Chapter 7: Thinking and Intelligence

Intro to Psychology

The Elements of Cognition

  • Concept: a mental category
  • Prototype: an especially representative example of a concept (prototypical)
  • Cognitive schemas: mental frameworks for thinking about the world
  • Mental images: a visual representation in your mind

Reasoning Rationally

  • Dialectical reasoning: weighing facts or ideas to determine the best solution or outcome.


  • Algorithm: strategy or formula to get to the right answer.
  • Heuristic: shortcut or rule of thumb.
    • Pretty good, but no guarantees.

Improbable Outcomes

  • Affect heuristic: consulting your emotions (“affect”) rather than logic when judging how a situation is.
  • Availability heuristic: making decisions based on how easy it is to think of an example (which can be based on how often you see it in media).

Avoiding Loss

  • Framing effect: how you frame a question (e.g. 5% chance of win vs. 95% chance of loss) affects how people think about it.


  • Fairness bias: people are drawn to fair outcomes.
  • Hindsight bias: people overestimate their past ability to predict the future (“I knew x was gonna happen”).
  • Mental set: tendency to address problems using techniques that have worked before; looking for patterns.
    • People who think their arthritis symptoms align with the weather.
  • People have a bias blind spot, where they think others have biases but they don’t.

Measuring Intelligence

Intelligence: the ability to profit from experience, acquire knowledge, and adapt to changes in the environment.

  • Crystallized intelligence: knowledge and skills.
  • Fluid intelligence: capacity to reason and use information to solve new problems.

Intelligence derives from efficient transfer of information between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, inferior and superior parietal lobe, anterior cingulate, occipital lobes, and temporal lobes.