The Cognitive Level of Analysis IB Psychology
Introduction • Current view of the cognitive level • Psychologists recognize that the mind has a biological basis and develops within a cultural context • Has it always been this way?
A long, long time ago… (19thcenturyish) • Early psychologists were cognitive psychologists • Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) • Studied sensation, perception, and attention • Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) • Studied memory • J. Ridley Stroop • Published famous Stroop test in 1935 • BUT…Cognitive psychology was not promoted as the primary way of thinking in the US by the 1930s • More fascinated with John Watson
John Watsonand Behaviorism • Proposed that introspection was not appropriate for the scientific study of behavior. • Until the 1960s, behaviorism dominated psychology • Some still chose to study cognitive processing • Lev Vygotsky • Jean Piaget • Frederick Bartlett
Changing the way we think about behavior… • 9-11-1956 • Noam Chomsky gave presentation at MIT about nativist language theory (language is innate) • Clear that there was support for change • 1957 • B.F. Skinner wrote Verbal Behavior • Language was really a behavior • A chain of verbal behaviors reinforced through verbal operants and maintained by the sociocultural environment • Chomsky criticized the verbal behavior principles • Creative use of language was unexplainable and untestable through Skinnerian principles
Jerome Bruner (1990) and the demise of the traditional learning theories • Cognitive Revolution • “Absorbed the concept of learning into the broader concept of the acquisition of knowledge” • Transactionalism • Still rearranging psychology • “It was the view that human action could not be fully or properly accounted for from the inside out—by reference only to intrapsychic dispositions, traits, learning capacities, motives, or whatever. Action required for its explication that it be situated, that it be conceived of as continuous with a cultural world.” • Bruner’s theory spans all three levels of analysis and is important to the future of psychology
2.1 Outline principles that define the cognitive level of analysis • Cognitive psychologists assume that there is an important biological basis for human cognitive processing and its resultant behavior but focus research on how the brain translates into mind. • Mental processing in the mind can be studied scientifically. Theories of cognitive processing are studied through various methods. • Behavior change is explained as a result of cognitive processing that goes on in the mind. The steps of cognitive processing are: • A. Information is acquired from the world. • B. The information is stored. • C. Stored information is represented in the mind. • D. Internal representations direct behavior.
Studying LANGUAGE as a cognitive process • Language is the most fundamental of all the cognitive processes and is responsible for the development and use of the other human cognitive processes, such as memory and perception. • Language is the vehicle of cultural transmission and social learning • Language separates humans and animals. Animal models are not very useful for studying sophisticated human cognitive processing. Animal studies primarily show the limitations of animal “language” and “thinking.” Animal “thinking” is limited to the world of objects; language is required. All other cognitive processes are removed from objects because of language. • Language is probably the most important of the sophisticated cognitive processes that humans evolved so that we could live together in cultures. It is part of the evolution of social intelligence.
Section 3.5Page 32-36 • Give each group a section to present to the class.
Mental Processes Guide Behavior • Mind is an information-processing machine using hardware (the brain) and software (mental images and representations). • Information input into the mind comes via bottom-up processing—from the sensory system. This information is processed by the mind by top-down processing via pre-stored information in the memory. Finally, there is output in the form of behavior.
Mental Processes Guide Behavior • There is a relationship between how people think about themselves and how they behave • Ex. – How people deal with challenges. • A person’s mindset is important in predicting behavior. • People who have fixed ideas about other people (stereotyping) may be more prone to discriminate.
Mental Processes Guide Behavior • Reconstructive nature of memory • People do not store exact copies of their experiences, but an outline which is filled out with information when it is recalled. • False memories • Individuals cannot distinguish between what they have experienced and what they have heard after the event. • The brain creates illusions which are so realistic that we believe they are true. • Examples?
Mental Processes Guide Behavior • This is related to PERCEPTION • Cognitive process that interprets and organizes information from the senses to produce some meaningful experience of the world. • Context, frequency, or recency influence the way people interpret an ambiguous object or event. • What people think is objectively experienced may instead be the result of the brain’s interpretation of the object or event.
Mental Processes Guide Behavior • Perception and Necker cube • Is the dot on the near or far corner? What happens if you stare at the dot for a long time? • The image has two equally meaningful interpretations and the brain simply switches back and forth between them. • The brain interprets the picture the way it wants to, searching for some meaning because it does not have enough information to know exactly which face of the cube is in front. • What we see is the “best guess” of our visual system, and the brain decides which one is favored.
Think about this • “Our experience of the world—how we see it, remember it, and imagine it—is a mixture of stark reality and comforting illusion.” • Daniel Gilbert
Language is fundamental to human culture. • “The Ragin’ Cajun”– The Mind Traveler • Films from the Humanities and Sciences • Monkey in the Mirror • www.pbs.org
Discuss how and why particular research methods are used at the cognitive level of analysis, including ethical concerns. • Experiments • Correlation studies • Naturalistic observation • Interviews • Questionnaires • Case Studies • Psychobiological research • Computer Simulations
Experiments • Mainly using humans • Lab, qausi-, and field • Show cause and effect • Lab experiment • Clarify theoretical rather than real-life applications • Supposed to be artificial • Ex.: Jerome Bruner and language “Evaluate two methods or theories of one cognitive process.”
