Cognitive Approach


Dual Processing Model

Dual processing model is a model of decision making that is comprised into two components,

System I : Intuitive thinking

  • Uses heuristics
  • Faster to use
  • Everyday decision making
  • Prone to error
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Dual Processing Model

System II : Rational thinking

  • Uses reason to think
  • Slower process
  • Requiring effort
  • Utilises all information
  • Less likely to bring certitude
  • Abstract
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Dual Processing Model Evaluation

Evaluation of the Dual Process Model


  • Overly reductionist
  • Doesn't explain the interaction of the systems
  • Doesn't account for the influence of emotion
  • Not clearly defined (speed can't always discern between the two)


  • Biological evidence of use of different parts of the brain
  • Supported by studies
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Alter & Oppenheimer (2007) : Aim and Method

Alter & Oppenheimer (2007)

Aim : Find how fonts affect thinking 

Method : 

40 Princeton students

Cognitive Reflection Test (3 Questions)

Split randomly into two groups 

Difficult font group

Easy font group

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Alter & Oppenheimer (2007) Results and Conclusion

Results : 

Simple font group : 10% all correct 

Difficult font group : 65% all correct

Conclusion :

Difficult font made them slown down hence use System II 

System II was more accurate hence more correct

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Alter & Oppenheimer (2007) Evaluation

Sampling Bias : only 40 & a specific university in america 

Same Size : only 40 - limits generalisability 

Validity : 3 questions only impairs validity 

Control Extraneous Variables : lab experiment 

Reliability : easily replicated (lab experiment)

Confidentiality : mentioned school of participants 

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Descriptive Model

Theory of Reasoned Action (TRA)

Explains relationship between attitudes and behaviours in making choices

Main concept : behaviour is based on expected outcomes from that behaviour

Predictions create a predisposition (behaviour intention) determined by

Attitudes (if behaviour is positive or negative)

Subjective norms (perceived social pressure for situation)

Theory of Planned Behaviour (TPB)
Extended from TRA to included perceived beahvior control. Perceived beahvior control is one's perceived ability to perform an action.

Accounts for situations where 

Subjective norm permits 

Attitude is positive 

perceived inability to do beahviour 

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Descriptive Model Evaluations

Evaluation of TPB


high predictive validity from resreach 




Doesn't account for moetion, intention & motivations 

Doesn't consider environmental/economic factors

Assumes linear process

Doesn't account for change over time

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Goodwin & Mullan : Aim and Method

Goodwin & Mullan

Aim : 

Using TBA and past and pre0existing knowledge about a topic, to predict undergrad's intention to perform behaviour 

Method : 

72 undergrads 

Read acdemic journal on glycaemic index

Did a questionare measuring predictor components of TBA

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Goodwin and Mullan : Results and Conclusion

Results : 

Subjective norms and attuities were best indicators 

Pre-existing knowledge was a poor indicator 

Past behavior had postive relationship with beahviour 

Conclusion : 

Interventions should focus on relationships of influence of target domgraphics to modiffy ingrained patterns of behaviour 

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Goodwin and Mullan Evaluation

Evaluation of Goodwin and Mullan

Reliability : replicable (lab experiment)

Generalisability : applicable to other situations 

Control Extraneous Variable : lab experiment 

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Memory :  the encoding, storage and retreival of information 

Short Term : 

30 seconds

Stores up to 7 'chunks' of informaiont 

Long Term : 

> 30 seconds

Theoretically infinite store 

Encoding : the way in which memory is stored 

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Memory : Multi Store Memory

Multi Store Memory MSM

Modal assumes seperate stores and memory preocess is sequential and all memories stores in a uniform memory 

Process : 

1. info is regstered through senses

2. information is paid attention to *

3. information enters the short term memory

3. infromation is rehearsed and enter long term memory

4. after time information re-enters the sort term 

5. rehearsal allows it to enter the long term again

*if not remembered will be forgotten

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Glanzer & Cunitz (1966) : Aim & Method

Glanzer & Cunitz 

Aim : test existance of serial positioning affect (primacy and recency effect)

Method :

240 Army men 

2 groups 

List of 20 common nouns, presented 1 at a time 

Group 1 : write words immediately after list

Group 2 : write after a filler task counting backwards for 30 seconds 

(filler task prevented rehearsal) 

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Glanzer & Cunitz (1966) : Results & Conclusion

Results : 

Both groups were equal recal for beginning (primacy effect)

Group 2 was worse than group 1 at the end (recency affect) 

Conclusions : 

Primacy occurs as words are most rehearsed and transfer to LTM

Filler task prevented rehearsal 

Lack of rehearsal didn't allow it to acces LTM 

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Glanzer & Cuntiz (1966) Evaluation

Sampling bias : gender bias & in army 

Reliability : easily reliacated 

Externatal Reliability : supported by various other studies 

Low Ecological Validity : artifical task

Control Extraneous Variable : Lab experiment 

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Multi Store Memory Evaluation

Evalution of Multi Store Memory


Simplitics, assumed linear process 

Doesn't exaplin how memories occur without memories 

DOesn't account for different types of memory (sematic, episodic, prodecural)

