Monthly Archives: November 2013

Elderly Memory v. Mild Cognitive Impairment and Alzheimer’s

downloadIn my 60s I can attest to my weakened ability to recall.  It is ridiculous.  This post looks at a paper that is written most prominently by the authors of fuzzy trace theory, Brainerd and Reyna. “Dual-Retrieval Models and Neurocognitive Impairment” appeared online on August 26, 2013 in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. (The post also uses an online source, The Cornell Chronicle, in an article dated September 5, 2013, entitled: “Breakthrough discerns normal memory loss from disease”, and was written by Karene Booker.) It comes up with some interesting conclusions.

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Risk Communication

vacindexDan Kahan has an article in the October 2013, issue of Science,  “A Risky Science Communication
Environment for Vaccines,” with a specific example of the HPV vaccine issues.  Kahan has written a good article and one that may have not pleased several people. It fits together with my post Web 2.0 for Vaccination Decisions. Kahan makes the case for having scientifically based scientific risk communication strategies which is something that Betsch and Reyna et al try to do in “Opportunities and challenges of Web 2.0 for vaccination decisions.”  Kahan may make a bigger case for just not being stupid and ignoring everything we already know about risk communication.  He says quite well although indirectly that vaccination is really not a cultural cognition issue–yet, but we could make it one if we are not careful.

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Cognitive Niches

vineyards-along-lake-genevaThis post is based on the 2011 paper by Julian Marewski and Lael Schooler published in the Psychological Review, “Cognitive Niches: An Ecological Model of Strategy Selection.” How do people select among different strategies to accomplish a given task?  By using ACT-R along with heuristic decision strategies, the authors can create a more general  bidirectional model that seems to be competitive with such models as parallel constraint satisfaction.  In 14 simulations and 10 experiments, they consider the choice between strategies that operate on the accessibility of memories and those that depend on elaborate knowledge about the world. Based on Internet statistics, their model quantitatively predicts people’s familiarity with and knowledge of real-world objects, the distributional characteristics of the associated speed of memory retrieval, and the cognitive niches of classic decision strategies, including those of the fluency, recognition, integration, lexicographic, and sequential-sampling heuristics.

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Bidirectional Reasoning

astar_4_bidirectionalThe idea of bidirectional reasoning seems to have really got going by way of a 1999 paper entitled: “Bidirectional Reasoning in Decision Making by Constraint Satisfaction” written by Keith J. Holyoak and Dan Simon that was  published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. 1999, Vol 128, No. 1, pages 3-31.

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ACT-R Cognitive Architecture

actI came across ACT-R and determined it to be worthy of a look when two arguing European psychologists spoke of it approvingly.  What is it?  The basis of the acronym is Adaptive Control of Thought – Rational. It was created by John Anderson of Carnegie Mellon.  Carnegie Mellon is known by me to be one of if not the preeminent computer science school and ACT-R has roots in artificial intelligence.

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Unconscious Influences on Decision Making Maligned

102104strawmanclimbingA paper, “Unconscious influences on decision making: A critical review,” by  Ben R. Newell and David R. Shanks that has been “to be published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences” for over a year, decides that there is no proof of unconscious influences on decision making.   The paper seems to lump Dijksterhuis, Gladwell, Glockner, Kahneman, and Gigerenzer together as seeing unconscious influences where there are none proven.  I see my unconscious mind as a sort of computer for my conscious mind.  Much of the stuff in the computer I consciously loaded in, but about as much came without my conscious effort, and then there are emotions and rules that are just there. Everything gets run through it and the printouts include garbage and some stuff I use.  For Newell and Shanks, maybe this means that my conscious mind is fully in control and that there are no unconscious influences.  From a purely unscientific view, I suggest that the unconscious computer can persuade the conscious mind on occasion.  But let me present some of their arguments.

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Relative Deprivation and Why Men Rebel

whymenrebelindexI loved the book Why Men Rebel by Ted Robert Gurr. I read it over forty years ago.  It gave me what seemed like a truth that I had not thought about before.  That truth was: “Don’t expect anyone to be happy based on some threshold level of consumption and attainment of goals.”  Our expectations are created by looking around and seeing what everyone else has and with media and communications, we all know what everyone else has.

This is the concept of relative deprivation. Relative deprivation is defined as our perception of discrepancy between our value expectations and our value capabilities. Value expectations are the goods and conditions of life to which people believe they are rightfully entitled. Value capabilities are the goods and conditions they think they are capable of getting and keeping.  This idea finally got through to me the weakness of the “rational” model–maximizing expected utility, and that there might be other concepts of rationality.  Posts like Everyone else is a Hypocrite, Feeling is for Doing, Cultural Evolution, and Human Kinds Perception emphasize this.  Gurr was interested in what spurred men to violence.  Recently, on the fortieth anniversary of the book, Gurr discussed his book.

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