Summary and Key Terms

What Is Cognition?

In this section, you were introduced to cognitive psychology, which is the study of cognition, or the brain’s ability to think, perceive, plan, analyze, and remember. Concepts and their corresponding prototypes help us quickly organize our thinking by creating categories into which we can sort new information. We also develop schemata, which are clusters of related concepts. Some schemata involve routines of thought and behavior, and these help us function properly in various situations without having to “think twice” about them. Schemata show up in social situations and routines of daily behavior.


Language is a communication system that has both a lexicon and a system of grammar. Language acquisition occurs naturally and effortlessly during the early stages of life, and this acquisition occurs in a predictable sequence for individuals around the world. Language has a strong influence on thought, and the concept of how language may influence cognition remains an area of study and debate in psychology.

Problem Solving

Many different strategies exist for solving problems. Typical strategies include trial and error, applying algorithms, and using heuristics. To solve a large, complicated problem, it often helps to break the problem into smaller steps that can be accomplished individually, leading to an overall solution. Roadblocks to problem solving include a mental set, functional fixedness, and various biases that can cloud decision making skills.

What Are Intelligence and Creativity?

Intelligence is a complex characteristic of cognition. Many theories have been developed to explain what intelligence is and how it works. Sternberg generated his triarchic theory of intelligence, whereas Gardner posits that intelligence is comprised of many factors. Still others focus on the importance of emotional intelligence. Finally, creativity seems to be a facet of intelligence, but it is extremely difficult to measure objectively.

Measures of Intelligence

In this section, we learned about the history of intelligence testing and some of the challenges regarding intelligence testing. Intelligence tests began in earnest with Binet; Wechsler later developed intelligence tests that are still in use today: the WAIS-IV and WISC-V. The Bell curve shows the range of scores that encompass average intelligence as well as standard deviations.

The Source of Intelligence

Genetics and environment affect intelligence and the challenges of certain learning disabilities. The intelligence levels of all individuals seem to benefit from rich stimulation in their early environments. Highly intelligent individuals, however, may have a built-in resiliency that allows them to overcome difficult obstacles in their upbringing. Learning disabilities can cause major challenges for children who are learning to read and write. Unlike developmental disabilities, learning disabilities are strictly neurological in nature and are not related to intelligence levels. Students with dyslexia, for example, may have extreme difficulty learning to read, but their intelligence levels are typically average or above average.

Key Terms

problem-solving strategy characterized by a specific set of instructions
analytical intelligence
aligned with academic problem solving and computations
anchoring bias
faulty heuristic in which you fixate on a single aspect of a problem to find a solution
artificial concept
concept that is defined by a very specific set of characteristics
availability heuristic
faulty heuristic in which you make a decision based on information readily available to you
thinking, including perception, learning, problem solving, judgment, and memory
cognitive psychology
field of psychology dedicated to studying every aspect of how people think
cognitive script
set of behaviors that are performed the same way each time; also referred to as an event schema
category or grouping of linguistic information, objects, ideas, or life experiences
confirmation bias
faulty heuristic in which you focus on information that confirms your beliefs
convergent thinking
providing correct or established answers to problems
creative intelligence
ability to produce new products, ideas, or inventing a new, novel solution to a problem
ability to generate, create, or discover new ideas, solutions, and possibilities
crystallized intelligence
characterized by acquired knowledge and the ability to retrieve it
cultural intelligence
ability with which people can understand and relate to those in another culture
divergent thinking
ability to think “outside the box” to arrive at novel solutions to a problem
learning disability that causes difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics
learning disability that causes extreme difficulty in writing legibly
common learning disability in which letters are not processed properly by the brain
emotional intelligence
ability to understand emotions and motivations in yourself and others
event schema
set of behaviors that are performed the same way each time; also referred to as a cognitive script
fluid intelligence
ability to see complex relationships and solve problems
Flynn effect
observation that each generation has a significantly higher IQ than the previous generation
functional fixedness
inability to see an object as useful for any other use other than the one for which it was intended
set of rules that are used to convey meaning through the use of a lexicon
mental shortcut that saves time when solving a problem
hindsight bias
belief that the event just experienced was predictable, even though it really wasn’t
intelligence quotient
(also, IQ) score on a test designed to measure intelligence
communication system that involves using words to transmit information from one individual to another
the words of a given language
mental set
continually using an old solution to a problem without results
smallest unit of language that conveys some type of meaning
Multiple Intelligences Theory
Gardner’s theory that each person possesses at least eight types of intelligence
natural concept
mental groupings that are created “naturally” through your experiences
administering a test to a large population so data can be collected to reference the normal scores for a population and its groups
extension of a rule that exists in a given language to an exception to the rule
basic sound unit of a given language
practical intelligence
aka “street smarts”
problem-solving strategy
method for solving problems
best representation of a concept
range of reaction
each person’s response to the environment is unique based on his or her genetic make-up
representative bias
faulty heuristic in which you stereotype someone or something without a valid basis for your judgment
representative sample
subset of the population that accurately represents the general population
role schema
set of expectations that define the behaviors of a person occupying a particular role
(plural = schemata) mental construct consisting of a cluster or collection of related concepts
process by which we derive meaning from morphemes and words
standard deviation
measure of variability that describes the difference between a set of scores and their mean
method of testing in which administration, scoring, and interpretation of results are consistent
manner by which words are organized into sentences
trial and error
problem-solving strategy in which multiple solutions are attempted until the correct one is found
triarchic theory of intelligence
Sternberg’s theory of intelligence; three facets of intelligence: practical, creative, and analytical
working backwards
heuristic in which you begin to solve a problem by focusing on the end result


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Introduction to Psychology Copyright © 2021 by Southern Alberta Institution of Technology (SAIT) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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