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Principles that define the cognitive level of analysis
- 1. human beings are information processors and mental processes guide behaviour. (stereotyping + reconstructive memory)
- 2. The mind can be studied scientifically by developing theories and using a number of scientific research methods. (brain scanning)
- 3. Cognitive processes are influenced by social and cultural factors. (cultural schema + distortion)
Humans are information processors and mental processiong guides behaviour
- Scientists believe that the brain is a complex machine, different people percieve information differently
- Depending on how they percieve the information, would affect behaviour
- - Stereotyping (Steele and Aronson) - People who have fixed ideas about other people may be more prone to discriminate
- - Reconstuctive memory (Loftus) - brain is not completely reliable because people do not store exact copies of experiences but rather an outline which is filled out with information when recalled.
The mind can be studied scientifically
- The most scientific way of looking at the brian is through brain scanning technologies (CT, PET, MRI, fMRI) which can simulate the brain during specific activities as well as show the structure of the brain.
- Develop theories using scientific method
- criticism - reductionist approach
The mind can be affected by social and cultural factors
- Society is governed by social judgement and norms, therefore the people develop schemas which are mental representations of knowledge
- - Schemas (Bartlett) - influence cultural remembering, people have problems remembering stoires from other cultures. They reconstructed the story to fit with their own cultural schemas, so memory is subject to distortions.
Research methods used by cognitive researchers
- cognitive psychologists carry out research in order to procide evidence for their theories or hypothises. The methodological tools that cognitive psychologists use depend mainly upon the area of study.
- - Experimental method
- - Case Study
- - Brain scanning
Experimental reaserch method
- This method takes after the scientific method, in which independent variables are manipulated and dependent variables are measured to prove insights into cognition
- takes place in a lab
- strength - the variables can be controlled
- weakness - experimental research may be different from artificiality.
Case study research method
Studying people of a specific case, for example a person with extraordinary memory or a person with brain damage who have lost the ability to comprehend language
Brain scanning technology research method
- Neuroscientists can now study which brain areas are active when people make decisions, and how cognitive processes can be disrupted by brain damage. Researchers use their data to support or refute cognitive models
- Strength - it provides qualitative and quantitative data, it is subjective and does not change because of different psychologist bias.
- Weakness - its cost, it is impossible to use this testing on all potential cognitive distorted patients
Evaluate schema theory with reference to research studies
- Strengths - Research has supported the idea that schemas affecr cognitive processing such as memory. Schema theory has provided evidence and understanding to memory distortion
- Weaknesses - Not entirely clear how schemas are acquired in the first place and how they actually influence cognitive processes.
- - Anderson and Pichert (1978)
Anderson and pichert (1978)
Aim: investigate if schema processing affects both the encoding and retrieval stage of memory.
Method: participants are asked to view and read a story with the perspective of a burglar, then are asked to perform a distracting task. The first recall is being recorded straight after the completion of the distracting task. Then participants are asked to perform another distracting task, then were told to recall the story a sexond time with the perspective of either burglar/house buyer.
Results - Results are very interesting as participants in the changed schema recalled 7% more points on the second recall compared to the first. the response directly linked to the new schema is increased by 10%. The result shows that schema processing must have an effect at retrieval as well as encoding because new schema could only have influenced recall at the retrieval stage.
Two systems of long term memory
Explicit memory - Consists of fact based information that can be consiously retrieved. formed by hippocampus
Implicit memory - Contains memories that we are not censciously aware of
Two subsystems of explicit memory
Semantic memory - memory for general knowledge
Episodic memory - which is memory for personal experiences
two subsystems of Implicit memory
Procedural memory - which is the non-conscious memory for skills, habits, and actions
Emotional memory - not yet well understood, the amygdala plays a role in the storage of these memories.
(LeDoux) - certain memories have emotional significance and this might explain why emories based on emotional events are remembered better (eg. PTSD)
Discuss how social or cultural factors affect one cognitive process
- The role of schooling on remembering
- Researchers from werstern countries performed tests with participants in non-western countries, they found that they did poorly on many memory tests. this was not always interpreted correctly, as there is a western bias in the test and it was not valid when applied in another culture. Therefore cross-cultural psychologists are aware that in order to test memory in a group of people, it is necessary to have an insight into their language and cultural group.
- Cole and Scriber (1974)Aim - Investigate memory strategies in different culture
- Method - create memory experiments with the consideration of culture and that the participants are aware of the word choices.
- Results - Found striking difference of liberian children from different age groups. normally one would expect the older children to recall more items after practice, but this is not the case unless the students have attended school for several years. The non schooled did not improve their perforemance and after 15 trials only remembered 2 more items.
