This is a 5 page paper discussing questions relating to a case study of two psychological studies regarding the question of mental representations. Studies by Eleanor Rosch who provides examples of mental concepts represented by typical and atypical cases; and Christopher Cherniak who extends Rosch’s conclusions to include aspects of reasoning, are examined in regards at how they address the realism and operationalism accounts of scientific methodology. Criticism from B.F. Skinner’s “Science and Human Behavior” is included.
Bibliography lists 4 sources.
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of a set of necessary, and sufficient conditions". In non-basic concepts, such as "cat", the mental representation of this concept relies upon unconscious conditions or parameters individuals use to recognize
cats which as long as they meet a number of necessary conditions, can be categorized as "cats". Rosch is also interested in the mental representation of concepts but differs from
the classical view in that she believes concepts are not necessarily based on descriptions or necessary conditions but that these concepts are represented by images of a "typical case" which
are "together with a set of dimensions of similarity". From Roschs perspective, individuals have more difficulty categorizing "atypical" cases whereas from the classical point of view, atypical cases would take
an equal length of time to categorize as long as they fulfilled the necessary conditions of the concept. Roschs study is relevant to this difference between her view and the
classical view because she times individuals as they categorized items based on how "typical" items were. In addition, she also asked individuals simple "yes" or "no" questions regarding the categorization
of the same items. From the classical point of view, "typicality" should not make any difference to categorization, whereas from Roschs point of view, it should. When both groups were
timed in regards to their responses, Rosch reported that "response times are strikingly close to ratings of typicality" which meant that individuals took longer time categorizing items which were "atypical".
From an operationalist perspective which "omits unobservables", contrary to realism which advocates the need for further scientific study, Rosch believes an acceptable scientific conclusion is possible based on her theory
that mental representation or concepts are represented by typical cases. From an operationalist standpoint, Roschs study links individuals response times with the underlying "thinking process and explains how we represent