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The Psychology of Communication



Concepts which may be unfamiliar to readers are written in bold in the text and included in this Glossary. They are listed in alphabetical order but defined in groups. "No meme is an island". Thus, for example, sensorimotor stage, concrete operations stage, and formal operations stage are defined under stages of cognitive development.

accommodation see adaptation

activation theory    An emotion-arousing stimulus in the environment (negative goal) projects directly to the sensory reception area of the brain to provide the cue function and indirectly through the amygdala in the lower brain which acts diffusely on the brain to provide the arousal function. A psychological drive prepares the organism for appropriate action (fight, flight) by triggering the relevant physiological state (rage, fear).

adaptation    Ontogenetic development (child to adult) has the same basic principle as phylogenetic development (animal to human) - adaptation to the environment. Adaptation involves the assimilation of information from the environment and the accommodation, if necessary, of the cognitive structure to this information (Jean Piaget)

amnesia    see defense mechanisms

amygdala    see activation theory, hypothetical construct, lower brain

anal stage    see personality development

anaesthesia    see defense mechanisms

angular gyrus    The link between the area of the visual cortex responsible for word recognition and the areas of the temporal cortex responsible for language. A stroke victim with damage to this area may be unable to read.

antagonistic society    A society in which the ends of the citizen and the ends of society are in conflict.    c.f. synergetic society, in which the ends of the citizen and the ends of the society are compatible (Ruth Benedict).

arcuate fasciculus see Broca's area

arousal function see activation theory

artificial intelligence (AI)    The attempt to simulate various conceptual and perceptual functions of the human brain. c.f. intelligence amplification (IA). Using computers to supplement, rather than to simulate, natural intelligence.

assimilation see adaptation

Auto-phenomenology    The inside subjective point of view, as opposed to hetero-phenomenology, the outside objective point of view (Daniel Dennett)

bit     A basic unit in measurement of information. Information from the source is measured in terms of uncertainty at the destination. One bit of information is information that cuts uncertainty in half.    see Shannon-Weaver model of communication.

bow-wow theory    see speech

Broca's area    Two areas of the brain have long been identified with speech - Broca's area (Paul Broca) and Wernicke's area (Karl Wernicke) named in honor of the scholars who located those areas.    They have been identified roughly as the areas for syntax (creating sentences) and semantics (linking language to the environment) (Edgar Zurif). The two areas are connected by the arcuate fasciculus.

cannibal worms    Worms fed on minced worms. The ones fed on worms which had previously learned a task took significantly less time to learn that task than worms fed on untrained worm, suggesting that the memory was stored at a chemical level. (James V. McConnell).

castration complex    see personality development

cell assembly    A neural circuit created when a nerve impulse passes over synapses often enough to create a permanent structure (Donald O. Hebb).

chain reflex    see classical conditioning

circular reactions    During the sensorimotor stage, stimulus and response get co-ordinated through a series of circular reactions. Between I and 4 months, you develop primary circular reactions. You happen to make the sound "ah" (response), you hear the sound (stimulus), you imitate the sound (response), you hear the sound again (stimulus), and so on as you imitate yourself over and over again. Between 4 and 8 months, you develop secondary circular reactions. You happen to make the sound "dah" while doting daddy is present (response), you see daddy jumping up and down with excitement at being recognized (stimulus), you repeat the sound (response), daddy jumps up and down some more (stimulus), and so on in that eternal process by which two generations continue to condition one another. Whereas your primary circular reaction was centered on yourself, this secondary circular reaction is centered on your environment. Between 12 and 18 months, you develop tertiary circular reactions. As before, you repeat a behaviour which has an interesting effect, but you vary that behaviour to discover what changes there will be in that effect. Thus, your babbling is not just "ah, ah, ah, ah, ah" as you imitate yourself in the primary circular reaction, nor just "dah, dah, dah, dah, dah" as you perpetuate an interesting effect in the secondary circular reaction, but "ah, dab, mah, maaah, damaa, daaa" as you vary your response to test their effect on your environment. You are conducting experiments; you are beginning your career as a scientist.

