Cognitive Psychology

Welcome to Cognitive Psychology 2018!

Our work in this course includes: A group presentation, 4 short essays, an individual presentation. Let’s go through each item. After that, there is a list of topics and readings.

1) Group presentation (10-15 minutes, 10%). Time of presentation: All groups should be ready on Week 3 (Sept 4th). Group size: 3 or 4. Each group picks one of the following articles (links below) and presents it to the class. Your presentation should be as simple as possible, so that the rest of the class (who didn’t read the article) can understand the content. Do NOT simply read the article aloud as your presentation. Put it in your own words, and focus on parts that seem more important and interesting.

Cognitive Psychology 
Attention & Consciousness 
Multiple Memory Systems 
Episodic Memory 
False Memory 
Working Memory 
Event Perception 
Cognition & Emotion 

Evaluation of the group presentations: Accuracy (did you show understanding of the article?), simplicity (was it understandable?) organization (did emphasize what is important about the article and how the different parts are connected?) participation (did all the members contribute to the presentation?)

2) Mini essays (4 essays; 75%). Deadlines will be announced during the term. 

Evaluation of the mini essays: essay is between 400-600 words and it will respond to a specific question. Essays will be evaluated on the basis of your ability to clearly and concisely communicate knowledge of the course material (~50% of the grade for each paper), your ability to compare and synthesize material across different topics (~20%), and your ability to critically treat the material from different perspectives (~30%). Regarding the third component (critical thinking), I essentially want you identify the weakness of your own argument, describe how/why a reasonable person might disagree with you, and respond appropriately to the disagreement. Mini essays are submitted through UMMoodle.

Part of your grade is based on writing concisely. You will lose marks for writing too much (going over 600 words), or if you use your words wastefully (too much repetition). Do NOT email me to ask for an extension – if you have a valid reason for a delay, then email me AFTER you have submitted your late essay, stating your reason (along with any relevant documentation, e.g., doctor’s note).

Here and here, you can see videos of my grading from the previous year

3) Individual presentation (10 minutes, 15%). I will give you one of your classmate’s mini essays (essay #3), and ask you to present the essay, and then offer a critique and suggestions for improvement. Try to be fair, but I expect you to find weakness in your classmate’s essay. We help each other improve.

Topics & Reading list:

1) Not Everyone Thinks Cognitive Psychology Is a Useful Discipline

Skinner, B. F. (1977). Why I am not a cognitive psychologist. Behaviorism5, 1-10.

(Optional Reading: Sampson, E. E. (1981). Cognitive psychology as ideology. American Psychologist36, 730-743.)

2) What Is a Cognitive Structure?

Tolman, E. C. (1948). Cognitive maps in rats and men. Psychological Review55, 189-208.

3) What Do We Mean When We Say, “Our Minds Process Information?”

Hyman, R. (1953). Stimulus information as a determinant of reaction time. Journal of experimental psychology45, 188-196.

4) Can You Make a Routine Task Easier or more Difficult?

Fitts, P. M., & Seeger, C. M. (1953). SR compatibility: spatial characteristics of stimulus and response codes. Journal of Experimental Psychology46, 199-210.

5) Is Attention a Human Limitation?

Posner, M. I. (1980). Orienting of attention. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology32, 3-25.

Treisman, A. M., & Gelade, G. (1980). A feature-integration theory of attention. Cognitive Psychology12, 97-136.

6) The Most Easily Described World

Rosch, E., Mervis, C. B., Gray, W. D., Johnson, D. M., & Boyes-Braem, P. (1976). Basic objects in natural categories. Cognitive Psychology8, 382-439.

7) Self: Who Am I? 

Blakemore, S. J., Wolpert, D., & Frith, C. (2000). Why can’t you tickle yourself? Neuroreport11, R11-R16.

8) Thinking & Technology

Bruner, J. S. (1964). The course of cognitive growth.  American Psychologist19, 1-15.

9) Once Upon a Time… (Narratives)

Thorndyke, P. W. (1977). Cognitive structures in comprehension and memory of narrative discourse. Cognitive Psychology9, 77-110.

10) Should You Take Writing More Seriously?

Oatley, K., & Djikic, M. (2008). Writing as thinking. Review of General Psychology12, 9-27.

11) Forgetting Storage-and-Retrieval

Brewer, W. F., & Treyens, J. C. (1981). Role of schemata in memory for places. Cognitive Psychology13(2), 207-230.

12) Daydreaming and Cognition

Antrobus, J. S., Singer, J. L., Goldstein, S., & Fortgang, M. (1970). Mindwandering and cognitive structure. Transactions of the New York Academy of Sciences, 32, 242–252.

Note on Textbooks: If you’d like to read a textbook, you can find several Cognitive Psychology textbooks in the library. The textbook I recommend is: Anderson, J. R. (2014). Cognitive psychology and its implications (8th Edition).

Here is a sample of recorded lectures from the previous year (2017/18)

If you have any question, email me or come to the office hours. Please avoid sending me long emails — a long question is better for a face-to-face discussion. Needless to say, you don’t have to have great questions to come to the office hours. If you feel lost about the presentation or the short essays, you should definitely come and talk to me.