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Social Sci LibreTexts

Chapter 7: Cognition and Language

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    • 7.1: Consciousness
      Consciousness is the ultimate mystery. What is it and why do we have it? These questions are difficult to answer, even though consciousness is so fundamental to our existence. Perhaps the natural world could exist largely as it is without human consciousness; but taking away consciousness would essentially take away our humanity.
    • 7.2: The Unconscious
      Unconscious psychological processes have fascinated people for a very long time .Not only logic dictates that action starts unconsciously, but research strongly suggests this too. Moreover, unconscious processes are very often highly important for human functioning.
    • 7.3: States of Consciousness
      No matter what you’re doing--solving homework, playing a video game, simply picking out a shirt--all of your actions and decisions relate to your consciousness. But as frequently as we use it, have you ever stopped to ask yourself: What really is consciousness? In this module, we discuss the different levels of consciousness and how they can affect your behavior in a variety of situations. As well, we explore the role of consciousness in other, “altered” states like hypnosis and sleep.
    • 7.4: Theory of Mind
      One of the most remarkable human capacities is to perceive and understand mental states. This capacity, often labeled “theory of mind,” consists of an array of psychological processes that play essential roles in human social life. We review some of these roles, examine what happens when the capacity is deficient, and explore the many processes that make up the capacity to understand minds.
    • 7.5: Intelligence
      Intelligence is among the oldest and longest studied topics in all of psychology. The development of assessments to measure this concept is at the core of the development of psychological science itself. This module introduces key historical figures, major theories of intelligence, and common assessment strategies related to intelligence. This module will also discuss controversies related to the study of group differences in intelligence.
    • 7.6: Language and Language Use
      Humans have the capacity to use complex language, far more than any other species on Earth. We cooperate with each other to use language for communication; language is often used to communicate about and even construct and maintain our social world. Language use and human sociality are inseparable parts of Homo sapiens as a biological species.
    • 7.7: Judgement and Decision Making
      Humans are not perfect decision makers. Not only are we not perfect, but we depart from perfection or rationality in systematic and predictable ways. The understanding of these systematic and predictable departures is core to the field of judgment and decision making. By understanding these limitations, we can also identify strategies for making better and more effective decisions.
    • 7.8: Categories and Concepts
      People form mental concepts of categories of objects, which permit them to respond appropriately to new objects they encounter. Most concepts cannot be strictly defined but are organized around the “best” examples or prototypes, which have the properties most common in the category. Objects fall into many categories, but there is usually a most salient one, called the basic-level category, which is at an intermediate level of specificity (e.g. chairs, rather than furniture or desk chairs).
    • 7.9: Attention
      We use the term “attention“ all the time, but what processes or abilities does that concept really refer to? This module will focus on how attention allows us to select certain parts of our environment and ignore other parts, and what happens to the ignored information. A key concept is the idea that we are limited in how much we can do at any one time. So we will also consider what happens when someone tries to do several things at once, such as driving while using electronic devices.