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Psychology 1002

Cognitive Process

Cognitive psychology studies how people think, perceive, remember and learn.

Behaviourism is based on the belief found by Watson that behaviours can be measured, trained and changed. The behavioural psychology became less popular in the 1950s, as psychologists focused more on cognitive psychology.

Cognitive map is a type of mental representation of a person to acquire, code, store, recall and decode information. Found by Tolman.

Computer can be used as a model to represent human information-processing system:

  • 1. Encoding: Entering data through a keyboard.

  • 2. Storage: Saving data in file on hard disk.

  • 3. Retrieval: Calling up file and displaying on monitor.

Mental chronometry is a method of measuring the speed and organisation of mental processes.

Cognitive bias is a thinking error that humans make in processing information.

Attention is a concept that perceives how we process specific information. The process goes:

Sensory detection > Recognition of meaning > Response selection

We can only pay attention to a limited amount because the amount that can be processed is limited.

Filter model is found by Broadbent, a belief that we can only process limited number of inputs. Filter (prevents irrelevant inputs) is divided into early (attend to a single channel) and late (attend multiple channels and select the relevant).

Memory is stored knowledge (iconic (split second), short-term (30 seconds) and long-term). Different types of encoding are:

  • 1. Structural: Physical structure of the data (length of a word).

  • 2. Phonemic: Intermediate level of processing, short-term (sound of a word).

  • 3. Semantic: Deep form of processing, long-term (meaning of a word).

Working memory is similar to short-term, except it can store, organise and manipulate information. The system of working memory consists of:

  • 1. Central executive: Manipulates information.

  • 2. Phonological loop: Verbal information is processed (silently repeating your phone number).

Memory can be divided into 3 systems:

  • 1. Non-declarative memory system: Conditioned reflexes, perceptual motor skills (riding a bike).

  • 2. Semantic memory system: General knowledge, stored undated; sense of knowing than remembering (memorizing historical figures).

  • 3. Episodic memory system: Personal experiences, important occasions (day of marriage).

A hierarchical network model is a multilevel classification system based on common properties of items, used in order to retrieve memories better. In a sentence (a kookaburra is a bird); the concepts (kookaburra and bird) are cross-referenced until the sentence becomes verified.

Schema is an organised cluster of knowledge about a particular item abstracted from previous experience. Schema may contribute to stereotype and make it difficult to retain new information.

Script is an expected cognitive representation of events and social interactions (When a person greets you How are you, the script calls for the answer Im fine, thank you). Script tells a person how to act in certain situations.

In Bartletts experiment with war of the ghost, many items were omitted due to script (because were unfamiliar with the word canoe, we remember the item as boat).

Memory can be divided into 3 systems: 1. Non-declarative memory system : Conditioned reflexes, perceptual motor

Unconscious associations between stimuli:

Dentist drill > pain > anxiety

Priming is when display/mention of one concept leads to activation of other related concepts. For example You walk towards a bank and remember the following: money, withdraw, robbery.

Procedural memory stores how to do things, learnt from repetitive experience (habits).

Explicit memory is required to consciously remember, whereas implicit memory can be remembered unconsciously. Implicit is better preserved, as amnesic patients remember implicit but not explicit.

Explicit memory is required to consciously remember, whereas implicit memory can be remembered unconsciously. Implicit is

Rebers artificial grammar learning tested subjects ability to detect patterns. It was utilized to study their implicit memory.

False memory is a fabricated recollection of an event that did not occur. We fabricate false memories to schema and scripts.

Flashbulb memory is a highly detailed and vivid snapshotof a moment. This memory is very accurate as special neural mechanism is activated, printing the memory permanently in our memory system. It was studied that we are more confident with flashbulb memories but they decay just as the same as any other.

Confabulation is a memory disturbance, the confusion of imagination with actual memory. It is a psychological or neurological disorder.

Recovered memory is a repressed memory that is remembered. It can be activated by similar experience or strong therapist suggestions.

Memories can be altered, deleted and created by events that occur any time of the memory process.

Infantile amnesia is a universal phenomenon when a person cannot retain memories during their first 3 years of their life.

Reminiscence bump is the increasing tendency for older adults to remember events that occurred during their adolescent life.

Good ways to encode memories are: picturing information and visual imagery, using context, avoid distraction and deep processing (asking questions).

