For questions about definitions, names, and terms used in the cognitive sciences literature.

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100
votes
6answers
5k views

How is it that taking a break from a problem sometimes allows you to figure out the answer?

As a computer programmer, I have noticed an interesting phenomenon: If I am stuck on a particular problem in my work, often if I stop thinking about the problem and do something else, the answer will ...
22
votes
2answers
718 views

What is an effective metric of complexity for an Artificial Neural Network?

After asking the question What is the most complex neural network... I realized I don't really have a good metric of "complexity" in a general sense. The simplest measure would likely be count of ...
18
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there a term for individuals who can “visualize” numbers and advanced mathematics?

I recently saw an episode of 60 Minutes about Jacob Barnett, a 13 year old boy who is currently attending advanced physics classes at a local university and was portrayed by the show as being a child ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

Is there a term for trying to remember a word, but only remembering its first letter?

This happens to me frequently. I'll say, "Oh you know that guy... uhh... I can't remember his name. But he starts with a 'Z'." You can remember part of the word but not the whole word. Is there a ...
17
votes
3answers
542 views

What is the term for human beings' tendency to obey without thinking?

I'm wanting to read more about a certain human behavior, but I am not sure what the proper term for it is, so some of the things I am finding aren't what I am looking for. I'm interested in how Humans ...
17
votes
1answer
562 views

Subconscious vs Unconscious

From what I know, we use the term 'subconscious' to refer to the things that we can bring into our conscious. and, we use the term 'unconscious' for things that we can't know, they come automatically ...
14
votes
4answers
7k views

Is pedophilia a sexual orientation or a mental disorder?

There are some different claims being made that pedophilia is a sexual orientation rather than a mental disorder. At the moment there seems to be a growing group of psychologists advocating that ...
13
votes
4answers
512 views

Do people have a tendency to stick to one opinion after they formed it?

Scytale's assessment, from the science fiction novel "Dune Messiah" (1969) When a creature has developed into one thing, he will choose death rather than change into his opposite. While ...
12
votes
2answers
982 views

What is the term for when too many choices results in inability to decide?

A common problem is that when offered too many choices, consumers give up and make no choice. Too many options results in no sale where fewer options might have resulted in more sales. It's like the ...
12
votes
1answer
124 views

Learning of new concepts being impeded by an error in previous work

Note: I'm framing this question in terms of tutoring math since that's what I tutor most, though it applies to a wide range of subject matters. I do a decent amount of tutoring, and this is one ...
11
votes
2answers
2k views

What was the experiment where you pour liquid from a tall container to a short one and ask a child which has more?

From Developmental psychology 101 I remember an experiment where the person conducting the experiment would pour liquid from a tall, narrow container into a short, narrow container and ask a child if ...
10
votes
3answers
303 views

What is the term for a psychological effect which does not have a neurobiological/genetic basis?

When a psychological condition is the result of irregular brain structures or neurotransmitter imbalances we say the condition has a neurobiological basis; this is analogous to the classic Nature in ...
10
votes
2answers
451 views

What is the “static” in human vision called?

Sort of like a cheap digital Camera, the human eye has certain feedback that's perceived but doesn't actually exist in the real world; a little layer of Static that's especially noticeable in pitch ...
10
votes
1answer
819 views

What does “veridicality” mean in terms of psychology?

I'm reading the paper "Visual Space Perception and Visually Directed Action" by Loomis, Da Silva, Fujita and Fukusima (1992; pdf). In this paper, the word 'veridicality' is used in several sentences. ...
10
votes
2answers
2k views

Motivation vs Goal Oriented Behavior

What's the difference between these two terms when used in the context of cognitive psychology? To the best of my knowledge, research on 'Goal Oriented Behavior' refers to the subset of motivation ...
9
votes
2answers
251 views

Bias by which we tend to accept vague descriptions of ourselves

There's an effective strategy employed by horoscopes and "psychics" where they say vague statements like "You like being with friends but you value your time alone"; statements that basically "cover ...
9
votes
1answer
375 views

What are biological primary mathematical skills?