classical conditioning    A stimulus, previously neutral (unconditioned stimulus), can come to elicit a response (conditioned reflex) if paired with a stimulus (unconditioned stimulus) which already elicits this response (unconditioned reflex) (Ivan Pavlov).    Extinction is the process of "undoing" conditioning by presenting the conditioned stimulus without the unconditioned stimulus; generalization refers to the fact that dogs conditioning to a whistle of one tone are also conditioned to a lesser extent to nearby tones, and differentiation that dogs can be taught to differentiate between two tones. A chain reflex is a series of linked conditioned reflexes. c.f. instrumental conditioning.

class reasoning    see propositional reasoning

clinical method    see experimental method

cognitive dissonance    The motivation to change a belief or a behavior when two or more beliefs or behaviors are inconsistant. e.g. "I smoke" and "smoking causes cancer" creates pressure to stop smoking or to stop believing (Leon Festinger).

color cone    A diagram to represent the three dimensions of light - brightness (axis of cone), saturation (radius of cone) and hue (circumference of cone).

compulsion see defense mechanisms

conceptual map    see subjective map

concrete operations stage    see stages of cognitive development

conditioned reflex (CR)    see classical conditioning

conditioned stimulus (CS)    see classical conditioning

cones    see duplicity theory

contemporaneous explanation    see historical explanation

contemporaneity principle    see historical explanation

contractual relationship    A relationship based on a "contract", whether explicit or implicit. I'll do this for you if you do that for me. c.f. An intimate relationship which is based on the intrinsic worth of the two unique people involved. They are not, as in the contractual relationship, interchangeable.

cue function    see activation theory

cumulative record    see instrumental conditioning

dark adaptation    see duplicity theory

death instinct    After World War 1, Sigmund Freud reluctantly concluded that we had a death instinct as well as a life instinct. "The aim of life is death."

deep structure    see language acquisition device (LAD)

defense mechanisms    Various strategies for dealing with thoughts that cause anxiety - pushing it down into the unconscious mind.(repression), justify it as having a more noble motive (rationalization), attribute it to others (projection), or pretend to the opposite thought (reaction formation). The two broad strategies for avoiding behavior which causes anxiety are blocking and dodging. Excessive use of blocking strategies leads to hysteria. Anesthesia is blocking at the stimulus level, amnesia is blocking at the central level, and paralysis is blocking at the response level. Excessive use of dodging strategies leads to obsessive-compulsive neuroses. Obsession is dodging by thinking of something else, and compulsion is dodging by doing something else. Failure of both blocking and dodging strategies leads to phobic neuroses.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)    The code in which all organisms are written. Some researchers have argued that ontogenetic memory (that acquired during the individual life of an organism), is written in ribonucleic acid (RNA), a biological cousin to DNA, in which phylogenetic memory (that acquired during the evolution of the species to which the organism belongs) is written.

differentiation    see classical conditioning

ding-dong theory    see speech

double bind    A damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't situation, which can lead to schizophrenia (Ronald D. Laing).

drive    see need-reduction theory

duplicity theory    The visual system consists of one system for bright illumination and another system for dim illumination. The bright-illumination system consists of cones, concentrated in the centre of the eye, which contain iodopsin maximally sensitive to a wavelength of 560 millimicrons; the dim-illumination system consists of rods, concentrated in the periphery of the eye, which contain rhodopsin, maximally sensitive to a wavelength of 510 millimicrons. Dark adaptation is required when moving quickly from bright to dim illumination. Switching from one system to the other takes time.

dyslexia    A reading disorder which causes serious and, until recently undiagnosed, problems in a print-based educational system.

ecosphere    see triad model

ego    Freud couched his theory of personality in dramatic terms.    The three major characters of his cerebral cast are the lusty, mischievous id, the wise, realistic ego, and the nagging, moralistic superego.

emergentism    see reductionism

episodic memory    see memory

equivocation    see transmitted information

erogenous zone    see personality development

evolutionary psychology    see sociobiology

experiential sensitivity    see informational sensitivity

experimental method    The basic method of science in which an independent variable is manipulated, a dependent variable is measured, and extraneous variables are controlled, to test an hypothesis. Clinical method is used when experimental method is inappropriate. The scientist simply listens to the person, using the method of free association (Sigmund Freud) or listens to a child talking spontaneously (Jean Piaget).

extinction    see classical conditioning

extragenetic tools    Tools which are outside the genetic code but still inside the body. c.f. extrasomatic tools - tools which are outside the body (Carl Sagan).

