NCERT Textbook - Thinking Class Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

Psychology Class 11

Humanities/Arts : NCERT Textbook - Thinking Class Humanities/Arts Notes | EduRev

 Page 1


Chapter
8
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
• describe the nature of thinking and reasoning,
? demonstrate an understanding of some cognitive processes involved in
problem solving and decision-making,
? understand the nat ure and process of creative thinking and learn ways
of enhancing it,
? understand the relationship between language and thought, and
? describe the process of language development and its use.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Thinking
Building Blocks of Thought
Culture and Thinking (Box 8.1)
The Processes of Thinking
Problem Solving
Reasoning
Decision-making
Nature and Process of Creative Thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking
Lateral Thinking (Box 8.2)
Process of Creative Thinking
Developing Creative Thinking
Barriers to Creative Thinking
Strategies for Creative Thinking
Thought and Language
Development of Language and Language Use
 Bilingualism and Multilingualism (Box 8.3)
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
But whatever the process, the result is
wonderful, gradually from naming an
object we advance step-by-step until
we have traversed the vast difference
between our first stammered syllable
and the sweep of thought in a
line of Shakespeare.
– Helen Keller
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 2


Chapter
8
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
• describe the nature of thinking and reasoning,
? demonstrate an understanding of some cognitive processes involved in
problem solving and decision-making,
? understand the nat ure and process of creative thinking and learn ways
of enhancing it,
? understand the relationship between language and thought, and
? describe the process of language development and its use.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Thinking
Building Blocks of Thought
Culture and Thinking (Box 8.1)
The Processes of Thinking
Problem Solving
Reasoning
Decision-making
Nature and Process of Creative Thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking
Lateral Thinking (Box 8.2)
Process of Creative Thinking
Developing Creative Thinking
Barriers to Creative Thinking
Strategies for Creative Thinking
Thought and Language
Development of Language and Language Use
 Bilingualism and Multilingualism (Box 8.3)
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
But whatever the process, the result is
wonderful, gradually from naming an
object we advance step-by-step until
we have traversed the vast difference
between our first stammered syllable
and the sweep of thought in a
line of Shakespeare.
– Helen Keller
© NCERT
not to be republished
Psychology
150
Thinking is mostly organised and goal
directed. All day-to-day activities, ranging from
cooking to solving a math problem have a goal.
One desires to reach the goal by planning,
recalling the steps that one has already
followed in the past if the task is familiar or
inferring strategies if the task is new.
Thinking is an internal mental process,
which can be inferred from overt behaviour.
If you see a chess player engrossed in thinking
for several minutes before making a move, you
cannot observe what he is thinking. You can
simply infer what he was thinking or what
strategies he was trying to evaluate, from his
next move.
Building Blocks of Thought
We already know that thinking relies on
knowledge we already possess. Such
knowledge is represented either in the form
of mental images or words. People usually
NATURE OF THINKING
Thinking is the base of all cognitive activities
or processes and is unique to human beings.
It involves manipulation and analysis of
information received from the environment.
For example, while seeing a painting, you are
not simply focusing on the colour of the
painting or the lines and strokes, rather you
are going beyond the given text in interpreting
its meaning and you are trying to relate the
information to your existing knowledge.
Understanding of the painting involves
creation of new meaning that is added to your
knowledge. Thinking, therefore, is a higher
mental process through which we manipulate
and analyse the acquired or existing
information. Such manipulation and analysis
occur by means of abstracting, reasoning,
imagining, problem solving, judging, and
decision-making.
Think for a moment: how many times and in what ways you are using the word
‘think’ in your day-to-day conversations. Sometimes probably, you use it as a
synonym to remember (I can’t think of her name), pay attention (think about it ) or
convey uncertainty (I think today my friend will visit me). ‘Think’ has a wide range
of meanings which cover a number of psychological processes. However, in
psychology, thinking is a core subject area with an independent existence and a
meaning of its own. In this chapter, we will discuss thinking as a mental activity
directed at solving a problem, making inferences, judging certain facts, and deciding
and choosing between options. Further, the nature and characteristics of creative
thinking, what it involves and how it can be developed will also be discussed.
