 700+ languages worldwide; structurally very different
  • Chomsky
    • Argued all languages share basic elements called a universal grammar
    • Theorized humans are born with a predisposition to learn grammar rules; not a built-in specific language
  • Critical period
    • Suggests childhood represents a critical period for mastering certain aspects of language

AP Photo/Arizona Daily Star, A.E. Araiza

NEW LANGUAGE LEARNING GETS HARDER WITH AGE Young children have a readiness to learn language. Ten years after coming to the United States, Asian immigrants took a grammar test. Those who arrived before age 8 understood American English grammar as well as native speakers

did. Those who arrived later did not. (From Johnson & Newport, 1991.)


What was Noam Chomsky’s explanation of language development?

Why is it so difficult to learn a new language in adulthood?

brain activity when hearing and speaking words
  • Broca’s area
  • Wernicke’s area
the brain and language
The Brain and Language
  • Damage to any one of several areas of the brain’s cortex can impair language
  • Today’s neuroscience has confirmed brain activity in Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas during language processing
  • In processing language, the brain operates by dividing its mental functionsinto smaller tasks

________ is the part of the brain that, if damaged, might impair your ability to speak words.

If you damage ________ you might impair

your ability to understand language.

thinking without language
Thinking Without Language
  • Mental practice relies on thinking in images
  • Just imagining a physical experience can have similar results
  • Mental rehearsal can aid in the achievement of academic goals
language development1
Language Development
  • Other species have language
    • Velvet monkeys sound different alarms for different predators
    • Chimpanzee (named Washoe) was taught sign language by the Garders
    • Critics noted that ape vocabularies and sentences were simple; vocabulary was gained with great difficulties
    • Most psychologists agree that humans alone possess language

If your dog barks at a stranger at the front door, does this qualify as language? What if the dog yips in a telltale way to let you know that she needs to go out?

  • What is intelligence?
  • Assessing intelligence
  • Close-up: Extremes of intelligence
  • The nature and nurture of intelligence
  • Close-up: What is heritability?
  • Intelligence across the life span: Stability or change?
  • Group differences in intelligence test scores
what is intelligence
What Is Intelligence?
  • Spearman’s General Intelligence (g)
    • Humans have one general intelligence that is at the heart of everything a person does
    • Mental abilities are like physical abilities
    • Intelligence involves distinct abilities, which correlate enough to define a small general intelligence factor
    • Gardner and Sternberg discount this theory and propose several different kinds of intelligence
theories of multiple intelligences
Theories of Multiple Intelligences
  • Gardner’s eight intelligences
    • Intelligence consists of multiple abilities that come in different packages
    • Eight relatively independent intelligences exist, including the verbal and mathematical aptitudes assessed by standard tests
    • Evidence of multiple intelligence is found in people with savant syndrome
island of genius savant syndrome

Matt Savage, an award-winning

jazz musician, is a BerkleeCollege of Music graduate who has released many albums.

His success has been hard-won given his early childhood diagnosis of what is now called autism spectrum disorder, which came with struggles to communicate and an initial inability to tolerate sounds of any kind.

Boston Globe/Getty Images

theories of multiple intelligence
Theories of Multiple Intelligence
  • Sternberg’s three intelligences
    • Analytical intelligence (School smarts: Traditional academic problem solving)
    • Creative intelligence (Trailblazing smarts: Ability to generate novel ideas)
    • Practical intelligence (Street smarts: Skill at handling everyday tasks)
theories of multiple intelligence1
Theories of Multiple Intelligence
  • Findings and criticisms
    • Recent research, using factor analysis, has confirmed that there is a general intelligence factor that predicts performance on various complex tasks and in various jobs
    • Researchers report a 10-year rule: Expert performers spend about a decade in intense, daily practice

How does the existence of savant syndrome support Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences?

