Cognition, Emotion & Motivation (part II)

The article “Cognitive-behavior modification and organizational culture” shows how organizational culture is the focus and barrier to improving organizational performance (Boan, 2006). A research design examining organizational culture in promoting healthcare improvement develops an intervention to enhance organizational teams. The intervention is a training program based on cognitive psychology models of organizational culture.

Cognitive-behavior modification or CBM integrates the technology of behaviorism, social learning theories and cognitive psychology. CBM focuses on a discourse and a narrative. In CBM, change starts with observing behavior through awareness and attention. This change begins with the narrative story in which the subject elaborates on their experience. It is possible to reconstruct the participant’s perception and thus reshape their behavior. The reconstructed narrative is made of new behaviors, skills associated with these behaviors, and barriers or supports in the environment to resist or assist with the behaviors. Both, personal and organizational realities are constructed by the individual. Organizational culture and personal reality do not exist apart from perception and behavior. The Consultant becomes a co-constructivist. The consultant must understand the subject culture and the existing narrative concerning how the organization functions. The narrative is a shared mental model that develops from the experience of organizational members and communicates the values of the organization. The consultant helps clients reframe events. Events are not failures, but understandable in the context of the environment. All organizations have cultures that introduce bias in the perceptions created by individuals. The consultant conducts a functional assessment. Changing behavior must be supported by structures. Structures that are barriers to effective constructed narrative need to be changed. The consultant helps the client develop necessary skills. The consultant uses modeling, coaching, training, and education, to assist the client. Effective behaviors are interpersonal behaviors, communication, and decision-making. The consultant leverages key relationships. Leadership makes a difference and has control over the corporate understanding of how things are done in the particular organization. The consultant reduces complexity. Change is easier with micro-teams in which there is control over the environment. Organizations could include subcultures competing for influence over the organization. To summarize, this article proposes a model that integrates the internal cognitive processes with the functions of the environment for advantageous organizational interventions. The individual is the architect of his or her environment. The person elicits and responds to the environment. Culture is essential to effecting organizational change and to improve health care. Change agents are identified and selected teams receive intervention. These interventions start with training agents in assessment followed by dialog to clarify perceptions and interaction changes. In a larger scale, interventions will be prepared for testing through systematic application to external companies. Testing will validate the model and clarify the relationship between intervention components and clarify the explication of methods for intervention. Having mastered in organizational psychology and having consulted for Fortune 100 companies, I find this model very applicable and promising for any size company.

The article “Connecting and Separating Mind-Sets: Culture as Situated Cognition” shows how people perceive meaningful wholes and afterwards separate the parts (Oyserman et al., 2009). There are cross-national differences in how a target is first perceived. The proposed culture-as-situated-cognition model explains these differences as due to a collective or individual mind-set. Eight studies demonstrate that when cultural mind-set and task demands are congruent, easier tasks are accomplished faster and more difficult tasks are accomplished more accurately. There are homogeneous effects across geographic place, race, task, and sensory mode. This article examines the difference in initial focus of attention. This study’s hypothesis says that societies differ in the likelihood that the mind is cued to focus first on separate points or on connected relationships. Societies differ in their levels of individualism and collectivism and these differences have consequences based on differences in values, self-concepts, styles of emotional expression, relationships and cognitive processes. Distal differences in philosophy, religion, language, and history could create differences in cognitive processes and ways of defining the self. The culture-as-situated-cognition model says that cognition is situated and pragmatic. This model predicts that cultural mind-sets influence content and process. This article hypothesizes that primed cultural mind-set facilitates performance on cognitive tasks best performed with mind-set-congruent cognitive procedures, across societies and sensory modes, and following speed-accuracy tradeoffs. This article demonstrates effects of primed cultural mind-set using a pronoun circling task. This study also demonstrates parallel effects in different societies. Again, it demonstrates effects across tasks using different sensory modes and replicated tasks. In addition, it demonstrates systematic speed and accuracy tradeoffs. Last, it demonstrates effects across American ethnic groups on academic tasks, like standardized tests. This study uses the priming technique of pronoun circling task, because the content does not include terms that are the processes hypothesized to be cued. Demonstrating effects on process cued by pronouns underscores the concept that cultural mind-sets are process infused. The use of the pronoun task fits the principles of situated cognition that say cognition is context sensitive. The one-tailed tests of probability are used to test the significance of priming cultural mind-sets. Moderation by gender and race is tested using two-tailed tests of probability.