Quasi-experiments • Used when researchers cannot randomly assign participants to conditions. • Cross-cultural research and studies comparing males and females use this design (placed in groups according to culture or gender) • Do not have same control as a lab exp.
Field Experiment • Test experimental conditions in the natural environment • Do not have as much control as lab exp. but are more ecologically valid • Ex. Cross-cultural study on own-race bias (ORB) and eyewitness testimony “To what extent is one cognitive process reliable?”
Correlation Studies • Shows relationship between two variables • Used when it is unethical or difficult to create conditions in a lab • Ex.: Correlation data was used in addition to the field experiment data in the ORB study on eyewitness testimony.
Naturalistic Observation • High ecological validity • Lack of control • Ex. Michael Cole’s study on the Kpelle in Africa “Discuss how social or cultural factors affect one cognitive process.”
Interviews • Verbal protocols • Self-reports • Narrative interview • Useful in cross-cultural studies • Participants “tell their story” • Useful for designing culturally valid experiments • Weaknesses • Time consuming • Experimenter Bias • The process of gathering data might interfere with cognitive processing
Questionnaires • Limitations • Reliability of self-report • Ex. Cross-cultural study on flashbulb memories “Evaluate one theory of how emotion may affect one cognitive process”
Case Studies • Use information gathered from a wide range of sources, such as interviews and observations • Rely on psychobiological case studies to examine brain deficits on cognitive processing • Allow researchers to gather detailed data about individuals that might not otherwise be available • Limitation • Cases are not representative of a larger group • Ex. Emotions and the brain “To what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion?”
Psychobiological Research • Cognitive processing and biological research studied together • Provides hard evidence of what happens in the brain during cognitive processing • Limitations • This evidence cannot answer questions about brain functioning • Information gathered from abnormal brains does not provide a full explanation of cognitive processing • Ex. fMRI study on the interaction of biology and cognition in emotion “To what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion?”
Computer Simulation • They say nothing about how cognitions are situated within a cultural context!!! • Processes in computer simulations and in studies using artificial intelligence are not necessarily the same process as a human brain uses.
Ethics of Cognitive Research • Sometimes humans cannot be studied. • Not usually the case, but sometimes animals are used to examine how a specific brain deficit relates to the ability to process information. • Researchers, therefore, can create brain deficits. • Deception is sometimes used in human experiments. To use deception, the scientific benefits of a study must be such that it outweighs the rights of participants to be informed.
Ethics of Cognitive Research • Researchers should make every reasonable effort to protect participants from harm. If someone is going to be exposed to harm, the informed consent form should outline the risks associated with the study in advance. • Ex.: Studies documenting cognitive deficits caused by sleep deprivation in labs • Informed consent forms are critical components of research at the cognitive level. All participants should be debriefed about the exact nature of the study as soon as possible after their participation. • Observation studies DO NOT need the consent of participants as long as the researcher does not alter the natural environment in any way and the identity of everyone observed remains anonymous.
Cognitive Processes are Influenced by Social and Cultural Factors • Frederick Bartlett • Coined the term schema • (a mental representation of knowledge) • Bartlett was interested in how cultural schemas influence remembering • Found that people had problems remembering a story from another culture, and that they reconstructed the story to fit in with their own cultural schemas • People remember in terms of meaning and what make sense to them • Therefore, memory is subject to distortions • And this can be studied scientifically
Schemas • Mental representations that can refer to objects, ideas, and people in the real world • We use them when we think, make plans, imagine, or daydream • Ex.: You have an idea of who you are and how you look in your mind—a self-representation; You also have ideas about how other people are • Mental representations are organized in categories, and the mind contains all sorts of mental representations stored in memory
Schemas • The ability to manipulate mental images enable us to think about situations and imagine what might happen. • Ex.: Reading a book • We also have expectations…how people are going to fare (good guys vs. bad guys) because of pre-stored mental representations (cognitive schemas) • “Mental representations” are how we store images and ideas in memory • Memory researchers believe that what we already know affects the way we interpret events and store knowledge in our memory
Schema theory • Schema theory suggests that what we already know will influence the outcome of information processing • Based on the assumption that “humans are active processors of information” • Encoding (put into memory), storage (maintain in memory), retrieval (recover from memory)
Limitations of schema theory • Not entirely clear how schemas are acquired in the first place and how they actually influence cognitive processes • Cohen (1993) criticized theory saying that it is too vague to be useful • Daniel Gilbert “the brain is a wonderful magician but a lousy scientist” • The brain searches for meaningful patterns but does not check whether they are correct.