Words that are easier to visualise (apple but not strength) can be retrieved more easily. Retrieval is best when the context in encoding and retrieval match (such as mood, time and place, smells).

Semantic structuring of information allows you to relate the information that you seek to the ones that you already know.

Multiple-choice exams may be easier because the information is provided but you must also discriminate whats right and wrong. During exam, cover the options and try to answer them.

Source-monitoring errors: Type of memory error where a specific experience did not happen in the source of the memory (I dont know if I ate the apple last night).

Pre-attentive processing: Accumulation of information from the environment before the brain filters what is important.


Darwin emphasised the similarity between the emotions of humans and animals. Our basic emotions are natural; produced and recognised automatically.

Basic emotions are universally recognised:

  • - Happiness

  • - Surprise

  • - Sadness

  • - Anger

  • - Disgust

  • - Fear

  • - Contempt

Ekmen and Friesen believed that contempt was not considered one of the basic emotions because it doesnt involve bilateral facial actions, nor shown in other primates.

Russells Circumplex Model:

Ekman suggests that the criteria for basic emotions are:

  • 1. Distinctive universal signals

  • 2. Distinctive physiology

  • 3. Presence in other primates

It was hypothesised that by producing a response that is a characteristic of certain emotions allows the person to experience that emotion. Ekman, Levenson & Friesens FFH was conducted to prove that theory. The conditions were to:

Semantic structuring of information allows you to relate the information that you seek to the ones
  • 1. Move facial muscles that mimic the emotion

Different emotions have distinctive patterns of arousal and the simulation of facial expressions alone had a huge effect on bodily arousal. Example, a participant was told to hold a pencil between their teeth (smile) and made them watch funny cartoons.

Amygdala is a part of the limbic system that regulates fear.

Damage to temporal lobe or amygdala resulted in psychic blindness (see objects but fail to judge emotional importance).

Severing the connections between the amygdala and the frontal cortex resulted in crippling emotional experience. Happiness and anger (approach behaviour) to left frontal cortex; and fear and sadness (withdrawal behaviour) to right frontal cortex.

When people expect to encounter fear, amygdala activates. This shows that our expectation is the real cause of fear.

Babies can:

  • - Signalling (attachment behaviour)

  • - Person perception (face and voice recognition)

  • - Imitation

  • - Reciprocity (eager to engage)

  • - Joint-attention (toy showing)

  • - Emotion understanding

Infants do not discriminate schematic faces till about 4 months old (Wilcox).

True imitation emerges at the age of 2. The infant must achieve muscular control before imitating.

Infants share emotional exchange and have pleasure in the company of people. Hiatt, Campos & Emde (1979) placed infants in an environment that encouraged joy, fear and surprise. The infants responded accordingly. Infants are emotionally sensitive and respond accordingly. Emotional contagion can be seen when infants cry in response to other infants crying. Abused children may display fear, anger and physical attacks.

Social information gathering could be seen when infants sees a new object and (sometimes) look towards their parents and respond to it in accord with the affect displayed by parents. This shows that infants gather information through emotional appraisal of their parents.

Bowlby believed that the early bonds between the child and the parent have a huge impact throughout the childs life. He suggested that attachment also serves to keep the child closer to his/her parent, improving the childs survivability.

It has been studied that infants are attached to their caregiver for comfort.

Attachment behavioural system outlines that the protection and survival of infants greatly depends on their attachment to their caregivers.

  • - Crying and smiling indicates that emotional contact exists

  • - Clinging and locomotion indicates that physical (distance) contact exists

ABC system:

  • - Avoidant (A): Minimised attachment, the infants are not upset by separation and they do not consider the presence of the caregivers secure. Sign of hostile relationship.

  • - Secure (B): Infants are distressed during separation, quickly resolved by mothers return (this behaviour is most normal). Sign of deep relationship.

  • - Resistant (C): Maximisation of attachment relationship. Infants seek secure base with very strong protest. Sign of dependency.

Behavioural inhibition refers to a pattern of behaviour involving avoidance and fear of the unfamiliar. This can be seen between 14 to 24 months of age.

Temperament is the early personality that can be shaped but not changed (nervous child tends to be nervous when grown up). Reactivity refers to quickness and intensity of emotional arousal.

