Day 21: Thoughts, Language, Intelligence
Day 21 of Microcampus marks the closing of our SAS Essentials sessions, and one of our social studies requirements is to synthesize the notes that we took from a particular chapter in the Psychology 7th Edition textbook and dedicate a blog post to connecting what we had learned to our observations of Xizhou. The topic that I had chosen is thinking, language, and intelligence, which is a topic generally focused on the cognitive activities present when the brain analyzes situations, solve problems, make decisions, and uses language. It deals with concepts and categories, mental/physical images and perception, methods of problem-solving and barricades to doing so, methods of estimating and overcoming uncertainty, personal bias, nature versus nurture, stereotype threats, and the definition and measures of intelligence.
After developing a deeper understanding of the chapter's content, I am able to make numerous connections between ideas in the textbook and the conditions in the village. Concepts mental categories of objects or ideas based on the properties they share, and I have found that they are used frequently in the village on both my part and the community's part. There are formal concepts—mental categories formed by learning rules and features that define it—and natural concepts—categories formed as a result of everyday experience rather than by logically determining whether an idea fits a set of rules. An important part of my inquiry project is to know how to distinguish a tourist from a local, and usually, a process involved is distinguishing by comparison to a prototype, or the most typical representations of a particular concept. To classify or distinguish a member of a natural concept, one would tend to compare it to the prototype of that natural concept; the more closely an item matches the said prototype, the quicker the brain can classify it to belong to a particular natural concept. I execute this technique often to make sure I know whether the person I am conversing is a newcomer or a local. The shop owners I discuss with must also use this technique too, as many of them knew explicitly whether or not their customers were tourists or locals.
Problem-solving is also a frequent occurrence in the village, especially when Xizhou's environment is more intimate than that of Shanghai's. A method that I witness often is trial and error, a technique that involves attempting different solutions and eliminating those that do not work. One of my contacts, Mr. Huang, had systematically attempted all the different types of teas in specialized to this region to see which one he liked best when he had first arrived in Xizhou. This is a form of trial and error since he is testing out every type of tea, seeing if he likes it or not, to solve the problem of having no types of tea that he likes.
There are many connections I can make from the content back in Shanghai to the village here in Xizhou.