Have you ever seen a small child building a tower with blocks or sand? The child
would build a tower , dismantle it, make another one and so on and so forth. While
doing this, the child sometimes talks to herself or himself. The speech would primarily
include the steps s/he is following or want to follow (“not this”, “a little small”, “a
tree at the back”), evaluation of the design (“nice”). You also might have experienced
talking to yourself while solving a problem. Why do we talk while we think? What
is the relationship between language and thought? In this chapter, we shall also be
discussing the development of language and the relationship between language
and thought. Before starting our discussion on thinking, it is necessary to discuss
thinking as the base of human cognition.
Introduction
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 3


Chapter
8
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
• describe the nature of thinking and reasoning,
? demonstrate an understanding of some cognitive processes involved in
problem solving and decision-making,
? understand the nat ure and process of creative thinking and learn ways
of enhancing it,
? understand the relationship between language and thought, and
? describe the process of language development and its use.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Thinking
Building Blocks of Thought
Culture and Thinking (Box 8.1)
The Processes of Thinking
Problem Solving
Reasoning
Decision-making
Nature and Process of Creative Thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking
Lateral Thinking (Box 8.2)
Process of Creative Thinking
Developing Creative Thinking
Barriers to Creative Thinking
Strategies for Creative Thinking
Thought and Language
Development of Language and Language Use
 Bilingualism and Multilingualism (Box 8.3)
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
But whatever the process, the result is
wonderful, gradually from naming an
object we advance step-by-step until
we have traversed the vast difference
between our first stammered syllable
and the sweep of thought in a
line of Shakespeare.
– Helen Keller
© NCERT
not to be republished
Psychology
150
Thinking is mostly organised and goal
directed. All day-to-day activities, ranging from
cooking to solving a math problem have a goal.
One desires to reach the goal by planning,
recalling the steps that one has already
followed in the past if the task is familiar or
inferring strategies if the task is new.
Thinking is an internal mental process,
which can be inferred from overt behaviour.
If you see a chess player engrossed in thinking
for several minutes before making a move, you
cannot observe what he is thinking. You can
simply infer what he was thinking or what
strategies he was trying to evaluate, from his
next move.
Building Blocks of Thought
We already know that thinking relies on
knowledge we already possess. Such
knowledge is represented either in the form
of mental images or words. People usually
NATURE OF THINKING
Thinking is the base of all cognitive activities
or processes and is unique to human beings.
It involves manipulation and analysis of
information received from the environment.
For example, while seeing a painting, you are
not simply focusing on the colour of the
painting or the lines and strokes, rather you
are going beyond the given text in interpreting
its meaning and you are trying to relate the
information to your existing knowledge.
Understanding of the painting involves
creation of new meaning that is added to your
knowledge. Thinking, therefore, is a higher
mental process through which we manipulate
and analyse the acquired or existing
information. Such manipulation and analysis
occur by means of abstracting, reasoning,
imagining, problem solving, judging, and
decision-making.
Think for a moment: how many times and in what ways you are using the word
‘think’ in your day-to-day conversations. Sometimes probably, you use it as a
synonym to remember (I can’t think of her name), pay attention (think about it ) or
convey uncertainty (I think today my friend will visit me). ‘Think’ has a wide range
of meanings which cover a number of psychological processes. However, in
psychology, thinking is a core subject area with an independent existence and a
meaning of its own. In this chapter, we will discuss thinking as a mental activity
directed at solving a problem, making inferences, judging certain facts, and deciding
and choosing between options. Further, the nature and characteristics of creative
thinking, what it involves and how it can be developed will also be discussed.
Have you ever seen a small child building a tower with blocks or sand? The child
would build a tower , dismantle it, make another one and so on and so forth. While
doing this, the child sometimes talks to herself or himself. The speech would primarily
include the steps s/he is following or want to follow (“not this”, “a little small”, “a
tree at the back”), evaluation of the design (“nice”). You also might have experienced
talking to yourself while solving a problem. Why do we talk while we think? What
is the relationship between language and thought? In this chapter, we shall also be
discussing the development of language and the relationship between language
and thought. Before starting our discussion on thinking, it is necessary to discuss
thinking as the base of human cognition.
Introduction
© NCERT
not to be republished
Chapter 8 ? Thinking
151
think by means of mental images or words.
