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PROLOGUE

Fifty thousand years ego, more or less, during the Upper Paleolithic Age, our
ancestors began the most spectacular advance in human history. Before that
age, human beings were a negligible group of large mammals. After, the human
mind was able to take over the world. What happened?

The archeological record suggests that during the Upper Paleolithic, humans
developed an unprecedented ability to innovate. They acquired a modern
human imagination, which gave them the ability to invent new concepts and
to assemble new and dynamic mental patterns. The results of this change
were awesome: Human beings developed art, science, religion, culture,
sophisticated tools, and language. How could we have invented these
things?

You, as a human being, are a fascinating creature. You have what may be a
limitless ability to learn new things. You can memorize an immense amount
of information and store it in your mind for many years. You can speak and
write in a wide variety of languages and communicate with hand, facial,
and body gestures. You also have different consciousness in which you can
experience the world around you as well as your internal dreams and
fantasies and you shape and change your surroundings every day, creating
new ways of understanding life with different forms of intelligence.

Despite the fascinating quality of human nature, do you know that you often
think, act, and experience the world in ways very similar to all other
animals? While humans have many unique and special qualities and abilities,
there are many similarities with other living creatures.

Unlike other species, humans owe their success more to thinking abilities and
intelligence than to physical strength or speed. Thats why we are called Homo
sapiens (from the Latin for man and wise). Our mental abilities make us
highly adaptable creatures. We live in deserts, jungles, mountains, frenzied
cities, placid retreats, and even space stations.

Consider Stephen Hawking. He cant walk or talk. When he was 13, Lou
Gehrigs disease began to slowly destroy nerve cells in his spinal cord, short-
circuiting messages between his brain and muscles. Today, he is confined to a
wheelchair and speaks by manually controlling a speech synthesizer. Yet
despite his severe disabilities, his brain is unaffected by the disease and
remains fiercely active. He can still think. Steven is a theoretical physicist and
one of the best-known scientific minds of modern times (Ferguson, 2011). With
courage and determination, he has used his intellect to advance our
understanding of the universe.
But how do we think? How are we able to solve problems? What is
intelligence? What exactly is wisdom? How do people like Steven Hawking
create works of science, art, and literature? For some preliminary answers, we
will investigate thinking, problem solving, language, creativity, and intelligence
in the following pages.

We marvel at both our abilities and our errors.

We study the human brain3 pounds of wet tissue the size of a small
cabbage, yet containing circuitry more complex than the planets telephone
networks. We marvel at the competence of newborns. We relish our sensory
system, which disassembles visual stimuli into millions of nerve impulses,
distributes them for parallel processing, and then reassembles them into
colorful perceptions.

We ponder our memorys seemingly limitless capacity and the ease with
which our two-track mind processes information, consciously and
unconsciously. Little wonder that our species has had the collective genius to
invent the camera, the car, and the computer; to unlock the atom and crack
the genetic code; to travel out to space and into the oceans depths. Yet we also
see that our species is kin to the other animals. We are influenced by the
same principles that produce learning in rats and pigeons.

Two quotations go right to the heart of this Discussion.

First is one by the cognitive psychologist of science Ryan Tweney: Science is


by its very nature a cognitive act!

Second, the historian of science Arthur I. Miller had this to say about Piaget,
philosophy, cognitive science, psychology, and science: The Swiss psychologist
Jean Piaget made it abundantly clear that the basic problem faced by
psychology, philosophy, and science is how knowledge emerges from sense
perceptions or data. . . . Piaget wondered essentially about a paradox discussed
by Plato in the Meno: How can new concepts emerge from ones already set into
the brain? In other words, how can a system produce results that go far
beyond the statements included in it? This is the problem of creativity.
Beginning to reason is like stepping onto an escalator that leads upward and
out of sight. Once we take the first step, the distance to be traveled is
independent of our will and we cannot know in advance where we shall end.
Peter Singer (1982)

But whatever the process, the result is wonderful, gradually from naming an
object we advance step-by-step until we have traversed the vast difference
between our first stammered syllable and the sweep of thought in a line of
Shakespeare. Helen Keller

Man was born for two things:


Thinking and acting.
To think is to live.
Cicero.

Ultimately, it is not we who define thinking; it is thinking that defines us.


Carey, Foltz, & Allan (Newsweek, 1983, February 7)

Imagination is the beginning of creation: you imagine what you desire, you will
what you imagine, and at last you create what you will.
-George Bernard Shaw

The mind is its own place and in itself can make a hell of heaven or a heaven of
hell
Milton, Paradise Lost

It is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone,


to believe anything upon insufficient evidence.
W. K. CLIFFORD

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging
their prejudices.
-William James

Humans are highly adaptable creatures. We live in deserts, jungles, mountains, frenzied
cities, placid retreats, and space stations. Unlike other species, our success owes more to
thinking abilities and intelligence than it does to physical strength or speed.
COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY OR COGNITIVE PROCESSES

Basic Functions of Thought


(CASE STUDIES)

1. It is midnight. Theres a knock on your door. When you answer, no one


is there, but you see an envelope on the floor. Inside the envelope is a
single sheet of paper with a handwritten message: The cat is on the
mat. What do you make of this?

You must now begin to engage a variety of cognitive processes. You will need
language processes to put together some basic meanings for the words, but
what then? Can you find any episode in memory to which these words are
relevant? If you cant, youll have to give other types of thought to the matter. Is
the message a code? What kind of code? Whom do you know who might encode
a message? Does the fate of civilization rest in your hands?

2. For the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 118, the skies
over Hawaii were about to become the scene of a terrifying test of human
resourcefulness, with survival at stake. On a routine flight 20,000 feet
above the Pacific Ocean, the unthinkable happened. With an explosive
popping of rivets and a shriek of tearing metal, part of the surface at the
front of the plane suddenly ripped away from the rest of the aircraft,
exposing the flight deck and forward passenger compartments to the air.
Inside, terrified passengers and flight attendants quite literally hung on
for dear life as gale-force winds swirled through the cabin and the plane
threatened to spin out of control.

The sudden change in the aerodynamics of the plane meant that it could not be
flown normally. The captain, an experienced pilot, needed to develop a mental
model of the plane in its altered form to keep it from plunging into the ocean.
Thanks to his flight experience and his knowledge of the principles under
which the aircraft normally responded to its controls, the captain quickly
recognized what needed to be done and formulated a plan for doing it.

Yet formulating the plan wasnt enough. The captain needed his copilots help
to execute the appropriate actions. Under normal circumstances this would
pose no problem: The captain would simply use spoken language to describe
his thoughts, convey the plan, and tell the copilot what to do. But in a torn-
open jetliner flying at several hundred miles per hour, the noise of the engines
and the roar of the wind rendered speech useless, so the captain and the
copilot switched to hand signals to communicate their thoughts and coordinate
their activities. Through perfect teamwork, they landed the aircraft safely at an
auxiliary airfield, a feat described by one aeronautical engineer as
astonishing.
Incidents like this one illustrate the power of human communication,
reasoning, and problem solvingcognitive skills that underlie adaptive
behavior. Yet as we shall see, the basic communication procedures and mental
operations these aviators used to deal with this life-and-death challenge were
really no different from many of the linguistic, reasoning, and problem-solving
activities that we engage in each day. We humans are physically puny and
relatively defenseless in comparison with some other species, but we dominate
our world because we communicate more effectively and think better than
other animals do. Humans have a remarkable ability to create mental
representations of the world and to manipulate them in the forms of language,
thinking, reasoning, and problem solving (Simon, 1990). Mental
representations include images, ideas, concepts, and principles. At this
very moment, through the printed words you are reading, mental
representations are being transferred from our minds to yours. Indeed, the
process of education is all about transferring ideas and skills from one mind to
another.

3. Dr. Joyce Wallace, a New York City physician, was having trouble
figuring out what was the matter with a forty-three-year-old patient,
Laura McBride.
Laura reported pain in her stomach and abdomen, aching muscles, irritability,
occasional dizzy spells, and fatigue (Rouch, 1986). The doctors first
hypothesis was iron-deficiency anemia, a condition in which there is not
enough oxygen-carrying hemoglobin in the blood. There was some evidence to
support that hypothesis. A physical examination revealed that Lauras spleen
was somewhat enlarged, and blood tests showed low hemoglobin and high
production of red blood cells, suggesting that her body was attempting to
compensate for the loss of hemoglobin. However, other tests revealed normal
iron levels. Perhaps she was losing blood through internal bleeding, but other
tests ruled that out. Had Laura been vomiting blood? She said no. Blood in the
urine? No. Abnormally heavy menstrual flow? No.

As Dr. Wallace puzzled over the problem, Lauras condition worsened. She
reported more intense pain, cramps, shortness of breath, and severe loss of
energy. Her blood was becoming less and less capable of sustaining her; but if
it was not being lost, what was happening to it? Finally, the doctor looked at a
smear of Lauras blood on a microscope slide. What she saw indicated that a
poison was destroying Lauras red blood cells. What could it be? Laura spent
most of her time at home, but her teenage daughters, who lived with her, were
perfectly healthy. Dr. Wallace asked herself, What does Laura do that the girls
do not? She repairs and restores paintings. Paint. Lead! She might be
suffering from lead poisoning! When the next blood test showed a lead level
seven times higher than normal, Dr. Wallace knew she had found the answer
at last.
To solve this medical mystery, Dr.Wallace relied on her intelligence, part of
which can be seen in her ability to think, solve problems, and make judgments
and decisions. She put these vital cognitive abilities to use in weighing the pros
and cons of various hypotheses and in reaching decisions about what tests to
order and how to interpret them. In consulting with the patient and other
physicians, she relied on another remarkable human cognitive ability known as
language. Lets take a look at what psychologists have discovered about these
complex mental processes, how to measure them, and how to compare people
in terms of intelligence. We begin by examining a general framework for
understanding human thinking and then go on to look at some specific
cognitive processes.

Understanding the mental processes that Dr. Wallace used to solve her
problem begins by realizing that her thinking, like yours, involves five main
operations or functions: to describe, to elaborate, to decide, to plan, and to
guide action.

The Circle of Thought

Consider how the circle of thought operated in Dr. Wallaces case. It began
when she received the information about Lauras symptoms that allowed her to
describe the problem. Next, Dr. Wallace elaborated on this information by
using her knowledge, experience, and powers of reasoning to consider what
disorders might cause such symptoms. Then she made a decision to
investigate a possible cause, such as anemia. To pursue this decision, she
formulated a planand then acted on that plan. But the circle of thought did
not stop there. Information from the blood test provided new descriptive
information, which Dr. Wallace elaborated further to reach another decision,
create a new plan, and guide her next action. Each stage in the circle of
thought was also influenced by her overall intentionin this case, to find and
cure her patients problem.

COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY

We are surrounded by evidence of peoples really great ideas. From the alarm
clock to the computer, human ingenuity touches us at every turn. These
inventions happened because somebody noticed a problem and came up
with a solution. Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes.
Cognitive processes are thinking, problem solving, reasoning, and decision
making.

What is thinking? Every time you use information and mentally act on it by
forming ideas, reasoning, solving problems, drawing conclusions, expressing
thoughts, or comprehending the thoughts of others, you are thinking. In
thinking we explore the building blocks of thoughtsimages and concepts.
Then, we discuss the mental processes involved in problem solving and
creativity.

Thinking is a cognitive process in which the brain uses information from the
senses, emotions, and memory to create and manipulate mental
representations such as concepts, images, schemas, and scripts. We can
conceive of thinking as a complex act of cognition information processing in
the brainby which we deal with our world of ideas, feelings, desires, and
experience. Our Core Concept notes that this information can come from
within and from without, but it always involves some form of mental
representation:

These mental representations, then, serve as the building blocks of cognition,


while thinking organizes them in meaningful ways. The ultimate results are the
higher thought processes we call reasoning, imagining, judging, deciding,
problem solving, expertise, creativity, andsometimesgenius.

A representation may take the form of a word, a visual image, a sound, or


data in any other sensory modality stored in memory. Thinking transforms a
particular representation of information into new and different forms, allowing
us to answer questions, solve problems, or reach goals.

Cognition refers to mentally processing information. Our thoughts take many


forms, including daydreaming, problem solving, and reasoning (to name but a
few).

Answers to these questions are posed by cognitive psychology, the branch of


psychology that focuses on the study of higher mental processes, including
thinking, language, memory, problem solving, knowing, reasoning, judging,
and decision making. Clearly, the realm of cognitive psychology is broad.

No other species contemplates, analyzes, recollects, or plans the way


humans do. Understanding what thinking is, however, goes beyond
knowing that we think. Philosophers, for example, have argued for
generations about the meaning of thinking, with some placing it at the core of
human beings understanding of their own existence.

Psychologists define thinking as the manipulation of mental representations of


information. A representation may take the form of a word, a visual image, a
sound, or data in any other sensory modality stored in memory. Thinking
transforms a particular representation of information into new and different
forms, allowing us to answer questions, solve problems, or reach goals.

According to the currently dominant theory as to the nature of thinking,


thinking is the brains computer-like processing of mental
representations.The brain acquires information about reality via the sense
organs and encodes it into neural form as mental representations. The brain
stores each representation and computes from itand from other current and
previously stored representationsa program of neuron firings that will
produce a behavioral response appropriate to the current situation. This
representational and computational understanding of the mind/brain is the
basis of cognitive science, the approach to psychology and philosophy of mind
that took over from behaviorism in the mid 1970s.

What kinds of activities count as cognitive processes and why they might
interest you. The capacity to use language and to think in abstract ways
has often been cited as the essence of the human experience. You tend to
take cognition for granted because its an activity you do continually during
your waking hours. Even so, when a carefully crafted speech wins your vote
or when you read a detective story in which the sleuth combines a few scraps
of apparently trivial clues into a brilliant solution to a crime, you are forced to
acknowledge the intellectual triumph of cognitive processes.

Cognition is a general term for all forms of knowing: The study of cognition is
the study of your mental life. Cognition includes both contents and processes.
The contents of cognition are what you knowconcepts, facts, propositions,
rules, and memories: A dog is a mammal. A red light means stop. I first left
home at age 18.

Cognitive processes are how you manipulate these mental contentsin


ways that enable you to interpret the world around you and to find creative
solutions to your lifes dilemmas.

This study of cognition will begin with a brief description of the ways in which
researchers try to measure the inner, private processes involved in cognitive
functioning. Cognitive psychology covers the topics that generate much basic
research and practical application: language use, visual cognition, problem
solving, reasoning, judging, and decision making.

Cognitive psychology deals with Perception, Attention, Memory, Language,


Thinking and Problem solving, and Intelligence.

Cognitive psychologists study higher mental functions, with particular


emphasis on the ways in which people acquire knowledge and use it to shape
and understand their experiences in the world.

Cognitive process One of the higher mental processes, such as perception,


memory, language, problem solving, and abstract thinking.

Cognition Processes of knowing, including attending, remembering, and


reasoning; also the content of the processes, such as concepts and memories.
Cognitive psychology The study of higher mental processes such as attention,
language use, memory, perception, problem solving, and thinking.

Cognitive science The interdisciplinary field of study of systems and processes


that manipulate information.

According to the currently dominant theory as to the nature of thinking,


thinking is the brains computer-like processing of mental representations.
The brain acquires information about reality via the sense organs and encodes
it into neural form as mental representations. The brain stores each
representation and computes from itand from other current and previously
stored representationsa program of neuron firings that will produce a
behavioral response appropriate to the current situation. This representational
and computational understanding of the mind/brain is the basis of cognitive
science, the approach to psychology and philosophy of mind that took over
from behaviorism in the mid 1970s.

Cognitive science agrees that thinking goes on inside the head. For the
cognitive scientist, however, thinking is information processing done by or in
the brain. Mind is redefined as a brain function. Thinking is a kind of
action, something the person actively does.

Solving a math problem, deciding what to do Friday night, and indulging a


private fantasy all require thinking. We can conceive of thinking as a complex
act of cognition information processing in the brainby which we deal with
our world of ideas, feelings, desires, and experience. Our Core Concept notes
that this information can come from within and from without, but it always
involves some form of mental representation:

These mental representations, then, serve as the building blocks of cognition,


while thinking organizes them in meaningful ways. The ultimate results are the
higher thought processes we call reasoning, imagining, judging, deciding,
problem solving, expertise, creativity, andsometimesgenius.
THINKING

There are two worlds in which we live in their association.

1. The external world. Also called physical world or physical reality. This
physical world is the source of all of our information, which is the
essence of our life and behaviour.
- The physical reality is full of enormous amount of varied information.
- The information is in 1. Objects (living and non-living) in 2. Space
(infinite) 3. And time (day and night).
- We may not need all the information that is there in the physical
reality. We choose what we need, desire or require.

2. The Internal world. Which process the information and utilizes for its
survival.

Thought or thinking is a mental process which allows beings to model the


world, and so to deal with it effectively according to their goals, plans, ends
and desires. Concepts akin to thought are sentience, consciousness, idea, and
imagination.

Thinking is an internal mental process that uses information as input,


integrates that information into previous learned material and the result may
be knowledge or may be nothing.

Everything we hear is an opinion not the fact.


Everything we see is a perspective not the truth.
-Marcus Aurelius

One of the most important components of cognition is thinking:


categorising, reasoning and solving problems. When we think, we perceive,
classify, manipulate, and combine information. When we are finished, we know
something we did not know before (although our knowledge may be incorrect).

Thinking involves information, attention, pattern recognition, memory,


decision-making, intuition, knowledge, emotion, language and more.

Thinking is important to all of us in our daily lives.

1. The way we think affects the way we plan our lives, the personal goals we
choose, and the decisions we make.
2. Good thinking is therefore not something that is forced upon us in
school: It is something that we all want to do, and want others to do, to
achieve our goals and theirs.

This approach gives a special meaning to the term rational.

Rational does not mean, here, a kind of thinking that denies emotions and
desires: It means, the kind of thinking we would all want to do, if we were
aware of our own best interests, in order to achieve our goals. Ex;
WORSHIPPING THE GOD

People want to think rationally, in this sense. It does not make much sense to
say that you do not want to do something that will help you achieve your goals:
Your goals are, by definition, what you want to achieve. They are the criteria by
which you evaluate everything about your life.

More generally, how do people use information to devise innovative


solutions to problems? And how do people think about, understand, and,
through language, describe the world?

Thinking is important to all of us in our daily lives. The way we think


affects the way we plan our lives, the personal goals we choose, and the
decisions we make. Good thinking is therefore not something that is forced
upon us in school: It is something that we all want to do, and want others to
do, to achieve our goals and theirs.

By thinking we usually mean such activities as calculating, cogitating,


pondering, musing, reflecting, meditating, and ruminating. But we might
also mean any of a broader range of actions or activities (or dispositions, states,
processes, or whatever). I mean remembering, intending, imagining,
conceiving, believing, desiring, hoping, feeling emotion, empathizing,
following what someone is saying, minding, being conscious of something, and
so on. This is admittedly a mixed bag.

The general term most philosophers would use is mental phenomena.

The notion of thinking helps us to explain peoples behavior. We appeal to


thinking to explain actions, qualities of action, abilities and dispositions to act,
and even certain kinds of bodily agitation.

The thinking determines the nature of the behavior, then motivates and guides
its performance, from within.

What kind of thing is thinking? Is it a mental process? Is it a physiological


process in the brain? Is it both? Or is it something different again an action
or activity the person performs?
Thinking and organizing the experienced data is a most complex and
complicated exercise both at biological and cognitive levels. How the data
encodes itself into electro chemical signals and provide us with the complete
and meaning full reality is still a mystery. Thinking is process in continues
dynamic motion.

Creating the Future

To create the future, you have to be able to imagine it. Productive thinking is
a way to help you do that. Its not magic. Its a disciplined approach to
thinking more creatively and more effectively. You can actually train yourself to
think better. The more you practice it, the better youll get. The better you get,
the more opportunities you will have to make a better world, a better company,
a better life. The power of productive thinking lies its potential to increase your
chances of finding, developing, and ultimately implementing unexpected
connections.

Because, thinking is hard work Henry Ford once said, Thinking is the hardest
work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.

So thinkingtruly focused thinking, which includes mental activities such as


observing, remembering, wondering, imagining, inquiring, interpreting,
evaluating, judging, identifying, supposing, composing, comparing,
analyzing, calculating, and even meta cognition (thinking about thinking)
is hard work. Which, as Ford said is probably why so few people actually do it.

Thinking, in a broad sense that includes most of the various mental


phenomena.

