fuchs092: January 2012 Archives

Chapter 8

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Psych Chapter 8

Language: Largely arbitrary system of communication that combines symbols in rule-based ways to convey meaning/ accomplish a goal--sounds and words don't resemble their meanings
Tends to be automatic: requires little attention, even though it requires the coordination of cognitive, social and physical skills
4 levels:
Phonemes: Sounds our vocal apparatus produces
Roughly 100 total in language--English contains about 40-45
Morphemes: Smallest meaningful units of speech
Created by stringing phonemes together, and sometimes are words (dog, -ish, re-)
Semantics: Meaning derived from words and sentences
Syntax: Grammatical rules that govern how words are composed into meaningful strings
Morphological markers: Grammatical elements that modify words by adding sounds to tem to change their meaning (-ing, -s)
Idealized version of the language
Extralinguistic information: Elements of communication that aren't part of the content of language but are critical to interpreting its meaning
Nonverbal cues: facial expression, tone, gestures, posture
Dialects: Language variations used by a group of people who share geographic proximity or ethnic background
Sound symbolism: Certain words seems to have intrinsic meaning--languages for "mom" all start with m/n, and "dad" with b/d/p - relates to children's development

High-amplitude sucking procedure: Experiment that shows that newborns prefer their mother's native language by measuring how much they suck on a pacifier--shows that they begin language learning while still in mother's womb
Babbling: Intention vocalization that lacks specific meaning
All babies initially share the same basic phoneme categories regard of parents' native language
By 10 months, babies have phonemes that are adjusted to native language
Comprehension precedes production: Children are learning to recognize and interpret words well before they can produce them
Begin comprehension around 9-10 months, producing words around 1st birthday
Word growth grows exponentially as children grow after first year
Overextension/Underextension: Applying words in a broader sense/ in a narrow sense
One word stage: Early period of development when children use a single word to convey an entire thought
By age two, they reach Two-word phrases
Even before they can use phrases, they understand syntactic rules to put sentences together

Sign Language
Uses same type of rules for syntax, structure, organization, etc
Same area for processing language is activated with sign language; developmental stages are similar to spoken language
Earlier to learn a language, the better - motivation and context really matter
Metalinguistic: Awareness of how language is structured and used
People who learn languages later in life use different parts of their brain
Homesign: System of signs invented by deaf children of hearing parents who receive no language input
Age of exposure influences a person's ability to learn a language greatly: Test of Chinese and Korean immigrants--as age increases, proficiency gradually declines
Sensitive period: Period during which people are more receptive to learning and can acquire new knowledge easily
"Less is more" hypothesis: Children have limited information-processing abilities, fewer analytic skills, and less specific knowledge about how language works
Learn more naturally and gradually from the "ground up"

Theoretical Accounts of Language-Acquisition
Imitation Account (NUTURE): Children learn language through imitation
Language is generative: Allowing an infinite number of unique sentences to be created by combining words in novel ways
- questions behaviorist theory of reinforcement to learn language

Nativist Account (NATURE): Account of language acquisition that suggests children are born with some basic knowledge of how language works
Language acquisition device: Hypothetical organ in the brain in which knowledge of syntax resides
Overregularization errors: Applying syntax where it shouldn't be
-Claims are difficult to falsify, and tend to explain everything, which makes it useless
Social Pragmatics Account: Children infer what words and sentences mean from context and social interactions
-Assumes that children have very strongly developed social skills that allow them to understand people
General Cognitive Processing Account: Children's ability to learn language results from general skills that children apply across a variety of activities
Ability to perceive, learn and recognize patterns may be all that is needed to understand language
-However, adults are better at learning everything except languages
-Parts of brain stimulated differences from language to other learning patterns

Animal Communication
Most species communicate most often under the circumstances of sex and violence
"Bee Dance" is one of the few examples of animals communicating beyond "here and now"
Most animals, like chimps, learn very differently than humans and can't deduct syntax
Thinking and Language

Linguistic Determinism: View that all thought is represented verbally and that, as a result, our language defines our thinking
Do words increase our subtle perceptions, or do we simply have more words for obvious things?
Test of paralyzing vocal cords and still thinking--falsified Watson's hypothesis and showed that we don't think by using sub vocal language
Curare: Drug that paralyzes muscles and skeleton but leaves patient conscious
Also refuted because people can perform complex tasks before talking about them
Linguistic relativity (Sapir-Whorf hypothesis): View that characteristics of language shape our thought processes
People remember events better when they occur in the language they are describing them in
Some cultures have very few distinctions for colors
Still perceive all colors, just don't have words for them


Stroop Test: Named for Richard Stroop- shows that reading is automatic and hard to inhibit - children have a much easier time than adults b/c their reading is effortful
In order to read, one must - 1. Realize writing is meaningful; 2. Understand writing is in a direction; 3. Recognize letters of the alphabet; 4. Letters correspond to a specific sound
Whole word recognition: Reading strategy that involves identifying common words based on their appearance without having to sound them out
Phonetic decomposition: Reading strategy that involves sounding out words by drawing correspondences between printed letters and sounds
Research shows that sound-letter correspondences are effect to get children reading, even though mature readers generally rely on whole word recognition
Generally, the fast that one reads the more they miss
Speed reading programs are popular b/c of perception that fast readers comprehend more--which they do, but that's because they are smart...
Mind can handle ~400 words per minute

Thinking and Reasoning
Thinking: Any mental activity or processing of information, including learning, remembering, perceiving, communicating, believing, and deciding
Cognitive Economy
We use heuristics to simplify the world--Gigerenzer "Fast and frugal" thinking
Top-down processing is used so we don't need to think as much
Concept: Our knowledge and ideas about a set of objects, actions, and or characteristics that share core properties
Decision making: The process of selecting among a set of possible alternatives
Almost always takes into account many factors
Wilson- Study of which posters to take home--showed that people who "went with their gut" were more happier  emotional decisions are better to not think about oftentimes
Framing: The way a question is formulated which can influence the decisions people make
Neuroeconomics: Interest in the way the brain works when making financial decisions
Shows that people DO NOT use same areas of decision making in brain when receiving advice from professionals
Problem solving: Generating a cognitive strategy to accomplish a goal
Algorithms: Step-by-step learned procedure used to solve a problem
Analogies between 2 topics help us to solve problems b/c we relate similar structures
1. Salience of surface similarities
We tend to focus our attention on the superficial properties of a problem, and try to solve them using knowledge in relation to similar surface characteristics
Trains--one with division and one with subtraction- fact that trains are involved doesn't help...
2. Mental Sets
Phenomenon of becoming stuck in a specific problem-solving strategy, inhibiting our ability to generate alternatives
3. Functional Fixedness
People experience difficulty conceptualizing that an object can be used for multiple purposes

Our biggest advantage over computers is our ability of top-down processing
Embodied accounts of thinking: Our knowledge is organized and accessed in a manner that enables us to similar our actual experiences

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