Suppose you are travelling by road to reach a
place, which you had visited long back. You
would try to use the visual representation of
the street and other places. On the other hand,
when you want to buy a storybook your choice
would depend upon your knowledge about
different authors, themes, etc. Here, your
thinking is based on words or concepts. We
shall first discuss mental image and then move
on to concepts as the base of human thought.
Mental Image
Suppose, I ask you to imagine a cat sitting
on a tree with its tail slightly raised and
curved. You would most likely try to form a
visual image of the whole situation,
something similar to what the girl in the
picture is doing (Fig.8.1). Or think of another
situation where you are asked to imagine
yourself standing in front of the Taj Mahal
and describe what you see. While doing this
you are actually forming a visual image of
the event. You are probably trying to see
through your mind’s eye, just like the way
you would see a picture. Why is it useful to
draw a map while giving directions to
someone? Try to remember your earlier
experience in reading a map, remembering
the different places and subsequently locating
them in a physical map in your examination.
In doing this, you were mostly forming and
using mental images. An image is a mental
representation of a sensory experience; it
can be used to think about things, places,
and events. You can try out Activity 8.1,
which demonstrates how images are formed.
Give a map, like the following in Fig.8.2a, to your
friend to observe for 2 minutes and tell her/him
that later on s/he will be asked to locate the
marked places in a blank map. Then present a
map, like the one in Fig.8.2b, with no indications
of the different places. Ask your friend to locate
the places s/he has seen in the first map. Then
ask how s/he was able to locate the places. S/he
will probably be able to tell you the way s/he
formed an image of the whole situation.
Activity Activity Activity Activity Activity     8.1
Concepts
How do you know that a lion is not a bird
but a parrot is? You have already read this in
Chapter 7. Whenever we come across an
object or event familiar or unfamiliar, we try
to identify the object or event by extracting
its characteristics, matching it with the already
existing category of objects and events. For
example, when we see an apple, we categorise
Fig.8.2a : A Map Showing Places
Fig.8.1 : The Girl forming a Mental Image
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 4


Chapter
8
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
• describe the nature of thinking and reasoning,
? demonstrate an understanding of some cognitive processes involved in
problem solving and decision-making,
? understand the nat ure and process of creative thinking and learn ways
of enhancing it,
? understand the relationship between language and thought, and
? describe the process of language development and its use.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Thinking
Building Blocks of Thought
Culture and Thinking (Box 8.1)
The Processes of Thinking
Problem Solving
Reasoning
Decision-making
Nature and Process of Creative Thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking
Lateral Thinking (Box 8.2)
Process of Creative Thinking
Developing Creative Thinking
Barriers to Creative Thinking
Strategies for Creative Thinking
Thought and Language
Development of Language and Language Use
 Bilingualism and Multilingualism (Box 8.3)
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
But whatever the process, the result is
wonderful, gradually from naming an
object we advance step-by-step until
we have traversed the vast difference
between our first stammered syllable
and the sweep of thought in a
line of Shakespeare.
– Helen Keller
© NCERT
not to be republished
Psychology
150
Thinking is mostly organised and goal
directed. All day-to-day activities, ranging from
cooking to solving a math problem have a goal.
One desires to reach the goal by planning,
recalling the steps that one has already
followed in the past if the task is familiar or
inferring strategies if the task is new.
Thinking is an internal mental process,
which can be inferred from overt behaviour.
If you see a chess player engrossed in thinking
for several minutes before making a move, you
cannot observe what he is thinking. You can
simply infer what he was thinking or what
strategies he was trying to evaluate, from his
next move.
Building Blocks of Thought
We already know that thinking relies on
knowledge we already possess. Such
knowledge is represented either in the form
of mental images or words. People usually
NATURE OF THINKING
Thinking is the base of all cognitive activities
or processes and is unique to human beings.
It involves manipulation and analysis of
information received from the environment.
For example, while seeing a painting, you are
not simply focusing on the colour of the
painting or the lines and strokes, rather you
are going beyond the given text in interpreting
its meaning and you are trying to relate the
information to your existing knowledge.
Understanding of the painting involves
creation of new meaning that is added to your
knowledge. Thinking, therefore, is a higher
mental process through which we manipulate
and analyse the acquired or existing
information. Such manipulation and analysis
occur by means of abstracting, reasoning,
imagining, problem solving, judging, and
decision-making.