- They found illiterate children did not use chunking and did not apply rehearsal. However, in later trial, the objects were portrayed in stories, and the illiterate children recalled significantly more.
Evaluation - even though the ability to remember is universal, the strategies for remembering are not universal. The conclusion is that people learn and remember ways that are relevant for their everyday lives, and these do not always mirror the activities that cognitive psychologists use to investigate mental processes
Grouping bits of information into larger units to help them remember
Evaluate the extent to which a cognitive process is reliable
- Freud - False memory is due to repressionPeople who experience intense emotional and anxiety-provoking events may use defence mechanisms such as repression, to preotect their conscious self from knowing things that they cannot cope with. however, these emmories will continue to haunt them in symbolic form until retrieved using specific techniques. These techniques can create false memories, which people consequently believe to be true.
- Loftus 2002 - False memory is due to post eventsA case of a sniper who killed a number of people, the witnesses thought they had seen a white van, when it was actually dark green. Apparently a bystander mentioned a white van in an interview, after this everyone reported a white van. According to loftus a false memory had been created by the post even information
- Bartlett (1932) memory is reconstructiveBartlett argued that memory is reconstructive and that schema influence recall.
- War of the gost's story experiment, asked participants to read through story twice and reproduce the story from memory.
Result - The native american story was difficult for people from western culture due to its unfamiliar style and content. the story became shorter, however the remaining story became more conventional. people reconstruct the past by trying to fit it into existing schemas
- Loftus (1974) eye witness testimonyThe nature of questions can influence witness' testimony.
- Aim - to see if changing one work in a certain questions would influence speed estimates for a car crash.
Method - asked to observe a film of traffic accidents and asked to estimate the speed of the car in the film. different word choices for the question were used, including "smashed" "hit" or "contacted"
Result - The result shows that the speed estimated for smashed was significantly higher then when the question uses the word contacted.
Method 2 - a week later the perticipants were tested again, researchers wanted to know if the memory was changed when it was retrieved. it is found that when asked if there was a broken glass in the film, about 32% of the "smashed" group said there was compared to the 14% of the "contacted" group. The research concluded that the different words had an effect on the estimation of speed as well as the perception of consequences.
- Yuille and Cutshall (1986)Critisize loftus' eye witness testimony for its lack of ecological validity. they use loftus's technique in interviewing people who hat witnessed a real robbery and found that misleading questions did not seem to distort people's memory, also, those who were distressed by the situation had the most accurate memories.
Explain the use of technology in investigating cognitive processes
Neuro imaging techniques allow researchers to obtain images of brain functioning and structures.
PET - This has allowed early detection of Alzheimer's as it accurately measures metabolic activity in the hippocampus. In the early stages of Alzheimers disease there is a reduction in the brain of metabolism in the hippocampus.
MRI - This can be used to see what areas are most active when people perform cognitive tasks like reading or problem solving.
Three components of emotions
Pshysiological changes, such as arousal of the nervous system and the endocrine system that are not conscious
The persons own subjective feeling of an emotion (e.g. happiness/sadness)
Associated behaviour, such as smiling or running away
Biological factors in emotion
- LeDoux (1999) - there are two biological pathways of emotions in the brain.
- short route - sensory information goes directly from thalamus to amygdala resulting in fight or flight.
- Long route that passes via the neocortex and hippocampus before it results in an emotional response
The advantage of 2 pathways is flexibility in responses - in danger the short passage saves time. on the other hand long passage allows for more evaluation which can help people and animals avoid inappropriate responses to situations
evaluations related to how the situation will impact on one's personal well-being.
- Positive emotions emerge if the appraisal asses potential benefit.
- Negative emotions emerge if the appraisal asses potential harm.
Cognitive factors in emotion - appraisal
cognitive appraisal is an important part of peoples reaction to emotional stress, and that stress experiences are not only physiological. - people interpret what happens around them
Lazarus and Folkman (1984)
suggested that an individual's experience of stress can be moderated by a number of factors, which include appraisal of threat and appraisal of one's own resources for dealing with stress. (motivation/ world view/ nature of the danger/ social networks)
Speisman et al. (1964)
- Folkman and Lazarus (1984) 2 strategies in stressful situations.
- - Problem focused coping - changing the stress creating problem (escaping)
- - Emotion focused coping - Handling the emotions rather than changing the situation (self control over emotions/ social support/ attempting a positive reappraisal).
Speisman et al. (1964)
Showed participants a film about an initiation ceremony incolcing unpleasant genital surgery.
Aim - to investigate if people's emotional reaction to the unpleasant film could be manipulated
- Method - they showed the film with three different sountracks:
- - Trauma condition - emphasized pain
- - Denial condition - participants willing and happy
- - Intellectualization condition - anthropological interpretation of the ceremony.