Infants are unlikely to approach novelty or strangers. It is argued that behavioural inhibition AND hyper-vigilance (high sensitivity to threats) results in social withdrawal.

Emotion can be thought of as a discrete, personal brain-event. Our emotional capabilities during infancy shape our interactions and development.

James-Lange theory suggests that our emotion comes AFTER the physiological pattern. For example, when in contact with a grizzly bear our body tenses; the theory suggests that we interpret our physical reaction as fear.

Attachment behavioural system outlines that the protection and survival of infants greatly depends on their attachment

Damasio believed that emotion is about action (perception and the physical arousal) and the following (fear, sadness) is the feeling.

Schacter believes that the physical arousal influences the intensity of the emotion and the perception influences the type of emotions felt.

It is late at night, and you hear a bump in the room next door. Why

It is late at night, and you hear a bump in the room next door. Why are you scared?

The eliciting cause of fear is the bump.

The intentional object of the fear is the intruder believed to be in the other room.

The belief on which the fear is grounded is that the intruder is dangerous.

We only understand the intentional object of our fear, we do not think about the cause of this emotion. The link between our belief (cognition) and emotion is conceptual.

Learning and Motivation

Learning is a process an organism experience that brings a change in behaviour. Performance depends on: learning, opportunity, motivation and sensory and motor skills. Learning Performance Reflex is an automatic response that is inherent. Sensory nerves detect stimuli (air puff in your eye) and acts accordingly (blink). Instincts are a behavioural sequence which is genetically determined. The difference between reflex and instinct is the complexity reflex is a response, instinct is behaviour. Maturation is a change that takes place in your body and in behaviour due to age.

Fatigue is a brief state of discomfort and loss of efficiency due to emotional or physical strain, boredom and/or lack of rest.

Reflex, instinct, maturation and fatigue does not require learning

Types of learning:

  • - Habituation and sensitization

  • - Classical (Pavlovian) conditioning

  • - Instrumental (Operant) conditioning

  • - Complex (rule) learning

  • - Social learning

  • - Language mediated learning

Habituation refers to decreased responding due to repeated stimulation. For example, a catchy ringtone will become less distractive after accustomed to.

Sensitization refers to increased responding due to repeated stimulation. For example, a repeated annoyance makes you sensitized, making you act more aggressively to it. Your responsive act becomes escalated.

Habituation and sensitization helps us what to ignore and respond to, organise and focus our behaviour.

Classical conditioning is a type of learning that occurs through associations between an environmental stimulus and a neutral stimulus. For example, a food is presented to a dog with a ringing bell, making the dog salivate. Later on, the ringing of the bell alone makes the dog salivate.

  • - Food = unconditioned stimulus (US) unconditionally evokes a response.

  • - Salivation = unconditioned response (UR) response due to US.

  • - Bell = conditioned stimulus (CS) evokes a response because its paired with US.

  • - Salivation = conditioned response (CR) response due to CS.

  • 2 nd Order conditioning refers to a situation when a neutral stimulus is paired with a conditioned stimulus and that neutral stimulus produces conditioned response later on (neutral stimulus becomes CS).

Acquisition refers to the initial stage of learning or conditioned process. To put it simply, it is when neutral stimulus becomes CS (producing a CR) when paired with CS or US.

Extinction refers to reduction of CR when CS is repeated without the pairing of US.

Spontaneous response refers to the reappearance of extinct response after a period of no exposure to the CS. If the CS is repeated without the pairing of US, extinction occurs again.

Instrumental (operand) conditioning refers to a method of controlled learning through rewards and punishments for behaviour. Law of effect what a human/animal does is strongly influenced by immediate consequences. Reinforcement refers to behaviour when an organism tends to repeat responses that are followed by favourable consequences. Avoidance is vice versa of reinforcement. Edward Lee Thorndike and Skinner placed an animal in a controlled environment (box) in order to test the operand conditioning Free operant procedure

Discriminative stimuli – A stimulus which predicts that a response will produce reinforcement is termed as

Discriminative stimuli A stimulus which predicts that a response will produce reinforcement is termed as S D . Avoidance is termed as S Δ .

S D : R -˃ S R

S Δ : R -> no S R

Continuous reinforcement is when a subject is reinforced repeatedly, whereas, intermittent reinforcement is when a subject is reinforced only some of the time. Intermittent is more resistant to extinction then continuous.