Think for a moment: how many times and in what ways you are using the word
‘think’ in your day-to-day conversations. Sometimes probably, you use it as a
synonym to remember (I can’t think of her name), pay attention (think about it ) or
convey uncertainty (I think today my friend will visit me). ‘Think’ has a wide range
of meanings which cover a number of psychological processes. However, in
psychology, thinking is a core subject area with an independent existence and a
meaning of its own. In this chapter, we will discuss thinking as a mental activity
directed at solving a problem, making inferences, judging certain facts, and deciding
and choosing between options. Further, the nature and characteristics of creative
thinking, what it involves and how it can be developed will also be discussed.
Have you ever seen a small child building a tower with blocks or sand? The child
would build a tower , dismantle it, make another one and so on and so forth. While
doing this, the child sometimes talks to herself or himself. The speech would primarily
include the steps s/he is following or want to follow (“not this”, “a little small”, “a
tree at the back”), evaluation of the design (“nice”). You also might have experienced
talking to yourself while solving a problem. Why do we talk while we think? What
is the relationship between language and thought? In this chapter, we shall also be
discussing the development of language and the relationship between language
and thought. Before starting our discussion on thinking, it is necessary to discuss
thinking as the base of human cognition.
Introduction
© NCERT
not to be republished
Chapter 8 ? Thinking
151
think by means of mental images or words.
Suppose you are travelling by road to reach a
place, which you had visited long back. You
would try to use the visual representation of
the street and other places. On the other hand,
when you want to buy a storybook your choice
would depend upon your knowledge about
different authors, themes, etc. Here, your
thinking is based on words or concepts. We
shall first discuss mental image and then move
on to concepts as the base of human thought.
Mental Image
Suppose, I ask you to imagine a cat sitting
on a tree with its tail slightly raised and
curved. You would most likely try to form a
visual image of the whole situation,
something similar to what the girl in the
picture is doing (Fig.8.1). Or think of another
situation where you are asked to imagine
yourself standing in front of the Taj Mahal
and describe what you see. While doing this
you are actually forming a visual image of
the event. You are probably trying to see
through your mind’s eye, just like the way
you would see a picture. Why is it useful to
draw a map while giving directions to
someone? Try to remember your earlier
experience in reading a map, remembering
the different places and subsequently locating
them in a physical map in your examination.
In doing this, you were mostly forming and
using mental images. An image is a mental
representation of a sensory experience; it
can be used to think about things, places,
and events. You can try out Activity 8.1,
which demonstrates how images are formed.
Give a map, like the following in Fig.8.2a, to your
friend to observe for 2 minutes and tell her/him
that later on s/he will be asked to locate the
marked places in a blank map. Then present a
map, like the one in Fig.8.2b, with no indications
of the different places. Ask your friend to locate
the places s/he has seen in the first map. Then
ask how s/he was able to locate the places. S/he
will probably be able to tell you the way s/he
formed an image of the whole situation.
Activity Activity Activity Activity Activity     8.1
Concepts
How do you know that a lion is not a bird
but a parrot is? You have already read this in
Chapter 7. Whenever we come across an
object or event familiar or unfamiliar, we try
to identify the object or event by extracting
its characteristics, matching it with the already
existing category of objects and events. For
example, when we see an apple, we categorise
Fig.8.2a : A Map Showing Places
Fig.8.1 : The Girl forming a Mental Image
© NCERT
not to be republished
Psychology
152
it as fruit, when we see a table we categorise
it as furniture, when we see a dog we
categorise it as an animal, and so on. When
we see a new object, we try to look for its
characteristics, match them with
characteristics of an existing category, and if
matching is perfect we give it the name of that
category. For example, while walking on the
road you come across an unfamiliar
quadruped of a very small size, with a face
like a dog, wagging its tail and barking at
strangers. You would no doubt identify it as
a dog and probably think that it is of a new
breed, which you have never seen before. You
would also conclude that it would bite
strangers. A concept thus, is a mental
representation of a category. It refers to a class
of objects, ideas or events that share common
properties.
Why do we need to form concepts?
Concept formation helps us in organising our
knowledge so that whenever we need to
access our knowledge, we can do it with less
time and effort. It is something similar to
what we do to organise our things at home.