How do Gardner’s and Sternberg’s theories of multiple intelligences differ?

emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence
  • Abilities
    • Perceivingemotions (recognizing them in faces, music, and stories)
    • Understandingemotions (predicting them and how they may change and blend)
    • Managingemotions (knowing how to express them in varied situations)
    • Using emotions to enable adaptive or creative thinking
emotional intelligence1
Emotional Intelligence
  • Emotionally intelligent people
    • Are socially aware and self-aware
    • Delay gratification in favor of long-term rewards
    • Read others’ emotions and provide appropriate feedback
    • Perform well on the job
    • Are often successful in career, marriage, and parenting situations where academically smarter people fail

First…A Few Definitions of Tests

  • Intelligence test
    • Method for assessing an individual’s mental aptitudes and comparing them with those of others, using numerical scores
  • Aptitude test
    • Test designed to predict a person’s future performance; aptitude is the capacity to learn
  • Achievement test
    • Test designed to assess what a person has learned
assessing intelligence intelligence tests
Assessing Intelligence: Intelligence Tests
  • Alfred Binet: Predicting School Achievement
    • Assumed all children follow the same course, but not the same rate, of intellectual development
    • Measured each child’s mental age
    • Tested a variety of reasoning and problem-solving questions that predicted how well French children would succeed in school
assessing intelligence intelligence tests1
Assessing Intelligence: Intelligence Tests
  • Lewis Terman: The innate IQ
    • Adapted Binet’s test for wider use
    • Extended upper end of test’s range
    • Named this revision the Stanford-Binet
    • Theorized intelligence tests reveal intelligence with which a person is born
  • William Stern
    • Developed IQ formula:
    • IQ no longer computed; now the average performance of others of the same age computed
assessing intelligence
Assessing Intelligence

David Wechsler: Separate scores for separate skills

  • Created most widely used intelligence test today
  • Yields overall intelligence score and separate scores for verbal comprehension, perceptual organization, working memory, and processing speed
  • Contains preschool and school-age child versions
  • Provides clues to strengths or weaknesses
assessing intelligence1
Assessing Intelligence

David Wechsler: Separate scores for separate skills

Lew Merrim / Science Source

A block design puzzle like this one can test children’s visual abstract processing ability.

Wechsler’s individually

administered intelligence test comes in forms suited for adults and children.



What did Binethope to achieve by establishing a child’s mental age?

An employer with a pool of applicants for a single available position is interested in testing each applicant’s potential. She should use an ________ (achievement/aptitude) test. That same employer wishing to test the effectiveness of a new, on-the-job training program would be wise to use an _______ (achievement/aptitude) test.

What is the IQ of a 4-year-old with a mental age of 5?

intelligence tests
Intelligence Tests
  • Three tests of a “good” test
    • Was the test standardized?
    • Is the test reliable?
    • Is the test valid?

Scores on aptitude tests tend to form a normal, or bell-shaped, curve around an average score. For the Wechsler scale, for example, the average score is 100.



What are the three requirements that a psychological test must meet in order to be widely accepted? Explain.

the nature and nurture of intelligence
The Nature and Nurture of Intelligence
  • Twin and adoption studies
    • Identical twins raised together have nearly the same intelligence test score and specific talents
    • Fraternal twins are much less similar, but more similar than other siblings
    • Separated, adoptive twin scores remain very similar
    • Adoption of mistreated or neglected children or adoption from poverty into middle class enhances intelligence score

INTELLIGENCE: NATURE AND NURTURE The most genetically similar people have the most similar intelligence scores. Remember: 1.0 indicates

a perfect correlation; zero indicates no correlation at all. (Data from McGue et al., 1993.)

Christopher Fitzgerald/The Image Works


Extremes of Intelligence

  • Validity and significance of any test is to compare people who score at the two extremes of the normal curve
  • The low extreme
    • Intelligence score of 70 or below
    • Difficulty adapting to life demands
  • The high extreme
    • Children with IQ scores over 135
    • Healthy, well-adjusted, and usually successful academically

