IB Psychology/Perspectives/Cognitive

Cognitive Level of Analysis Learning OutcomesEdit

General Cognitive PrinciplesEdit

  • Outline cognitive principles. Explain how these principles are shown in research.
    • Mental processes guide behavior.
      • For example, stereotypes, or fixed ideas of a group of people, can lead to behaviors of discrimination.
      • Perception of the world is often based less on reality than on things like context or recency, especially when we have to interpret ambiguous events. This means that the cognitive processes of interpretation drive our behavior when we respond to them.
      • Schemas or networks of knowledge and beliefs about aspects of the world, help drive our behavior.
        • Anderson and Pitchert did a study where participants were told a story with points related to house-buyers and burglars. Half were asked to read it with the mindset of a home buyer or of a burglar. These schemas later impacted recall, so that people remembered more points related to the schema they had been prepped with.
    • The mind can be studied scientifically.
      • Experiments are used frequently at this level, since all variables can be controlled.
        • Elizabeth Loftus used experiments to study memory. She showed people a video of a car crash and asked them questions with various verbs in them (hit, smashed etc.). Later they were asked to estimate the car’s speed; the verb influenced the estimate.
      • Case studies and interviews are also used to ensure ecological validity. Studying
        • Clive Wearing, with damage to his hippocampi, shows the impact of biology on memory.
    • Cognitive processes are shaped by social and cultural factors.
      • Schema, or networks of knowledge and beliefs about aspects of the world, are very much influenced by the world and people around us.
        • For example, Bartlett carried out a study where both Native American and people of another culture were told a Native American story and asked to retell it later. The Westerners kept the gist of the story but changed details and chronology to fit their cultural norms.
  • Describe why certain research methods are used and the ethical implications of these methodologies.
    • Experiments are used so that psychologists can study cognitive processes in a scientific manner. They allow researchers to hold variables constant to examine the impact of one specific variable.
        • An ethical concern could be that improper debriefing could have long term impacts on the participants, like if the Robber’s Cave children had maintained their enmity after the experiment ended.
    • Case studies are used because some individuals have an exceptionality that researchers want to study, like extraordinary memory or language deficits.
      • Privacy concerns are clearly an issue with this methodology.

Key ConceptsEdit

  • Evaluate schema theory with reference to research studies.
    • Schemas are networks of knowledge, beliefs and expectations about certain aspects of the world. The theory suggests that what we already know influences the outcome of our though process. This can lead to distortions. Schema theory can somewhat explain memory at all stages, encoding, storage and retrieval.
    • Research supports the idea that schema help explain how people categorize things and make inferences. However, some problems are that it is unclear how schemas form and how exactly they influence cognition.
      • A specific study is the Anderson and Pitchert study, where participants were told a story with points related to house-buyers and burglars. Half were asked to read it with the mindset of a home buyer or of a burglar. These schemas later impacted recall, so that people remembered more points related to the schema they had been prepped with.
  • Evaluate two models or theories of one cognitive process (for example, memory, perception, language, decision-making) with reference to research studies.
    • Flashbulb memory is a theory suggested by Brown and Kulick. It says that emotional events are recorded vividly and in great detail. They hypothesize that emotional events are remembered better because of the role of the amygdala.
      • Neisser questioned the idea, because it may simply be due to increased repetition or following story telling patterns. He did a study where he interviewed people right after the Challenger explosion and two years later. Despite great confidence, their “flashbulb memories” were wrong 40% of the time.
    • The 'multi-store model is composed of short term, long term and sensory memory. It is supported by research on sensory memory and the limits of short term memory. However, it has been challenged on the idea that short term memory is a single store; the Working Memory Model changes short term memory into a series of different stores.
  • With reference to relevant research studies, to what extent is one cognitive process reliable (for example, reconstructive memory, perception/visual illusions, decision-making/heuristics)?
    • Memory is not totally reliable. Elizabeth Loftus has shown that the contents of a question can change recall of an event. She says that memory is a reconstructive process, which introduces inaccuracy.
    • Bartlett in his experiment with the War of the Ghosts story found that recall of a story is influenced by cultural norms and schemas. He says that people reconstruct stories by using common patterns.

Cognitive Level of Analysis in Conjunction with Biological and SocioculturalEdit

  • Explain how biological factors may affect one cognitive process (for example, Alzheimer’s disease, brain damage, sleep deprivation).
    • Memory can be effected by the destruction of brain areas or by neurotransmitters.
      • Hippocampus: In both Clive Wearing and Phineas Gage, the hippocampus was destroyed, preventing them from forming new memories.
      • Neurotransmitters: The neurotransmitter acetylcholine seems to impact memory. Blocking its action seems to prevent memories from being formed, and damage to the producers of acetylcholine are associated with Alzheimers.
  • Discuss how social or cultural factors affect one cognitive process (for example, education, carpentered-world hypothesis, effect of video games on attention).
    • Cole and Scribner investigated learning a list of words in American school children and Kpelle children. They found that recall did not improve after practice unless the Kpelle children had attended school. The Kpelle children didn’t use chunking. However, they did recall the items very well if they were presented as a narrative.
      • This seems to show that memory strategies are not universal, but shaped by cultural experiences, like school. People remember in ways that are relevant to their everyday lives.
  • Discuss the use of technology in investigating cognitive processes (for example, MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans in memory research, fMRI scans in decision-making research).
    • PET scans are used to detect the early signs of Alzheimer’s before symptoms emerge. It shows early reduction in hippocampus metabolism.
    • MRIs can detect more oxygen use in certain brain areas. It can show the areas where reading or problem solving take place, and even look at which areas are active when looking at pictures of branding.
  • To what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion (for example, two factor theory, arousal theory, Lazarus’ theory of appraisal)?
    • James-Lange Theory says that physiology changes and then we identify emotion, i.e. I’m crying so I must be sad.
    • Cannon-Bard Theory says that the thalamus relays information to both the mind and body at once, so emotion and physical reaction are simultaneous.
    • Schacter-Singer Theory says we are aroused, react physically and then identify emotion, since the same physical actions (increased heart rate etc.) can be present for various different emotion.
    • Lazarus’ theory of appraisal says that we base our appraisal of our physiological reaction to emotion on how it affects us personally. We focus on the problem or on our reaction to the problem and how we can change either of those two aspects.
      • This indicates that cognition seems to interpret the biological reactions to emotional situations.
  • Evaluate one theory of how emotion may affect one cognitive process (for example, state-dependent memory, flashbulb memory, affective filters).
    • Flashbulb memory is a theory suggested by Brown and Kulick. It says that emotional events are recorded vividly and in great detail. They hypothesize that emotional events are remembered better because of the role of the amygdala.