EXAMPLE

You begin by saying to a friend, I have a free course. Any ideas? She says that
she enjoyed Professor Smiths course in Soviet-American relations. You think
that the subject sounds interesting, and you want to know more about modern
history. You ask her about the work, and she says that there is a lot of reading
and a twenty page paper. You think about all the computer-science
assignments you are going to have this term, and, realizing that you were
hoping for an easier course, you resolve to look elsewhere. You then recall
hearing about a course in American history since World War II. That has the
same advantages as the first courseit sounds interesting and it is about
modern history but you think the work might not be so hard. You try to find
someone who has taken the course.
Clearly, we could go on with this example, but it already shows the main
characteristics of thinking. It begins with doubt. It involves a search directed at
removing the doubt. Thinking is, in a way, like exploration. In the course of
the search, you discovered two possible courses, some good features of both
courses, some bad features of one course, and some goals you are trying to
achieve. You also made an inference: You rejected the first course because
the work was too hard.

From the beginnings of life, the inward flow of sensations and experiences is
organized by the brain in a variety of ways. The transformation of what is
heard, seen, or touched is dependent upon the skill of the human mind in
representing events as images, as inner speech, as kinesthetic symbols.
Through these varied forms or languages, the consequences or meanings of
these experiences are stored.

Aristotle called human beings rational animals. It is all too regrettably


obvious, however, that we are frequently irrational. Yet it would be hasty to
reject Aristotles characterization outright. Our discussion is concerned with
sorting out how to make sense of both our rationality and our irrationality. It is
also about whats good about being rational, and why its worth the trouble.

Cogito, ergo sum, the French philosopher Rene Descartes famously


declared, I think, therefore I am. Every normal human adult shares a sense
that the ability to think, to reason, is a part of their fundamental identity.
Thinking is a skill, not an inherent gift, so its something you can improve
upon. Thats right.

You think all the time, and whether you know it or not, you have a distinct
thinking style, a way of going about what you do. If youve ever thought youd
like to better understand how that works or, more important, improve upon
your thinking abilities in a way that can transform your life, you are taking the
right step seeking to explore your possibilities for becoming the best thinker
you can be.

The notion of thinking helps us to explain peoples behavior. We appeal to


thinking to explain actions, qualities of action, abilities and dispositions to act,
and even certain kinds of bodily agitation.

Consider an attentive and methodical performance, any goal-directed activity,


explaining to someone what one is doing, producing a list of relevant facts,
finding the solution to a problem of woodworking or arithmetic, having a
disposition to racist remarks or effusive greetings, and trembling or blushing at
what someone is saying.

We explain these different behaviors and aspects of behavior, and many others,
by positing different kinds of thinking going on behind the scenes. The thinking
determines the nature of the behavior, then motivates and guides its
performance, from within.

What kind of thing is thinking? Is it a mental process? Is it a physiological


process in the brain? Is it both? Or is it something different again an
action or activity the person performs?

Thinking can be described as inferences made from possibilities, evidence, and


goals that are discovered through searching.

One of the most valuable lessons psychology can teach us is to appreciate


mental capacities we normally take for granted. Take language and thinking.
We rely on them almost every second of our waking hours, but rarely notice the
complexity that goes into them.

What enables us to draw these and other sophisticated inferences in our


everyday conversations? Our ability to access knowledge, draw conclusions,
make decisions, and interpret new phrasesall largely outside of our
conscious awarenessplay crucial roles.

We think of past. We think of presence. We think of future. We think of


concrete physical objects. We think of concepts those cannot be seen,
touch, hear, taste or smell. How is it possible?

WHAT IS THINKING

We can start to answer this question by looking at the various ways the word
thinking is used in everyday language. 1. I think that water is necessary for
life and 2. George thinks the Pope is a communist both express beliefs (of
varying degrees of apparent plausibility), that is, explicit claims of what
someone takes to be a truth about the world.3. Anne is sure to think of a
solution carries us into the realm of problem solving, the mental construction
of an action plan to achieve a goal. The complaint 4. Why didnt you think
before you went ahead with your half-baked scheme? emphasizes that
thinking can be a kind of foresight, a way of seeing the possible future. 5
What do you think about it? calls for a judgment, an assessment of the
desirability of an option. Then theres 6. Albert is lost in thought, where
thinking becomes some sort of mental meadow through which a person might
meander on a rainy afternoon, oblivious to the world outside.

Thinking is the systematic transformation of mental representations of


knowledge to characterize actual or possible states of the world, often in
service of goals. Obviously, our definition introduces a plethora of terms with
meanings that beg to be unpacked, but at which we can only hint.
A mental representation of knowledge is an internal description that can be
manipulated to form other descriptions. To count as thinking, the
manipulations must be systematic transformations governed by certain
constraints. Whether a logical deduction or a creative leap, what we mean by
thinking is more than unconstrained associations.

The internal representations created by thinking describe states of some


external world (a world that may include the thinker as an object of self-
reflection) that world might be our everyday one, or perhaps some imaginary
construction obeying the laws of magical realism. Often (not always the
daydreamer, and indeed the night dreamer, are also thinkers), thinking is
directed toward achieving some desired state of affairs, some goal that
motivates the thinker to perform mental work.

The study of thinking includes several interrelated subfields that reflect


slightly different perspectives on thinking.

Reasoning, which has a long tradition that springs from philosophy and logic,
places emphasis on the process of drawing inferences (conclusions) from some
initial information (premises). In standard logic, an inference is deductive if the
truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion by virtue of the
argument form. If the truth of the premises renders the truth of the conclusion
more credible but does not bestow certainty, the inference is called inductive.

Judgment and decision making involve assessment of the value of an option


or the probability that it will yield a certain payoff (judgment) coupled with
choice among alternatives (decision making).

Problem solving involves the construction of a course of action that can


achieve a goal. Although these distinct perspectives on thinking are useful in
organizing the field (and this volume), these aspects of thinking overlap in every
conceivable way. To solve a problem, one is likely to reason about the
consequences of possible actions and make decisions to select among
alternative actions. A logic problem, as the name implies, is a problem to be
solved (with the goal of deriving or evaluating a possible conclusion). Making a
decision is often a problem that requires reasoning. These subdivisions of the
field, like our preliminary definition of thinking, should be treated as
guideposts, not destinations.

What kind of thing is thinking? Is it a mental process? Is it a physiological


process in the brain? Is it both? Or is it something different again an action
or activity the person performs?

When we think, we perceive, classify, manipulate, and combine information.


When we are finished, we know something we did not know before (although
our knowledge may be incorrect). The conventional assumption is that the
concept of an action includes and presupposes concepts of mental
phenomenabeliefs, desires, decisions, intentions, volitions, etc.and that
these latter are concepts of a fundamentally non-action kind.

HOW PEOPLE THINK

We think when we are in doubt about


1. how to act,
2. what to believe, or
3. what to desire.

Three basic types of thinking

There are three basic types of thinking that we have to do in order to achieve
our goals:

1. We have to think when we make decisions, (how to act,


2. We have to think when we form beliefs, and (what to believe )
3. We have to think when we choose our personal goals, (what to desire) and
we will be better off later if we think well in these situations.

We think when we are in doubt about how to act, what to believe, or what to
desire. In these situations, thinking helps us to resolve our doubts: It is
purposive. We have to think when we make decisions, when we form beliefs,
and when we choose our personal goals, and we will be better off later if we
think well in these situations.

1. thinking about decisions

A decision is a choice of action of what to do or not do. 1. Decisions are


made to achieve goals, 2. and they are based on beliefs about what actions will
achieve the goals. For example, if I believe it is going to rain, and if my goal is
to keep dry, I will carry an umbrella. Decisions may attempt to satisfy the goals
of others as well as the selfish goals of the decision maker. I may carry an extra
umbrella for a friend.

Decisions may concern small matters, such as whether to carry an umbrella,

or matters of enormous importance, such as how one government should


respond to a provocation by another.

Decisions may be simple, involving only a single goal, two options, and strong
beliefs about which option will best achieve the goal, or they may be complex,
with many goals and options and with uncertain beliefs.
2. Thinking about belief

Decisions depend on beliefs and goals. When we think about belief, we think to
decide how strongly to believe something, or which of several competing beliefs
is true. When we believe a proposition, we tend to act as if it were true. If I
believe it will rain, I will carry my umbrella. We may express beliefs in
language, even without acting on them ourselves. (Others may act on the
beliefs we express.) Many school problems, such as those in mathematics,
involve thinking about beliefs that we express in language only, not in actions.
Beliefs may vary in strength, and they may be quantified as probabilities. A
decision to go out of my way to buy an umbrella requires a stronger belief that
it will rain (a higher probability) than a decision to carry an umbrella I already
own.
3. Thinking about our personal goals

When we decide on a personal goal, we make a decision that affects future


decisions. If a person decides to pursue a certain career, the pursuit of that
career becomes a goal that many future decisions will seek to achieve. When
we choose personal goals by thinking, we also try to bind our future behavior.
Personal goals of this sort require self-control.

Actions, beliefs, and personal goals can be the results of thinking

The objects of thinking are represented in our minds. We are conscious of


them. If they are not in our immediate consciousness, we can recall them when
they are relevant, even after an episode of thinking resumes following an
interruption. The processes of thinking the search for possibilities, evidence,
and goals and the inference from the evidence to evaluate the possibilitiesdo
not occur in any fixed order. They overlap. The thinker alternates from one to
another.

Why just these phases: the search for possibilities, evidence, and goals, and
inference? Thinking is, in its most general sense, a method of finding and
choosing among potential possibilities, that is, possible actions, beliefs,
or personal goals. For any choice, there must be purposes or goals, and goals
can be added to or removed from the list. I can search for (or be open to) new
goals; therefore, search for goals is always possible. There must also be objects
that can be brought to bear on the choice among possibilities. Hence, there
must be evidence, and it can always be sought. Finally, the evidence must be
used, or it might as well not have been gathered. These phases are necessary
in this sense.

SOME BASIC UNITS OF THOUGHT

You think all the time, and whether you know it or not, you have a distinct
thinking style, a way of going about what you do. If youve ever thought youd
like to better understand how that works or, more important, improve upon
your thinking abilities in a way that can transform your life, you are taking the
right step seeking to explore your possibilities for becoming the best thinker
you can be.

To understand how, lets take a look at three important areas of your mind:

1. Dreams, 2 feelings, and 3 thinking. This trinity of the mind is like a three-
person rowing team. You have dreams calling out direction while thinking and
feeling do the rowing.

When all three are in sync, you glide through life. Of course, they are not
always in perfect synchrony, so lets look more carefully at the role each plays.

