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Cognitive Level of Analysis. Session 1: An introduction. First things first. What the heck is cognition? Any ideas??. What is Cognition?. Literally means “to know” The brain’s representations of information in the world around us The way the mind processes this information

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cognitive level of analysis

Cognitive Level of Analysis

Session 1: An introduction

first things first
First things first...

What the heck is cognition?

Any ideas??

what is cognition
What is Cognition?
  • Literally means “to know”
  • The brain’s representations of information in the world around us
  • The way the mind processes this information
  • Sensation → Perception → Cognition
cognition and cognitive level of analysis
Cognition and Cognitive Level of Analysis
  • Cognition

The mental processes that are involved in perception, attention, memory, problem solving, reasoning, and making decisions

  • Cognitive Level of Analysis

Looks at how cognition can

affecthuman behaviour

a cheesy example
A ‘cheesy’ example
  • Take a yearning for pizza for example… Cognition encompasses everything from knowing/remembering what pizza is (and that you like it)…to realizing that you are hungry and making plans to have it delivered.
  • The words perception, attention, memory and executive function are one way of divvying up the processes involved in how we think.
  • All of the above will be involved throughout your journey towards satisfying that pizza craving.
  • Let’s use some specific points to illustrate their role in the overall process of attaining such a dinner goal...
a cheesy example1
A ‘cheesy’ example


  • In this case, of the fact that you feel hungry and that there is no food in the fridge, is what gets the whole process moving. It involves seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting and or smelling your surroundings, allowing you to respond appropriately.
a cheesy example2
A ‘cheesy’ example


  • Plays the obvious role of storing the name of your favourite pizza place.
  • It also enables you to dial the number given by the operator and give directions to your house.
  • Some different components include short term/working memory, long-term memoryand subconscious/implicit knowledge.
a cheesy example3
A ‘cheesy’ example

Executive Function

  • theplanning of logistics, such as timing the pizza delivery to coincide with the arrival of your scrabble buddies
  • Improvising(guessing what toppings everyone will enjoy)
  • problem solving(figuring how much cash your friends owe you)
  • controlling impulses (not ruining your appetite by eating a whole bag of Doritos while waiting)
a cheesy example4
A ‘cheesy’ example


  • Having you shift your focus from watching the TV to answering the door upon hearing that long awaited knock.
  • They also help inmulti-tasking a slice of pizza with figuring out how to nail that triple word score all while ignoring the heckling antics of your so called “friends”
a cheesy example5
A cheesy example

Although separated for the purposes of our discussion, it is the interplay of all of these systems working simultaneously which makes up the process of cognition; allowing us to adapt to our surroundings and take action towards obtaining our goals.

a quick background on cognitive psychology
A quick background on cognitive psychology
  • Around 1950s psychologists began to explore cognition to further understanding of human behaviour. Shift in focus from studying observable behaviour to studying mental processes is called “the cognitive revolution”
  • Topics such as memory, perception, artificial intelligence, amnesia and social cognition are studied.
  • Cognitive psychologists use traditional research methods but there is an increasing focus on the use of modern technology.
  • Cognitive psychologists collaborate increasingly with neuroscientists, social psychologists and cultural psychologists in order to explore the complexity of human cognition.
  • This approach is illustrated in the field of cultural and social cognitive neuroscience, indicating the complementary nature of social, cognitive and biological levels of analysis.
  • Research that integrates these three levels can develop more meaningful theories to explain the mechanisms underlying complex behaviour and the mind.
the weird world of cognitive psychology
The weird world of cognitive psychology
  • We are all familiar with the phrase “your mind plays tricks on you.” 
  • In many scientific cases, this statement has proven to be true. 
  • The human brain is extremely complex and organised. 
  • Professionals are skilled at making observations surrounding cognitive tendencies, but understanding the mechanisms behind human perception is challenging. 
  • The cognitive map that develops human personality is intriguing and has revealed some bizarre phenomenon...
the black dog bias
The Black Dog Bias
  • Black dogs are frequently passed over for adoption in favour of lighter-coloured animals.
  • Many shelters have taken active measures to make sure that black dogs are more appealing to the general public.  It seems that large black dogs are the most ignored, but the phenomenon also impacts cats.  It is unclear exactly why people subconsciously pass over black dogs, but some explanations include the fact that black dogs are often viewed as violent in film, people associate the color black with evil, and that black animals don’t photograph well for online advertising purposes. 
  • Next time you’re selecting a canine friend, take an extra look at the lonely black dog.
contagious shooting
Contagious Shooting
  • Contagious shooting is a sociological phenomenon observed by military and police personnel in which one person firing a gun on a target can induce others to begin shooting.  
  • Often the subsequent shooters will not know why they are firing or what they are shooting at.  The phenomenon seems to stem from a combination of panic, reflex and trust.
  •  For example, if a police hears a fellow officer fire a gunshot, they panic, and their initial reflex is to quickly begin firing their weapons as well.  The individual assumes that their fellow officer had a good reason for shooting, and they fire instinctively without assessing the situation.
  • There is currently no scientific evidence to prove the existence of the contagious shooting dynamic.  However, people have reported the urge to fire their weapons when using a shooting range or while hunting with friends. 
  • In some cases, the adrenaline of hearing and witnessing a gun’s discharge causes individuals to instinctively shoot. 
online disinhibition effect
Online Disinhibition Effect
  • People are less likely to adhere to social norms and conventions whilst online. For some unknown reason, an otherwise well-adjusted person, given a captive audience and opportunity, will often exhibit antisocial and psychopathic behaviour on the Internet. 
  • Many factors have been identified as contributing to the online disinhibition effect.  Over the Internet, people are anonymous, which gives a sense of protection that will often bring out dark personality traits. 
  • The Internet provides a privacy shield for its users that continually gives people the chance to provide misrepresentations.  One can’t be physically seen on the Internet, therefore, people don’t worry about appearance and their overall tone of voice is dramatically lowered.
  • On the Internet, conversations don’t happen in

