The question “What are cognitive processes?” can be understood variously as meaning “What is the nature of cognitive processes?”, “Can we distinguish epistemically cognitive processes from physical and biochemical processes on the one hand, and from mental or conscious processes on the other?”, and “Can we establish a fruitful notion of cognitive process?” The present aim is to deliver a positive answer to the last question by developing criteria for what would count as a paradigmatic (...) exemplar of a cognitive process, and then to offer the comparator mechanism as a convincing paradigmatic example. Thus, the paper argues, given the current state of science, we can indeed establish a fruitful scientific notion of a cognitive process. Nevertheless, it is left open whether the example-based characterization ends up as merely highlighting a fruitful convention within the early-twentyfirst century interdisciplinary investigation of intelligent behaviour in humans, animals, and robots, or whether the examples determine a natural kind or a property cluster. (shrink)
Discrete choice experiments—selecting the best and/or worst from a set of options—are increasingly used to provide more efficient and valid measurement of attitudes or preferences than conventional methods such as Likert scales. Discrete choice data have traditionally been analyzed with random utility models that have good measurement properties but provide limited insight into cognitive processes. We extend a well-established cognitive model, which has successfully explained both choices and response times for simple decision tasks, to complex, multi-attribute discrete choice data. (...) The fits, and parameters, of the extended model for two sets of choice data (involving patient preferences for dermatology appointments, and consumer attitudes toward mobile phones) agree with those of standard choice models. The extended model also accounts for choice and response time data in a perceptual judgment task designed in a manner analogous to best–worst discrete choice experiments. We conclude that several research fields might benefit from discrete choice experiments, and that the particular accumulator-based models of decision making used in response time research can also provide process-level instantiations for random utility models. (shrink)
Two experiments investigated the factors that people consider when evaluating informal arguments in newspaper and magazine editorials. Experiment 1 showed that subjects were more likely to object to the truth of the premises and the conclusions of an argument than to the strength of the link between them. Experiment 1 also revealed two manipulations that helped subjects object to the link between premises and conclusions: rating how well the premises support the conclusions and rating the believability of the premises and (...) conclusions. Experiment 2 further demonstrated that subjects who identified the premises and conclusions of an argument were better at formulating objections to the link between premises and conclusions. Moreover, subjects in Experiment 2 were better and faster at formulating objections to the truth of the premises and conclusions than to the link between premises and conclusions. The results are discussed in terms of the constraints they pose for developing a cognitive theory of informal reasoning. (shrink)
To investigate the cognitive processes underlying creative inspiration, we tested the extent to which viewing or copying prior examples impacted creative output in art. In Experiment 1, undergraduates made drawings under three conditions: copying an artist's drawing, then producing an original drawing; producing an original drawing without having seen another's work; and copying another artist's work, then reproducing that artist's style independently. We discovered that through copying unfamiliar abstract drawings, participants were able to produce creative drawings qualitatively different from (...) the model drawings. Process analyses suggested that participants' cognitive constraints became relaxed, and new perspectives were formed from copying another's artwork. Experiment 2 showed that exposure to styles of artwork considered unfamiliar facilitated creativity in drawing, while styles considered familiar did not do so. Experiment 3 showed that both copying and thoroughly viewing artwork executed using an unfamiliar style facilitated creativity in drawing, whereas merely thinking about alternative styles of artistic representation did not do so. These experiments revealed that deep encounters with unfamiliar artworks—whether through copying or prolonged observation—change people's cognitive representations of the act of drawing to produce novel artwork. (shrink)
