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NIOS Class 12 Psychology Chapter 8 Going beyond the Reality: Thinking and Reasoning
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Going beyond the Reality: Thinking and Reasoning
Intext Questions & Answers
Q. 1. Fill in the blanks with appropriate words:
(a) Thinking is a ___________ process in which we use symbols.
(b) We ___________ objects encountered in our life.
(c) Children learn ___________ concepts earlier than ___________ concepts.
Ans. concrete, abstract.
(d) Learning of concepts involves ___________ and ___________.
Ans. discrimination, generalization.
(e) Classifying objects into common classes makes ___________, ___________ easier.
Ans. information processing.
Q. 2. Mark the following statements True or False:
(a) Problem solving takes place through stages. True/ False
(b) Mental set may hinder problem solving. True/False
(c) Schema consists of one concept. True/False
(d) Images make mental manipulation difficult. True/False.
Q. 3. Mark the statements True or False:
(a) Reasoning helps to go beyond the available information. True/False
(b) Induction moves from general to specific. True/False
(c) Deduction moves from specific to general. True/False.
1. Define a concept and describe how concepts are formed.
Ans. Thinking is a mental activity, usually initiated by a problem. It follows a sequence of internal (mental) steps that involve a variety of activities such as judgement, abstraction, inference, reasoning, imagining, and remembering etc. Thinking is a cognitive process in which we use symbols as representations of objects and events. It is a constructive process as we construct something new. Thinking relies on a variety of mental structures such as I) concepts, ii) schemas, and iii) mental imagery. Let us consider these mental structures.
2. What are the main components of the thought process?
Ans. Components of Thought Process are-
We have the capacity to abstract the essential characteristics of objects, events, human beings, or whatever we perceive and experience. For example, whenever we see an apple we categorise it as “fruit”; when we see a cat we categorise it as an “animal”, and so on. Whenever we encounter a new object we tend to categorise it and take the same action toward it as before. For example, when we see a dog in the street we categorise it as an “animal” and like any other animal we take the same behavioural action towards it (e.g., avoid it). Similarly, when we encounter a new social situation, we try to categorise it on the basis of past experience and take appropriate action. This is considered as one of the basic aspects of thinking.
Concepts are mental structures. The categories we form are called concepts. They are the building blocks of thinking. They allow us to organise knowledge in systematic ways. Most words (except proper nouns) represent concepts as they refer not to a single object or event but to a whole class. For example, the word “house” refers to a class of buildings with common features. It has rooms, kitchen, toilet, store, etc., and is used for living by people and families and has certain facilities. The word “building” is more general than house. The word building is a larger concept that includes houses, offices, markets, etc. Concepts represent objects, activities, ideas, living organisms. They also represent properties (e.g., green, or large), abstractions (e.g., honest, love) and relations (e.g., bigger than).
Learning of concepts utilizes the psychological processes of generalization and discrimination. For example, when a child learns the concept dog, he/she may generalise the term initially to include all small animals (e.g., cat). But from parental corrections and process of learning, the child learns to make finer discrimination until the concept is correctly formed. At this moment it was only the family dog. However, the child may generalise the concept to include other dogs of different breeds and sizes. The child may further refine the concept and distinguish between pet dog and street dog, friendly dog or aggressive dog, etc. Concepts may be concrete (e.g., a dog, table, tree, etc.) or abstract (e.g., honesty, democracy, justice, etc.). The child acquires the concrete concepts much earlier in life and later on abstract concepts. Studies by Piaget indicate that the child first learns object concepts (e.g., ball) and develops more abstract concepts only as he grows older.
The two shapes below are to be different in shape as well as colour and one above should have the shape of one and colour of the other. Take care that the size of the shapes are cut from the same size square. In this manner prepare 29 such cards, all having different combinations of shapes and colours.
Randomly place the cards in a pack. Keep the pack of cards on the table and pick one card at a time, place it before the participant (child) and ask to match the upper shape with one of the two given below. Do not indicate anything about shape or colour. Present the card to the participant one by one and encourage the child to respond as quickly as possible.
Record the responses of the respondent in terms of the response, i.e., colour (C) or shape (S). If the participant matches red triangle with green triangle, then the participant is matching on the basis of shape, so put a tally under shape (S). On the other hand, if the participant matches the green triangle with green square, then the matching is on the basis of colour, so place a tally under colour (c) In this manner, present all the 20 cards one by one and record the responses. Count the total tallies under colour (concept) and shape (concept). The analysis of your observations will indicate the processes of concept development in the child.
In the activity you will observe how children classify ‘colour and ‘shape’ in terms of concepts. This will reflect their level of concept formation. Research indicates that children first develop the concept of colour followed by shape. Classifying objects, events or ideas into common classes minimises the time and effort required in processing information. It is very helpful in the thinking process.
We not only learn to classify objects and events in terms of their features or properties (e.g., colour, shape, size, etc.) but also abstract the conceptual rules associated with the property. For example, we not only learn to classify the colour of traffic light (red, green, amber) but also the conceptual rules by which these colours are related. That is, if the light is red, “stop”; if amber then “get ready to stop or move”; if green, “then go”. It is amazing that we learn so many conceptual rules, store them, retrieve on demand, and use them in our day to day interactions in our environment.