real time.  The delayed nature of the online message

board can also affect a person’s inhibitions. 

  • Some research suggests that people may see

cyberspace as a kind of game in which the normal rules

of everyday interaction don’t apply to them. 

  • The online disinhibition effect is concerning, as it shows the

true behaviour of people who are not governed by law or social


subliminal advertising
Subliminal Advertising

Have you ever gone to the supermarket with the intention of buying a specific item and ended up leaving with multiple bags of random purchases?

  • Subliminal advertising is the process of using sensory stimuli that is below the absolute threshold for conscious perception.  For example, an image may be quickly flashed over a television screen before the person has time to process the item, or it could be flashed and then masked, thereby interrupting the cognitive process. 
  • Specific aspects of shopping mall and supermarket design appeal to the human natural instinct.
  • In shopping mall design, the Gruen transfer is the moment when a consumer enters a shopping mall and, surrounded by an intentionally confusing layout, loses track of their original plans.  It is the moment when consumers respond to “scripted disorientation” cues in the environment.  It has been determined that spatial awareness plays a key role in the observed effect, as does sound, art, and music. The transfer is marked by a slower walking pace. 
  • It is clearly evident in the design of shopping malls and casinos.  The Gruen transfer describes the split second when a building’s design and “intentionally confusing layout makes our eyes glaze and our jaws slacken, the moment when we forget what we came to the store for and become impulse buyers.” 
  • In response, the shopping public has countered with shopping lists.  It has been determined that if you stick to your prepared shopping list, it will significantly reduce average expenditure.
cognitive dissonance
Cognitive Dissonance
  • Cognitive dissonance is the

idea that we find it hard to

hold two contradictory beliefs,

so we unconsciously adjust one

to make it fit with the other.

  • In one classic study, students found a boring task more interesting if they were paid less to take part. Our unconscious reasons like this: “if I didn't do it for money, then I must have done it because it was interesting. As if by magic, a boring task becomes more interesting because otherwise I can't explain my behaviour.”
  • The reason this is unsettling is that our minds are probably performing these sorts of rationalisations all the time, without our conscious knowledge. So how do we know what we really think?
the placebo effect
The Placebo Effect
  • Perhaps you've had the experience that a headache improves seconds after you take an aspirin?
  • This can't be the drug because it takes at least 15 minutes to kick in.
  • That's the placebo effect: your mind knows you've taken a pill, so you feel better.
  • In medicine it seems strongest in the case of pain: some studies suggest a placebo of saline (salty water) can be as powerful as morphine. Some studies even suggest that 80% of the power of Prozac is placebo.
  • The placebo effect is counter-intuitive because we easily forget that mind and body are not separate.
cognitive level of analysis learning outcomes
Cognitive Level of Analysis Learning Outcomes

General learning outcomes

  • Outline principles that define the cognitive level of analysis
  • Explain how principles that define the cognitive level of analysis may be demonstrated in research
  • Discuss how and why particular research methods are used at the cognitive level of analysis
  • Discuss ethical considerations related to research studies at the cognitive level of analysis.
cognitive level of analysis learning outcomes1
Cognitive Level of Analysis Learning Outcomes

Cognitive processes

  • Evaluate schema theory with reference to research studies.
  • Evaluate two models or theories of one cognitive process
  • Explain how biological factors may affect one cognitive process
  • Discuss how social or cultural factors affect one cognitive process
  • With reference to relevant research studies, to what extent is one cognitive process
  • Discuss the use of technology in investigating cognitive processes
cognitive level of analysis learning outcomes2
Cognitive Level of Analysis Learning Outcomes

Cognition and emotion

  • To what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion
  • Evaluate one theory of how emotion may affect one cognitive process
questions to consider
Questions to Consider
  • How is cognitive psychology relevant to everyday experience?
  • Are there practical applications of cognitive psychology?
  • How is it possible to study the inner workings of the mind, when we can’t really see the mind directly?