extrasomatic tools    see extragenetic tools

extrinsic motivation    The basic proposition of behaviorism is that a person behaves in order to gain pleasure or avoid pain. That is, motivation is extrinsic. However, there is considerable evidence of a need for stimulation and for consistency - the organic basis for knowing and understanding is built into the nervous system    That is, there is intrinsic motivation.

fecundity    The sole purpose of replicators - whether genes or memes - is to copy themselves. Good replicators have fidelity - they copy accurately, fecundity - they make many copies, and longevity - the copies last a long time (Richard Dawkins).

feral child    a child abandoned early in life who has had minimal conditioning from society, thereby illustrating the extreme inside-out position in child rearing (e.g. The Wild Boy of Aveyron). c.f. forcefed child - a child who is pressured to acquire considerable information from society, thereby illustrating the extreme outside-in position in child rearing (e.g. William James Sidis).

fidelity    see fecundity

fixation    see personality development

fixed schedule    see schedules of reinforcement

forcefed child see feral child

formal operations stage    see stages of cognitive development

free association    see experimental method

functional autonomy    The process by which a behavior shifts from being a means to an end to being an end in itself - from fishing to catch and eat fish to fishing simply to fish.

functional disorder    A structural disorder is one in which a malfunction can be traced to a malstructure. In the case of the nervous system, there can be malfunction for which there is no corresponding malstructure. Such functional disorders are not simply confessions of ignorance but disorders of the person-and-environment.

functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)    see magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

Ganzfeld    (German for "total field".)    A device for exploring the total visual field.    The "pocket Ganzfeld", consisted of two half ping-pong balls placed over the two eyes, produced the same effect as the original Ganzfeld - a six-foot diameter hemisphere.

generalization    see classical conditioning

general systems theory (GST)    study of the general principles of systems. Since all systems have much in common, learning about one system can be applied to other systems.

genital stage    see personality development

Global Village    Since instantaneous communication is now possible throughout our globe - thanks to the informatics infrastructure of computers and telephone receivers interlinked by telecommunications - our entire planet can be considered as a Global Village (Marshall McLuhan).

goal    see need-reduction theory

gradient of reinforcement see instrumental conditioning

guided growth    Those who view teaching as an outside-in process consider it as guided growth. Those who view teaching as an inside-out process focus on natural readiness.

hetero-phenomenology    see auto-phenomenology

heuristics    The set of skills for organizing information at the source for effective transmission. c.f. mnemonics,    the set of skills for organizing information at the destination for effective reception.

hierarchy of needs    When a person satisfies biological needs, s/he shifts gears up to social needs, and, when s/he satisfies social needs, s/he shifts gears up to psychologial needs (Abraham H. Maslow).

hippocampus    see lower brain

historical explanation    Explaining present behavior in terms of the past - conditioning (behaviorists) or trauma (psychoanalysists). c. f. teleological explanation - explaining present behavior in terms of the future - hopes and fears, and contemporaneous explanation - explaining present behavior in terms of the present. The contemporaneity principle is that present behavior can only be explained by present causes, since conditioning and trauma from past or hopes and fears from the future must be represented in the present (Kurt Lewin). holocene era    see quaternary period

homeostasis    see need-reduction theory

Human Genome Project    The breaking of the code in which our species is written. It turned into a race between public and private organizations, with the private organization winning, raising important moral and legal issues about the commercial spin-off from the resultant knowledge.

hypothetical construct    A name assigned to a structure which is assumed to underly a known function. It is a sort of place-holder until the structure is identified. Reticular activating system (RAS) was a hypothetical structure until it was discovered that the amygdala served its function.

hysteria    see defense mechanisms

id    see ego

IMAX    A film technology, developed at the National Film Board in Canada, but now exploited in the United States. Massive cameras shoot large rolls of film to be projected on to huge screens. In the IMAX theaters, the film is high enough and wide enough to include the whole visual field of the viewer, thus making the experience closer to that of the "mind movie". In the OMNIMAX theaters, this effect is further enhanced by projecting the image on a semi-circular surface.