Let’s Review Schemas • We have schemas for everything we do • It is a fundamental part of modern psychology • Span all levels of analysis • Biologically based • We categorize information and the categories change as we age and interact • Culture determines the content of schemas • Schemas influence the mind
Evaluate Schema Theory with Reference to Research Studies • Humans are born with basic survival behaviors that form the basis of schemas (ie. bonding) but MOST schemas develop within one’s cultural context • Cultural schemas are part of CAD (cultural acquisition device)…they are built in • Cultures do not just filter perceptions but actively build schemas about expected behavior • Ex.: Konner 2007, In New Guinea it is common practice to give all goods and services to one respected man who is trusted to distribute them fairly. Attitudes about handling all goods and services reflect this practice.
Evaluate schema theory with reference to research studies • Schemas and mental illness • Genetic determinism is no longer acceptable in explaining mental illness • Cultural schemas offer a better framework • All cultures have schemas about abnormal behavior…but the details vary
Evaluate schema theorySchemas and Mental illness • Richard Castillo (1997) • Cognitive schemas are created in cultural groups based on how the group thinks about and experiences behaviors • These cog. schemas reify a belief into something real for the group • Reifying “occurs when people are collectively projecting onto an object a level of reality the object does not actually possess.” • The way a behavior is thought of in a cultural group is real to them, even if it does not exist in reality. • The brain adapts to these cultural schemas and the group treats a set of behaviors as real mental illnesses • How does reification give us an international perspective on all behaviors? • It influences how societies come to label anything as important, sch as intelligence or achievement testing…Do not assume that others outside of your culture share your schemas!!!
Evaluate schemas theoryHow do schemas form about mental illness? • Castillo • A specific behavior is noticed by a cultural group and is interpreted as a mental illness within a cultural definition • Neuroplasticity—how schemas grow and change • Schemas serve three purposes • Representational • Serving important symbolic functions for a group • Constructive • Consisting of a social agreement about what is important to a society that is communicated through stories • Directive • Telling people what is important to do.
Evaluate schemas theorySchemas and mental illness • Depression • It is difficult to diagnose depression outside of Western cultures • “Major depression” – in US, there is a specific set of behaviors • Based on how stress is generally expressed in US • It is ethnocentric to believe this is how someone experiences depression in other cultures • Etics and emics help explain why…
Schemas and Mental Illness • Stress is an etic • Something common to all cultures • Different experiences in expressing stress • These are emics • Example: The word depression means something different in Pakistan • An interview study about the emics of depression in Pakistani ethnic groups living in the United Kingdom
Schemas and Mental Illness • China • Stress is more often experienced in bodily symptoms • CCMD (Chinese Classification of Mental Disorders) • Has category “depressive episode”, however not used as frequently as in West • Often rely on TCM for explanations and treatment or combine psychiatry and TCM • TCM makes no distinction between physical and mental health (Bodily symptoms have far greater meaning) • Castillo emphasizes that the depressive symptoms experienced in the West are not as important to Chinese cultural schemas – and little attention is paid to them
Gender schemas and depression • Women are diagnosed far more often than men • Depressive symptoms may be related to cultural schemas about how females are expected to express distress • Sandra Bem (1998) • Children need cognitive consistency • Once a child constructs a gender schema, this representation serves as a reference point for what is valued about being male or female • Does not believe that gender has to be a category; it is not naturally more perceptible for children than other attributes • Anything used as a category for schemas is only relevant if given functional significance for the group • Bem promotes raising children free of gender schemas
Gender schemas and depression • Gender schema processing is studied experimentally • Example • 48 male and 48 female participants were designated as sex typed or non-sex typed through the Bem Sex Role Inventory • http://www.neiu.edu/~tschuepf/bsri.html • http://faculty.sunydutchess.edu/andrews/bem_sex.htm • Viewed 61 randomly ordered words at 3 second intervals (including animal names, proper names, and clothing) • Some words were feminine and some masculine • As hypothesized both males and females recalled equal numbers of words, but the order in which the words were recalled differed between designation • Ex.: Sex-typed participant that recalls a feminine word, went on to recall a series of feminine words in clusters • Sex-typed people are more likely to create categories based around gender
How does this relate to depression? • According to Bem • “sex-typing results, in part, from the assimilation of the self-concept itself to the gender schema. As children learn the contents of their society’s gender schema, they learn which attributes are to be linked with their own sex, and hence, with themselves.” • Gender schemas may be related to how women experience stress!
Evaluate two models or theories of one cognitive process • Vygotsky and Bruner on Language • Language is primarily responsible for cognitive development.
Vygotsky and Language • Thought and Language (1934) • Rejected the idea that animals had language • Human thought is tied to language and animal thought is not tied to their communications. • Animal abilities are limited without the technical aid of language.
Vygotsky and Language • Built a framework for thinking about the importance of language to a child’s development • Examined the process by which elementary thought, which is recall in children, becomes internalized abstract thought • Cognitive processes such as memory, attention, problem solving, and perception are dependent on language. • Interactionist – a child develops with the help of parents, teachers, and play • Interactions with others take place within a cultural context • Michael Cole (2003) defines Vygotsky’s context as “the social situation of development is a relational construct in which characteristics of the child combine with structure of social interactions to create the starting point for a new cycle of developmental changes which will result in a new, and higher, level of development.”