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Chapter10NarrativeSummary - Chapter 10 Summary CHAPTER...

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Chapter 10 Summary CHAPTER 10 (SUMMARY): THINKING AND LANGUAGE Overview Concepts, the building blocks of thinking, simplify the world by organizing it into a hierarchy of categories. Concepts are often formed around prototypes, or the best examples of a category. When faced with a novel situation for which no well-learned response will do, we may use problem-solving strategies such as trial and error, algorithms, heuristics, and insight. Obstacles to successful problem solving include the confirmation bias, mental set, and functional fixedness. Heuristics provide efficient, but occasionally misleading, guides for making quick decisions. Overconfidence, framing, belief bias, and belief perseverance further reveal our capacity for error. Still, human cognition is remarkably efficient and adaptive. With experience, we grow adept at making quick, shrewd judgments. Studies of artificial intelligence reveal the strengths of the human mind. Although the computer shines on certain memory tasks and in making decisions using specified rules, it is dwarfed by the brain’s wide range of abilities and capacity for processing unrelated information simultaneously—although computer systems have been designed to mimic the brain’s interconnected neural units. Language facilitates and expresses our thoughts. Spoken language is built of phonemes, morphemes, words, and the semantics and syntax that make up grammar. The ease with which children master language has sparked a lively debate over whether children acquire language through association and imitation or are biologically prepared to learn words and use grammar. Thinking and language are difficult to separate. Although the linguistic determinism hypothesis states that language determines thought, we know that thinking can occur without language, and so we might better say that thinking affects our language, which then affects our thoughts. Another debate concerns whether language is uniquely human; it has been fueled by studies of animals, particularly chimpanzees, who have developed considerable vocabularies and who can string words together to express meaning. Although apes have considerable cognitive ability, skeptics point out important differences between apes’ and humans’ abilities to order words using proper syntax. Thinking The nature of concepts and the role of prototypes in concept formation. Cognitive psychologists study cognition, which is the mental activity associated with processing, understanding, and communicating knowledge. To think about the countless events, objects, and people in our world, we organize them into mental groupings called concepts. To simplify things further, we organize concepts into hierarchies. Although we form some concepts by definition, more often we form them by developing prototypes—a mental image or best example of a particular category. The more closely objects match our prototype of a concept, the more readily
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