imprinting    The process by which nature leaves a gap in the unfolding of the genetic program in the development of an organism to be filled in by the environment. Researchers have explored this phenomenon by interfering with nature's plans - for example, by substituting a person for a goose as the first large moving object seen by goslings (Konrad Lorenz). The acquisition of language could be considered as an imprinting process, in which nature leaves a large gap to be filled in by the particular language community in which the child is developing.

informational sensitivity    The sensitivity of an organism to the information available in its environment. c.f. experiential sensitivity - that subset of the information available in the environment which becomes part of the experience of the organism. Many empirical studies have demonstrated that information influences human behavior without becoming a part of human experience (Owen Flanagan).

information overload    The proliferation of media has caused concern about information overload. However, it is only a problem if you assume that you have to assimilate it all. Those who consider education as growing from the inside-out welcome the enriched environment. There is however an underlying problem of management of complexity. We have to learn how to make a fuller and richer subjective map of the objective world.

Instrumental conditioning    A stimulus, previously neutral, can come to elicit a response if it is instrumental in gaining access to a stimulus which already elicits a desirable response. Also called trial-and-error learning (Edward Thorndike). Thorndike used a puzzle box, which was transformed by automation by B. F. Skinner into a Skinner Box. Total automation is prevented only by the fact that the rat must be taught to press the lever. This is done by a process called shaping, using the method of successive approximations. Subsequently the rat leaves its own cumulative record of its bar-pressing. When a response is followed by a reward, it is more likely to occur again (law of effect). Since all the responses are eventually followed by the reward, the law of effect must be supplemented by the gradient of reinforcement: the closer in time the reward to the response, the greater the strengthening effect. c. f. classical conditioning.

intelligence amplification (IA)    see artificial intelligence (AI)

interval schedule    see schedules of reinforcement

intimate relationships    see contractual relationships

intrinsic motivation    see extrinsic motivation

introspectionists    Early psychologists who viewed psychology as the analysis of experience into its elements. iodopsin    see duplicity theory

kernel sentence    see language acquisition device (LAD)

language    A hierarchy of units plus rules for combining units at each level to make meaningful units at the next level. The smallest units are phonemes (sounds - corresponding roughly to the letters of the alphabet), which can be combined by the rules of vocabulary to create morphemes (smallest meaningful units - corresponding roughly to words). Those can, in turn, be combined by the rules of grammar into sentences, and those can, in turn, be combined by the rules of logic into discourses. see imprinting.

language acquisition device (LAD)    A hypothetical construct in the brain to explain the easy acquisition of language by children during a sensitive period (Noam Chomsky). It does not unfold in a vacuum. It needs a language-acquisition support system (LASS) (Jerome Bruner).    Person is applying built-in rules of grammar to generate a kernel sentence, which can be transformed into a question, etc. by applying rules of transformation. Hence, underneath the surface structure of language there is the deep structure of thought.

language acquisition support system (LASS)    see language acquisition device (LAD)

latency period    see personality development

law of effect    see instrumental conditioning

left hemisphere Since it contained the speech centres, it was considered the dominant half of the cerebral cortex. The right hemisphere was considered as a spare part. It is a useful heuristic to consider them as creating, respectively, conceptual and perceptual maps of the objective world. see subjective map.

libido    see personality development

logical operators see propositional reasoning

Logo    A computer language designed to teach geometry to children (Seymour Papert).

longevity    see fecundity

long-term memory    see memory

lower brain    Structures in the lower brain, underneath the upper brain of the cerebral cortex, play significant roles in memory. The hypocampus is involved in the transfer of short-term memory into long-term memory; the amygdala in abstracting semantic memory from episodic memory; the putamen in procedural memory.

macho interface    see user interface

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)    A medical tool which provides a 3-D image of the brain. c. f. functional Magnetic Resonance Imagining (fMRI) which lights up this 3-D image with the parts which are active, thus providing a means of identifying the structures which correspond to various functions.

management of complexity    see information overload meme    The gene is the replicating system underlying biological evolution; the meme is a second replicating system underlying cultural evolution. Genetics is the study of the gene; memetics is the study of the meme.

memetics    see meme

memory    Means of storing information available to our species at birth. On closer examination, it must be differentiated into short-term memory and long-term memory, procedural memory (riding a bicycle) and semantic memory (remembering a code), the latter is abstracted from episodic memory (recalling a past event).