Results - reacted more emotionally to the trauma condition.
Analysis - This supports Lazarus's theory. Maybe it is not the events themselves that elicit emotional stress, but rather the infividual's interpretation or appraisal of those events.
- - Lab study - raises the issue of artificiality.
- - Ethical issues involved, because the researchers deliberately used deception and put participants in unpleasant situations
Cognitive appraisal seems to influence the emotional reaction so this study could then illustrate how cognitice and biologiucal factors interact in emotion
- Suggested by Brown and Kulik (1977)
- emotional memory, which refers to vivid and detailed memories of highly emotional events that appear to be recorded in the brain as though with the help of a camera's flash (e.g. where they were when JFK was assassinated)
challenges theory. he suggests that the memories are so vivid because the event itself is rehearsed and reconsidered after the event.
Neisser and Harsch (1992)
- peoples current attitudes towards blood donation impacted their memories about how they felt when they donated blooki in the past. - This means that past emotional memories are partly reconstructed based on people's current appraisal of events.
Neisser and Harsch (1992)
Challenger space shuttle exploded, this was a shocking experience for those watching it on tv and in person.
Aim - to test accuracy of memory of the incident 24 hours after the incident and then again 2 years later.
Results - the participants were confident that their memories were correct, but they found that 40% of participants had distorted memories in the final reports they made.
possibly, post event informationo had influenced their memories.
Cognitive factors in happiness
Although people in the western world become richer, they are not happier. 2 theories
Social comparison theory- people learn and asses themselves based on comparison with others. People are happy if they have more than who they compare themselves too. (eg. happy with new car until neighboor gets same one)
Comparing youself to those who are more fortunate - Upwards comparison - leads to dissatisfaction.
Level of aspiration theory - people examine what they can gain and how likely it is that they will achieve it before making decisions about what to do. pepole like happiness to reaching goals, but tend to set higher goals after this and are therefore never happy. (if people link happiness to wealth and status, then when they achieve this then they will be happy... but only for a short while until they find a new goal)
Myers and Deiners (1995)
Johnson and Kruger (2006)
Conway, di Fazio, and mayman (1999)
Myers and deiners (1995)
Buying power of average american has tripled since 1950, but stil only 1/3 of population are happy. this shows no direct link between an increase of wealth and happiness.
Johnson and Kruger (2006)
found that it people dont care about size of salary, as long as they are satisfied with it and provides enough to support their family.
however there are some people that become unhappy with their salary by upward comparison
Conway, di Fazio, and mayman (1999)
aim - to investigate illusion that money brings happiness in a group of 159 men and women.
method - used questionnaires to ask participants to judge emotional reactions of high status individuals with alot of money and low status people with no money.
results - found there is a widespread belief among young people in the investigation that a high status person was generally happier, less angry, less depressed, and experienced less fear in daily life.
However this is not supported by psychological research.
Making faulty associations between variables is called illusory correlation, and this is part of the way people think.
Sociocultural factors in happiness
Danes are the happiest people in the world, 2/3 are very satisfied.
Christensen, Herskend, and vaupel (2006) claim that it is not due to climate, but because the welfare state and the fact that Denmark has the highest level of income equality. Well functioning democracy. They have low, but realistic, expectations for the future.
Biological Factors in happiness
of happiness which is an aspect of our personality.
Lykken et al. (1996)
- Happiness twin study
Swartz et al (1999)
- 50% of happiness is genetics
- 10% is environment
- 40% is yourself
Lykken et al. (1996)
Happiness twin study, compared happiness scores among sets of identical and fraternal twins who grew up together or were reared apart.
Results - identical twins are very similar in their happiness scores, doesnt matter if they grew up together or apart. Fraternal twins do not show the same pattern, because they dont resemble each other any more than normal siblings.
Conclusion - each individual has a genetically influenced set point, and 50% of happiness is genetically based
- Limitations - results cannot be generalized, as the twins were mostly white and from minnesota.
- - difficult to compare twins who are raised together and apart because it is a small sample.
- - In order to make valid conclusions about the role of genes, the researchers have to assume that the twins share same family environments. this is perhaps true for identical twins to a large extent, but less for fraternal twins (maybe different sexes)
Swartz et al (1999)
followed 5 women who had MS. trained to act as peer supporters who also suffered MS. Training included active and compassionate listening techniques. then they had o call each patient for 15 minutes each month.
results - the peer supporters were happier and reported increased levels of satisfaction. experienced fewer episodes of depression.
Limitations - Small sample, not possible to generalize, but it illustrates the rewards of volunteering for community service