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Conceptual Thinking

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Camille Rainville

on 8 January 2013

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Transcript of Conceptual Thinking

Conceptual Thinking Cognition refers to all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating. One of these mental activities is conceptual thinking. Our brains are inclined to mentally group similar objects, events, ideas, and people. By grouping things into concepts words can have more then one singular meaning. For example, the emotion anger makes one think of intensity, irritation, expression, animosity, passion, tantrums, and violence among other things. Furthermore, an object like a phone could suggest a cellphone, pay phone, telephone, as well as communication, contact, call, dial, ring, message, or voicemail. This fashion of grouping ideas allows us to think abstractly and simplify things in our minds. Without concepts our brains would most likely be overloaded with separate ideas and singular objects, we would have a separate word, idea, or thought for every event, idea, and person. What Is Conceptual Thinking? Hierarchies: Definition: How We Form Concepts The idea of conceptual thinking came about during the time of the cognitive revolution when psychologists began to focus more on mental processes and behaviors as a whole as opposed to merely observable behavior, although early thinkers such as Plato pioneered basic ideas in this area (Miller, 2003). According to Miller "Psychology could not participate in the cognitive revolution until it had freed itself from behaviorism, thus restoring cognition to scientific respectability. By then, it was becoming clear in several disciplines that the solution to some of their problems depended crucially on solving problems traditionally allocated to other disciplines" (Miller, 2003). The History Behind The Psychology of Concepts VOCAB Cognition: The mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating

Concept: A mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, or people

Conceptual Thinking: "The ability to effortlessly walk up and down the ladder of abstraction" ~blog.elevenseconds.com OR "Understanding a situation or problem by putting the pieces together, seeing the large picture. It includes identifying patterns or connections between situations that are not obviously related; identifying key or underlying issues in complex situations. Conceptual thinking involves using creative or inductive reasoning to apply existing concepts or to define novel concepts" ~breakoutofthebox.com Not only do we organize objects, events, people, and ideas into concepts, we further separate them into categories called hierarchies. For example, a cab driver organizes his cities into geographical sectors, which subdivide into neighborhoods, and again into blocks. VOCAB Hierarchy: Any system or category of persons or things organized into ranks Hierarchy of Needs: Abraham Maslow developed this hierarchy of human needs related to research on human motivation. We form some concepts from definitions. A concept formed by definition follows a distinct and clear description. Prototypes: We form most concepts from prototypes which are mental images or best examples that incorporate all the features we associate with a category. We are more likely to recognize something as an example of a concept if it closely resembles our prototype of the concept. VOCAB Prototype: A mental image or best example of a category. Matching new items to a prototype provides a quick and easy method for sorting items into categories (as when comparing feathered creatures yo a prototypical bird, such as a robin). Various Facts on Conceptual Thinking: ~According to Mary Bast, conceptual thinking can be recognized by the following behavioral indicators, "(It) Uses "rules of thumb," common sense, and past experiences to identify problems or situations. (It) Sees crucial differences between current situation and things that have happened before. (It) Applies and modifies complex learned concepts or methods appropriately. (It) Identifies useful relationships among complex data from unrelated areas" (2). Socially: We conceptualize things by our own ideas which are often shaped by our peers, our family, and those among us whom we interact with most closely and regularly. Their conceptions are likely to form or affect ours. Experiences: People's experiences also shape their concepts. What we have experienced in the past is likely to influence how we see the future and how we view things in our lives. How Conceptual Thinking Relates to Previous Research: Conceptual Thinking
And Research Methods: Watch This: Watch This: Conceptual Thinking in Comparison to Psychological Perspectives What The Experts Say: The current knowledge of conceptual thinking has mainly arisen from numerous psychological surveys. These surveys often take the form of a representative sample of a population being asked questions regarding their own concepts, hierarchies, and prototypes. For example, in a study conducted by Olivier Corneille and his colleagues on human’s prototypes, participants were asked to categorize a face as Caucasian or Asian. Furthermore other studies in the field of conceptual thinking have asked individuals what they detect as prejudices, how people classify symptoms of illness, and even how people classify types of animals. Before You Begin: Overview of Cognitive Psychology Conceptual Thinking Shaped by Learning Conceptual thinking relates directly back the topic of learning. The concepts we harbor are not innate, rather, they are learned. As stated before, the concepts which we hold in our minds can be molded by many factors. Psychologist and researcher Albert Bandura pioneered research in the field of observational learning. Bandura’s research showed that children are likely to imitate adult actions and model the behavior of those around them. Similar to the development of conceptual thinking, one’s concepts can and often are shaped by social groups. Concepts can be formed by what other’s concepts are, much like how behaviors are formed by observational learning. Experiments have shown that children are likely to imitate parent’s actions and speech, children will even model an adult’s hypocrisy (Rice & Gruesec, 1975; Rushton, 1975). Observational learning experiments have further revealed the mind’s incredibly capacity and inclination to imitate in that young children learn morality early on from their parents (Forman et al., 2004). The learning which accompanies early childhood development not only forms an individual’s actions but also their thoughts, opinions, morals, and concepts. What at person associates and groups with words , people, events, objects, or ideas is greatly influenced by what they have learned. Learning and thinking go hand in hand. Similarly, television has been linked to corresponding increased acts of violence and aggression in people (Anderson & Gentile, 2008; Murray, 2008). Watching violence desensitizes viewers to the actions, encouraging them to be unaffected and unmoved by what they are seeing. This furthers the point that outside influences not only influence our actions but also our thoughts. Cognition is based around mental activities. Our mental activities, and therefore our concepts, are formed around what we learn. ~One research study performed showed that by using a prototype method to conceptually define respect in close relationships and then using this scale to predict satisfaction in a relationship was a much more effective method than alternative scales and approaches (Frei & Shaver, 2002). ~A study following inner-city kids over a three month period recorded the conceptual changes in students' writing to help further and enhance learning in the subject area of science (Fellows, 1994). Conceptual Thinking and Business Conceptual Thinking Real Life ~Conceptual thinking goes hand-in-hand with critical thinking. According to Richard Paul and Linda Elder, to help students develop as critical thinkers "we must help them come to terms with this human power of mind, the power to create concepts through which we, and they, see and experience the world. For it is precisely this capacity they must take charge of if they are to take command of their thinking. To become a proficient critical thinker, they must become the master of their own conceptualizations. They must develop the ability to mentally "remove” this or that concept from the things named by the concept and try out alternative ideas, alternative “names.” As general semanticists often say: “The word is not the thing! The word is not the thing!” If students are trapped in one set of concepts (ideas, words) — as they often are — then they think of things in one rigid way. Word and thing become one and the same in their minds. They are then unable to act as truly free persons" (Paul, and Elder). Writer Mary Bast, states that "Conceptual thinking entails understanding a situation or problem by putting the pieces together, seeing the large picture. It includes identifying patterns or connections between situations that are not obviously related; identifying key or underlying issues in complex situations. Conceptual thinking involves using creative or inductive reasoning to apply existing concepts or to define novel concepts. There are two dimensions to the Conceptual Thinking Scale: (a) complexity/ originality of the thought processes (ranging from “using basic rules of thumb” at the lower end of the scale to “creating new theories that explain complex situations” at the higher end of the scale), and (b) breadth (the size of the problem analyzed)" (Blast). Important People: Some of the important researchers of the cognitive revolution which aided in furthering the knowledge base of conceptual thinking were Jerome Bruner, Jacqueline Goodnow, and George Austin (Blunden, 2010). Of the Cognitive Revolution "Humans approach virtually everything in experience as something that can be “given meaning” by the power of our minds to create a conceptualization and to make inferences on the basis of it (hence to create further conceptualizations). We do this so routinely and automatically that we don’t typically recognize ourselves as engaged in these processes. In our everyday life we don’t first experience the world in “concept-less” form and then deliberately place what we experience into categories in order to make sense of things. Every act in which we engage is automatically given a social meaning by those around us." ~Critical Thinking.org Richard Paul and Linda Elder While views on conceptual thinking and psychological perspectives may vary, conceptual thinking is most adequately studied in the field of cognitive neuroscience or from an empiricist's perspective. Concepts are molded from experiences and outside influences, when we are first born we have no concepts. Cognitive neurosciences focuses on brain activity linked with cognition and thus would be a field of study that agrees with the opinions of conceptual thinking. Empiricism states that knowledge originates in experience. This is also true of concepts. Behaviorist may struggle to study conceptual thinking as it is a cognitive field of study and is mainly unobservable in behavior. Yet, the shaping of one's concepts can be observed through behavior as social groups influence how we create concepts. Structuralism and functionalism are both psychological schools of thought that are similar to the study of conceptual thinking as they focus mainly on one's inner thoughts and mental processes. Works Cited Paul, R., & Elder, L. (2006). Critical thinking: Concepts and tools. Retrieved from http://www.criticalthinking.org/files/Concepts_Tools.pdf

Fellows, N. (1994). A window into thinking: Using student writing to understand conceptual change in science learning. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 31(9), doi: 1098-2736

Unit 14: Cognition and language. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.rhsmpsychology.com/Study Guides/unit_14_cognition_language.htm

Frei, J. R., & Shaver, P. R. (2002). Respect in close relationships: Prototype definition, self-report assessment, and initial correlates . Personal Relationships, 9, 121-129. doi: 1350-4126/02

Huitt, W. (2007). Maslow's hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from http://www.edpsycinteractive.org/topics/conation/maslow.html

[Web log message]. (2009, October 26). Retrieved from http://blog.elevenseconds.com/what-is-conceptual-thinking

Blast, M. (n.d.). Notes on analytical/conceptual thinking. Retrieved from http://www.breakoutofthebox.com/AnalyticalConceptualThinking.pdf

Miller, G. A. (2003). The cognitive revolution: a historical perspective . TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 7(3), 141-144. Retrieved from

Blunden, A. (2010, July). The psychology of concepts. Retrieved from http://home.mira.net/~andy/works/concepts-cognitivism.htm

Fred widlak's academic site psychology notes 9. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.fwidlak.com/id13.html

Paul, Richard, and Linda Elder. "Thinking With Concepts." criticalthinking.org. The Critical Thinking Community. Web. 7 Jan 2013. <http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/thinking-with-concepts/525>.
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