method of successive approximations    see instrumental conditioning

mind movie    The mind could be considered as a magnificent movie studio which creates a "mind movie" running continuously throughout a lifetime. It also doubles as a movie theater where we can watch the show. Alas, it has only one seat and we need to become artists to show our home movies. see also IMAX, visual field.

mnemonics    see heuristics

Moore's Law    The law that computer memory will half in size and cost every 18 months. It has held for the last few decades and it is broadly assumed that it will continue to apply for some time (Gordon Moore).

morpheme    see language

natural readiness    see guided growth

natural selection see theory of evolution

need    see need-reduction theory

need-reduction theory    An organism is jerked out of a steady state (homeostatis) by a state of deprivation called a need (hunger, thirst, etc.). In order to return to this steady state it must behave appropriately with respect to some environmental object called the positive goal (eating food, drinking water). The physiological need is transformed into a psychological drive, since only the nervous system knows the environment. see also theory of evolution

noise    see transmitted information

object concept    You now perceive your world as composed of objects, which continue to exist even when you are no longer looking at them (object concept) and which remain the same despite the different ways you look at them - that is, they remain the same size despite variation in your distance from them, the same brightness despite variation in the illumination on them, and the same shape despite variation in your orientation to them (object constancy). You acquired those perceptions during your sensorimotor stage of cognitive development.

object constancy    see object concept

objective world    see subjective map

observer effect    Since the person in the center of the triad model is the element of the sociosphere, the social sciences must deal with the observer effect. That is, what is observed can be changed by the act of observing it, and by the attitudes of the observer. Since the person in the center is the source of the technosphere, in the sciences of the artificial we must deal with the participant effect. That is, the effect on the person can be influenced by the actions and attitudes of the person.

obsession    see defense mechanisms

obsessive-compulsive neurosis    see defense mechanisms

Oedipus complex    see personality development


oof-ouch theory    see speech

Operating Manual for Species Homo Sapiens    A hypothetical manual which helps us operate our nervous systems. The author argues that all normal brains operate according to the same basic principles. Individual differences are a function of the extent to which a person learns those principles, which deal largely with the skills and tools of the four generations of media. The first generation could be considered as the conception-day gift and the other three generations as the unwrapping of this gift over historical time.

oral stage    see personality development

ordinal reasoning    see propositional reasoning

paralysis    see defense mechanisms

partial reinforcement    see schedules of reinforcement

participant effect    see observer effect

perceptron    A simulation of the visual system to test certain theories about its function (Frank Rosenblatt).

perceptual map    see subjective map

personality development (Sigmund Freud).    Your life energy, or libido, is satisfied in turn through various erogenous zones - mouth (oral stage),anus (anal stage), genitals (phallic stage).    After surviving the Oedipus complex (love for mother and hatred of father) and castration complex (fear father will castrate him), the male child goes into a latency period, and then emerges into the genital stage, where the libido is directed to someone other than the mother. Many aspects of adult personality are due to failure to pass successfully through the various stages (fixation) or the return to a previous stage (regression).

phallic stage    see personality development

phobic neurosis    see defense mechanisms

phoneme    see language

pleasure principle    see reality principle

pleistocene era    see quaternary period

positive prosthetic    A device which enhances human functioning rather than simply replacing a function which is damaged.

prestige    see self-esteem

primary circular reaction    see circular reaction

procedural memory    see memory

projection    see defense mechanisms

propositional reasoning    Reasoning using propositions. A proposition is anything which can be said to be true or false. Thus, in a world containing two propositions, there are four possible options. Logical operators - if-then, either-or, etc. - are words which eliminate one or more of those options. Class reasoning uses logical operators - all, some, and no - to organize things into categories. Ordinal reasoning uses logical operators - is greater than, is equal to, is less than - to organize things along dimensions.

pro-social behaviour    Positive social behaviour to offset the traditional emphasis on anti-social behaviour.

putamen    see lower brain

puzzle box    Device for studying learning in cats. The cat must learn to press a lever to get out of the box to earn "fish, friends, and freedom" (Edward Thorndike). c.f. Skinner box an upgraded puzzle box in which the dispensing of rewards and the recording of responses is automated (B. F. Skinner). See instrumental conditioning.

