Useful Notes on 5 Most Important Theories of Thinking

January 15, 2019 0 Comment

According to this approach, events or ideas will be associated if they have frequently or con­sistently occurred together. This can be expressed as one law or can be analysed into atleast three separate notions, temporal contiguity, spatial con­tiguity, and constant conjunction.

One idea will be associated with and hence give rise to another, if the events producing those ideas have occurred at the same time as one another, or in the same place as one another, or if they have consistently occurred together. To these fairly generally accepted laws some theorists would add such subsidary factors as similarity: one idea will give rise to another to the extent that they resemble one another.

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2. Gestalt:

Gestalt psychologists disputed that the mind could be understood as a passive collection of simple ideas joined together by the inexorable operation of a few “laws of association”. The slogan of Gestalt psychology that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, is best understood as a reaction against associationism.

Gestalt theory worked chiefly in the field of the psychology of thought and studied how patterns of behaviour which have already been firmly acqui­red are reorganized into relevant behaviour for supplying a solution.

The construct of insight was intended to explain this reorganization. Gestalt theorists approached problems in the psychology of thought from the angle of that of perception. Successful thinking involves a perception or an understanding of the structural and functional relationships within a problem context.

To solve a problem one must grasp the “inner relationships” that bind that context into an organized whole.

As a process, problem solving begins with centering of attention on problem elements and their connection with the basic difficulty. A goal or solution is assumed to exist, and the subject is drawn to it by the most direct path.

Solution at­tempts involve some active reorganization of ele­ments by the individual with a resulting recent- tiring of attention. Each recentering sets-up a pattern of tension towards the goal within the organism, which he seeks to resolve.

These ten­sions vary according to a number of laws inclu­ding those which pertain to figural qualities of the goal object and to subject’s geographical location relative to that object. Resolution or closure is achieved only by the attainment of the correct recentering, i.e., of a solution which is perceived as satisfactory.

The resulting behavior change is often immediate, leading Gestalters to speak of insight as one of the fundamental phenomena of thinking (and learning).

Insight, as suggested by Miller, can be thought of as a creator of a metaprogram (probably lingu­istic) or solution plan which controls the appli­cation of subordinate programs (patterns of beha­vior) already established and available.

Thus, in essence, the presence of a problem motivates us to think. Through thinking we search means for the solution of a problem. In this effort we make use of all the tools and previously learnt concepts. We discover some new concepts in this effort. We can solve a problem by analysing its different aspects with the knowledge of the whole situation.

3. Information-processing models:

These models conceptualize the behaving organism as a com­plex information processing system. Generally, though not necessarily, it uses the computer (or computer programme) as its model. People are said to behave in a sense, like computers. The input to a computer is equivalent to the environ­mental stimulation of an organism and the output to its performance.

The internal, programmed, information processing operations of a computing system are comparable to the inner thought processes of the organism. The general form of argument is that to the extent the actual per­formance of a human being or animal can be simulated in the output of a computer, the com­puting program is an adequate theory of his behavior. The processes and operations prescribed by the program are reasonable facsimiles of what actually goes on within a person before under­taking some overt performance.

These models use flow charts that comprise the program (set of instructions) delivered to a com­puter to simulate the processes of human problem solving. Heuristic methods (such as means-end analysis) are valuable aids in reducing the search time required to solve a problem.

The General Problem Solver incorporates heuristic methods common to a number of information-processing models in an attempt to device a general theory of complex cognitive processes.

Heuristics are strategies, usually based on past experience with problem, which are likely to lead to a solution, but which do not guarantee success. One common strategy, or heuristic, is to break the problem down into smaller sub-problems, each of which is a little closer to the goal.

4. The Central Theory:

According to this theory thinking and reasoning is taking place only in the brain and the brain is solely responsible for all kinds of thinking and problem solving activities. When we think with our brains it’s often said that the brain secretes thoughts.

5. The Peripheral Theory:

The peripheral nervous system is mainly involved in this. The peripheral theory is also called motor theory. According to this theory the brain is one of the parts of thinking process. Since all our learning are both mental and physical, we also think with our whole parts, brain and the nervous system-the whole body.

There is a continuous chain of S-R relations from brain to body and from body to the brain. This goes on till the process of thinking takes place. The founder of behaviourism Watson said that thinking is silent speaking as there were muscular movements in mouth and in throat and speaking is louder thinking.

There is strong evidence that muscular activity is present during thinking. Because of this we can­not reject the central theory totally. According to them, thinking is going on in the brain without the co-operation of the peripheral or motor system. But because of the end product of verbal and muscular activities the peripheral theory seems to be more agreeable than the central theory.


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