COGNITIVE IB Psychology SL Exam Prep

Outline principles that define the cognitive perspective.
(1) mental representations guide behavior. (2) mental processes can be scientifically investigated. (3) Cognitive processes are influenced by social and cultural factors

Explain how principles that define the cognitive perspective may be demonstrated in research.
Schema theory is a popular theory in the cognitive perspective that attempts to accounts for how people process information. The basic idea is that we form metal representations of general categories of information in order to store memory most efficiently. It’s believed role in behavior is that what we already know affects the way we interpret events and store knowledge.
Anderson and Pichert (1978) carried out an experiment to investigate whether schema processing influences encoding and retrieval of memory. All participants were given a story that described a house, it’s neighborhood, and some of it’s contents. Half were asked to read the story from the point of view of a house-buyer (buyer schema) and the other half from the point of view of a burglar (burglar schema). Following this all participants preformed a distracting task for 12min before their recall of their specific schema oriented story was tested. After this there was another delay, and then participants were once again halved. Half of them were given the schema they didn’t get last time to read and the other half were simply asked to retain the information they got from their original schema. For the participants who had read two schema’s their recall improved for their second schema and declined for the one they had received prior. The group who only had to continue to remember their original schema recalled less in the second trial. This experiment shows that schema’s must have some effect on encoding and retrieval. The study demonstrates how mental processes (encoding and retrieval of memory) can be scientifically investigated through an experiment.

Discuss how and why particular research methods are used in the cognitive perspective.
Neisser et al. (1992) used interviews in his study to test the accuracy of flashbulb memories. The 1986 tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s crash and death of the astronauts aboard was used to test participants memory. Researchers tested participants memories 24 hours following the tragedy and then again two years later. Participants were confident that there memories two years later were still very accurate. However, it was found that 40% of those participants had distorted memories after that amount of time. So the researchers concluded that it is common for even emotional memories to be inaccurate.
Other skeptics of flashbulb memories have done research and found similar results, other conclusions have suggested that emotional intensity is associated with greater confidence in memories rather than accuracy, which is supported by Neisser’s research. In this study interviews are used at the cognitive level of analysis to get a better understanding of exactly what and how people are thinking. The type of interview that was used was structured. Meaning the questions were predetermined. This method was effective because the researchers were interested in seeing whether people remembered specific details of the event. And in order to compare what everyone remembered it was necessary to have specific questions.

Disucss ethical considerations related to research studies in the cognitive perspective.
The Genie case study done at in the cognitive perspective is notorious for being very controversial due to ethics. Genie was a girl who had been abused by her parents until she was 13 years old at which point the authorities discovered her and removed her from that home. During her time with her parents she was kept in a room, with hardly any human contact. She couldn’t speak and had apparently not learned any words or how to communicate verbally. People weren’t really sure about what to do with her. People agreed that she should be rehabilitated but how and if it was even possible at her age were not clear.
Part of what ended up happening was that psychologists and linguists wanted to see if she could learn how to speak? She was used in a case study for many researchers who were trying to find out whether people learn to speak from their environment or if speech is innate. They also wanted to know whether speech could be learned at any time or if it was important to learn at a young age. Many researchers wanted to study her because her case provided a natural experiment. This type of person presented a very unique and rare opportunity to try to answer those questions.
David and Marilyn Rigler adopted Genie and were also researchers. They benefited financially and professionally from the arrangement. In the first four years after her discovery some of the things Genie did were go to speech therapy and study sign language.
After four years, Rigler’s grant was not renewed. The review committee noted that “very little progress has been made” and that “the research goals projected probably won’t be realized.”
Some of the things that made this research problematic were: there were no controls, it’s a study of a single case, Genie was not able to consent. This research was qualitative rather than quantitative for the most part. Although there was a push for quantitative measurements to be made those in charge of Genie felt that this would be over stepping the line and too intrusive.
There were many other ethical problems raised by this case. Some people had suggested that Genie had backtracked since leaving her own home. Also Genie’s mother wasn’t able to visit Genie as much as she wanted. Today many people believe that Genie left her exploitative home for a new exploitative home by becoming the subject of that case study.