quaternary period    The fourth period in geological time. It is divided into the pleistocene era (1,800,000 to 10,000 years ago) and the holocene era (10,000 years ago till now).

rapid eye movements (REMs)    Noticed during dreaming and thus an objective indicator of a subjective state.

ratio schedule    see schedules of reinforcement

rationalisation    see defense mechanisms

reaction formation    see defense mechanisms

reality principle    The ego tries to maximize truth - the reality principle; the id tries to maximizes pleasure - the pleasure principle. Hence, they come into conflict when truth and pleasure are incompatible.

reductionism    The process of reducing a problem to a lower level in a hierarchy of systems within systems.     C.f. emergentism - the process of raising the problem to a higher level.

redundancy    A feature of language in which the probability of an element is constrained by its context. e.g. the letter after Q in English must be a U and the next letter must be a vowel. The Shannon guessing game, in which subjects are asked to guess which letter comes next in context, is designed to measure redundancy.

regression    see personality development

repression    see defense mechanisms

reticular activating system (RAS)    see hypothetical construct

reversible figure    A figure which switches figure and ground alternatively.

rhodopsin    see duplicity theory

ribonucleic acid (RNA)    see deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)

right hemisphere    see left hemisphere, subjective map

rods    see duplicity theory

sailboat effect    Sailboat technology improved considerably when the sailboat was challenged by the steamship. Hence sailboat effect refers to improvements in a technology as a result of the emergence of a competing technology.

schedules of reinforcement    Total reinforcement means that every response is rewarded. c.f. Partial reinforcement in which only some responses are rewarded. Schedules of reinforcement can be a function of time - e.g. a pellet every ten seconds (interval schedule) or of responses - e.g. a pellet after every ten responses (ratio schedule). Interval and ratio schedules can be every ten seconds or every ten responses (fixed schedule) or, on the average, every ten seconds or every ten responses (variable schedule).

secondary circular reaction    see circular reaction

self esteem Worth in one's own eyes. c. f. prestige - worth in the eyes of others.

self-fulfilling prophecy    The tendency for something to become true because you believe that it is true. What you expect is what you get.

semantic memory    see memory

sensory deprivation    Since we have a need for stimulation, the limitation in sensory input is a very disturbing experience.

sensorimotor stage    see stages of cognitive development

Shannon guessing game    see redundancy

Shannon-Weaver model of communication    information is transmitted by a source over a channel and received by a destination. The criterion of success is the overlap between information transmitted by the source and information received by the destination (transmitted information). Information transmitted but not received is called equivocation; information received but not transmitted is called noise. The basic unit of information is the binary unit (bit) - the amount of information which cuts uncertainty in half.

shaping    see instrumental conditioning

short-term memory    see memory

siliclone    A silicon clone of yourself. It consists of all your publications and presentations plus your favorite quotes and anecdotes, collected on a CD-ROM or in a web site. It serves as a satellite when you are alive and a surrogate when you are dead. People can visit your mind at your web site rather than your body at your grave site. (W. Lambert Gardiner)

Skinner box    see instrumental conditioning, puzzle box

sociobiology    A discipline which considered sociological phenomena in terms of biological concepts (E. O. Wilson). After opposing it initially, psychologists subsumed it under evolutionary psychology.

sociosphere    see triad model, observer effect

speech    Means of transmitting information available to our species at birth. Some theories of origin of speech: it evolved as imitation of sounds heard in nature (ding-dong theory), as imitation of sounds made by animals (bow-wow theory), out of interjections (oof-ouch theory), to accompany strenuous group activity (yo-he-ho theory).

stages of cognitive development    The three major stages of cognitive development are:

  • sensorimotor stage
  • concrete operations stage
  • formal operations stage (Jean Piaget).
  • Standard Social Science Model (SSSM)    The typical model underlying much social science. It assumes that the mind is a blank slate (tabula rasa) on which the environment writes. structural disorder    see functional disorder

    subliminal perception    perception of information below the level of awareness.

    subjective map    The various maps each of us has of the objective world. The map can be composed of images (perceptual map) or of words (conceptual map). It is a useful heuristic to associate the conceptual map with the left hemisphere of the brain (where the speech center is located) and the perceptual map with the right hemisphere.