Foucs on structure to process 

Strengths :

One of first models - inspired more theories 

Forms of amnesia support segmented memory

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Working Memory Model

Central Executive : control various systems, swaps between senses

Phonoligcal Loop (PL) : autority infromation, preserve order of infromation. Made of 

Phonological Store (inner ear) : sounds 

Articulatory Process (inner voice) : words maintanced through repetition

Viso-Spatial Store : visual and spacial memory

Episodic Buffer : added later, integrates infomation from central exectuive, PL and VVS to long term memory 

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Working Memory Model Evalution

Evalution of Working Memory Model


Brain scans support differen regions for recalling different senses

More complex to MMS

Explain execution of everyday tasks 


Can only test one component at a time reducing validity 

Doesn't account for LTM

Doesn't account for emotion or memory distortion

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Landry & Bartling (2011) : Aim & Method

Landry & Bartling (2011)

Aim : Investigate if articultory supression influcens recall of written lists of phonologically dissimilar letters in serial recall

Method :

34 undergrad psych students 

Experimental and control groups

Expeirmental : Recall words whilst saying 1 & 2 at a rate of two numbers per number (suppresion task)

Ten dissimilar sound letters in the list 

Asked to recall as accurately as possible

Participants tested individually  

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Landry & Bartling (2011) : Results & Conclusion


Control : 76% accurate recall 

Experimental : 45% accurate recall


Supression task disrupted phonological loop - decreased accuracy 

Overloading made it difficult to memorise comare to control

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Landry & Bartley (2011) Evalution

Evaluation of Ladnry & Barley 

Confirmation bias : proved hypothesis 

Sampling bias : psych students 

Low ecological validity : artifical task 

Control extraneous variables : lab experience 

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Schema Theory : Terms

Key Terms 

Accomodation : altering existing schemas to account for new into / developing new schemas

Assimilation : taking new infor nad incoperating it into existing schemas 

Cognitive restructuing : used to adapt maladaptive pattersn of thinking by chaning schemas

Effort after Meaning : attempting to make unfmiliar ideas fit familiar frameworks

Storage : biological trace of encoded memory 

Retrival : usage of stored info for problem solving, thinking & decision making

Idiosyncratic scripts : knoweldge specific to one's perosonal situation

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Schema Theory

Schemas : mental representation derived from period experience/knowledge

Used to process/store information and influences behaviour

Allows to process things quickly (e.g. stereotyping) 

Allows to predict future behaviour 

New information is constantly added to schemas

Each person has their own schemas and there are multiple schemas 

e.g. cultural, gender 

Scripts : type of schema bout events being patterns of beahviour learned through interaction with the cnrionemnt. 

e.g. Cultural scripts are all common to those in a cultural groups

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Loftus & Palmer (1974)

Aim : investigate whether a leading question would affect an eyewitness's estimation of speed 

Method : 

150 students

Saw film of car accident from driving safetly  

Randomly allocated group with the key work



no question (control)

return a week later and rewatched the view 

asked 'did you see any broken glass' (there was none)

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Loftus & Palmer (1975) : Results and Conclusion


Intesnse verb (smashed) more likely to report broken class to less intense group 


The verb activates schemas associated to the work draw connotations 

Schams incluenced the formation of the memory later

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Loftus & Palmer (1975)

Evaluation of Loftus & Palmer 

Sampling bias : students 

Low ecological validity : video of crash not IRL 

Reliability : replicable, lab experiment 

Low concurrent validity : some studies conflict findings 

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Fredrick Barlett (1932)

Aim : investigate how the recollection of a story is affect by previous knowledge (cultural background, familiarity with a text) 


British participants 

Told Native American story including cultural details/names and unfamiliar structure 

Two conditions 

Repeated production

Repeat story after a short time

Repear again a period of weeks/days/months/years later

Serial production

Reprouduce the story shortly after hearing it to someone else

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Fredrick Barlett (1932) : Results and Conclusion

Results : 

No significant difference between two groups 

Repeated production 

Story shortened over time (180 words in 6-7 weeks) 

Story became more conventional to fit social/cultural background

Conclusion : 

Participants altered the story (asssmiliated) it to their schemas

Schemas seen to affect how infromation is recalled/remembered 

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Fredrick Bartlett (1932) Evaluation


Sampling bias : cultural bias - only British 

Ecological validity : non-artifical task 

Temporal Validity : longitunial study although old study 

Validity : replicated 

Correlational : can't deduce cause and affect relationship

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Biases in Decision Making


Allow quick decisions 

Function off presumption 

intuitive judgement

Cognitive Biases 

Due to use of heuristics 

Errors in thinking affecting our decision making 

Would have previoulsy held merit not so much now

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Cognitive Biases I

Confirmation Bias : looking for information to confirm out beliefs

Ignoring information opposing out beliefs 

Actively seeking information to confirm out beliefs 

Interpreting evidence as supporting our beliefs

Illusory Correlations : tendency to incorreclty indentify relationships where none exists 

Combated with rational thinking 

Can result in stereotyping 

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Cognitive Biases II

Optimism Bias : belief that something good is more liekly to happen than fact attest