Children who are very systematic and
organised, put their things such as books,
note books, pen, pencil, and other accessories
in specific places in their cupboard, so that
in the morning, they don’t have to struggle
to find a particular book or the geometry box.
In the library too you have seen books
organised as per subject areas and labelled
so that you would be able to find them
quickly with less effort. Thus, for making our
thought process quick and efficient, we form
concepts and categorise objects and events.
You can find out how children form concepts
by doing Activity 8.2.
Take a piece of cardboard and cut triangles,
circles, and squares of three different sizes each,
small, medium and large. Then colour them yellow.
Similarly prepare a second set and colour them
green and a third set and colour them red. Now
you have a set of 27 cards varying in shape, size,
and colour . Ask a child of five to six years of age
to group the similar cards together.
Activity Activity Activity Activity Activity     8.2
If you will try the above activity with a
group of small children, you will observe that
there are a number of ways in which the child
would respond. S/he would pile them up into
different groups based on:
1. size: all small triangles, squares, and
circles together, all medium sized together,
and so on.
2. shape: all triangles together, all circles
together, and so on
3. colour: all reds together, all yellows
together, and so on
4. both size and shape: all small triangles
together, all medium triangles together,
and so on.
5. size, shape and colour: all small circles of
red colour together, all medium circles of
yellow colour together, and so on.
You have already learned about concept
learning in Chapter 6, and the use of concepts
in Human Memory in Chapter 7. Concepts
usually fall into hierarchies or levels of
understanding. The levels are classified as
superordinate (the highest level), basic
(an intermediate level), and subordinate
(the lowest level). While speaking we mostly
use basic level concepts. When a person says,
“I saw a dog” a basic level is used. Such a
statement is much more likely to be made than
Fig.8.2b : A Blank Map Up Side Down
© NCERT
not to be republished
Page 5


Chapter
8
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking Thinking
• describe the nature of thinking and reasoning,
? demonstrate an understanding of some cognitive processes involved in
problem solving and decision-making,
? understand the nat ure and process of creative thinking and learn ways
of enhancing it,
? understand the relationship between language and thought, and
? describe the process of language development and its use.
After reading this chapter, you would be able to
Introduction
Nature of Thinking
Building Blocks of Thought
Culture and Thinking (Box 8.1)
The Processes of Thinking
Problem Solving
Reasoning
Decision-making
Nature and Process of Creative Thinking
Nature of Creative Thinking
Lateral Thinking (Box 8.2)
Process of Creative Thinking
Developing Creative Thinking
Barriers to Creative Thinking
Strategies for Creative Thinking
Thought and Language
Development of Language and Language Use
 Bilingualism and Multilingualism (Box 8.3)
Key Terms
Summary
Review Questions
Project Ideas
Contents
But whatever the process, the result is
wonderful, gradually from naming an
object we advance step-by-step until
we have traversed the vast difference
between our first stammered syllable
and the sweep of thought in a
line of Shakespeare.
– Helen Keller
© NCERT
not to be republished
Psychology
150
Thinking is mostly organised and goal
directed. All day-to-day activities, ranging from
cooking to solving a math problem have a goal.
One desires to reach the goal by planning,
recalling the steps that one has already
followed in the past if the task is familiar or
inferring strategies if the task is new.
Thinking is an internal mental process,
which can be inferred from overt behaviour.
If you see a chess player engrossed in thinking
for several minutes before making a move, you
cannot observe what he is thinking. You can
simply infer what he was thinking or what
strategies he was trying to evaluate, from his
next move.
Building Blocks of Thought
We already know that thinking relies on
knowledge we already possess. Such
knowledge is represented either in the form
of mental images or words. People usually
NATURE OF THINKING
Thinking is the base of all cognitive activities
or processes and is unique to human beings.
It involves manipulation and analysis of
information received from the environment.
For example, while seeing a painting, you are
not simply focusing on the colour of the
painting or the lines and strokes, rather you
are going beyond the given text in interpreting
its meaning and you are trying to relate the
information to your existing knowledge.
Understanding of the painting involves
creation of new meaning that is added to your
knowledge. Thinking, therefore, is a higher
mental process through which we manipulate
and analyse the acquired or existing
information. Such manipulation and analysis
occur by means of abstracting, reasoning,
imagining, problem solving, judging, and
decision-making.