William Uttal is concerned that in an effort to prove itself a hard science, psychology may have thrown away one of its most important methodological tools—a critical analysis of the fundamental assumptions that underlie day-to-day empirical research. In this book Uttal addresses the question of localization: whether psychological processes can be defined and isolated in a way that permits them to be associated with particular brain regions. New, noninvasive imaging technologies allow us to observe the brain while it is (...) actively engaged in mental activities. Uttal cautions, however, that the excitement of these new research tools can lead to a neuroreductionist wild goose chase. With more and more cognitive neuroscientific data forthcoming, it becomes critical to question their limitations as well as their potential. Uttal reviews the history of localization theory, presents the difficulties of defining cognitive processes, and examines the conceptual and technical difficulties that should make us cautious about falling victim to what may be a "neo-phrenological" fad. (shrink)
In this book, Mark Rowlands challenges the Cartesian view of the mind as a self-contained monadic entity, and offers in its place a radical externalist or environmentalist model of cognitive processes. Cognition is not something done exclusively in the head, but fundamentally something done in the world. Drawing on both evolutionary theory and a detailed examination of the processes involved in perception, memory, thought and language use, Rowlands argues that cognition is, in part, a process whereby creatures manipulate (...) and exploit relevant objects in their environment. It is not simply an internal process of information processing; equally significantly, it is an external process of information processing. This innovative book provides a foundation for an unorthodox but increasingly popular view of the nature of cognition. (shrink)
Rowlands defends environmentalism, that is, the conjunction of the ontological claim that cognitive processes are not located exclusively inside the skin of cognizing organisms and the epistemological claim that it is not possible to understand the nature of cognitive processes by focusing exclusively on what is occurring inside the skin of cognizing organisms. Chapter 3 is devoted to explaining how environmentalism differs from other forms of externalism about the mental. The crucial points are that the arguments to be (...) presented for the ontological claim do not turn on considerations about the content of mental states, that environmentalism implies a strong form of externalism, and that standard arguments for externalism, based on considerations about content, do not establish the strong form. (shrink)
The present paper examines the arguments and data presented by Nisbett and Wilson relevant to their thesis that subjects do not have access to their own cognitive processes. It is concluded that their review of previous research is selective and incomplete and that the data they present in behalf of their thesis does not withstand a demand characteristics analysis. Furthermore, their use of observer-subject similarity as evidence of subjects' inability to access cognitive processes makes tests of their hypothesis (...) confounded and, at the same time, reveals limitations in the application of the pre-inquiry quasi-control to research on social behavior. Problems with postexperiment questionnaires, such as the demand characteristics of the inquiry procedure are also considered. Although there are difficulties in assessing subjects' cognitive processes, many of these may be overcome through the application of novel techniques and research conducted on more traditional methods. In contrast to the view that subjects have limited access to cognitive processes and that their verbal reports are not valid, it is concluded that subjects' verbalizations are a rich source of psychological data which must be pursued if we are to tap their cognitive processes and are to gain an adequate understanding of human behavior. (shrink)
Historians of technology have provided important accounts of technological innovation, but they rarely employ concepts which permit a rigorous analysis ofinvention as a mental or cognitive process. This article seeks to address this theoretical lacuna by using concepts adapted from cognitive psychology to compare the mental processes of two telephone inventors, Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas Edison. Specifically, we suggest that invention may be seen as a process in which inventors combine ideas with objects, or what we call mental (...) models and mechanical representations. The strategies by which inventors generate and manipulate these mental models and mechanical representations are what we refer to as heuristics. Using these concepts to narrate the development of the telephone, this article shows how invention can be interpreted as being much more than simply a mysterious act of individual genius. (shrink)
Stanovich & West analyze individual differences with respect to response output (e.g., participants' numerical estimates). They do not analyze the underlying cognitive processes that led to the outputs; they thereby probably misclassify some non-normative responses as normative. Using base rate neglect and overconfidence as examples, I demonstrate the advantages of analyzing cognitive processes further.
Qualitative Complexity offers a critique of the humanist paradigm in contemporary social theory. Drawing from sources in sociology, philosophy, complexity theory, 'fuzzy logic', systems theory, cognitive science and evolutionary biology, the authors present a new series of interdisciplinary perspectives on the sociology of complex, self-organizing structures.