Results in poor decision making (rejecting reason)

Selective Attention : to focus on limited amount of information

Link to limited capacity of short term memory 

Relate to requirement to pay attention to information 

Impairs reason as can't account for information not known

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Mendel et Al (2012) : Aim and Method

Aim : study whether psychiatrists and medical students are prone to confirmation bias 


75 psychiastrist 

75 medical students 

Presented info on patient 

Asked to make preliminary diagnosis of Alzheimers or depression

Actual diagnosis being depression

Givening prior information leading to Alzheimers 

The participant than had a consultation with the client

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Mendel et al (2011) : Results and Conclusion

Results : 

Confirmation bias seen in : 13% psychiatrists & 25% students 

asking questions to support their preliminary diagnosis 

less likely to make correct dianogsises to balanced questions 

Conclusion : 

Psychiatrists and medical students are prone to confirmation bias 

leads to incorrect diagnosis 

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Mendel et al (2011) Evaluation

High ecological validity ; non artifical task 

Sampling bias : looked at two feild specifically 

Generalisability : can be applied to other feilds / professions 

Ethical implications : people will distrust professionals 

Validity : still most got it correct

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Snyder & Swann (1978) : Aim and Method

Aim : To how stereotying would affect questionaire and  

Method : 

Participants, female college students 

Told they'd met either an introvert or extrovert

Asked to prepare a set of questions to ask the person they were to met 

The actual person they met was randomly allocated (either true of false)

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Snyder & Swann (1997) : Results and Conclusion

Results : 

Participants asked questions confirming their perception of introverts and extroverts 

e.g. expecting introvert "What do you dislike about parties?"

e.g. expecting extrovert "What do you do to liven up a party?"

Conclusion : questions confirmed stereotypes with personality types  

Questions were designed so they would confirm the expectation 

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Snyder & Swann (1978) Evaluation

Evalution of Synder & Swamm

Sampling bias : gender bias 

Low ecological validity : artifical task

Deception : told the person was introverted or extroverted 

unclear if it was revealed to them later 

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Hamilton & Grifford (1976) : Aim and Method

Aim : investigate how expectations distort how information is processed 

Method : 

Participants read about two imaginary groups 

Group A (Larger of 26)

Group B (Smaller of 13)

Readings have descriptions of individual group members

Descriptors were either helpful of harmful behaviour 

Participants were asked to give impression of typical group member of each 

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Hamilton & Grifford (1976)

Results : 

Participants consdiered behaviour of group B less desriable 

No correlation between group membership and desirability 

Hence illusory correlation 

Conclusion : 

Participants drew traits from inidival in a group and made the correlation to the whole group as having the same traits though these weren't representative of the group. 

Demonstrating illusory correlation.

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Reconstructive Memory

Reconstructive Memory 

Recollection of memories after the event, and the notion that memores are malleable 

Reliability : can be unreliable 

Prone to manipulation 

Changes over time 

Affected by biases (schemas)

Manipulation of Memory : example of unreliability 

Can come from leading questions

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Loftus & Pickrell (1995) : Aim & Method I

Aim : to determine if false memories of autobigraphical event can be created through the power of suggestion

Method : 

Participants 3 male & 21 female 

Family members were contacted regarding participant 

supplied three childhood memories 

answered if they'd been lost in a mall 

Data only used if particaipnt had never been lost in a mall

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Loftus & Pickrell (1995) : Method & Results

Method II : 

Particaipnts received questionair in the mall with 

three genuine memories 

false lost in mall memory

confidence of 1-10 scale or memories

it was outline if they didn't remember the memory to write "i did not remember this" 

They were interviewed twice over four weeks told to recall as much as possible

After the expeirment they were debreifed of the false memory

Results : 

25% participatants recalled a false memory 

Low confidence and little wrote on false memory

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Loftus & Pickrell (1995) : Conclusion & Evaluation

Conclusion : 

Shows suggestion ability to create false memories 

Indicate some are more susceptible to formation of false memories (only 25%)

Evaluation : 

Sampling bias : gender bias - small sample 

High ecological validity : non-artifical/typical task 

Validity : not explanation to why such results 

Ethics : deception 

Extraneous variables : questionaire compeleted at home

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Flashbulb Memories I

Flashbulb Memories : highly detailed and vivid 'snapshot' of the moment when a surprising and emotionally arousing event happened. 

They are influenced by the cultural impact on things and the personal emotional reaction. They are affected by the proximity to the event that is being remembered.

Reception Context : the context that someone hears the news of an events/memory

Flashbulb memories are sometimes considered less affected by the forgetting curve than other memories.

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Flashbulb Memories II

Special mechanism hypothesis : explanation of flashbulb memories as a special biological memory mechanism created by an event exceeding critical levels of surprise, creating a permeant record of details and circumstances surrounding the experience.

Importance Driven Model : Emphasis personal consequences over emotional response

Biological Support of Flashbulb Memories : The Amygdala is thought to play a critical role in the formation of emotional memories (Sharlot et al)  It makes sense that the brain would ensure information of fearful memories would be stored in good detail. Adrenaline helps remember things (evolutionary advantage.) 

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