Dreams

The depth of dreams has inspired individuals, nations, and generations. Most
famously, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., had a dream, which became a powerful
vision and changed the behavior of an entire country. We all have dreams,
goals, and aspirations that motivate us throughout our lives and determine the
path we take. These dreams guide us in what we choose to do and when we
choose to do it.

Getting clear about what matters most to you, really understanding your
dreams and your values, is essential because dreams determine the direction of
your behavior. If your dreams arent clear, your direction wont be clear. It will
be left, right, no left again. To fully leverage your thinking skills, you need to
know, at the core, what is important in your life and whats not. Thinking and
feeling work better together when your dreams are clear and consistent.

Feelings (Emotions)

Feelings create momentum and speed, which is necessary to go forward and


take action. Remember the first time you fell in love? It was exhilarating,
intoxicating, and all consuming. You had butterflies in your stomach, your
heart beat faster, and your body tingled. It was a wonderful experience. That
single emotion pushed your behaviorpowerfully drove your behaviorin
many different ways, but most notably toward the person you loved. Yet,
feelings can be very powerful, and like an untamed horse, hard to ride.
Emotions can better help you achieve a dream when they are under control,
which is easy to say but hard to do.

Feelings are 1. Rational (developing an attitude basing on evidences)


2. Irrational (developing an attitude basing on a belief without any evidence eg.
Prejudice.). When feelings row much harder and faster than thinking, it creates
an imbalance, and you typically have trouble making good judgments. That
doesnt mean you should try to repress your feelings.

That wont workthey just wont behave, so the best practice is to recognize
your feelings and the important role they play so that they work for you and
are in concert with your thinking.

Thinking

Thinking is the third member of the rowing team, and building thinking skills.
Thanks to your thinking side, you can anticipate, plan, invent, innovate,
contemplate, and decide. On a daily basis, when you are sizing up situations,
gathering information, weighing alternatives, and considering consequences,
you are using this marvelous side of your mind. Its capabilities are boundless,
so you can continually get better at thinking. Thinking plays a key role in
recognizing and evaluating life changing opportunities, solving complicated
problems, and making wise decisions.

By thinking we usually mean such activities as calculating, cogitating,


pondering, musing, reflecting, meditating, and ruminating. But we might also
mean any of a broader range of actions or activities.

I mean remembering, intending, imagining, conceiving, believing,


desiring, hoping, feeling emotion, empathizing, following what someone is
saying, minding, being conscious of something, and so on.

Our success in life depends largely on the proper operation of both thinking
and language skills, and that these skills involve different areas of the brain.
When either cognitive or language functions are impaired, we become
vulnerable to all sorts of failures and errors. What pitfalls threaten the
effectiveness of human cognition? What factors influence our success? How are
our thoughts transformed into language? Many of the answers to these
questions come from cognitive psychology , the study of the mental processes
by which the information humans receive from their environment is modified,
made meaningful, stored, retrieved, used, and communicated to others.

You are what you think. Whatever you are doing, whatever you feel, whatever
you wantall are determined by the quality of your thinking. If your thinking
is unrealistic, your thinking will lead to many disappointments. If your
thinking is overly pessimistic, it will deny you due recognition of the many
things in which you should properly rejoice. Test this idea for yourself. Identify
some examples of your strongest feelings or emotions. Then identify the
thinking that is correlated with those examples. For example, if you feel excited
about going to work, it is because you think that positive things will happen to
you while you are at work, or that you will be able to accomplish important
tasks. If you dread going to work, it is because you think it will be a negative
experience. In a similar way, if the quality of your life is not what you wish it to
be, it is probably because it is tied to the way you think about your life. If you
think about it positively, you will feel positive about it. If you think about it
negatively, you will feel negative about it.

For example, suppose you recently accepted a job in a new city. You accepted
said job because you had the view that you were ready for a change, that you
wanted to experience living in a different place, that you wanted to find a new
set of friendsin short, in many ways you wanted to start a new life. And lets
suppose that your expectations of what would happen when you took the new
job did not come to fruition. If this were the thrust of your thinking, you would
now feel disappointed and maybe even frustrated (depending on how negative
your experience has been interpreted by your thinking).

For most people, most of their thinking is subconscious, that is, never
explicitly put into words. For example, most people who think negatively would
not say of themselves, I have chosen to think about myself and my experience
in largely negative terms. I prefer to be as unhappy as I can be. The problem
is that when you are not aware of your thinking you have no chance of
correcting it. When thinking is subconscious, you are in no position to see
any problems in it. And, if you dont see any problems in it, you won't be
motivated to change it. The truth is that since few people realize the powerful
role that thinking plays in their lives, few gain significant command of their
thinking. And therefore, most people are in many ways victims of their own
thinking, harmed rather than helped by it. Most people are their own worst
enemy. Their thinking is a continual source of problems, preventing them from
recognizing opportunities, keeping them from exerting energy where it will do
the most good, poisoning relationships, and leading them down blind alleys

Thinking is important to all of us in our daily lives. The way we think


affects the way we plan our lives, the personal goals we choose, and the
decisions we make. Good thinking is therefore not something that is
forced upon us in school: It is something that we all want to do, and want
others to do, to achieve our goals and theirs.

More generally, how do people use information to devise innovative solutions to


problems? And how do people think about, understand, and, through
language, describe the world?

Thinking is about creating the future. Its about a way to see more clearly,
think more creatively, and plan more effectively. Its about thinking better,
working better, and doing better in every area of your life. All of us have the
potential to think better. The first step is to free ourselves from the
unproductive thinking patterns that hold us back. Aristotle called human
beings rational animals. It is all too regrettably obvious, however, that we are
frequently irrational.

Thinking better is hard work. It can be risky. And it can certainly make you
unpopular. So why bother?

THE NATURE OF THOUGHT

Studying thought, language, memory, emotion, and motivation is tricky


because these mental processes are abstract. They cannot be seen. They
can only be inferred from behaviour and are best thought of as psychological
constructs, ideas that result from a set of impressions. The mind constructs
the idea as being real, even though it is not tangible. Thought is a psychological
construct built from the impression that people are constantly monitoring
events and behaviours in their minds.

We have the impression that people are good or bad at forming the things we
call thoughts, even though thoughts do not exist physically. We run into
trouble, however, when we try to locate constructs such as thought or memory
in the brain. The fact that we have words for these constructs does not mean
that the brain is organized around them. Indeed, it is not. For instance,
although people talk about memory as a unitary thing, the brain does not treat
memory as unitary nor localize it in one particular place. The many forms of
memory are each treated differently by widely distributed brain circuits. The
psychological construct of memory that we think of as being a single thing
turns out not to be unitary at all.

Even though making assumptions about psychological constructs such as


memory and thought is risky, we should certainly not give up searching for
how the brain produces them. The assumption of a neurological basis for
psychological constructs has perils, but it does not mean that we should fail to
consider brain locations for these constructs. After all, thought, memory,
emotion, motivation, and other constructs are the most interesting
activities performed by the brain.

Psychologists typically use the term cognition to describe the processes of


thought. Cognition means knowing. It refers to the processes by which we
come to know about the world. For behavioral neuroscientists, cognition
usually entails the ability to pay attention to stimuli, whether external or
internal, to identify the stimuli, and to plan meaningful responses to them.
External stimuli prompt neural activity in our sensory receptors. Internal
stimuli include cues from the autonomic nervous system as well as from neural
processes related to constructs such as memory and motivation.

Characteristics of Human Thought

Human cognition is widely believed to have unique characteristics. One unique


characteristic is that human thought is verbal, whereas the thought of other
animals is nonverbal. Language is presumed to give humans an edge in
thinking, and in some ways it does:

Language provides the brain with a way to categorize information, allowing us


to easily group together objects, actions, and events that have factors in
common.
Language provides a means of organizing time, especially future time. It
enables us to plan our behavior around time (Monday at 3:00 P.M.) in ways
that nonverbal animals cannot.

Perhaps most important, human language has syntaxsets of rules about


how words are put together to create meaningful utterances.

Human language, has enormous flexibility that enables us to talk about


virtually any topic, even highly abstract ones, such as psychological
constructs. In this way, our thinking is carried beyond a rigid here and now.

Without syntactical language, thought is stuck in the world of concrete, here


and- now perceptions. Syntactical language, in other words, influences the very
nature of our thinking.

In addition to arranging words in syntactical patterns, the human brain


appears to have a passion for stringing together events, movements, and
thoughts. For example, we combine notes into melodies, movements into
dances, and images into videos. We design elaborate rules for games and
governments. To conclude that the human brain is organized to structure
events, movements, and thoughts into chains seems reasonable. Syntax is
merely one example of this innate human way of thinking about the world.

This skill is unique to humans. Although chimpanzees can throw objects,


their throws are not accurate. No chimpanzee could learn to throw a ball
to hit a moving target.
Cognitive Building Blocks: Foundation of Thought

Mental Representations: The Ingredients of Thought

THOUGHT, BRAIN, AND MIND

Although were still far from understanding exactly how the brain produces
thought, it is clear that from a biological level of analysis, thought exists as
patterns of neural activity.

Subjectively, at the psychological level, thinking may seem to be the internal


language of the mindsomewhat like inner speechbut it actually includes
several mental activities. One mode of thought does indeed take the form of
verbal sentences that we say or hear in our minds. This is called propositional
thought because it expresses a proposition, or statement, such as Im hungry
or Its almost time for dinner. Another thought mode, imaginal thought,
consists of images that we can see, hear, or feel in our mind. A third mode,
motoric thought, relates to mental representations of motor movements, such
as throwing an object. All three modes of thinking enter into our abilities to
reason, solve problems, and engage in many forms of intelligent behavior. In
this chapter, however, well focus on propositional and imaginal thought.

CONCEPTS AND PROPOSITIONS

Much of our thinking occurs in the form of propositions, statements that


express ideas. All propositions consist of concepts combined in a particular
way. For example, college students are intelligent people is a proposition in
which the two concepts college students and intelligent people are linked by
the verb are. Concepts are basic units of semantic memorymental categories
into which we place objects, activities, abstractions (such as liberal and
conservative), and events that have essential features in common. Every
psychological term you are learning in this course is a concept. Concepts can
be acquired through explicit instruction or through our own observations of
similarities and differences among various objects and events.