In doing a bit of background reading for this question I came across a section in the book Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biology of the Mind on page 602 stating: There are no sex-related differences ...
9
votes
1answer
445 views

What's the relationship between priming and anchoring?

I've recently been dabbling in the behavioral literature, reading about cognitive biases such an anchoring, when one of my friends asked me how this phenomenon differed from the classical cognitive ...
9
votes
1answer
159 views

What is the bias/thought process that results in distrust of “formal” knowledge in favor of “folk” knowledge?

An interesting effect I've noticed is that certain groups of people seem to accept "folk knowledge" and value it over significantly better founded "formal" or scientific knowledge. In particular this ...
9
votes
1answer
123 views

Hearing first but understanding later?

I have experienced this phenomenon several times and checked with other people as well. It goes like this: you hear something, but it's just a sound with no meaning. Some seconds later, you ...
9
votes
1answer
137 views

Bias towards purchasing tangible vs virtual goods

People may have very little hesitation in spending $3 on a coffee once a week, but when it comes to buying things online, such as virtual goods or services, they are often much more reluctant. Is ...
8
votes
1answer
438 views

What is the scientific term for unexpected, spontaneous dream recall?

I'm interested if there's a term for spontaneous dream recall. I will try to define the phenomenon I'm talking about. Over 10 years ago, I started to notice that I can spontaneously recall dreams, ...
8
votes
1answer
198 views

Is there a “foreplay” equivalent, priming activity for thinking or conversation?

I've noticed the following phenomenon and am trying to find out if it is indeed true and if there is a scientific term for it: When I think about ideas, I notice that I can rarely jump straight into ...
7
votes
3answers
4k views

Difference between Instinct and Intuition

Sometimes I've heard people using the term gut feeling rather than their 'intuition or instinct' and I'm not sure which one do they mean. So, can both the terms be used interchangeably and simply ...
7
votes
3answers
159 views

What is the name of the effect whereby socialising in a group reinforces group beliefs?

Background: There's this effect when you have some idea, i.e. that eating other people is (probably) cool, you join the group of like minded people, you talk about how tasty people are, everyone ...
7
votes
2answers
427 views

What is the term for “What has been seen cannot be unseen” in cognitive sciences?

During a discussion with my officemate I told him that I read somewhere that the gas pillar in Carina nebula looks like a cat punching the dog; ever since then, every time my wallpaper slideshow ...
7
votes
2answers
219 views

Study on commitment and follow-through

I'm faced with a UX problem of looking for ways to position a website to increase attendance at future "real world" events, and I'm remembering a study once conducted along these lines (details a bit ...
7
votes
2answers
231 views

What's the name of this visual search task?

I recall a visual search task where participants would search for a single item with either one or two distinct features. For example one would look for an X in a set of Os as "one feature" or instead ...
7
votes
2answers
137 views

What is the name of the phenomenon whereby someone steps-up and others follow?

Example: In class, when a teacher proposes some unreasonable assignment, students hesitate to express their objection until someone steps-up and then others find courage to talk. I've tried searching ...
7
votes
2answers
491 views

Classification of Attachment Styles

The concept of attachment and different attachment styles has a long tradition in developmental psychology. Mary Ainsworth developed a classification for three different attachment styles that she ...
7
votes
1answer
126 views

Is there evidence for a unique isolated internal representation of loved ones?

Some time ago, I've read that the most significant people in a person's life have their own internal representation/model of within the person's mind. For example: An internal representation of a ...
7
votes
1answer
350 views

What are the characteristics that make complex problem solving complex?

In real-world problem-solving tasks that many people call "complex" (like flying a jet, programming, fixing a car, fighting a fire - the type investigated by the naturalistic decision making ...
7
votes
0answers
182 views

'Model-free' learning in humans

In reinforcement learning, there is a stark distinction between model-based and model-free learning algorithms, where model-free methods don't make use any explicit information about the dynamics of ...
7
votes
0answers
106 views

Do the motivations and fears behind Enneagram have any scientific reasoning?