The cognitive processing of spatial relations in Euclidean diagrams is central to the diagram-based geometric practice of Euclid's Elements. In this study, we investigate this processing through two dichotomies among spatial relations—metric vs topological and exact vs co-exact—introduced by Manders in his seminal epistemological analysis of Euclid's geometric practice. To this end, we carried out a two-part experiment where participants were asked to judge spatial relations in Euclidean diagrams in a visual half field task design. In the first part, we (...) tested whether the processing of metric vs topological relations yielded the same hemispheric specialization as the processing of coordinate vs categorical relations. In the second part, we investigated the specific performance patterns for the processing of five pairs of exact/co-exact relations, where stimuli for the co-exact relations were divided into three categories depending on their distance from the exact case. Regarding the processing of metric vs topological relations, hemispheric differences were found for only a few of the stimuli used, which may indicate that other processing mechanisms might be at play. Regarding the processing of exact vs co-exact relations, results show that the level of agreement among participants in judging co-exact relations decreases with the distance from the exact case, and this for the five pairs of exact/co-exact relations tested. The philosophical implications of these empirical findings for the epistemological analysis of Euclid's diagram-based geometric practice are spelled out and discussed. (shrink)
Is attention a cognitive process? I reconstruct and critically assess an argument first proposed by Christopher Mole that it cannot be so. Mole’s argument is influential because it creates theoretical space for a unifying analysis of attention at the subject level (though it does not entail it). Prominent philosophers working on attention such as Wayne Wu and Philipp Koralus explicitly endorse it, while Sebastian Watzl endorses a related version, this despite their differing theoretical commitments. I show that Mole’s argument is (...) invalid, amend it to secure its validity, but argue that it still fails. I consider the extent to which the failure of Mole’s argument spreads to the versions offered by Wu, Koralus and Watlz. Mole’s argument fails because it equivocates between the set of conditions that suffice for constituting attention and the subset of those conditions which are salient, but insufficient, for constituting it. Reflection on this distinction has consequences for the individuation not just of attentional processes but all cognitive processes. (shrink)
What follows is a first step towards an ontology of conscious mental processes. We provide a theoretical foundation and characterization of conscious mental processes based on a realist theory of intentionality and using BFO as our top-level ontology. We distinguish three components of intentional mental process: character, directedness, and objective referent, and describe several features of the process character and directedness significant to defining and classifying mental processes. We arrive at the definition of representational mental process as (...) a process that is the bringing into being, sustaining, modifying, or terminating of a mental representation. We conclude by outlining some benefits and applications of this approach. (shrink)
Why does the world look to us as it does? As Nico Orlandi argues, it is simply because of how the world is. This answer emerges from understanding vision as situated in a structured environment, and it contrasts with the view that visual perception involves an inference.
In his *Bāhyārthasiddhikārikā (BASK), “Verses on the Establishment of the External Object”—extant only in Tibetan translation—Śubhagupta (720–780 CE), a philosopher connected with the logical-epistemological school of Buddhism, argues the reality of external objects of cognitions. In this article, I shall provide an account of Śubhagupta's theory of the cognitive process, as expressed in BASK 35–44, particularly in light of his view that the images (ākāra) of those objects do not appear in cognition. BASK is part of an internal Buddhist debate (...) over the reality of external supports of perceptions, wherein Śubhagupta disproves the views of thinkers like Diṅnāga and Vasubandhu. On the other hand, he is one of the main opponents addressed in the Bahirarthaparīkṣā (BAP) of the Tattvasaṅgraha (TS) by Śāntarakṣita (725–788 CE) and the Tattvasaṅgrahapañjikā (TSP) by Kamalaśīla (740–795 CE). Therein, the two authors, while demonstrating the absence of the characteristics of apprehended (grāhya) and apprehender (grāhaka) with regard to cognition, keenly refute his ideas and quote selected Sanskrit verses that can be identified as the original Sanskrit of stanzas in BASK. Accordingly, I shall examine Śubhagupta’s theory of the cognitive process in two steps: (i) analyzing the arguments that Śāntarakṣita and Kamalaśīla advance against him based on their interpretation of Śubhagupta’s views; and (ii) analyzing the arguments that he brings forward against his opponents (namely, Diṅnāga and Vasubandhu), by means of the investigation of BASK 35–44 in their original context. (shrink)
A strong case can be made that the cognitive system is designed for guiding action, not, for example, symbol manipulation. I review empirical work demonstrating the link between action and cognition with special attention to the processes of language comprehension. Next, I sketch an embodied cognition framework for integrating work on language understanding with a more general approach to cognition and action. This general approach considers contributions to action of bodily states, emotions, social and cultural processes, and learning (...) within a framework that generates a dynamic system. This framework is used to consider the notion of distributed cognition and the prospects that technology might induce substantial changes in cognition. My assessment is that such changes are unlikely. (shrink)
A framing bias shows risk aversion in problems framed as “gains” and risk seeking in problems framed as “losses,” even when these are objectively equivalent and probabilities and outcomes values are explicitly provided. We test this framing bias in situations where decision makers rely on their own experience, sampling the problem's options and seeing the outcomes before making a choice. In Experiment 1, we replicate the framing bias in description-based decisions and find risk indifference in gains and losses in experience-based (...) decisions. Predictions of an Instance-Based Learning model suggest that objective probabilities as well as the number of samples taken are factors that contribute to the lack of framing effect. We test these two factors in Experiment 2 and find no framing effect when a few samples are taken but when large samples are taken, the framing effect appears regardless of the objective probability values. Implications of behavioral results and cognitive modeling are discussed. (shrink)