The subject has no control over events in classical conditioning but responds to them, however in instrumental conditioning; the subject has to respond to change the circumstances/outcomes.

Stimulus control occurs when an organisms response depends on the presence of a stimulus.

Generalisation is the tendency for CR to occur when a stimulus that is similar to the CS is exposed.

Generalisation is when a CR occurs in the presence of cues similar to the CS. Discrimination is when the subject learns to differentiate between cues.

Social learning is when a subjects response is influenced by the observation of others.

Goal enhancement is when a subject access to some wanted goal which may make the trial and error much easier. For example, opening a jar and giving it to an octopus may help its learning.

Stimulus enhancement is when the activity of a performer draws the observers attention to a particular object.

Contagious behaviour is when an observer mimics the performers behaviour which is already known to the observer.

Discriminative stimuli – A stimulus which predicts that a response will produce reinforcement is termed as

Types of social learning are:

  • - Mimicry: Copying without reference to a goal.

  • - Emulation: Using different methods to achieve a goal as shown.

  • - Imitation: Copying with reference to a goal.

Modelling is when an observer mimics the performers behaviour. The three models are: live, verbal and symbolic. Reinforcement greatly influences modelling as a form of internal reward (pride).

Social cognition theory:

  • 1. Attention to the model.

  • 2. Memorise the models action/behaviour.

  • 3. Require the ability to reproduce the same action/behaviour.

  • 4. The motivation (was the model reinforced or is the modeller desirable).

Social learning is greatly reinforcement dependent.

Motivation is a process that initiates goal-oriented behaviours. It is a necessary condition and/or an energising effect on behaviour. Instinct is a behavioural sequence which is genetically determined. Fixed action pattern is an instinctive behavioural pattern that occurs due to a particular stimulus. For example, male birds perform a dance (FAP) in order to attract female birds (stimulus). It is produced by innate releasing mechanism (neural network) in response to a sign stimulus/releaser (external sensory stimulus) The problem with instinct only theory is that the theory does not describe the speciesbehaviour (because the reasoning is instinct). Also, all human behaviours will be considered instinctual. If all behaviour is instinctual, then all our behaviours should be the same.

Drive is an internal state of tension that motivates an organism to reduce this tension. Most organisms are homeostatic (state of physiological equilibrium).

Drive theory describes that an organisms psychological needs must be satisfied to reduce the drive.

The problem with drive theory is that the reduction of drive is not necessarily reinforcement. There is no biological need for sex, so where does sex drive come from? The question may be answered if thinking in terms of evolution sex drive acts as reinforcement for mating, therefore competition exists (survival of the fittest).

Carl Roger states that there is only one motive to fulfil ones potential growth, to become fully functional (maintenance, enhancement, reproduction).

Abraham Maslow states that humans have hierarchy of needs. From ascending (becomes more complex and human): physiological (breathing, sleep), safety (security of body), belonging (family), esteem (confidence, achievement) and self-actualization (morality, creativity).

The problem with Maslows humanistic psychology is that the predictions based on the Maslow’s hierarchy are not good. The hierarchy itself is wrong (you can be safe but hungry). Also, this is primarily based on western culture.

Invented by Henry Murray, projective test is a personality test designed to reveal the subjects hidden emotions and/or conflicts through the responsive behaviour from ambiguous stimulus.

Need for achievement (nAch) refers to an individuals desire for accomplishments. High nAch acts as motivation.

Expectance value theory was created to explain an individuals attitude towards objects and actions (why do people with high nAch only attempt difficult tasks).

Expected utility of an action = value of goal * probability of obtaining goal

The harder the task, the more satisfying people with high nAch get.

Us = 1 - Ps EU = Us * Ps EU = (1 Ps) * Ps

Serial position effect: Recall accuracy varies as a function of an items position within a study list. Recency effect (end of the list is where the recall is at its best) is most effective, than primary effect (earlier items because greater amount of processing is dedicated).

Transfer appropriate processing (TAP): Memory performance also takes account the relationship between how information is encoded and later retrieved. Studying the meaning of the word and later being tested the meaning of that word achieved the best outcome.

Proactive interference: Difficulty in learning new information due to already existing information. Intelligent test was created by Binet to determine slower learners for remedial program.