PSYC 272 – Selected Topics in Cognitive Psychology - “Performance Paradigms”

Wednesdays 10-12am McGill 5240


Psychology is plagued by noisy data and failures to replicate. However, there are few experimental
paradigms that have become the gold standard because they produce reliable results and index
important Psychological processes. These paradigms are used broadly as measurement tools,
spanning across Cognitive Psychology, Social Cognition, and Psycholinguistics. These paradigms often involve responding as accurately or as quickly as possible in generic knowledge tasks in the face of nominally irrelevant information from primes or distractors. Each week, readings will focus on one of these paradigms, and the goal is to develop a broader perspective that considers the underlying perceptual, attentional, decisional, response, and knowledge representations that are common to these tasks. Examples of these paradigms include lexical-decision, perceptual identification, repetition blindness, “negative priming”, the Implicit Association Test, stereotype threat, Attentional Blink, the stop-signal paradigm, and the Eriksen flanker task.


Class Requirements: 2 readings each week (original article and recent review), attend classes and engage in discussion, final paper.


Class discussion: Bring to class a 1 page list of discussion questions in relation to the readings. Please have a minimum of 4 questions. No one will be the official leader of class discussion. Instead, we will take turns asking these questions. Try to come up with discussion questions that cut to the core issues at hand or that are otherwise critical of the work (e.g., alternative explanations). Try to avoid questions that simply ask for clarification about the work (clarification will hopefully be addressed in the course of the discussion).


Final paper (due by Wednesday 10am of finals week): For your final paper, choose two of the paradigms and write a brief review paper (e.g., 10 pages double spaced) that considers the common underlying processes involved in these paradigms, as well as critical differences. This may necessitate a more thorough review of the relevant literature beyond what is covered in class. You can also consider the relationship between these paradigms and your own work.


List of Covered Paradigms:


1)      Language

a)      Short-term Word Priming (4/7)

i)        Meyer & Schvaneveldt (1971)

ii)       Huber (2008)

b)      Semantic Satiation (4/14)

i)        Smith & Klein (1990)

ii)       Tian & Huber (in press)

c)      Speech Perception (4/21)

i)        Mullennix & Pisoni (1990)

ii)       Goldinger, Kleider, & Shelley (1999)

2)      Categorization (4/28)

a)      Posner & Keele (1968)

b)      Nosofsky (1986)

3)      Attention

a)      Temporal attention (5/5)

i)        Shapiro, Arnell, & Raymond (1997)

ii)       Oliviers & Meeter (2008)

b)      Spatial attention (5/12)

i)        Posner & Cohen (1984)

ii)       Klein (2000)

4)      Working Memory Capacity (5/19)

i)        Miller (1956) html or pdf

ii)       Miyake et al. (2000)

5)      Social Cognition

a)      Implicit Association Test (5/26)

i)        Greenwald, McGhee, & Schwartz (1998)

ii)       Nosek, Greenwald, & Banaji (2007)

b)      Stereotype Threat (6/2)

i)        Steele and Aronson (1995)

ii)       Smith (2004)