Introduction to psychology/Psy102/Tutorials/Cognitive processes and intelligence

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Cognitive processes and intelligence

Subject classification: this is a psychology resource.
Resource type: this resource contains a tutorial or tutorial notes.
Completion status: this resource is considered to be complete.


  1. Demonstration and understanding of cognitive processes:
    1. Limitations of intuition
    2. Mental set – we pay attention to some information and ignore the rest
    3. Representative heuristic – we judge likelihood based on how well something matches a particular prototype
    4. Role of visual information in problem solving
    5. Overconfidence phenomenon – we overestimate the accuracy of our knowledge
  2. Understanding of the difference aspects of intelligence, what intelligence tests measure and how useful this information is.

What you will need

  1. Copy (per person) of the Truth/Lie Quiz
  2. 5 slips of paper saying “tell the truth” + 5 saying “tell a lie” in an A4 envelope
  3. Copy (per person) of the WWI Intelligence Test
  4. Copy (per person) of the Chitling Intelligence Test

Introduction (10-15 mins)

Essay debrief (5-10 mins)
  1. Most students will have submitted their essays on Monday - ask about how it went for them, what they thought, what they liked or didn't like. Encourage students to post feedback on the Moodle discussion forums. Pass any relevant feedback or questions onto the convener.
From behaviourism to cognitive processes (5 mins)
  1. Most students will have listened to the lecture this week on learning and behaviour analysis by Dr. Janet Tweedie. Ask students what they think about behaviourism and in particular, ask students to identify any strengths and criticisms of behaviourism.
  2. Use this to lead into the next step in the evolution of psychology - cognitive psychology - this tutorial is about exploring our cognitive processes and one particular set of cognitive processes which we call "intelligence".

Cognitive processes (45 mins)

As was discussed in the lecture on cognitive processes, we have efficient, but limited information processing capacities. In order to be efficient, we tend to utilise a relatively small set of generic methods for perception and problem solving. As a result, when we are presented with problems which aren't well matched to our typical problem solving strategies, we can be quite ineffective. The following exercises are designed to provide some examples of such limitations of our cognitive processes. They work best if you don't read about them before doing them:

  1. Limits of intuition (5 mins)
  2. Problem solving - Mental set (10 mins)
  3. Representative heuristic (5 mins)
  4. Buddhist monk problem (10 mins)
  5. Overconfidence phenomenon (15 mins)

Intelligence (50 mins)

  1. What is intelligence? (5 mins)
  2. Intelligence line-ups (15 mins)
  3. World War I army IQ test (15 mins)
  4. Chitling test of intelligence (15 mins)


See also