Just as measuring, stirring, and baking are only part of the story of cookie
making, describing the processes of thinking tells only part of the story behind
the circle of thought. Psychologists usually describe the ingredients of
thought as information. But that is like saying that you make cookies with
stuff. What specific forms can information take in our minds? Cognitive
psychologists have found that information can be mentally represented in
many ways, including as concepts, propositions, schemas, scripts, mental
models, images, and cognitive maps. Lets explore these ingredients of
thought and how people manipulate them as they think.
At its most basic, thinking is an internal representation (mental expression)
of a problem or situation. Picture a chess player who mentally tries out several
moves before actually touching a chess piece. By planning her moves, she can
avoid many mistakes. Imagine planning what to study for an exam, what to say
at a job interview, or how to get to your spring break hotel. In each of these
cases, imagine what might happen if you couldnt plan at all.

The three basic components are mental images, concepts, and language
(or symbols).

Images are picture-like mental representations. Concepts are ideas that


represent categories of objects or events. Language consists of words or
symbols, and rules for combining them.

Be aware, however, that thinking involves attention, pattern recognition,


memory, decision-making, intuition, knowledge, and more.

Mental Images

Imagine yourself lying relaxed in the warm sand on an ocean beach. Do you see
tall palms swaying in the wind? Can you smell the salty ocean water and hear
the laughter of the children playing in the surf? What youve just created is a
mental image, a mental representation of a previously stored sensory
experience, which includes visual, auditory, olfactory, tactile, motor, and
gustatory imagery. We all have a mental space where we visualize and
manipulate our sensory images.

Almost everyone has visual and auditory images. More than half of us have
imagery for movement, touch, taste, smell, and pain. Thus, mental images are
sometimes more than just pictures. For example, your image of a bakery may
also include its delicious odor. Most of us use images to think, remember, and
solve problems. For instance, we may use mental images to;

Make a decision or solve a problem (choosing what clothes to wear; figuring


out how to arrange furniture in a room).
Change feelings (thinking of pleasant images to get out of a bad mood;
imagining yourself as thin to stay on a diet).
Improve a skill or prepare for some action (using images to improve a tennis
stroke; mentally rehearsing how you will ask for a raise).
Aid memory (picturing Mr. Cook wearing a chef s hat, so you scan remember
his name).
CONCEPTS

The mental categories we form are known as concepts. We use them as the
building blocks of thinking because they help us organize our knowledge
(Goldman- Rakic, 1992). Concepts can represent classes of objects such as
chair or food, living organisms such as birds or buffaloes, or events like
birthday parties. They may also represent properties (such as red or large),
abstractions (such as truth or love), relations (such as smarter than),
procedures (such as how to tie your shoes), or intentions (such as the intention
to break into a conversation) (Smith & Medin, 1981). But because concepts are
mental structures, we cannot observe them directly. For the cognitive scientist,
this means inferring concepts from their influence on behavior or on brain
activity. For example, you cannot be sure another person shares your concept
of fun, but you can observe whether he or she responds the same way you do
to stimuli you interpret as fun.

Concepts are the glue that holds our mental world together. When we walk
into a room, try a new restaurant, go to the supermarket to buy groceries, meet
a doctor, or read a story, we must rely on our concepts of the world to help us
understand what is happening. We seldom eat the same tomato twice, and we
often encounter novel objects, people, and situations. Fortunately, even novel
things are usually similar to things we already know, often exemplifying a
category that we are familiar with. Although Ive never seen this particular
tomato before, it is probably like other tomatoes I have eaten and so is edible. If
we have formed a concept (a mental representation) corresponding to that
category (the class of objects in the world), then the concept will help us
understand and respond appropriately to a new entity in that category.
Concepts are a kind of mental glue, then, in that they tie our past experiences
to our present interactions with the world, and because the concepts
themselves are connected to our larger knowledge structures.

Our concepts embody much of our knowledge of the world, telling us what
things there are and what properties they have. It may not seem to be a
great intellectual achievement to identify a bulldog or to know what to do with
a tomato, but imagine what our lives would be like without such a conceptual
ability (Smith and Medin 1981, p. 1). We might know the things we had
experienced in the pasta particular chair, our bed, the breakfast we had
today, our science teacher, etc.but when we encountered new exemplars of
these categories, we would be at a loss. When going into a new room and seeing
a new chair, we would have to study it from scratch, attempt to determine
whether it is alive or dead, what its function is, whether it will hurt us, or how
it might help us. Instead, of course, we may not even consciously think chair,
but simply identify the objects category and plop down into it. By using our
concept of chairs, we immediately draw the inference that it is appropriate to
sit on this object, even if we have never seen anyone sit on it before.
The mental glue provided by concepts applies not only to the familiar
categories of objects, like chairs and tomatoes, but also to a number of
other domains that are of interest to psychologists, such as social and
person categories, emotions, linguistic entities, events and actions, and
artistic styles. For example, if we meet a new, highly talkative person and
begin to suspect that he or she is a bore or instead a sociopath, our behaviors
toward the person will differ accordingly. If told by someone else that the
person is a lawyer or instead a priest, our behaviors will again differ. We rely
on such categories to direct our behavior, sometimes despite more reliable
information directly observed about the person.

TYPES OF CONCEPTS

Are there different kinds of concepts?

Yes, conjunctive concepts, or and concepts, are defined by the presence of


two or more features. In other words, an item must have this feature and this
feature and this feature. For example, a motorcycle must have two wheels and
an engine and handlebars.

Relational concepts are based on how an object relates to something else, or


how its features relate to one another. All of the following are relational
concepts: larger, above, left, north, and upside down. Another example is
brother, which is defined as a male considered in his relation to another
person having the same parents.

Disjunctive concepts have at least one of several possible features. These are
either/or concepts. To belong to the category, an item must have this feature
or that feature or another feature. For example, in baseball, a strike is either a
swing and a miss or a pitch over the plate or a foul ball. The either/or quality of
disjunctive concepts makes them hard to learn.

Prototypes

When you think of the concept bird, do you mentally list the features that birds
have? Probably not. In addition to rules and features, we use prototypes, or
ideal models, to identify concepts (Burnett et al., 2005; Rosch, 1977). A robin,
for example, is a prototypical bird; an ostrich is not. In other words, some
items are better examples of a concept than others are (Smith, Redford, &
Haas, 2008).
Faulty Concepts

Using inaccurate concepts often leads to thinking errors. For example, social
stereotypes are oversimplified concepts of groups of people (Le Pelley, et al.,
2010). Stereotypes about men, African Americans, women, conservatives,
liberals, police officers, or other groups often muddle thinking about members
of the group. A related problem is all-or-nothing thinking (one-dimensional
thought). In this case, we classify things as absolutely right or wrong, good or
bad, fair or unfair, black or white, honest or dishonest. Thinking this way
prevents us from appreciating the subtleties of most life problems (Bastian &
Haslam, 2006).

Concepts are important for four reasons.

First, concepts allow us to generalize. If we did not have concepts, each object
and event in our world would be unique and brand new to us each time we
encountered it.

Second, concepts allow us to associate experiences and objects. Basketball, ice


hockey, and track are sports. The concept sport gives us a way to compare
these activities.

Third, concepts aid memory by making it more efficient so that we do not have
to reinvent the wheel each time we come across a piece of information. Imagine
having to think about how to sit in a chair every time we find ourselves in front
of one.

Fourth, concepts provide clues about how to react to a particular object or


experience. Perhaps you have had the experience of trying an exotic new
cuisine and feeling puzzled as you consider the contents of your plate. If a
friend tells you reassuringly, Thats food! you know that given the concept
food, it is okay to dig in.

In addition to mental images, our thinking involves conceptsmental


representations of a group or category that share similar characteristics. Our
mental concept of car represents a large group of objects with similar
characteristics (vehicles with four wheels, seating space for at least one person,
and a generally predictable shape). We also form concepts for abstract ideas,
such as honesty, intelligence, or pornography. These abstract ideas,
however, are often our own individual constructions, which may or or may not
be shared by others. Therefore, it is generally harder to communicate about
honesty than about a car.

Concepts are an essential part of thinking and communication because they


simplify and organize information. If you had been confined to a small,
windowless room your entire life, how would you think and process the world
around you without concepts?

How do we learn concepts? They develop through the creation and use of
three major strategies:

1. Artificial concepts. We create some concepts from logical rules or


definitions. Consider the definition of triangle: a geometric figure with
three sides and three angles. Using this definition, we group together
and classify all three-sided geometric forms as triangles. If any of the
defining features were missing, we would not include the object in the
concept of triangle. Concepts like triangle are called artificial (or formal)
because the rules for inclusion are sharply defined. As you have seen in
this and other college texts, artificial concepts are often a core part of the
sciences and other academic disciplines.

2. Natural concepts/prototypes. In everyday life, we seldom use artificial


definitions. When we see birds, we do not think warm-blooded animals
that fl y, have wings, and lay eggsan artificial concept. Instead, we use
natural concepts, called prototypes, which are based on a personal best
example or a typical representative of that concept.

3. Hierarchies. Some of our concepts also develop when we create


hierarchies, and group specific concepts as subcategories within broader
concepts. This mental arrangement makes mastering new material faster
and easier. Concept Hierarchies We organize much of our declarative
memory into concept hierarchies, arranged from general to specific.
Levels of concepts, from most general to most specific, in which a more
general level includes more specific conceptsas the concept of animal
includes dog, giraffe, and butterfly.

Schemas, Scripts, and Mental Models

Sets of propositions are often so closely associated that they form more
complex mental representations called schemas. As mentioned in the chapters
on sensation and perception, memory, and human development, schemas are
generalizations that we develop about categories of objects, places, events, and
people. Our schemas help us to understand the world. If you borrow a friends
car, your car schema will give you a good idea of where to put the ignition
key, where the accelerator and brake are, and how to raise and lower the
windows. Schemas also generate expectations about objects, places, events,
and peopletelling us that stereo systems have speakers, that picnics occur in
the summer, that rock concerts are loud, and so on.
Scripts Schemas about familiar activities, such as going to a restaurant, are
known as scripts (Anderson, 2000). Your restaurant script represents the
sequence of events you can expect when you go out to eat. That script tells you
what to do when you are in a restaurant and helps you to understand stories
involving restaurants (Whitney, 2001). Scripts also shape your interpretation of
events. For example, on your first day of college, you no doubt assumed that
the person standing at the front of the class was a teacher, not a security
guard or a janitor.

If our scripts are violated, however, it is easy to misinterpret events. In one


case, a heart attack victim in London lay for nine hours in the hallway of an
apartment building after an ambulance crew smelled alcohol on his breath and
assumed he was sleeping it off. The crews script for what happens in the
poorer sections of big cities told them that someone slumped in a hallway is
drunk, not sick. Because script violating events are unexpected, our reactions
to them tend to be slower and less effective than are our reactions to expected
events. Your grocery shopping script, for example, probably includes pushing
a cart, putting items in it, going to the checkout stand, paying, and leaving.
But suppose you are at the back of the store when a robber near the entrance
fires a gun and shouts at the manager to open the safe. People sometimes
ignore these script-violating events, interpreting gunshots as a car backfiring
and shouted orders as someone fooling around. Others simply freeze,
unsure of what to do or not realizing that they could call the police on their cell
phones.

Mental Models The relationships among concepts can be organized not only as
schemas and scripts but also as mental models (Johnson-Laird, 1983). For
example, suppose someone tells you, My living room has blue walls, a white
ceiling, and an oval window across from the door. You will mentally represent
this information as propositions about how the concepts wall, blue,
ceiling, white, door, oval, and window are related. However, you will
also combine these propositions to create in your mind a three-dimensional
model of the room. As more information about the world becomes available,
either from existing memories or from new information we receive, our mental
models become more complete.

Accurate mental models are excellent guides for thinking about, and
interacting with, many of the things we encounter every day (Ashcraft, 2006). If
a mental model is incorrect, however, we are likely to make mistakes. For
example, people who hold an incorrect mental model of how physical illness is
cured might stop taking their antibiotic medication when their symptoms begin
to disappear, well before the bacteria causing those symptoms have been
eliminated (Medin, Ross, & Markman, 2001). Others overdose on medication
because, according to their faulty mental model, if taking three pills a day is
good, taking six would be even better.
Images and Cognitive Maps

Think about how your best friend would look in a clown suit. The mental
picture you just got illustrates that thinking often involves the manipulation of
imageswhich are mental representations of visual information. We can
manipulate these images in a way that is similar to manipulating the objects
themselves (Reed, 2000; see Figure 7.4). Our ability to think using images
extends beyond the manipulation of stimuli such as those in Figure 7.4. We
also create mental images that serve as mental models of descriptions we hear
or read (Mazoyer et al., 2002). For example, you probably created an image a
minute ago when you read about that blue-walled room. The same thing
happens when someone gives you directions to a new pizza place in town. In
this case, you scan your cognitive mapa mental model of familiar parts of
your worldto find the location. In doing so, you use a mental process similar
to the visual process of scanning a paper map (Anderson, 2000; Taylor &
Tversky, 1992). Manipulating images on a different cognitive map would help
you if a power failure left your home pitch dark. Even though you couldnt see
a thing, you could still find a flashlight or candle, because your cognitive map
would show the floor plan, furniture placement, door locations, and other
physical features of your home. You would not have this mental map in a hotel
room or an unfamiliar house; there, you would have to walk slowly, arms
outstretched, to avoid wrong turns and painful collisions.

CONCEPTUAL BLENDING

THE CONCEPTS

Concepts= mental representations


Categories= the classes themselves.

Concepts are the glue that holds our mental world together. When we walk
into a room, try a new restaurant, go to the supermarket to buy groceries, meet
a doctor, or read a story, we must rely on our concepts of the world to help us
understand what is happening. We seldom eat the same tomato twice, and we
often encounter novel objects, people, and situations. Fortunately, even novel
things are usually similar to things we already know, often exemplifying a
category that we are familiar with. Although Ive never seen this particular
tomato before, it is probably like other tomatoes I have eaten and so is edible. If
we have formed a concept (a mental representation) corresponding to that
category (the class of objects in the world), then the concept will help us
understand and respond appropriately to a new entity in that category.
Concepts are a kind of mental glue, then, in that they tie our past experiences
to our present interactions with the world, and because the concepts
themselves are connected to our larger knowledge structures.
Our concepts embody much of our knowledge of the world, telling us what
things there are and what properties they have. It may not seem to be a
great intellectual achievement to identify a bulldog or to know what to do with
a tomato, but imagine what our lives would be like without such a conceptual
ability (Smith and Medin1981, p. 1). We might know the things we had
experienced in the pasta particular chair, our bed, the breakfast we had
today, our science teacher, etc.but when we encountered new exemplars of
these categories, we would be at a loss. When going into a new room and seeing
a new chair, we would have to study it from scratch, attempt to determine
whether it is alive or dead, what its function is, whether it will hurt us, or how
it might help us. Instead, of course, we may not even consciously think chair,
but simply identify the objects category and plop down into it. By using our
concept of chairs, we immediately draw the inference that it is appropriate to
sit on this object, even if we have never seen anyone sit on it before. At a new
restaurant, we read names of dishes such alloo mutter, pepper chicken,
and chicken 65 and feel we can decide which one we would prefer to eat, even
though we have never had that exact meal, or even an example of that kind of
meal at this restaurant. The speed and ease with which we identify objects as
chairs or draw inferences about chicken (too hot to have for lunch) can mislead
us about how complex this process is and how much information we may have
stored about everyday categories.

The mental glue provided by concepts applies not only to the familiar
categories of objects, like chairs and tomatoes, but also to a number of other
domains that are of interest to psychologists, such as social and person
categories, emotions, linguistic entities, events and actions, and artistic
styles. For example, if we meet a new, highly talkative person and begin to
suspect that he or she is a bore or instead a sociopath, our behaviors toward
the person will differ accordingly. If told by someone else that the person is a
lawyer or instead a priest, our behaviors will again differ. We rely on such
categories to direct our behavior, sometimes despite more reliable information
directly observed about the person.

Concepts are ubiquitous across different populations and agesit is hard


to see how any intelligent creature could do without them.

Another way that concepts infiltrate our everyday life and thoughts is
through communication. When we talk, we are attempting to communicate
ideas about the objects, people, and events that take place around us. Since we
understand those objects, people, and events through concepts, our word and
sentence meanings must make contact with conceptual representations. Not
surprisingly, it turns out that many properties of concepts are found in word
meaning and use, suggesting that meanings are psychologically represented
through the conceptual system.
The psychology of concepts, then, has the goal of understanding the
representations that allow us to do all these things, most importantly,
identifying objects and events as being in a certain category, drawing inferences
about novel entities, and communicating about them.

Conceptual blending, a great mental capacity that, in its most advanced


"double-scope form gave our ancestors superiority and, for better and for
worse, made us what we are today.

Our ancestors started to find the connections between two or more


concepts and started creating unity in the nature. Ex: we experienced rain
and during rain the cloudy sky and wind and thunders as separate
instances. But after able to find the connections, we have come to realize
the rain has also other components associated with that phenomena.

Conceptual blending is fascinating and dynamic, and plays a very crucial


role in how we think and live.

We can gain knowledge from isolated facts in the universe, but the
conceptual blending provides us the understanding and meaning to the
facts. This process completes our understanding of phenomena or a
physical object or mental concept.

Conceptual blending operates largely behind the scenes. We are not


consciously aware of its hidden complexities, any more than we are consciously
aware of the complexities of perception involved in, for example, seeing a blue
cup. Almost invisibly to consciousness, conceptual blending choreographs vast
networks of conceptual meaning, yielding cognitive products that, at the
conscious level, appear simple. The way we think is not the way we think
we think. Everyday thought seems straightforward, but even our simplest
thinking is astonishingly complex.

The products of conceptual blending are ubiquitous. Students of rhetoric,


literature, painting, and scientific invention have noticed many specific
products of blending, each one of which, in isolation, seemed remarkable at the
time, in its strange and arresting way. These scholars, ranging from Aristotle to
Freud, took these specific instances to be exceptional, marginal eruptions of
meaning, curious and suggestive. But none of them focused on the general
mental capacity of blending or, as far as we can tell, even recognized that there
is such a mental capacity. Attentive to the specific attraction-the painting, the
poem, the dream, the scientific insight-they did not look for what all these bits
and pieces have in common. The spectacular trees masked the forest.

THE AGE OF FORM AND THE AGE OF IMAGINATION


We evoke some of the twentieth century's most noteworthy achievements: the
magic of computers, the discovery of the genetic code, the broad application of
the axiomatic method in the formal sciences and of structuralism in the social
sciences. This was the century of form approaches, an impressive array of
methods for discovering and manipulating meaning through systematic
analysis of form. Yet to achieve these remarkable results, formal manipulations
needed to take for granted the operations of a brain evolved over three billion
years and trained throughout several months of early individual life. Identity
integration, and imagination-basic, mysterious, powerful, complex, and mostly
unconscious operariens-x1s at the heart of even the simplest possible
meanings. The value of the simplest forms lies in the complex emergent
dynamics they trigger in the imaginative mind. These basic operations are the
key to both the invention of everyday meaning and exceptional human
creativity.

It is far more useful to view computational science as


part of the problem, rather than the solution. The problem
is understanding how humans can have invented explicit,
algorithmically driven machines when our brains
do not operate in this way. The solution, if it ever comes,
will be found by looking inside ourselves.
-Merlin Donald

We live in the age of the triumph of form. In mathematics, physics, music, the
arts, and the social sciences, human knowledge and its progress seem to have
been reduced in startling and powerful ways to a matter of essential formal
Structures and their transformations.

The practical products of this triumph are now part of our daily life and
culture.
All of these wonders come from systematic manipulation of forms. By the magic
of such transformations, the picture of your newborn baby becomes a long
string of ls and 0s. They are transmitted electronically over thousands of miles
and turned back into the same picture on the other end. The powerful and
deeply meaningful image appears therefore to be the same as a bunch of ls and
0s. Form carries meaning with no loss. A picture is worth a thousand ls and
0s, and vice versa.

These approaches could lead us to think that scientific knowledge is only a


matter of finding deep hidden forms behind ostensible forms. On the other
hand, commonsense tells us that form is not substance: The blueprint is not
the house, the recipe is not the dish, and the computer simulation of weather
does not rain on us. When Patroclos donned the armor of Achilles to battle the
Trojans, what the Trojans first saw was the spectacular armor, and they
naturally assumed it was Achilles, and were terrified, and so the armor by itself
looked as if it was turning the battle. But it didn't take long for the Trojans to
discover that it was just Achilles armor, not Achilles himself, and then they
had no pity. In our century, we often look at form the way the Trojans looked at
the armor, and indeed, the armor is indispensable-without it even Achilles
would fail.

