Chapter seven explores cognition and mental abilities, this chapter talks about cognition which can be defined as the process of thinking, solving a problem and making decisions. The thinking process involves evaluation, reflection, imagery, language, conceptualization, and insight. Hence cognition calls for manipulating information in several ways in addition, to recalling and processing data or information from ones memory.
Ulric Neisser and George Miller were the first cognitive psychologists who led to the development of cognitive psychology. They summarized the basic building blocks of thought as images, concepts and language, where language can be defined as a flexible system of symbols required for communicating. Under language, we find a morpheme which falls as a subsection of phonemes. Sentences tend to be composed of both a deep structure and surface structure, and grammar entails rules that determine the meaning and form of sentences and words. Semantics and syntax form two principal elements of grammar. Images as another building block of thought can be defined as a mental representation or recollection of a sensory experience. Lastly, concepts can be defined as mental category for grouping people, experiences and objects based on their characteristics, prototypes fall under concepts.
In problem solving, problem representation involves interpretation of problems, when producing and evaluating solutions, one can use trial and error. Information retrieval, which falls under, producing and evaluating solutions, can involve algorithm or heuristics which has sub goals, hill climbing, means-end analysis and working backward as sub-sections. Functional fixedness and set form obstacles to solving problems, but visualizing, convergent thinking, tactic elimination and divergent thinking which has insight and brainstorming as subsections involve ways of becoming better at solving problems. As opposed to other problem solving methods, decision making begins with knowledge of all possible choices. Logical decision making involves a compensatory model; alternative approaches involve a non-compensatory model while faulty heuristics involves representativeness heuristic confirmation bias and availability.
Cognitive abilities that favor adaptive behavior and learning can be termed intelligence (mental abilities), and intelligence tests evaluates someone’s mental abilities. General intelligence and several types of abilities and aptitudes form the two categories of intelligence theorists. The early theories involve thurstone, spearman and catell which have fluid intelligence and fluid intelligence as its subsections. In the mid-1980s, Sternberg and Gardner established contemporary theories, which included a triarchic theory of intelligence which has experiential intelligence, componential intelligence and contextual intelligence as its subsections. Gardner further proposed his theory of multiple intelligences.
Intelligence tests led to the growth of the Stanford-binet intelligence scale. They included Binet - Simon scale, where from children’s average scores; Binet developed the mental age concept. The second is the Stanford –Binet intelligence scale which is the best known Binet adaptation created by Terman in 1916, he introduced the intelligence quotient (IQ) term. The Stanford-Binet measure skills in abstract reasoning, quantitative reasoning, short memory and verbal reasoning. David Wechsler led to the development of Wechsler intelligence scales which included Wechsler intelligence scale for children-third edition (WISC-III) and Wechsler adult intelligence scale-third edition (WAIS-III). There are also group tests and performance and culture-fair tests.
Reliability and validity help psychologists to measure the quality of tests and for comparison of different tests. Reliability entails the stable and consistent scores obtained from a test. Validity entails the ability of a test to measure what it intends to measure. We have content validity, which includes planning memory, concentration, writing and language comprehension. Intelligence can be determined by the environment or heredity. Academic performance, which can be influenced by culture and gender signify mental abilities and human diversity. On the other hand, giftedness and mental retardation are regarded as extremes of intelligence. Creativity can be termed as the ability to develop socially valued and novel ideas or objects and can be explained by creative tests or the threshold theory.