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 hthe 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.