Evaluate schema theory with reference to research studies.
Schema theory attempts to account for how people process information. The basic idea is that we form networks of knowledge in order to store memory most efficiently. It’s believed role in behavior is that what we already know will influence the outcome of information processing.
Anderson and Pichert (1978) carried out an experiment to investigate whether schema processing influences encoding and retrieval of memory. All participants were given a story that described a house, it’s neighborhood, and some of it’s contents. Half were asked to read the story from the point of view of a house-buyer (buyer schema) and the other half from the point of view of a burglar (burglar schema). Following this all participants preformed a distracting task for 12min before their recall of their specific schema oriented story was tested. After this there was another delay, and then participants were once again halved. Half of them were given the schema they didn’t get last time to read and the other half were simply asked to retain the information they got from their original schema. For the participants who had read two schema’s their recall improved for their second schema and declined for the one they had received prior. The group who only had to continue to remember their original schema recalled less in the second trial. This experiment shows that schema’s must have some effect on encoding and retrieval.
Loftus et al. (1974) preformed a study that supports schema theory. She wanted to see if suggesting employment of a certain schema through the use of leading questions could influence recall. Specifically she wanted to see if changing one word in a question about speed estimations could influence the participants estimation. Films of traffic accidents were shown to participants and questionnaires were used following. The critical question was “about how fast were the cars going when they hit each other? “hit” was replaced with “smashed” “collided” etc. in separate trials. The researchers found that the mean speed was increased for estimates that received the word smashed. The researcher interpreted the results as different verbs activate different schemas in memory, so that for example, using the word smashed would make the participant think the accident more severe meaning at a higher speed.

Both of these studies provide support for Schema theory. This theory is very helpful in understanding how people interpret information and make inferences among other things. It also explains how memory may be distorted or influenced by suggestion. Some limitations of this theory are that it doesn’t explain how exactly they are acquired.

Evaluate two models or theories of one cognitive process with reference to research studies.
The flashbulb memory theory, proposed by Brown et al. (1977), is one attempt to explain the cognitive process of memory. They theory suggests that certain memories are special in that they are more accurate and remembered for longer than ordinary memories. The theory goes that memories are flashbulb memories when an event is particularly emotional and unexpected. The name flashbulb refers to how the memory supposedly captures them as accurately as a camera would.
This theory was based on the research of Brown et al. Participants were interviewed about their recall of important public events, including the Kennedy’s assassination, etc. The researchers found that the participants remembered very well many of the details of the emotional public events of the past. The researchers thus hypothesized that a special neural mechanism triggers emotional arousal because an event was surprising. In the years since it has at least been confirmed that emotional events are typically remembered better than non-emotional. The amygdala as been thought to be implicated in this.

Neisser is a opponent of this theory. He suggests that often people don’t know that events are very important until after it has occurred. And that it is more likely that any enhanced memory of the event was created by rehearsal and the story telling schema. Neisser et al. (1992) provide evidence in his study that although many people believe that they memory of those emotional events is more accurate that is not necessarily true. The 1986 tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s crash and death of the astronauts aboard was used to test participants memory. Researchers tested participants memories 24 hours following the tragedy and then again two years later. Participants were confident that there memories two years later were still very accurate. However, it was found that 40% of those participants had distorted memories after that amount of time. So the researchers concluded that it is common for even emotional memories to be inaccurate.
Other skeptics of flashbulb memories have done research and found similar results, other conclusions have suggested that emotional intensity is associated with greater confidence in memories rather than accuracy, which is supported by Neisser’s research.

Explain how biological factors may affect one cognitive process.
The case study of Clive Wearing very explicitly demonstrates how a biological factor, in this case brain damage, affects memory processing. Oliver Sacks wrote a detailed article describing Clive’s condition. Clive suffers from extensive amnesia as a result of a devastating brain infection that targeted the parts of his brain involved in memory. His amnesia is both anterograde and retrograde meaning he isn’t able to make new memories or remember things from before this brain damage. MRI’s done on Clive’s brain corroborate what research suspected: he has damage to the hippocampus and frontal lobe. Clive’s implicit and emotional memory is still intact which indicate that they are linked to structures in the brain other than those damaged. This also suggests that the biological foundation for memory is distributed in some way across the brain. This research into Clive’s psychology and physiology provide insight into the biological foundation of different memory systems.

Discuss how social or cultural factors affect one cognitive process.
It is important for researchers to understand the cultural perspective in relation to the cognitive level of analysis. Research as indicated that in particular cognition is influenced by the context in which people grew up or live. It is important to understand that when researching other cultures one should not assume that cognitive processes follow universal laws Cole et al. (1974) carried out a study that sought to investigate memory strategies employed in different cultures. They compared the recall of culture specific sets of words in the US and Liberia. The researchers asked children to recall sets of words and observed the sorts of strategies they employed to do this. They found that there was a significant difference in the recall ability between those literate and illiterate Liberian children. The researchers expected that non-schooled children would improve in their ability to recall as the task went on. However they discovered that these children’s ability to recall actually decreased to only two words by trail 15. The literate children recalled the words just as quickly as those children in the US. They found that the strategies used by the literate US and Liberian children were for the most part the same. In other trials the researchers presented the words in a narrative style. With this method the non-schooled Liberian children were able to recall much more efficiently.
This study demonstrates that the cultural context in which people live can impact their ability to recall. In other words people learn to remember in ways that are relevant to their everyday lives.

