Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Psychology

Supervisor(s)

Bertram Gawronski

Abstract

The distinction of cognition into kinds of cognitive process has proven theoretically fruitful and empirically compelling, but there remain significant challenges in deciding how best to carve cognition. First, it is unclear how to design measurement procedures that select distinct kinds of cognitive processing as exclusively as possible and, conversely, how to interpret the results of different kinds of measurement procedure. Second, the distinction between kinds of cognition must be specified with enough precision to derive empirically testable and falsifiable predictions. Third, there must be a reasonable explanation, ultimately compatible with phylogenetic evidence, for the existence of the specified distinction between kinds of cognition. The present research investigates the mutual influences between implicit and explicit self-knowledge and the influence of perceived validity on implicit and explicit evaluations. The findings challenge existing specifications of the distinction between kinds of cognition, which suggest that implicit cognition should be less sensitive than explicit cognition to situational context. As an alternative, it is suggested that the key distinction between kinds of cognition involves the capacity for quantification, which is a result of differences in the principles of lower-level and higher-level mental representation. Specifically, lower-level cognition is assumed to be holistic, rooted in distributed representations, whereas higher-level cognition is assumed to be symbolic, rooted in localist representations. Interaction between these processes therefore involves quantifying across holistic tokens to produce symbolic types. This perspective has important implications for theory and measurement in empirical psychology.


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