Author Archives: Mitchell E Knight

Noticing Basic level Categories used most often by my 6 year-old niece

In chapter 9 of the course text book it talks about if there is a “privileged” level of categories and goes into placing the basic level as that “privileged” level. I have noticed that my niece almost only uses this basic level of categorization when identifying objects. It could be argued that this is due to lack of knowledge of subordinate level of the objects, but she doesn’t use the superordinate level either, which she does know.


For example, when it comes to dinner time she might say something like, “I don’t want to eat the veggies (vegetables).” instead of saying I don’t want to eat peas. She does the same thing with fish, it can be whiting, swai, salmon, or fish sticks, but it is still just fish. As well as with potatoes they can be mashed, baked, or scalloped they are still potatoes to her.  This agrees with Rosch’s reasoning as discussed in the book.


Although she will call most automobiles cars (cars, vans, and trucks) there are certain automobiles that she will use the subordinate level. They all seem to be public service vehicles, such as a trash truck, fire truck, ambulance, etc. This is due to the important of the specific nature of the vehicles. She knows that an ambulance or fire truck means that there is danger or people are hurt. You could say that her greater knowledge leads to the use of the more details subordinate level than the basic level in these cases.



Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive psychology: Connecting mind, research, and everyday experience (3rd ed., pp. 228-230). Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

When Conditions of Encoding and Retireval Matched in my Color Guard Experiences

I have done color guard for 6 years; color guard is the name for the flags with marching bands. I never put any thought into exactly how I was remembering everything and why different techniques for practice worked better than others. I just thought about how different practices we had could have helped us better remember the show we performed.  Or how practices changed in what exactly we focused on as the season went on. The different moves and techniques we used are all part of procedural memory.  While they had to be encoded into LTM and the ways in which they occurred changed as I advanced to different levels of color guard. We actually had higher levels of processing the moves and put more thought into them.

In the earliest form at my high school it was very low levels of processing just constant repetition after repetition to counts and not the music we performed to.  We constantly used counts (1,2,3,4…) to correct any mistakes make any changes and everything instead of the music we were to recall the actions to.  The retrieval cues were not the same as the external stimulus at the time of encoding.  We were also supposed to express some emotion during performances; however we never practiced that outside of performances.  So, we did not have a similar internal state at encoding and retrieval.  Overtime, we constant rehearsal consolidation did occur usually just in time for finals after weeks of practice. Things were different went I joined a higher level of color guard.

While, we did learn the different moves to counts at first but we did it in small parts and applied it to the pieces of accompanied music that the work went with every time we went over new things. Due to encoding specificity we more easily recalled the information during performances due to the similarities of external stimuli at encoding and retrieval.  We also were also told to express the proper emotions needed in our performances while we were practicing our work with the music. This is relevant to state-dependent learning since the internal state at encoding was (should have been) similar to the internal state of retrieval.  With all of these similarities at encoding and retrieval the performance was better and easier, although it was actually more challenging moves, from my higher levels of color guard than for my last year of doing it in high school.




Goldstein, E. B. (2011). Cognitive Psychology Connecting Mind, Research, and Everyday Experience. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

The Moon’s Size is Relative

Some people wonder why the moon looks so small when it is higher in than sky as compared to when it is on the horizon. How does this happen is the moon physically changing size or moving farther from the earth? Or is it rather our perception of the moon’s size that is changing and why exactly do those changes occur. I can assure the moon does not change its size and the moon does not get closer and/or farther to the earth in just one night so the only answer to the change in its apparent size is our perception.

When you look at the moon in the middle of the sky there is nothing around it you are just seeing it as it is compared to nothing. On the other hand when you see the moon on the horizon you can see how big it is compared to a house, a tree, or even a skyscraper. Your perception takes these other relative objects into account the moon appears even larger in your mind when you see it behind other objects. With our knowledge of depth we think that the larger moon (on the horizon) has to be closer than the smaller moon amidst the stars.  (Goldstein, 2011) The following illustration is an example of an Ebbinghaus Illusion which is similar to the explanation above providing two identical circles that appear to have different sizes due to their different environments.  pysch


(supermoon, 2011)

This all appears to be bottom-up processing and I cannot find any top-down processing that could explain this misconception of perception.

Although the moon is the same size and distance in both positions in the sky when it appears different sizes we now know this is due to two things. First, is the Ebbinghaus illusion that different environments can cause the same object to appear different sizes. Adding to this is our understanding of depth and the relation of the size of other objects in front of the moon on the horizon making it appear huge.


Goldstein, E. (2011). Cognitive psychology (3rd edition). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.

The Supermoon Illusion. (2011, March 16). Retrieved September 13, 2015.