Think for a moment: how many times and in what ways you are using the word
‘think’ in your day-to-day conversations. Sometimes probably, you use it as a
synonym to remember (I can’t think of her name), pay attention (think about it ) or
convey uncertainty (I think today my friend will visit me). ‘Think’ has a wide range
of meanings which cover a number of psychological processes. However, in
psychology, thinking is a core subject area with an independent existence and a
meaning of its own. In this chapter, we will discuss thinking as a mental activity
directed at solving a problem, making inferences, judging certain facts, and deciding
and choosing between options. Further, the nature and characteristics of creative
thinking, what it involves and how it can be developed will also be discussed.
Have you ever seen a small child building a tower with blocks or sand? The child
would build a tower , dismantle it, make another one and so on and so forth. While
doing this, the child sometimes talks to herself or himself. The speech would primarily
include the steps s/he is following or want to follow (“not this”, “a little small”, “a
tree at the back”), evaluation of the design (“nice”). You also might have experienced
talking to yourself while solving a problem. Why do we talk while we think? What
is the relationship between language and thought? In this chapter, we shall also be
discussing the development of language and the relationship between language
and thought. Before starting our discussion on thinking, it is necessary to discuss
thinking as the base of human cognition.
Introduction
© NCERT
not to be republished
Chapter 8 ? Thinking
151
think by means of mental images or words.
Suppose you are travelling by road to reach a
place, which you had visited long back. You
would try to use the visual representation of
the street and other places. On the other hand,
when you want to buy a storybook your choice
would depend upon your knowledge about
different authors, themes, etc. Here, your
thinking is based on words or concepts. We
shall first discuss mental image and then move
on to concepts as the base of human thought.
Mental Image
Suppose, I ask you to imagine a cat sitting
on a tree with its tail slightly raised and
curved. You would most likely try to form a
visual image of the whole situation,
something similar to what the girl in the
picture is doing (Fig.8.1). Or think of another
situation where you are asked to imagine
yourself standing in front of the Taj Mahal
and describe what you see. While doing this
you are actually forming a visual image of
the event. You are probably trying to see
through your mind’s eye, just like the way
you would see a picture. Why is it useful to
draw a map while giving directions to
someone? Try to remember your earlier
experience in reading a map, remembering
the different places and subsequently locating
them in a physical map in your examination.
In doing this, you were mostly forming and
using mental images. An image is a mental
representation of a sensory experience; it
can be used to think about things, places,
and events. You can try out Activity 8.1,
which demonstrates how images are formed.
Give a map, like the following in Fig.8.2a, to your
friend to observe for 2 minutes and tell her/him
that later on s/he will be asked to locate the
marked places in a blank map. Then present a
map, like the one in Fig.8.2b, with no indications
of the different places. Ask your friend to locate
the places s/he has seen in the first map. Then
ask how s/he was able to locate the places. S/he
will probably be able to tell you the way s/he
formed an image of the whole situation.
Activity Activity Activity Activity Activity     8.1
Concepts
How do you know that a lion is not a bird
but a parrot is? You have already read this in
Chapter 7. Whenever we come across an
object or event familiar or unfamiliar, we try
to identify the object or event by extracting
its characteristics, matching it with the already
existing category of objects and events. For
example, when we see an apple, we categorise
Fig.8.2a : A Map Showing Places
Fig.8.1 : The Girl forming a Mental Image
© NCERT
not to be republished
Psychology
152
it as fruit, when we see a table we categorise
it as furniture, when we see a dog we
categorise it as an animal, and so on. When
we see a new object, we try to look for its
characteristics, match them with
characteristics of an existing category, and if
matching is perfect we give it the name of that
category. For example, while walking on the
road you come across an unfamiliar
quadruped of a very small size, with a face
like a dog, wagging its tail and barking at
strangers. You would no doubt identify it as
a dog and probably think that it is of a new
breed, which you have never seen before. You
would also conclude that it would bite
strangers. A concept thus, is a mental
representation of a category. It refers to a class
of objects, ideas or events that share common
properties.
Why do we need to form concepts?
Concept formation helps us in organising our
knowledge so that whenever we need to
access our knowledge, we can do it with less
time and effort. It is something similar to
what we do to organise our things at home.
