Thought, Creativity & Language 


     A concept is an abstract or general idea inferred or derived from specific instances. Concepts can 
be used to group or classify objects or events.

Concept formation theories:

    Exemplar Model - The concept is formed based on the essential characteristics of the real thing.
    Prototype theory - The concept is formed on a mental image which is based on the average 
characteristics of a thing. A prototype is a standard or typical example of something. Note: to identify 
a new object, you match it to one of your already formed prototypes. This theory is widely accepted & 
has replaced the exemplar model.

The functions of concepts:

     •  to organize information by grouping things into categories to better organize & store information 
in memory
     •  to avoid relearning - Concepts can be used to classify & categorize things, you can easily classify 
new things without having to relearn what that thing is.

Different ways of thinking in problem-solving:

Algorithms - a precise rule (or set of rules) specifying how to solve some problem.

Heuristics - A rule of thumb, simplification, or educated guess that reduces or limits the search for 
solutions in domains that are difficult and poorly understood. Unlike algorithms, heuristics do not 
guarantee optimal, or even feasible, solutions and are often used with no theoretical guarantee. Note: 
the availability heuristic says that we often rely on information that is easy to retrieve & overlook 
the good stuff.

Artificial intelligence - use machine imitations of human thinking to solve problems.

Three strategies for solving problems:

    By changing one's 1. mental set   from a functional fixedness. The use of insight.

    Using an 2. analogy a process of reasoning whereby two entities that share some similarities are 
assumed to share many others.

   By forming 3. subgoals - solve the parts in order, then solve the whole problem.
* Creativity

    Creativity is the ability to imagine or invent something new. Creativity is not the ability to create 
out of nothing, but the ability to generate new ideas by combining, changing, or reapplying existing 
ideas. Some creative ideas are astonishing and brilliant, while others are just simple, good, practical 
ideas that no one seems to have thought of yet.

    Creative people work hard and continually to improve ideas and solutions, by making gradual 
alterations and refinements to their works. Contrary to the mythology surrounding creativity, very, 
very few works of creative excellence are produced with a single stroke of brilliance or in a frenzy 
of rapid activity.

Characteristics of the Creative Person:
          - curious
           - seeks problems
            - enjoys challenge
             - optimistic
              - able to suspend judgment
               - comfortable with imagination
                - sees problems as opportunities
                 - sees problems as interesting
                  - problems are emotionally acceptable
                   - challenges assumptions
                    - doesn't give up easily: perseveres, works hard

Three approaches to defining creativity:

     1. Psychometric approach: uses objective problem-solving tasks to measure creativity, 
focuses on the distinction between two kinds of thinking - Convergent thinking - one solution, 
Divergent thinking - many solutions (creative).

     2. Case study approach:analyzes creative persons in great depth and thus provides insight 
into their development, personality, motivation, & problems

     3. Cognitive approach: tries to build a bridge between the objective measures of the psychometric 
approach and the subjective descriptions provided by case studies. The cognitive approach identifies 
& measures cognitive mechanisms that are used during creative thinking.
    * Creative people generally have high IQs but among people with high IQs, IQ is not a predictor 
of creativity.

   * Savants (10% of autistics) have unusual mental abilities.

Creative people have:
          •  focus
           •  exhibit flexible cognition
            •  an independent personality
             •  high motivation

* Language

    Language - the cognitive processes involved in producing and understanding linguistic communication.

    A word is the spoken sign of a conception or an idea; an articulate or vocal sound, or a combination of 
articulate and vocal sounds, uttered by the human voice, and by custom expressing an idea or ideas; a 
single component part of human speech or language; a constituent part of a sentence; a term.

    Grammar - The art of speaking or writing with correctness or according to established usage.

Four rules of language:

   Phonology - the study of the sound system of a given language and the analysis and classification of its 
phonemes. A phoneme is one of a small set of speech sounds that are distinguished by the speakers of a 
particular language. They are the basic sounds of consonants & vowels.
   Morphology - the study of the structure and form of words in language including inflection, derivation, and 
the formation of compound. A morpheme is a meaningful linguistic unit consisting of a word, such as man, 
or a word element, such as -ed in walked, that cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts.
   Syntax (grammar) - the study of the rules whereby words or other elements of sentence structure are 
combined to form grammatical sentences.
   Semantics - specifies the meaning of words or phrases when they appear in various sentences or contexts.

     Noam Chomsky believes that "When we ‘learn’ a language, we are able to formulate & understand all sorts of 
sentences that we have never heard before. What we ‘know’, therefore, must be something deeper — a grammar — 
that makes and infinite variety of sentences possible. The capacity to master grammatical structures is innate; it is
 genetically determined, a product of the evolutionary process, just as the organic structures of our bodies are".

Chomsky's Concepts:

- Mental grammar: allows us to combine nouns, verbs, & objects in an endless variety of meaningful sentences
- Innate brain program: makes learning the general rules of grammar relatively easy

Acquiring Language

Four Stages in acquiring language:
  1. Babbling - one syllable sounds (begins at about 6 months of age)
  2. Single words and parentese/motherese (begins at about 1 year of age)
  3. Two-word combinations (begins at about 2 years of age)
  4. Sentences (begins at about 3 to 4 years of age)

    Common problems with language: telegraphic speech ( prepositions like in and out are omitted) & overgeneralization 
(too strict adherence to the rules of grammar).

    Innate language factors: genetically programmed physiological & neurological features that facilitate our making 
speech sounds & acquiring language skills.
•   Innate physiological factors: special adapted vocal apparatus (larynx and pharynx) that allows us to make sounds 
and form words
•   Innate neurological features: left hemisphere of the brain is prewired to acquire and use language, whether spoken 
or signed
•   Innate developmental factors: there is a critical language period from infancy to adolescence when language is 
easiest to learn. Language is more difficult to learn anytime after adolescence

Reason, Thought, & Language

Two kinds of reasoning:
     1. Deductive reasoning - Deductive reasoning works from the more general to the more specific.
     2. Inductive reasoning - moves from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories.

    * The theory of linguistic relativity states that the differences among languages result in similar difference in how people 
think & perceive the world. There is little support for this theory.

   * Reasoning (thinking, as in problem solution) may fail because of our personal bias, experience, or language use.

Language involves;
  •   learning abstract symbols.
     •   express thoughts using those symbols.
        •   learning complex rules of grammar.
           •   generating an endless number of meaningful sentences. 
                 Topics in Psychology
                      Robert C. Gates