AP Psychology : Conscious Thought and Problem Solving

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP Psychology

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

Kevin correctly identifies a blue jay, a cardinal, and an oriole as birds, as they are all small and can fly. However, he is surprised to learn that an ostrich is also a bird. This can be explained by Kevin's use of __________.

Possible Answers:

a representativeness heuristic

confirmation bias

stereotype threat

hindsight bias

an availability heuristic

Correct answer:

a representativeness heuristic

Explanation:

A representativeness heuristic is the idea that a small sample of known individuals can provide defining characteristics for a larger population. All of the birds that Kevin correctly identified are small and can fly; because the ostrich is large and cannot fly, it does not display the characteristics that Kevin believed all birds must have.

Example Question #1 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

What is the mean intelligence quotient (IQ) on most standard intelligence tests? 

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

Intelligence quotient (IQ) is a score derived from a cognitive battery that reflects a person's intelligence. IQ scores are standardized, with 100 being the average score and 15 as the standard deviation. IQ scores fall on a normal curve, such that extremes can be easily classified. 68.26% of the population will fall within one standard deviation of the mean (IQ between 85 and 115). IQ scores below 70 and above 130 (two standard deviations from the mean) can help identify mental retardation and exceptional giftedness, respectively.

Example Question #3 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

How can belief perseverance impede our ability to solve problems?

Possible Answers:

Despite there being many other solutions, we will choose the one we believe will make us the happiest, which may not be the best solution overall.

If we are trying to solve a problem, yet something truthful comes up that challenges our beliefs, due to belief perseverance we may not let go of our preconceived notions, and hence find the wrong solution.

We may acquire the wrong beliefs from consistently analyzing data improperly.

We have a tendency to believe the same thing over time since it is familiar and comfortable to us. Out of comfort, we may not let go of these beliefs throughout life. 

Correct answer:

If we are trying to solve a problem, yet something truthful comes up that challenges our beliefs, due to belief perseverance we may not let go of our preconceived notions, and hence find the wrong solution.

Explanation:

Belief perseverance is the distinct phenomenom in which we tend not to let go of our previous beliefs despite compelling or truthful evidence that contradicts them. For instance, we may believe that our spouse is faithful, but then find compelling evidence that contradict this. In spite of the evidence, we may continue to believe our spouse is faithful out of our inability to let go of our beliefs. Instead of confronting the problem, due to belief preserverance, we keep believing what makes us comfortable.

Example Question #2 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

Thinking creatively is often the foundation for finding a solution to a problem. What are the four stages of creative cognition (in the correct order)? 

Possible Answers:

Preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification

Incubation, preparation, illumination, and verification

Preparation, incubation, progress, and verification

Preparation, incubation, illumination, and compensation

Correct answer:

Preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification

Explanation:

The four stages of creative thinking, in the appropriate order, are: preparation, incubation, illumination, and verification.

This kind of thinking can be applied to almost any problem or project, whether it's figuring out a scientific mystery or writing a great work of literature. First, the preparation is done. What are the different pieces you want to pull together? What are some relevant pieces of information or ideas? Incubation is when you leave the idea alone and your unconscious problem-solving mechanism kicks in. Illumination is when you've realized your vision or solved your problem: you got it, you know what it was you were searching for. Verification is perhaps the most difficult part, which is executing the solution (putting words on paper, drawing the painting, explaining and expanding on the idea).

Example Question #5 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

Is it possible for unconscious thought to be superior to conscious thought in solving problems?

Possible Answers:

It is impossible to solve problems using unconscious thought, since we have no access to it

Yes

It is impossible to solve problems using unconscious thought, since unconscious thought only happens when we sleep

Never, though unconscious thought can be valuable in other contexts

Correct answer:

Yes

Explanation:

Our unconscious mind is used for many different tasks and is much more powerful than we often suspect. Incubation, for instance, is a stage of creativity during which we allow our unconscious mind work on the task for us while we ignore it. Later on, the problem or inspiration will come to us from our subconscious, creating the classic "Aha!" moment. 

Example Question #6 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

A patient is told to respond to her psychologist’s verbal prompts with the first word that comes to her mind. Her psychologist is using which technique?

Possible Answers:

Reality principle

OCEAN

Free association

Mind wandering

The Strange Situation Test

Correct answer:

Free association

Explanation:

Developed by Freud, free association is a technique used in psychoanalysis as a path to the unconscious mind. When prompted, individuals are instructed to say whatever comes to their mind first. By blurting out uncensored words and phrases, Freud hoped to logically discover an individual's unconscious thoughts, fears, and conflicts.

Example Question #7 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

What is precognition?

Possible Answers:

Predicting future events

Thinking about the process of thinking

The processes that occur during thinking

The processes that occur after thinking

The processes that occur before thinking

Correct answer:

Predicting future events

Explanation:

Precognition is a term that depicts the correct prediction of future events. For example, if a child predicts that a certain team will win her soccer league and that prediction occurs, then the child has exhibited precognition of this event. 

Example Question #3 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

Which of the following is an example of a recall test?

Possible Answers:

Take-home test

Multiple-choice

Matching

Fill-in-the-blank

Open-book essay

Correct answer:

Fill-in-the-blank

Explanation:

A fill-in-the-blank test is the only type of test listed that purely relies on a student's ability to retrieve learned information with no context clues (e.g. multiple choices or use of notes). 

Example Question #4 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

Suppose Anne has fallen off the stairs and suffered a head injury. As a result, she cannot remember certain events before her injury. What is the best term to describe her amnesia?

Possible Answers:

Global Amnesia

Retrograde Amnesia

Childhood Amnesia

Anterograde Amnesia

Source Amnesia

Correct answer:

Retrograde Amnesia

Explanation:

The correct answer is: Retrograde Amnesia, which describes a memory-loss associated with a specific traumatic event. The memory lost precedes the accident. Anne cannot recall certain events that occurred before her accident.

Anterograde Amnesia refers to the inability to form new memories after a traumatic event.

The other answer choices are irrelevant.

 

Example Question #10 : Conscious Thought And Problem Solving

Which of the following is an example of availability heuristic?

Possible Answers:

Someone who already fears sharks a lot looks for evidence that confirms that fear

Someone decides whether to be more afraid of bees or sharks by creating an algorithim 

Someone is more afraid of sharks than bees because they see more deaths caused by sharks on the news than bee deaths (even though bees cause more deaths)

Someone goes to a therapist who encourages them to look at pictures and watch videos of sharks to get over their phobia of sharks

Someone is more afraid of bees than sharks because they know bees cause more deaths annually

Correct answer:

Someone is more afraid of sharks than bees because they see more deaths caused by sharks on the news than bee deaths (even though bees cause more deaths)

Explanation:

Availability heuristic is the tendency to assume that events remembered more easily (shark deaths on the news) actually occur more frequently.

"Someone is more afraid of bees than sharks because they know bees cause more deaths annually" is the opposite of availability heuristic since the person is relying on actual probability rather than perceived probability based on vividness of memory. "Someone decides whether to be more afraid of bees or sharks by creating an algorithim" is also incorrect because an algorithim (a rule based on a formula) is the opposite of a heuristic (an unscientific rule of thumb). "Someone who already fears sharks a lot looks for evidence that confirms that fear" is an example of confirmation bias and "someone goes to a therapist who encourages them to look at pictures and watch videos of sharks to get over their phobia of sharks" is an example of exposure therapy. 

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