Like the Trojans, we in the twenty-first century have come to realize that the
miracles of form harness the unconscious and usually invisible powers of
human beings to construct meaning. Form is the armor, but meaning is
the Achilles that makes the armor so formidable. Form does not present
meaning but instead picks out regularities that run throughout meanings.
Form prompts meaning and must be suited to its task, just as the armor of
Achilles had to be made to his size and abilities. But having the armor is never
having Achilles; having the form-and indeed even the intricate transformations
of forms (all those 1s and Os)-is never having the meaning to which the form
has been suited.

When we see a picture of the newborn baby, we cannot suppress our feeling
that we are seeing a baby. In fact, the two-dimensional arrangement of colors
in the photograph has almost nothing in common with a baby, and it takes a
brain evolved over three billion years and trained through several months of
early life to construct the identity between the picture and the baby.
Because the brain does this instantly and unconsciously, we take the
construction of meaning for granted. Or rather, we tend to take the meaning as
emanating from its formal representation, the picture, when in fact it is being
actively constructed by staggeringly complex mental operations in the brain of
the viewer.

The illusion that meaning is transmitted when we send the digitized picture
over the Internet is possible only because there is a brain on each end to
handle the construction of meaning. This illusion takes nothing away from
the technological feat of transmitting the picture-just as the Trojans took
nothing away from the divine technological feat of constructing Achilles' armor-
but the picture still needs the human brain just as the armor still needs the
human warrior.

Human beings have the most elaborate forms (language, math, music, art)
because they have the most effective abilities for the construction of meaning.
The forms are especially impressive because they have been suited to the
meanings they prompt, but on their own the forms are hollow. In particular,
meaning is not another kind of form. Inside the armor is not more armor.

What is in the armor is not a thing at all but a potential force that, no matter
the circumstances, can be unleashed dynamically and imaginatively upon the
Trojans to lethal effect. Just so, what is behind form is not a thing at all but
rather the human power to construct meanings.
There are three operations operation of identity, integration, and
imagination. These operations-basic, mysterious, powerful, complex and
mostly unconscious- are at the heart of even the simplest possible meaning.

They are the key to the invention of meaning and that the value of even the
simplest forms lies in the complex emergent dynamics they trigger in the
imaginative mind. These basic operations are more generally the key to both
everyday meaning and exceptional human creativity.

Identity. The recognition of identity, sameness, equivalence, A = A, which is


taken for granted in form approaches, is in fact a spectacular product of
complex, imaginative, unconscious work. Identity and opposition, sameness
and difference, are apprehensible in consciousness and so have provided a
natural beginning place for form approaches. But identity and opposition are
finished products provided to consciousness after elaborate work; they are not
primitive starting points, cognitively, neurobiologically, or evolutionarily.

Integration. Finding identities and oppositions is part of a much more


complicated process of conceptual integration, which has elaborate structural
and dynamic properties and operational constraints, but which typically goes
entirely unnoticed since it works fast in the backstage of cognition.

Imagination. Identity and integration cannot account for meaning and its
development without the third I of the human mind-imagination. Even in the
absence of external stimulus, the brain can run imaginative simulations. Some
of these are obvious: fictional stories, what-if scenarios, dreams, and erotic
fantasies. But the imaginative processes we detect in these seemingly
exceptional cases are in fact always at work in even the simplest construction
of meaning. The products of conceptual blending are always imaginative and
creative.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF ONENESS (BINDING PROBLEM)

How we recognize a single entity as when we look at a cup of coffee and


perceive the cup of coffee? As neuroscience has shown, the many aspects of the
cup of 6effss-1he color of the cup, the shape of the opening, the topology of the
handle, the smell of the coffee, the texture of the surface of the cup, the
dividing line between the coffee and the cup, the taste of the coffee, the heavy
feel of the cup in the hand, the reaching for the cup, and so on and on-are
apprehended and processed differently in anatomically different locations,
and there is no single site in the brain where these various apprehensions are
brought together. How can the coffee cup, so obviously a single thing for us at
the conscious level, be so many different things and operations for the
neuroscientist looking at the unconscious level? Somehow, the combination of
three billion years of evolution and several months of early training have
resulted in the apprehension of unities in consciousness, but neuroscience
does not know the details of that unification.

We do not ask ourselves how we can see one thing as one thing because we
assume that the unity comes from the thing itself, not from our mental work,
just as we assume that the meaning of the picture is in the picture rather than
in our interpretation of its form. We see the coffee cup as one thing because
our brains and bodies work to give it that status.

THE FORM APPROACHES

Aristotle's syllogism is a formal, truth-preserving manipulation of meaning.


Example:

. All men are mortal.


. Socrates is a man.
. Therefore, Socrates is mortal.

That we could also code as

"All As are B, C is an A, therefore C is B."

Aristotle's observation and systematization are the seed for all the approaches
that we have been referring to as "form approaches." Their power lies in the
reliability of symbolic or mechanical manipulations that preserve truth no
matter how involved the manipulation.

One fundamental goal of these approaches, then, is to construct artificial


languages that have rigorous and reliable form-meaning correlations. The
pursuit of this goal brought great success in mathematics as well as
physics, chemistry, logic, and, later, computer science.

LANGUAGE
Our success in life depends largely on the proper operation of both thinking
and language skills, and that these skills involve different areas of the brain.
When either cognitive or language functions are impaired, we become
vulnerable to all sorts of failures and errors. What pitfalls threaten the
effectiveness of human cognition? What factors influence our success? How are
our thoughts transformed into language? Many of the answers to these
questions come from cognitive psychology , the study of the mental processes
by which the information humans receive from their environment is modified,
made meaningful, stored, retrieved, used, and communicated to others.
Say what you mean, and mean what you say. This is good advice, but
following it is not always easy, partly because our thoughts dont always come
to us in clear, complete sentences. We have to construct those sentences
using the language we have learnedfrom the words, images, ideas, and other
mental material in our minds. Often, the complexity of that material makes it
difficult to accurately express what we are thinking. We all manage to do it, but
with varying degrees of success. In this chapter, we explore what thoughts are,
what language is, and how people translate one into the other. We also
consider how thinking guides decision making and problem solving and how
psychologists measure individual differences in these and other cognitive
abilities that are commonly described as intelligence.

What is language and what role does it play in thinking?

Language is a system of communication that combines symbols, such as


words or gestural signs, in rule-based ways to create meaning.

Language serves several crucial functions. The most obvious is the


transmission of information.

When we tell our roommate The party starts at nine or place an order at a
coffee shop for a skim latte, were communicating information that enables us
or someone else to accomplish a goal, like getting to the party on time or
making sure our latte is nonfat.

Language serves key social and emotional functions, too. It enables us to


express our thoughts about social interactions, such as conveying, I thought
you were mad at me or That guy was hilarious. We spend much of our
conversational time establishing or maintaining our relationships with others
(Dunbar, 1996)

It is impossible to disassociate language from science or science from language,


because every natural science always involves three things: the sequence of
phenomena on which the science is based, the abstract concepts which call
these phenomena to mind, and the words in which the concepts are
expressed. To call forth a concept, a word is needed; to portray a phenomenon,
a concept is needed. All three mirror one and the same reality.

_Antoine Lavoisier, 1789

Language has been called the jewel in the crown of cognition (Pinker,
2000) and the human essence (Chomsky, 1972). Much of our thinking,
reasoning, and problem solving involves the use of language. In turn, these
advanced cognitive processes build on the large store of knowledge that resides
in memory, and they provide a foundation for intelligent behavior. Language
consists of a system of symbols and rules for combining these symbols in ways
that can generate an infinite number of possible messages and meanings. To
most of us, using our native language comes as naturally as breathing, and we
give it about as much thought. Yet using language actually involves a host of
complex skills. Psycholinguistics is the scientific study of the psychological
aspects of language, such as how people understand, produce, and acquire
language. Before delving into some of these topics, lets consider some adaptive
functions and characteristics of language.

ADAPTIVE FUNCTIONS OF LANGUAGE

Over the course of evolution, humans adopted a more socially oriented lifestyle
that helped them survive and reproduce (Flinn, 1997). Some evolutionary
theorists believe that the use of language evolved as people gathered to form
larger social units. As the social environment became more complex, new
survival problems emerged: the need to create divisions of labor and
cooperative social systems, to develop social customs and communicate
thoughts, and to pass on knowledge and wisdom. The development of language
made it easier for humans to adapt to these environmental demands
(Bjorklund & Pellegrini, 2002).

Humans have evolved into highly social creatures who need to communicate
with one another and have the physical characteristics (e.g., a highly developed
brain, a vocal tract) that allow them to do so in the most flexible way known:
through language .

Language underlies so much of what we do that it is almost impossible to


imagine functioning without it. Our conscious thinking usually takes the form
of self-talk, or inner speech. Through language, we are also able to share our
thoughts, feelings, goals, intentions, desires, needs, and memories with
other people and thus interact socially in rich and diverse ways that
would not otherwise be possible.

In ways small and big, language also is an extremely powerful learning


mechanism. To get to a friends house for the first time, you dont have to drive
or walk all over the area (trial-and-error learning) or wait until someone shows
up to lead the way (observational learning). Instead, you simply ask for
directions or read a map. More broadly, in oral and written formthrough
storytelling, books, instruction, mass media, and the Internet language puts
the customs and knowledge accrued over generations at your fingertips.

Three Features of Language


Scientists have wondered whether humans are the only species with language
and communication abilities. More than 50 years ago, Austrian biologist Karl
von Frisch discovered that honeybees communicate the exact location of food
through an elaborate dance. Not all animal communication is based on inborn
responses, however. For instance, hummingbirds, parrots, and many songbirds
share with humans the ability to learn new ways to communicate through
imitation. Therefore, humans are not unique in their ability to learn new
communication skills. What makes a communication system a language?
Linguists have identified the following three features a communication system
needs to qualify as a language:

1. Meaningfulness Language sends messages using words or signs that


have specific meanings. Other species also can express meaningful
messages, but they either involve general messages or a limited number
of specific messages. For example, when a beaver slaps its tail on the
water, other beavers understand this as a general danger message, not a
specific warning about an approaching bear.
2. Displacement Language allows communication about things that are
displaced, meaning they are not present in the here and now. Humans
can discuss what happened in the past, what may happen in the future,
or what is now happening far away, but animal communication does not
share this feature. When a dog says GRRR, it means GRRR right now,
not GRRR last week.