Claudia Daut/Reuters

Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

intelligence tests1
Intelligence Tests
  • How does environment influence intelligence?
  • Slowing normal development
    • McVicker Hunt (1982): Iranian orphanage study found dire, negative effects of extreme deprivation
    • Malnutrition, sensory deprivation, and social isolation slowed normal brain development
  • Enhancing normal development
    • There is no environmental recipe for fast-forwarding a normal infant into a genius
what is heritability
What Is Heritability?
  • Intelligence across the life span: Stability or change?
    • Cross-sectional
      • Study in which people of different ages are compared with one another
    • Longitudinal study
      • Research in which the same people are restudied and retested over a long period
intelligence across the life span stability or change
Intelligence across the life span: Stability or change?
  • Deary and colleagues study
    • After nearly 70 years of varied life experiences, the test-takers’ two sets of scores showed a striking correlation of +.66
  • Johnson study
    • Scots born in 1936 from ages 11 to 70 confirmed the remarkable stability of intelligence, independent of life circumstance
    • When 207 survivors were again retested at age 87, the correlation with their age 11 scores was +.51
intelligence endures

When Ian Deary and his colleagues (2004) retested 80-year-old Scots, using an intelligence test they had taken as 11-year-olds, their scores across seven decades correlated +.66.

(When 207 survivors were again retested at age 87, the correlation with their age 11 scores was +.51 [Gow et al., 2011].)

why do intelligent people live longer
Why Do Intelligent People Live Longer?
  • Deary (2008)
    • Intelligence provides better access to resources
    • Intelligence encourages healthy lifestyles
    • Prenatal events or early childhood illnesses could influence both intelligence and health
    • A “well-wired body” as evidenced by fast reaction speeds, may foster both intelligence and longer life
crystal and fluid intelligence
Crystal and Fluid Intelligence
  • Crystallized intelligence: Accumulated knowledge, as reflected in vocabulary and word-power tests
    • Increases as we age, into middle age
  • Fluid intelligence: Ability to reason speedily and abstractly, as when solving unfamiliar logic problems
    • Decreases with age; declines gradually until age 75 and then more rapidly after age 85
with age we lose and we win
With Age We Lose And We Win

WITH AGE WE LOSE AND WE WIN Studies reveal that word power grows with age, while fluid intelligence declines.

group differences in intelligence test scores
Group Differences in Intelligence Test Scores
  • Gender similarities and differences
    • Compared to similarities, gender differences are fairly minor
  • Girls
    • Outpace boys in spelling, verbal fluency, and locating objects
    • Are better emotion detectors and are more sensitive to touch, taste, and color
group differences in intelligence test scores1
Group Differences in Intelligence Test Scores
  • Boys
    • Outperform girls in tests of spatial ability and complex math problems
    • Vary in their mental ability scores more than girls do
  • Effects of culture
    • Social expectations and opportunities matter.
    • Little gender math gap found in gender-equal cultures.
the mental rotation test
  • This is a test of spatial abilities. (From Vandenberg & Kuse, 1978.)

Do the know the answer?

racial and ethnic similarities and differences
Racial and Ethnic Similarities and Differences
  • Agreed-upon facts
    • Racial and ethnic groups differ in their average intelligence test scores
    • High-scoringpeople and groups are more likely to achieve high levels of education and income
    • Group differences provide poor basis for judging individuals
racial and ethnic similarities and differences1
Racial and Ethnic Similarities and Differences
  • Consider…
    • Genetics research reveals races are alike
    • Race is not a clearly defined biological category
    • Within the same population, there are generation-to-generation differences in test scores
    • Given the same information, Blacks and Whites show similar information-processing skills
    • In different eras, different ethnic groups have experienced golden ages—periods of remarkable achievement
group differences and environmental impact

Even if the variation between members within a group reflects genetic differences, the average difference between groups may be wholly due to the environment. Imagine that seeds from the same mixture are sown in different soils. Although height differences within each window box of flowers will be genetic, the height difference between the two groups will be environmental. (From Lewontin, 1976.)


foodfolio / Alamy

what do you think

Larry Williams/ CORBIS


Might racial and ethnic gaps be similarly



The heritability of intelligence scores will be greater in a society marked by equal opportunity than in a society of poor peasants and wealthy aristocrats. Why?

are test questions biased
Are Test Questions Biased?
  • The scientific meaning of bias hinges on a test’s validity
  • Stereotype threat involves a self-confirming concern that a judgment is based on a negative stereotype
  • Goals for mental abilities tests: Realize the benefits of testing; guard against misinterpretation; and remember the competence general intelligence tests sample