With reference to relevant research studies, to what extent is one cognitive process reliable?
The cognitive process of memory is suspect of a number of factors that may reduce its reliability. Among these factors the reconstructive nature of memory and the inconsistencies in the theory of flashbulb memories are a couple of key factors supported by research that have been found to influence the unreliability of memory.
The word reconstructive refers to the brain’s active processing of information. This ongoing processing of information suggests that the process of making a memory is not an isolated experience and that it is possible for post-event information to influence the memory.
In an experiment done by Loftus et al. the reconstructive nature of memory is demonstrated by participants creation of false memories because false post-event information was suggested to them. In the experiment a large group of students were divided up into three groups and viewed a short video of a car collision. Questionnaires were used following this to ask about the details of the collision. Two of the groups of students received a question on the estimation of speed. “About how fast were the cars going when they … into each other?” For one group the question contained the verb “smashed” for the other group the question contained the verb “hit”. The third final group did not get asked to estimate speed (control). In an earlier experiment Loftus et al. had shown that the verbal information “smashed” activated schemas for more severe accidents than did the verbal information “hit”, resulting in higher speed estimations for those people questioned with the verb “smashed”.
After this initial questionnaire participants were excused for a week, at which point they took a second questionnaire about the accident. The critical question on this questionnaire required either yes or no. It asked whether or not the participant saw broken glass in the collision video. There was not actually any broken glass in the video, however, 32% of the “smashed” group said they had seen this. Compared to 14% of the “hit” group, and the control group only 6%. The researchers suggest that this is corroborating evidence for the participants utilization of schemas and implies that this false information provided after the memory was made in effect changed/reconstructed the memory.

Discuss the use of technology in investigating cognitive processes.
The case study of Clive Wearing very explicitly demonstrates how technology, in this case MRI brain scans, affect memory processing. Oliver Sacks wrote a detailed article describing Clive’s condition. Clive suffers from extensive amnesia as a result of a devastating brain infection that targeted the parts of his brain involved in memory. His amnesia is both anterograde and retrograde meaning he isn’t able to make new memories or remember things from before this brain damage. MRI’s done on Clive’s brain corroborate what research suspected: he has damage to the hippocampus and frontal lobe. Clive’s implicit and emotional memory is still intact which indicate that they are linked to structures in the brain other than those damaged. This also suggests that the biological foundation for memory is distributed in some way across the brain. This research into Clive’s psychology and physiology provide insight into the biological foundation of different memory systems.

To what extent do cognitive and biological factors interact in emotion?
Lazarus’ theory of appraisal is a good example of a theory that connects the cognitive process of appraisal to the the biological and emotional factor of stress. Appraisal refers to an evaluation of a situation’s potential impact on one’s personal well-being. This theory suggests that peoples’ stress can be moderated by how someone appraises a threat and their ability to deal with the threat. One study that supports this theory is Speisman et al. The aim was to see if participants appraisal of a stressful event could be manipulated. The researchers showed a film about unpleasant genital surgery. To manipulate people’s appraisal the film was shown to different groups of participants using different soundtracks. One aimed to emphasize the pain of the surgery, one to portray willingness and happiness and the other an another was an anthropological interpretation. The results showed that participants reacted more emotionally to the first soundtrack. This study supports Lazarus’ theory; it suggests that it is not the events themselves that elicit emotional stress, but rather the individual’s interpretation or appraisal of those events. Thus the process of cognitive appraisal influences emotional reactions.

Evaluate one theory of how emotion may affect one cognitive process.
The flashbulb memory theory, proposed by Brown et al. (1977), is one attempt to explain the cognitive process of memory. They theory suggests that certain memories are special in that they are more accurate and remembered for longer than ordinary memories. The theory goes that memories are flashbulb memories when an event is particularly emotional and unexpected. The name flashbulb refers to how the memory supposedly captures them as accurately as a camera would.
This theory was based on the research of Brown et al. Participants were interviewed about their recall of important public events, including the Kennedy’s assassination, etc. The researchers found that the participants remembered very well many of the details of the emotional public events of the past. The researchers thus hypothesized that a special neural mechanism triggers emotional arousal because an event was surprising. In the years since it has at least been confirmed that emotional events are typically remembered better than non-emotional. The amygdala as been thought to be implicated in this.

Neisser is a opponent of this theory. He suggests that often people don’t know that events are very important until after it has occurred. And that it is more likely that any enhanced memory of the event was created by rehearsal and the story telling schema. Neisser et al. (1992) provide evidence in his study that although many people believe that they memory of those emotional events is more accurate that is not necessarily true. The 1986 tragedy of the Space Shuttle Challenger’s crash and death of the astronauts aboard was used to test participants memory. Researchers tested participants memories 24 hours following the tragedy and then again two years later. Participants were confident that there memories two years later were still very accurate. However, it was found that 40% of those participants had distorted memories after that amount of time. So the researchers concluded that it is common for even emotional memories to be inaccurate.
Other skeptics of flashbulb memories have done research and found similar results, other conclusions have suggested that emotional intensity is associated with greater confidence in memories rather than accuracy, which is supported by Neisser’s research.