In this section, you were introduced to cognitive psychology, which is the study of cognition, or the brain’s ability to think, perceive, plan, analyze, and remember. Concepts and their corresponding prototypes help us quickly organize our thinking by creating categories into which we can sort new information. We also develop schemata, which are clusters of related concepts. Some schemata involve routines of thought and behavior, and these help us function properly in various situations without having to “think twice” about them. Schemata show up in social situations and routines of daily behavior.
Language is a communication system that has both a lexicon and a system of grammar. Language acquisition occurs naturally and effortlessly during the early stages of life, and this acquisition occurs in a predictable sequence for individuals around the world. Language has a strong influence on thought, and the concept of how language may influence cognition remains an area of study and debate in psychology.
Many different strategies exist for solving problems. Typical strategies include trial and error, applying algorithms, and using heuristics. To solve a large, complicated problem, it often helps to break the problem into smaller steps that can be accomplished individually, leading to an overall solution. Roadblocks to problem solving include a mental set, functional fixedness, and various biases that can cloud decision making skills.
Intelligence is a complex characteristic of cognition. Many theories have been developed to explain what intelligence is and how it works. Sternberg generated his triarchic theory of intelligence, whereas Gardner posits that intelligence is comprised of many factors. Still others focus on the importance of emotional intelligence. Finally, creativity seems to be a facet of intelligence, but it is extremely difficult to measure objectively.
In this section, we learned about the history of intelligence testing and some of the challenges regarding intelligence testing. Intelligence tests began in earnest with Binet; Wechsler later developed intelligence tests that are still in use today: the WAIS-IV and WISC-V. The Bell curve shows the range of scores that encompass average intelligence as well as standard deviations.
Genetics and environment affect intelligence and the challenges of certain learning disabilities. The intelligence levels of all individuals seem to benefit from rich stimulation in their early environments. Highly intelligent individuals, however, may have a built-in resiliency that allows them to overcome difficult obstacles in their upbringing. Learning disabilities can cause major challenges for children who are learning to read and write. Unlike developmental disabilities, learning disabilities are strictly neurological in nature and are not related to intelligence levels. Students with dyslexia, for example, may have extreme difficulty learning to read, but their intelligence levels are typically average or above average.