Added October 2020

Cognition includes thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating.


To simplify our thinking, we use concepts: mental groupings of similar objects, events, ideas, or people. We often form our concepts by developing a prototype, a mental image or best example of a category.

Our thinking makes use of intuitions (effortless, immediate, automatic feelings or thoughts) which rely on heuristics (simple thinking strategies). These enable us to make judgments and solve problems efficiently, but also make us vulnerable to cognitive biases.

Common heuristics and biases include:

  • confirmation bias: searching for information that supports our preconceptions
  • the availability heuristic: estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory
  • overconfidence: the tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our beliefs and judgments
  • framing effects: how an issue is presented can affect our decisions and judgments
  • To promote creativity, develop expertise; set a problem aside so that automatic processing can form associations; make time for the mind to roam freely; and experience other cultures and ways of thinking.

    Resources: Kahneman 2011

    Learning & Memory

    Memory is measured by recall, recognition, and relearning.

    Remembering something requires encoding, storage, and retrieval. Nondeclarative memories are produced by automatic processing, but declarative memories (those we are consciously aware of) require effortful processing. Effortful processing begins in sensory memory, then proceeds from working memory to long-term memory.

    When material feels familiar, you often believe you know it better than you do. You can improve your memory by repeatedly testing yourself, and by building mental models that make the material meaningful.

    Resources: Brown et al. 2014