All About Thinking. Essay Sample


We again talk about psychology for the reason that even if you do not have this subject in your curriculum, it is very useful in terms of the overall development. And for your studies, we recommend the website – a real trouvaille full of professionals who will help you to deal with your academic questions.

Psychology, like any other research areas, studies human thinking. It tries to understand this process joining the forces with philosophy, logic, biological and social sciences.

The Subject of Psychology of Thinking

Unlike all other scientific disciplines, thinking of a living particular person or a group of people is studied in psychology. That is, this is thinking that unfolds in real time, circumstances, with a real task, the limitations of knowledge that you have, the available motivation and experience. If a solver is understood as not one person but a group of people, then all of the listed conditions are taken into account in relation to a group. How compatible are we in this group, how successfully have we shared the roles in the course of the decision making?

The two main types of difficulties encountered by human thinking (in life and in an experiment, and not in abstract airless space) are problems and tasks that the psychology of thinking is exploring.

Features of the Process of Thinking

Psychologists are trying to identify the core of the process itself. Human thinking is an internal process that flows hidden from the eyes of an external observer. Moreover, it is often incomprehensible to ourselves. Many years ago, it seemed to people that the simplest method of studying thinking was to ask a person to tell how he or she would solve a particular problem.

It turns out that people are not able to explain how they solve even not the most difficult task, not to mention the ordinary problems. There was such a demonstration. Students of one high school solved simple school problems in physics by a method of reasoning aloud, and the phycologist recorded what was happening on the tape recorder. Then he took a break for 10 minutes, during which he discussed the things that were not related to the task with the students, and then asked them to retell the decision process. Students could not correctly name even the sequence of the decision stages! That is, even in such a trivial case, when a solver did not experience any difficulties, his or her story about the decision process might be a set of misconceptions.

The Method of Reasoning Aloud

To fix the process of solving the problem, psychologists have to resort to more complex methods. If you cannot ask directly, you need to invent different kinds of the detour maneuvers. One of the methods was invented by a group of brilliant psychologists. The classics Claparede and Duncker were the first, and it was improved by Newell and Simon. If you are interested in learning more about this, you can always order a suitable academic paper.

The method is that you are asked to solve a problem reasoning aloud. At the same time, researchers understand that you will never tell everything: you have no chance to know everything that is happening to you. In the process of reasoning, a verbal protocol is produced aloud, that is, a set of utterances; relying on it, a psychologist can reconstruct the representation of the task by means of the subsequent analysis, extract it to the surface. That is, what you have seen in the task, what you have not seen, what difficulties you have faced, what you have fought and how you have won.

The Task Method

It is more than a hundred years. Tasks are unimaginable in quantity and variety. If before the beginning of research, we understand how the problems are structured, then, by putting the problems of different types in a certain order with different prompts, we can create situations of difficulty and see how a person's thinking reacts to them.

The task method, like the method of reasoning aloud, allows you to get a "mold" from your representation of the problem. This is the most interesting part of the studies because we practically get into the head of a person.

Human Physiological Reactions in the Process of Solving the Problem

In addition to the purely psychological ones, in the last 30-40 years, there were still various kinds of methods that helped us get deeper into the process of thinking. For example, in the course of a decision, one can record the physiological responses of a person.

The skin-galvanic reaction is determined by a change in the electrical resistance of the skin in response to some emotional experiences. One of the central moments in the course of the decision – insight, which is very emotionally experienced – according to the prominent scientists, is associated with a drop in the electrical resistance of the skin. If we measure the skin-galvanic reaction in the course of the decision making, we get a picture of what happened, whether it was an insight or not.

With the help of a device called a "tomograph", we can record online brain activity right during the decision and see which brain regions are activated at different moments of finding the answer.

This does not answer a lot of questions but allows us to learn more about how a person struggles with the task, how they try to overcome it and what its "parts" are, to some extent, involved in this process.

Results of Psychological Research

What are the components of the psychological study of the mystery of overcoming problems? Firstly, we need to understand with the help of which psychological mechanisms you have coped with the task, which "machine" worked in your head so that the task was defeated. Secondly, we must take into account the ways of solving the problem. What strategies did you use, did you understand that you used them? And the third point is how the task was represented.

The most important point is the following: most often, the difficulty of the problem lies in the fact that you initially represent it incorrectly. That is, the key element (maybe not one) is missed, and the entire decision process is a struggle to find this key element, which is not visible for some reason. Psychologists are regularly asked: why was it not visible? Why has an intelligent and experienced person with great ambitions, who is quite effective in other areas, turned out to be helpless in this case? There is no simple answer to this question.

Another example concerns the problem you have already had experience in solving, but the psychologists changed the conditions a little and you did not see that both problems were the same. And you again solve the second task like the first with all stress, calculations, and a long misunderstanding and sometimes bright events like insight when you finally notice the central link.

The result of the psychological research consists of these three parts – the mechanism, strategy, and representation.

How Are Thinking Studies Built?

For a psychologist, thinking is the process of solving problems. From the whole variety of thought processes (the processes of generalization and logical inference can also be considered mental), we concentrated on those that seemed to be the most worthy and crucial.

The psychological investigation of the decision processes is aimed  at finding an explanation related to the three main points which we have already mentioned: these are mechanisms, that is, some "machines" that indispensable parts of the solution process and sometimes work, sometimes not; strategies, that is, stable and often well understood to a solver, with the help of which he or she is used to coping with tasks: sometimes they are effective, sometimes not; and this is what a solver see in the task, its representation.

Around these three structures, concrete studies are most often built that analyze individual tasks, moments of representations, strategies, and psychological mechanisms. They try to explain them. Unfortunately, so far there are more questions than answers.

You will find even more interesting education papers on our blog, so take notice of it and be curious.

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