Background The Enneagram personality typing system defines set of motivations and basic fears for its nine personality types among people. The system seems to be aimed at personal development of a ...
6
votes
2answers
220 views

Is there a scientific term for when you fall asleep because you can't handle something?

I'm wondering if there is a scientific term that describes when you fall asleep or pass out after some traumatic event? This effect happens when people witness something gruesome (a friend being ...
6
votes
2answers
81 views

What is the name of a test presenting words in different colors?

What's the name of this psychological test where you. Read and pronounce words in three colors (red, blue, green). - Words and colors match. - Say word and color (which are the same). As above - ...
6
votes
1answer
206 views

Face-Blindness: Have I seen you before?

Sometimes when I meet new people, I feel like I have seen them before. Their faces might look similar to people's faces, I have really have met before. The wiki article on Difficulties with Facial ...
6
votes
1answer
88 views

What type of behaviour is showing, but withholding, a reward?

A specific example of what I mean is: when you go shopping at a supermarket with a loyalty card system, and you do not participate, the receipt say something along the lines of If you had a ...
6
votes
1answer
123 views

Phenomenon that causes music to sound like it's being played at a different tempo than remembered?

Something I've noticed now and then is that I'll be listening to a song off my music player and it sounds like it's being played in a tempo faster or slower than I remember the song being. Is this a ...
6
votes
2answers
391 views

What is the difference between solving a problem and acquiring a skill?

Within the confines of cognitive psychology, what is the difference between these two tasks? In the literature, playing chess is generally seen as the exemplar of problem solving. But recently (thanks ...
6
votes
1answer
2k views

What's the difference between projecting and mirroring?

In Psychology 101, I learned about Projecting and Mirroring... I know one is where an individual sees his own problems in other people... I always forget the other concept and/or confuse the two. ...
6
votes
2answers
46 views

What term describes the discrepancy in reported intention to vote and actual voting behaviour?

I am interested in prediction markets, where traders have a monetary incentive to bet on who they think would win in an election. I think that the financial incentive in prediction markets makes them ...
5
votes
3answers
120 views

Is there a term for a person who moves from one field of expertise to a new field and has an inflated belief in their competence in the new field?

Person A has led a successful career and is very well renowned in field A. Later in life, person A moves to field B, a field they're curious about but have very little experience in. Person A ...
5
votes
1answer
163 views

Any studies on the phenomenon of photo-taking even in dire situations?

I have noticed a tendency these days for people to take pictures of the things they see in the public with their phones. This is fine, but I have found that it has gone to an extend where in a dire ...
5
votes
2answers
171 views

Name of the bias when one expects you to possess his knowledge

What is the name of bias or fallacy when, often while in argument, someone expects you to know the same things as he does. Usually, you just say "well, how should have I known that. I'm not inside of ...
5
votes
3answers
52 views

What is the field that studies community responses to incentives?

Having recently read Freakonomics I was particularly interested by the idea of the responses of a community to incentives - as an example, the tale of a school which tried to introduce a financial ...
5
votes
1answer
65 views

Technical term for the temporary loss of understanding a word

I am basically looking for two words which are related to some degree. Ultimately the same word might even be the answer to both parts of this question. I split them up into two questions (see also ...
5
votes
2answers
123 views

Is there an actionable branch of cognitive science?

I'm not sure what is the name of a branch of cognitive science that deals with the application of cognitive science to the real world. I know that in Biology, there are fields like genetic ...
5
votes
1answer
102 views

What is the scientific term for information overload?

I'm a computer science major. Currently I'm working on a project for which I want to expose users to different levels of information depending on their distance from displays. Anyone who ever saw a ...
5
votes
1answer
57 views

What's the difference between repression and suppression?

These two terms are closely related, and thus easily confusable as synonymous. Is there a difference?