Schemas are more complex than concepts. Each schema contains many distinct concepts. For example, each of us possesses a self-schema, a mental framework holding lot of information about ourselves (as we perceive ourselves to be). This self-schema will include many different concepts about ourselves. For example, you may consider yourself as intelligent, attractive, healthy, hard working, and pleasant. All these separate concepts make up a self-schema. Such schemas are important building blocks for thinking.
(iii) Mental Imagery:
Thinking also involves the manipulation of visual, auditory or other images. Here we may focus on visual images. It has been found that mental manipulations preformed on images of objects are quite similar to those that may be performed on the actual objects.
Once we form a mental image of any object, person or situation, we perceive it and think about it just as we would if it actually existed. Sometimes we could refer to it as we see things in our “mind’s eye.” For example, if you have to remove a large table out of the room having a narrow door, you will mentally rotate (mental image) the table and think of a way out to solve the problem.
It has been found that we usually think in words (words represent the concepts, e.g., table). At other times we rely on mental images, such as visual image of the table. In the above stated problem one could physically try to manipulate the table to find a way out. But a more mature person will try to find a solution through mental rotation (thinking). In the introductory part of this chapter you read about the planning of a route to go to the airport. The individual could think in words or plan the route through mental imagery. That is, create a mental picture of the route to the airport and decide.
3. Describe the steps in problem solving and use an example to illustrate the same.
Ans. Problem solving is an important cognitive activity. It is so central to the process of thinking that many people use it interchangeably with thinking. A Moment’s reflection will make it clear that all our day’s activities involve problem solving.
The problem may be simple or complex. The simple problems are of routine nature as deciding what to eat for breakfast. There could be a complex problem deciding which career to choose. Problem solving refers to thinking directed towards solving a specific task/situation. This type of thinking has three stages starting from the stage of occurrence of a problem followed by a set of mental operations, leading to the solution of the problem.
Stages and Strategies of Problem solving:
A problem signifies a situation that requires a solution. It has three stages or steps as stated below:
(a) Initial State: A problem.
(b) Operation: Actions.
(c) Goal State: Solution.
Let us explain these three stages with a concrete problem. Suppose you get an unexpected bill to pay. Receiving the bill represents the initial state, the problem. Your goal is to find money to pay this unexpected bill without disturbing the original family budget. This leads to deployment of certain operations for solving the problem. Some problem solving operations or steps are more desirable than others.
For example, withdrawing money through a credit card happens to be a more acceptable solution than borrowing from a friend. By choosing the most acceptable operations or steps, you move from the initial problem state to the goal state, when the problem is solved. Problems may differ with respect to the levels of complexity but steps involved remain the same. For more complex problems the second stage requires more time in order to carry out a number of mental operations.
4. What is the importance of language for thinking?
Ans. Imagine what would have happened if we did not have language to express whatever we wanted to express. Without language it would not have been possible to express our feelings and communicate with others. The process of acquiring language is very interesting. The child by the age of six months first starts saying “ma..ma..ma” (babbling) and it is an enjoyable sound both for the child as well as the parents and others. Slowly, the child learns to say mama and papa and gradually other mono-syllables start appearing and later could starts comparing two or more words to communicate his/her needs etc.
Initially the child learns to communicate in the language being used at home, called mother tongue. Later, the child learns a formal language (say English) at school. The child may then learn two languages. The progress from ultering “ma…ma…ma” to the attainment of mastery over language is a fascinating journey. Some people become creative writers, poets and novelists. What sets us apart from non-human beings is the use of language.
Use of Language:
Children progress rapidly from two word utterances to more complex sentences. By the time they are three, many children are constructing complex sentences like “I want this doll because she is big”. Thus, in the course of development infants start from cry, coo, and babble and gradually become linguistically socialised so that they become effective participants in conversation with others and are able to communicate well.
Language is a vehicle of thought and a tool for all kinds of social interaction.
Language conveys intentions, feelings, motives, attitudes and beliefs, etc.
Language and Communication:
We communicate information by using a system of symbols. Language is one such symbol system. It has two basic characteristics: the presence of symbols and communication. Symbols represent or stand for something else. For example, home, school, office, temple, etc. these are all buildings. However, these buildings represent something that has a meaning more than what the “building’ carries. Home is a place where a family lives and school is a building where education is imparted to the children. When these words (e.g., school, home) are associated with certain functions, they acquire meaning and we recognize those words and use them for communicating with others. So, when you say to another person that you are going to the temple, you are communicating that you are going to a place (building) for worship.
Language also helps us in describing abstract ideas or thoughts (e.g., beauty, democracy) in addition to the concrete objects of everyday use and experience. Through language we are able to express our abstract thoughts.
We also communicate with others through the use of our body parts, called gestures and postures. Such type of communication is called non-verbal communication. It may be noted that a sign language is also a form of human language.
Language and Thinking:
Often people have wondered whether language is essential for thinking. Is thinking possible without language? Most of our thinking does involve words. It is well established that language and thought are related. Watson called thinking as “inner speech”. If language is essential for thinking then an obvious question that arises is what happens to those in whom there is no language or the people whose language is not well developed (say young children). It has been argued that such people can use sign language and understand each other’s thoughts. For example, deaf people can think and communicate in sign language. One can say that language is an essential tool of thinking, but it can not be said that thinking is not possible without language.
Language is helpful in thinking and at the same time language works as a vehicle of thought. That is, whatever we think is communicated through language.