    superego    see ego

    surface structure     see language acquisition device (LAD)

    symbolic function    The function of representing something with something else.

    synergetic society    see antagonistic society

    tabula isola    see tabula rasa

    tabula rasa    The mind is a "blank slate" on which experiences writes (John Locke). c.f. tabula isola Cognitive functions take place within the single, isolated brain (Merlin Donald). see Standard Social Science Model (SSSM).

    teaching machine    a device containing a programme for teaching based on the principles of instrumental conditioning (B. F. Skinner).

    technosphere    see triad model, observer effect

    teleological explanation    see historical explanation

    tertiary circular reaction    see circular reaction

    tetrad    A tool for exploring the impact of any new technology. It consists of a system of four questions you should ask of each such technology (Marshall & Eric McLuhan).

    theories of communication:    

  • transportation theory of communication information is transported from source to destination.
  • transformation theory of communication information is transformed at the destination since information is already stored at the destination.
  • transaction theory of communication communication is a transaction between two people each responding to the feedback from the other.
  • theory of evolution    The theory that species evolved through the survival of the fittest - that is, of the members of the species who best "fitted" their environment (Charles Darwin). The basic principle of the theory is natural selection - organisms with a fitter characteristic will be better represented in the next generation.    c.f. social Darwinism - the (ab)use of the theory of evolution as a rationale (rationalization?) for certain social policies (Herbert Spencer).

    theory of recapitulation    the now-discarded theory that development in the womb is a hi-speed rerun of the evolution of our species.

    total reinforcement    see schedules of reinforcement

    TOTE unit    The basic unit of the planning function (Miller, Galanter, and Pribram). Discrepancy between a desired state and a current state is removed by a feedback loop involving TEST-OPERATE-TEST-EXIT (TOTE).

    transaction theory of communication    see theories of communication

    transformation theory of communication    see theories of communication

    transmitted information    Overlap between information transmitted by the source and information received by the destination.         c. f. noise Information received by the destination but not transmitted by the source; equivocation Information transmitted by the source but not received by the destination. see Shannon-Weaver model of communication.

    transportation theory of communication    see theories of communication

    triad model    A model in which the person is represented as the triple overlap of three spheres - ecosphere (the natural world), sociosphere (the social world), and technosphere (the person-made world). Those are the domains, respectively, of the natural science, the social sciences, and the “sciences of the artificial” (Herbert Simon). See observer effect

    trial-and-error learning    see instrumental conditioning

    Turing machine    An infinite loop of squares, containing either 0 or 1, passing through a device which can either change or retain that symbol. Such a machine can solve any problem which can be clearly stated (Alan Turing).

    Turing test    You are sitting at a terminal linked to another terminal which you can't see. If, by interacting with that other terminal, you can't tell whether it is operated by a person or a machine, then the machine has passed the Turing Test (Alan Turing).

    uncertainty    see bit, Shannon-Weaver model of communication

    unconditioned reflex (UCR)    see classical conditioning

    unconditioned stimulus (UCS)    see classical conditioning

    user illusion    see user interface

    user interface    The relationship between a person and a machine. Early computers were characterized by a MACHO interface, since they were used largely by engineers who were comfortable with technology and technological language. As the use of computers spread beyond this select group, it was necessary for the computer to present a more friendly interface. The WIMP (window-icon-mouse-pulldownmenu) interface replaced the MACHO interface. It is based on the user illusion that the person is working on documents stored in folders sitting on a desktop.

    vampire effect    The fact that video overwhelms audio on television.

    variable schedule    see schedules of reinforcement

    viral marketing    Encouraging the spread of information about one's product by word of mouth.

    visual field    The snapshot of the world seen by a person at any moment. It could be considered as a "still" in the "mind movie" (J. J. Gibson).

    Wallace paradox    The fact that the theory of evolution can explain only how we got to a hunter-gatherer society. It can't explain how we managed the transitions from hunter-gatherer to agricultural, industrial, and now information societies over historical time. Evolution moves too slowly to explain such "sudden" changes, according to Alfred Russel Wallace.

    Wernicke's area    see Broca's area

    WIMP interface    see user interface

    yo-he-ho theory    see speech

    Young-Helmholtz theory    A theory of color perception based on the relative sensitivity to the light spectrum of three sets of cones. see duplicity theory.

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