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Cognitive Psychology - Reasoning and decision-making.

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Cognitive Psychology (PSY323M1) Lecture11. Reasoning and decision-making. Reading: Chapter 17 of Eysenck and Keane. Your objectives are to: i). Be able to outline the main theoretical orientations that account for deductive reasoning. ii). Evaluate the empirical evidence from studies that have used Wason's (1966) selection task. Often when we are thinking about something we're thinking about some past event or forthcoming activity of some sort - the sort of idle speculation and reminisence that fills much of our waking life. This type of undirected thinking can be contrasted with that which is more highly focussed, when for example we are required to work something out, to describe or explain something or draw a conclusion given certain premises. This type of thinking is described as directed thinking. Often in such latter situations what we are required to do is to take a piece of knowledge and actively transform it into a new piece of knowledge that is helpful in attaining a goal, whether simple or complex. And if you stop for a moment and devote a little time to appreciate some of the great achievements of human thought, the great intellectual endeavours of people like Albert Einstein or Marie Curie, you can't help but wonder at the real power of thought, and indeed at its great beauty. ...read more.


Normative models: In contrast these differ in telling us how we ought to do something, to perform some task to an optimum level. In studying reasoning and decision-making we can draw on logic which helps to specify how something ought to be done, how we ought to think in order to achieve a goal, and to identify the areas where our descriptive models violate those of normative models - because these violations indicate shortcomings in our reasoning. Inductive and Deductive Reasoning Inductive reasoning: this is a form of reasoning that suggests what is probably true, given our experience or knowledge of the situation. If you meet lots of people trekking through the streets laden with plastic bags late on the Saturday afternoon before Christmas you can conclude from experience that they've been Christmas shopping - although the conclusion is, of course, not certain! Deductive reasoning: by contrast this form of reasoning draws a conclusion that must necessarily be true or false. If the Earth circles a star at a distance of 93 million miles and the Earth circles the Sun at a distance of 93 million miles then the Sun is a star. This conclusion must necessarily be correct. It demonstrates formal logic at work. The answer is not a question of being probably this or probably that! ...read more.


Evaluating conditionals Inference rules based on conditional statements are of two types , known as 'modus ponens' and 'modus tollens'. They take the following forms -: If p then q p Modus ponens Therefore q If p then q Not q Modus tollens Therefore not p Modus ponens: the evaluation here seems easier and more intuitive, perhaps because a simple match is made. For example matching 'Friday' with 'Friday' in the following example guarantees the truth of the statement. If it is Friday, then Bill is wearing a blue shirt It is Friday Therefore Bill is wearing a blue shirt Modus tollens: the evaluation here is often found to be much more difficult, possibly because it includes negation. For example -: If it is Friday, then Bill is wearing a blue shirt Bill is not wearing a blue shirt Therefore it is not Friday Mary is 31 years old, single outspoken and very bright. Her degree was in philosophy. As a student she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Mary is Irish Mary works in a bank Mary works as a journalist Mary is a lecturer Mary has bright young daughters and a son Mary is a treasurer in a branch of Greenpeace Mary works in a bank and is an active feminist Mary is a lecturer, a Samaritan and committed feminist 1 1 ...read more.

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