Steven Pinker 2011.jpg
Humans are so innately hardwired for language that they can no more suppress their ability to learn and use language than they can suppress the instinct to pull a hand back from a hot surface.

—Steven Pinker

Why is it so difficult to break habits—like reaching for your ringing phone even when you shouldn’t, such as when you’re driving? How does a person who has never seen or touched snow in real life develop an understanding of the concept of snow? How do young children acquire the ability to learn language with no formal instruction? Psychologists who study thinking explore questions like these.

In this learning pathway you will be introduced to psychological research about thinking, language, and problem solving. By the end of this pathway you will have a greater appreciation of the higher-level cognitive processes that contribute to our distinctiveness as a species.



By the end of this learning pathway you should be able to:

  • Define cognitive psychology
  • Distinguish concepts and prototypes
  • Explain the difference between natural and artificial concepts
  • Explain the difference between role schema and event schema
  • Define language and describe the components of language
  • Create a table describing the stages of language development
  • Explain the relationship between language and thinking
  • Describe problem-solving strategies
  • Define algorithm and heuristic
  • Explain some common roadblocks to effective problem solving including five types of decision bias