Children who are very systematic and
organised, put their things such as books,
note books, pen, pencil, and other accessories
in specific places in their cupboard, so that
in the morning, they don’t have to struggle
to find a particular book or the geometry box.
In the library too you have seen books
organised as per subject areas and labelled
so that you would be able to find them
quickly with less effort. Thus, for making our
thought process quick and efficient, we form
concepts and categorise objects and events.
You can find out how children form concepts
by doing Activity 8.2.
Take a piece of cardboard and cut triangles,
circles, and squares of three different sizes each,
small, medium and large. Then colour them yellow.
Similarly prepare a second set and colour them
green and a third set and colour them red. Now
you have a set of 27 cards varying in shape, size,
and colour . Ask a child of five to six years of age
to group the similar cards together.
Activity Activity Activity Activity Activity     8.2
If you will try the above activity with a
group of small children, you will observe that
there are a number of ways in which the child
would respond. S/he would pile them up into
different groups based on:
1. size: all small triangles, squares, and
circles together, all medium sized together,
and so on.
2. shape: all triangles together, all circles
together, and so on
3. colour: all reds together, all yellows
together, and so on
4. both size and shape: all small triangles
together, all medium triangles together,
and so on.
5. size, shape and colour: all small circles of
red colour together, all medium circles of
yellow colour together, and so on.
You have already learned about concept
learning in Chapter 6, and the use of concepts
in Human Memory in Chapter 7. Concepts
usually fall into hierarchies or levels of
understanding. The levels are classified as
superordinate (the highest level), basic
(an intermediate level), and subordinate
(the lowest level). While speaking we mostly
use basic level concepts. When a person says,
“I saw a dog” a basic level is used. Such a
statement is much more likely to be made than
Fig.8.2b : A Blank Map Up Side Down
© NCERT
not to be republished
Chapter 8 ? Thinking
153
category of “chair” otherwise under the
category of “table”. Consider another example:
the concept ‘cup’. Cups : (i) are concrete
objects, (ii) are concave, (iii) can hold solids
and liquids, (iv) have handles. What about
cups we see in the market: with no handle,
with a square shape or unusually big in size?
In an experiment, the participants were shown
the pictures of cups as in Fig.8.3 and W. Labov
asked them: which of these would you describe
as the prototype for the concept “cup”?
Participants mostly chose number 5.
Interestingly, some participants call number
4 a bowl and number 9 a vase because they
were so different.
“I saw a four legged animal that barks and
wags its tail” or “an animal”. The first
(subordinate) is far too specific than is needed
for conversation, while the second
(superordinate) is far too vague to convey the
intended message. Children also learn basic
level concepts first and then the other levels.
Most of the concepts people use in thinking
are neither clear nor unambiguous. They are
fuzzy. They overlap one another and are often
poorly defined. For example, under which
category would you put a small stool? Would
you put it under the category of ‘chair’ or
under the category of ‘table’? The answer to
these questions is that we construct a model
or prototype. A prototype is the best
representative member of the category.
Eleanor Rosch argues that in considering how
people think about concepts, prototypes are
often involved in real life. In prototype
matching, people decide whether an item is a
member of a category by comparing it with
the most typical item(s) of the category.
Therefore, in the above example of the stool,
you would try to compare it with a standard
study chair (if you consider it as the typical
example of a chair) and a small study table (if
you consider it as the typical example of a
table) and then match the properties of the
stool with these two concepts. If it matches
with a chair you would put it under the
Our beliefs, values, and social practices influence
the way we think. In a study conducted on
American and Asian students, pictures like the
following (underwater scene) were used. The
subjects were asked to have a look at the scene
for a brief period and then were asked to describe
what they saw. The American students focussed
on the biggest, brightest, and most outstanding
features (for example, “the large fish swimming
to the right”). In contrast, the Japanese students
focussed on the background (for example, “the
bottom was rocky” or “the water was green”).
Based on these kinds of findings, researchers
concluded that Americans usually analyse each
Box Box Box Box Box 8.1 Culture and Thinking Culture and Thinking Culture and Thinking Culture and Thinking Culture and Thinking
object separately which is called “analytical thinking”.
Asian people (Japanese, Chinese, Koreans) think more
about the relationship between objects and
backgrounds, which is called “holistic thinking”.
Fig.8.3 : When is a Cup a “Cup”?
1 23 4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
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not to be republished
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