3. Productivity Language allows you to produce messages that you have


never before produced. You can share new messages with anyone who
shares your language. Most animal communication lacks this feature.
For example, the honeybees dance has no signal for up, thus bees
cannot produce a message that tells other bees about food located
directly above their hive.

Based on these criteria, animal communication does not qualify as language.


However, humans have tried to teach language to a few species, such as
chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas, dolphins, and parrots. One of the most famous
cases is that of Washoe, a female chimpanzee who was raised at home by
humans and taught sign language as though she were a deaf human child.
Within four years, Washoe was using more than 100 signs. She also could
combine words to produce phrases, such as gimme banana and open food
drink. Washoe could even have simple conversations, which led a visiting
reporter for The New York Times to state, Suddenly I realized I was conversing
with a member of another species in my native tongue.
THE LANGUAGES OF THE MIND
Are ideas shaped differently when communicated through graphic, musical, or
verbal languages? Or is there a uniform relationship between internal
representation and external ordering across different modalities of thoughtful
expression?

Visual Thinking

"To draw is to put down your thoughts visually,"

Language is a highly conventionalized form of expression, but imagesthe


constituent forms of visual thoughtare hard to standardize or to define. There
is no dictionary of images, or thesaurus of photographs and paintings. Imagery
and visual expressions reflect the uniqueness of an individual's life.
Nevertheless, images have intrigued the students of the mind since the
beginnings of recorded history.

Verbal Thinking

A thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words.

It is by means of language that poets, writers, and philosophers, who are


driven by the need to think beyond the limits of the known, have attempted to
share with others their personal inquiries. While film and the graphic media
lend themselves well to the fluidity of experience, words are frequently used to
explore some of the more universal aspects of existence.

Language is a bridge between individuals who wish to overcome divisions born


of the diversity of human experience. It is also a bridge between inner thought
and shared understanding: the past and the present, the world of the senses
and the realm of thought.

The differing forms of language reveal these different uses. Writing is an explicit
and expanded form usually addressed to distant or unknown audiences. Inner
speech, on the other hand, is directed inward, toward the self. It is a highly
condensed language of thought where each word may stand for manifold ideas.

The Languages of Emotion

In examining the nature of creative thought, many psychologists and


psychiatrists have chosen music as their focus. He considered music to be one
of these abilities, de- scribing it as "an autonomous intellectual realm." music
as the language of emotion. In view of the great richness of the treatment of
music in the literature of thought and creativity.
Acquiring Language

It is stated that humans learn language for the same reason they learn to
walkbecause they are biologically equipped for it. Linguist Noam Chomsky
proposed that children are born with a specialized mental program, or neural
pre-wiring, called the language acquisition device, which allows them to learn
language. According to Chomsky, with this inborn ability, if children are
exposed to a language, they will learn to talk even if they are not reinforced for
doing so. A number of studies support the theory that humans are born with
the ability to learn language. The first few years of life is a critical period in
language learning. For instance, when adults learn a language, they speak with
a more native-sounding accent if they overheard the language regularly during
childhood than if they did not. Adults, especially parents, play an important
role in childrens language development. In studies of abused and neglected
children who received little adult attention, researchers found that the
childrens understanding of speech and their verbal expression were behind
that of children who received normal adult attention. Overall, research
suggests that while humans appear to be born with the ability to learn
language, they must talk to adults regularly to fully develop their language
abilities. In other words, language development is neither solely nature nor
nurture, but a combination of both.

Stages in Language Development

Language development begins shortly after birth and involves a number of


stages that move from the simple to the complex. Infants with a hearing loss
who are taught sign language from birth learn this language at the same pace
as hearing infants who learn spoken languages. These studies also find that
both spoken and sign languages rely on nearly the same brain regions in the
left cerebral hemisphere.

Stage 1: Cooing and Babbling

In every culture, by about two months of age, newborns begin vocalizing by


cooing, in which they produce phoneme (any of the perceptually distinct units
of sound in a specified language that distinguish one word from another, for
example p, b, d, and t in the English words pad, pat, bad, and bat) sounds
such as ooooh and aaaah. Between the fourth and sixth months, infants begin
babbling, which is vocally repeating phonemes, such as baa-baa-baa or gaa-
gaa-gaa. The early babbling of children from different cultures sounds the
same because it includes the phonemes in all existing languages. However, by
the time children are about 10 months old, phonemes that are not in their
native language drop out. The childrens babbling sounds similar to the
phonemes in their cultures language.
Stage 2: Single-Word Use

By the end of their first year, most children begin saying morpheme (a
meaningful morphological unit of a language) sounds that can be identified as
words, such as mama, papa, and the ever-popular no. This period is called the
one-word stage, because children can use only one-word phrases. Young
children often do not have words for many of the objects they want to talk
about because they have a small vocabulary. As a result, they use the same
word for many different things. For example, an 18-month-old child might use
the word wawa for water and also for milk, juice, and other beverages.

Stage 3: Two-Word Use

By the age of two, children enter the two-word stage, in which they begin
using two separate words in the same sentence. During this two-word stage,
the phase of telegraphic speech begins. In this phase, children use multiple-
word sentences that leave out all but the essential words, as in a telegrammed
message (BABY BORN. MOTHER FINE ). Thus, instead of saying, I want to go
outside, children might say, Want outside. Once children master using two-
word sentences, they begin using longer phrases. By the time children reach
the age of four, they are using plurals, as well as the present and past tense in
sentences. However, they often apply grammatical rules too broadly. For
example, in using the past tense, they may incorrectly say, I goed outside
instead of, I went outside.

The day-to-day verbal feedback that infants receive plays an important role in
the learning process during the early stages of language development. This
child- directed speech sometimes called baby talkinvolves speaking to
babies with a high-pitched voice, using short sentences and pronouncing
words clearly and slowly. Child directed speech helps infants learn their new
language by teaching them language rules and where words begin and end.
Adults who communicate with deaf children use a similar pattern by making
signs more slowly, repeating the signs, and making exaggerated gestures when
signing. Infants with a hearing disability pay more attention to this child-
directed signing than to the more rapid, fluid signing typically used between
adults. In summarizing this section on the stages of language development,
most scientists now believe that childhood represents a critical period for
mastering certain aspects of language. After the age of seven the ability to learn
language easily gradually declines. This is why adults have a much harder time
learning a new language than do children. When it comes to language learning,
you can teach an old dog new tricks, but it requires a great deal more work.
CREATIVE THINKING

In addition to thinking critically, coming up with the best solution to a problem


may involve thinking creatively. The word creative can apply to an activity or a
person, and creativity as a process may be open even to people who do not
think of themselves as creative. When we talk about creativity as a
characteristic of a person, we are referring to the ability to think about
something in novel and unusual ways and to devise unconventional solutions
to problems.

We can look at the thinking of creative people in terms of divergent and


convergent thinking. Divergent thinking produces many solutions to the same
problem. Convergent thinking produces the single best solution to a problem.
Creative thinkers do both types of thinking. Divergent thinking occurs during
brainstorming, when a group of people openly throw out a range of possible
solutions to a problem, even some that might seem crazy. Having a lot of
possible solutions, however, still requires that they come up with the solution
that is best. Th at is where convergent thinking comes in. Convergent thinking
means taking all of those possibilities and fi nding the right one for the job.
Convergent thinking is best when a problem has only one right answer.

Humans can think in many diff erent ways, analyzing problems or following
our gut, thinking divergently or convergently. To explore the role of our moods
in these types of thinking, check out the Intersection. Individuals who think
creatively also show the following characteristics (Perkins, 1994).

Flexibility and playful thinking: Creative thinkers are fl exible and play
with problems. Th is trait gives rise to the paradox that, although creativity
takes hard work, the work goes more smoothly if it is taken lightly. In a way,
humor greases the wheels of creativity (Goleman, Kaufman, & Ray, 1993).
When you are joking around, you are more likely to consider any possibility
and to ignore the inner censor who can condemn your ideas as off base.

Inner motivation: Creative people often are motivated by the joy of creating.
Th ey tend to be less motivated by grades, money, or favorable feedback from
others. Th us, creative people are inspired more internally than externally.

Willingness to face risk: Creative people make more mistakes than their
less imaginative counterparts because they come up with more ideas and more
possibilities. They win some; they lose some. Creative thinkers know that being
wrong is not a failureit simply means that they have discovered that one
possible solution does not work.

Objective evaluation of work: Most creative thinkers strive to evaluate their


work objectively. They may use established criteria to make judgments or rely
on the judgments of respected, trusted others. In this manner, they can
determine whether further creative thinking will improve their work.

cognition the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing,


remembering, and communicating.

concept a mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, or people.

prototype a mental image or best example of a category. Matching new items


to a prototype provides a quick and easy method for sorting items into
categories (as when comparing feathered creatures to a prototypical bird, such
as a robin).

algorithm a methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a


particular problem. Contrasts with the usually speedierbut also more error -
prone use of heuristics.

heuristic a simple thinking strategy that often allows us to make judgments


and solve problems efficiently; usually speedier but also more error -prone than
algorithms.

insight a sudden and often novel realization of the solution to a problem; it


contrasts with strategy -based solutions.

Humans are animals, but we are different from other species in some very
important ways. Most scientists agree that what sets us apart is our ability to
reason logically, to solve complex problems, and to use language. We tend to
take these abilities for granted, but the truth is that they are precious and
fragile; they can be disrupted or even lost if our brains are damaged by injury
or disease.

Ingredients of Thought
Ingredient Description Examples
Concepts Categories of objects, events, or Square (a formal concept);
ideas with common properties; game (a natural concept
basic building blocks
of thought
Propositions Mental representations that Assertions such as The cow
express relationships between jumped over the moon.
concepts; can be true
or false
Schemas Sets of propositions that create A schema might suggest that all
generalizations and expectations grandmothers are elderly, gray
about categories of objects haired, and bake a lot of cookies.
places, events, and people
Scripts Schemas about familiar activities You pay before eating in fast-food
and situations guide behavior in restaurants and after eating in
those situations fancier restaurants
Mental models Sets of propositions about how Assuming that airflow around an
things relate to each other in the open car will send throw objects
real world; can be correct or upward, a driver tosses a lighted
incorrect cigarette butt overhead, causing it
to land in the back seat
Images Mental representations of visual Hearing a description of your blind
information date creates a mental picture of
him or her.
Cognitive maps Mental representations of familiar You can get to class by an
parts of the world alternate route even if your usual
route is blocked by construction.