Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Process of Cognition?

  1. Dec 19, 2007 #1
    Stemming form another thread that has gone quiet I have a question with respect to cognitive science. It is interesting to study cognitive science which in essence is the study of learning and thinking. I break how we construct our morals, opinions and values down into phases. 1. We receive information. 2. We process information. 3. We act on information. 4. We succeed or fail in its application. Would you agree with my simple understanding of the process of learning and thinking?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 20, 2007 #2

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    As far as morals, opinions, and values, 1 and 2 seem right, but I am not sure we always have to proceed to 3 and 4. For instance, a young boy hears from his parents that stealing is wrong (1), he weighs this decision with previous knowledge and ideas about stealing, and comes to the conclusion that he believes stealing is wrong (2)
    An instant after making this conclusion he is hit by a bus and paralyzed. He never acts on the information(3), and therefore does not succeed or fail (4). If you ask him (after the tragic accident), he will tell you that he still believes stealing is wrong, although he has never had an experience with stealing or resisting "stealing impulses" in the world.

    This is just my take. Perhaps you could offer a counter example?
    Last edited: Dec 20, 2007
  4. Dec 20, 2007 #3
    1. A young school leaver signs up to study Cognitive science in college, attends and receives lots of information. 2. processes the information. 3. Drops out and never uses the information before the exams. 4. Doesn't fail, doesn't succeed. Will the knowledge be applied in the course of his/her life at any point? Will the young boy ever be confronted with the dilemma of stealing through the course of his or her life? There is always the point of opting out intentional or not, it's a good point I am not so sure it should be placed within my framework I need more convincing.
  5. Dec 21, 2007 #4
    So in terms of cognitive science is this idea similar?
  6. Dec 21, 2007 #5

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Similar to what? Sorry, I'm not quite sure what you're asking.
  7. Dec 21, 2007 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    I'd say number 4 would be better worded as we receive some kind of feedback, since succeed or fail would be hard to apply to some situations. In essence, 4 and 1 are practically the same thing with 4 causing the cycle to be repeated - you refine the conclusion you first drew.

    The reason why success or failure wouldn't necessarily apply is because you're talking about morals and values, which are more in the affective domain than the cognitive domain. You can have values that can't be measured as success or failure in the typical way. For instance, believing the heroic thing to do would be to leap on top of a grenade to prevent your buddies in the foxhole with you from being killed.

    Or believing that cheaters never win when, obviously, they sometimes do.

    Or admitting to some transgression you've made when you're obviously going to suffer some punishment for it.
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2007
  8. Dec 23, 2007 #7
    Is there a similar process in Cognitive science? Is there one rule/formula that encapsulates the learning process and is this similar?
  9. Dec 23, 2007 #8
    I would be applying this in a way which simply describes a learning process and have thought about it in a reductive way. I will see if I can explain it better. This should be interpeted in the general sense where the average or the norm applies.

    1. I am born and I receive information and I process this information.

    2. In situations I call on this information to support decision making.

    3. On making a decision I put my Morals, Opinions, Ideas into action.

    4. These will either succeed or fail depending on the situation.

    To create an example.

    1. I am born and I receive information about good and bad. I learn to kill is bad.

    2. I am a citizen and in a time on national crisis my opinion is required whether or not my country should go to war. I call on my understanding of good and bad and evaluate the situation.

    3. I choose to protest, rally and promote my cocerns against war.

    4. My political view is not heard nor is it accepted. I am arrrested, incarcerated. My country goes to war. My actions to prevent the course of war has failed.
  10. Dec 23, 2007 #9
    Cognitive science is incredibly interdisciplinary. Evolutionary biologists emphasize how we are born with the abilities to learn, and emphasize that we also come into the worlds with distinct "instincts". Developmental psychologists emphasize cognitive growth and social psychologists emphasize schemata. Anthropologists emphasize norms and sociologists emphasize socialization.

    What does this all mean? Well it means that the cognitive science is pretty darn complex to be described as a 4-step process. There should a distinct break between "learning" and "decision-making" (the two do not always go hand in hand). For example, how we receive and process information involves so many things. People may learn stealing is bad, but theft will be around whether it is instilled as "immoral" or not. Your "model" assumes that if a person learns that something that is bad, they will not do it (i.e. norms are the only variable). But that is simply not the case, because in reality people act on many different things. For example, the temptation to steal something of high-value (greed).
  11. Dec 23, 2007 #10
    so your values either come from experience or in the case that you have no experience, from mimicking the values of others... surely, this is common sense... breaking it up into phases just seems like a pointless complication

    truthfully, I don't consider theories based on nothing except personal experience scientific... maybe social science if anything... this idea is an opinion in itself... it is an opinion about how we construct opinions
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2007
  12. Dec 23, 2007 #11
    In my simple process though there is a distinct break, 1 is 1 and 2 is 2, they are very different stages. I don't undersatnd how you think my model makes assumptions if people think something is bad then they won' do it. I described a once off scenario of course their are many different scenarios but the simple breakdown for me still stands in that order regardless of a + or a - outcome.
  13. Dec 23, 2007 #12
    I agree it is common sense, a simple process can apply it doesn't need to be theoretically ambitious for the sake of it. It doesn't need to be over analysed.

    I disagree, Experience is proof, science requires proof, experience is proof.
  14. Dec 27, 2007 #13
    NO? YES?
  15. Dec 28, 2007 #14

    Math Is Hard

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Not really. I'm afraid that what you are proposing is just too vague and broad to formulate into a testable research hypothesis or create any kind of predictive model. Also, your ideas seem to be less about learning and more about decision making. "Processing information" is your can of worms here. The thing is: people act differently in different contexts. Situations distort "information". The complexities of individual perception and internal states/beliefs also distort "information" and can lead to different individual actions. Under certain conditions, people will even do things that are in conflict with their morals, values, and opinions, and then justify their actions retroactively, frequently without any conscious awareness of having done so. Sometimes they even change their beliefs, memories of their prior beliefs, and even memories of an experience to rationalize an objectionable behavior that they have engaged in. If you're interested in this, look into studies on rationalization and "cognitive dissonance".
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2008
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook