Principles That Define the Cognitive Level of Analysis(Examples in Parentheses) Key Terms:
Cognitive Psychology - Psychology dealing with the structure and functions of the mind
Cognitive Neuroscience - Combines knowledge about the brain with knowledge about cognitive processes.
Cognition - Processes such as perception, thinking, problem solving, memory, language, and attention.
Mental Representations - Images, words, and concepts of how one views the world. (One's political views are mental representations of how they believe things should happen.)
Bottom-up Processing - Sensory input into the brain. (You see a girl in the corner over there.)
Top-down Processing - How the mind processes sensory input. (Your mind telling you that said girl in the corner is attractive.)
Stereotyping - People with fixed ideas of others. (Asians are good at Math.)
Reconstructive Nature (of Memory) - The mind stores an outline of what happened, and fills in the blanks as it is recalled.
False Memories - These occur when one can not distinguish between what happened, and what happened after the event.(When on the stand, a witness says that he remembers seeing John kill Jane. However, this is what he has been hearing after the murder. In fact, John did not kill Jane, the witness' mind is simply providing a false memory to fit the general opinion.)
Perception - The cognitive process that interprets and organizes information from the senses to produce some meaningful experience of the world. (One perceives sauerkraut as tasting bad.)
Schema - A mental representation of knowledge. (One stores there knowledge of the roads in their city in a schema.
Distortions - Changes in memories. (You honestly believe your parents said be home by 11, because its what you were expecting and wanting to hear. However, they did in fact say to be home by 10.)
There are three main principles that define the cognitive level of analysis. They are: mental process guide behavior, the mind can be studied scientifically, and cognitive processes are influenced by social and cultural factors.
Mental Processes Guide Behavior
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The Cognitive Level of Analysis says that mental processes contribute to behavior. This means that ones beliefs and way of thinking will affect their behavior. The "flight or fight" instinct is a good example of this. A Peace Corps worker is likely to have a very different reaction in a dangerous situation than a soldier. This is due to cognitive processes. Peace Corps workers are taught to deal well with others, and to be non confrontational. This means that they are more likely to flee or to try reasoning rather than fighting. However, a soldier is trained to neutralize threats. If something he perceives as a threat is in his vicinity, he will fight.
The Mind can be Studied Scientifically
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The human brain can be studied many ways, and science is a major way of studying it. Cognition is mainly studied in labs. Machines can be used to monitor brainwave patterns on things like attention span. Studies done with cognition include Neuromarketing. Neuromarketing involves measuring patients attention and alertness when viewing different advertisements. By using these techniques, more advanced and effective advertisements are being made for consumers. With more effective advertisements, consumers are less likely to be annoyed by ads, which can only be a good thing.
Cognitive Processes are Influenced by Social and Cultural Factorsexternal image psychiatry-couch2.jpg
One's environment can play a large role in their cognitive processes. If one is constantly told by everyone around them that they are worthless, or too fat, or too skinny, then they may be led to believe it. Also, one gains much of their belief system from their parents. Some mental illnesses, like depression, can be cause or influenced by one's environment.


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