Results support the culture-as-situated-cognition model. The model implies that language use, self-concept, goals, and motivation, may cue mind-set because any psychologically important aspect of the situation that is relevant to action should matter. These effects are mediated by change in self-construal. This study suggests that a more prudent model is to predict that individual and collective mind-sets may be cued directly and that is not necessarily via self-concept. Features of the situation may directly cue a mind-set, connecting or separating cognitive goals. Cued procedures and goals may cue a salient self-construal.

Cross-national comparison cannot isolate the role of specific components of culture. Research on chronic differences in cognitive processes shows Chinese people being more holistic, seeing the big picture, and Japanese individuals being more relativistic than Americans, who are more analytic and absolute in their perceptual judgment. This article’s findings suggest that effects are due to differences in the content, cognitive process, or goals cued in the moment. Participants in diverse societies acquire the procedural repertoires associated with individualism and collectivism. These active components of culture influence cognitive content and the use of important cognitive procedures. This study demonstrates that individual and collective mind-set priming effects occur across geographical boundaries. These results suggest that cultural mind-sets matter in similar ways across societies and within heterogeneous societies.

Within heterogeneous societies, a mismatch can occur between the cultural mind-set that is cued in context and the mind-set that is best suited to the task at hand. A collective mind-set cue may be salient for some test takers but not others due to small changes in context. Other cues can also matter. Within an American context, the test-taking context may make minority racial or social class identities salient, cuing social goals and triggering a collective mind-set. When a pull-apart and separate mind-set is suitable to the task at hand, cuing a collective mind-set undermines performance.

Cultural mind-sets can be shifted. Mind-sets are malleable to shifts in pragmatic meaning. Small interventions may produce important changes. My interpretation of these studies is that quantum physics and spiritual practices also demonstrate and teach similar or identical principles. I agree with them and I do my best to practice them daily, for a better and better life-style

The article “Spacing Effects of Multiple Exposures on Memory: Implications for Advertising Scheduling” shows that the spacing effect is the fact that longer intervals between exposures result in better learning than shorter intervals (Sawyer et al., 2009). This article offers empirical generalizations or EGs about the size of the spacing effect and the conditions that make a difference. The EGs in this article are based on results of a meta-analysis of laboratory experiments in cognitive psychology and marketing.

Repeated exposures are effective in terms of learning. The spacing effect is an undisputed phenomenon. Research has found that the spacing effect holds for many different types of stimuli. Spacing among intervening exposures of many other stimuli enhances memory for nonsense syllables, words, sentences, pictures, and faces. The effect has been demonstrated for repeated instructions in the classroom and the learning of science and math concepts, vocabulary, and text processing.

This article is a meta-analysis of 248 controlled repeated exposure experiments about the spacing effect with sufficient statistical information to calculate effect sizes. The median time between the last exposure and measurement of memory ranges up to 21 days. Most of the studies test schedules of two exposures. Respondents range from 4 to 69 years old. The different variables include the type of learning, form, meaningfulness, familiarity, complexity, type of stimuli, relatedness of memory cues, incidental or intentional processing, stimulus presentation medium, complexity and similarity of the intervening material, and memory performance. The results show that the spacing effect is statistically significant.

There are EGs about differences in the size of the spacing effect for different types of exposed stimuli. All empirical evidence implies that scheduling repeated exposures more distributed across a time span produces better memory than the same number of exposures massed closer together. Advertisers should attempt to space exposures across a period as long as that time span does not exceed what is needed for retention of some sort of memory trace of the prior exposure.

Another EG is that retrieval theory is consistent with the pattern of results from the meta-analysis. This theory assumes that effective media schedules encourage elaborated processing of an advertisement during initial exposures in order to enhance subsequent retrieval of those exposures. The common schedule with an initial flight of 30 commercials at the beginning of an advertising campaign followed by 15 compressions of these commercials might produce better memory for the content of the commercials than two shorter flights of longer commercials.

Another EG is that an effective repetition strategy might obtain incidental processing during some exposures of advertising material and intentional processing during other exposures. An effective repetition strategy could be to alternate spaced exposures in media varying in terms of involvement. Involving media include print or internet sites sought by consumers, whereas less involving media include broadcast and product placements.

Another EG is that, in addition to using different media, distributed exposures of different types of messages that encourage different levels of involved processing are recommended. Schedules might be more effective if they included messages that differ in terms of complexity, length, hard sell versus soft sell, and closed-ended versus open-ended. Semantically complex advertisements benefit more from spaced multiple exposures than simpler ones.

In the study, the spacing effect is strong for oral stimuli compared to stimuli presented only visually or simultaneously in both formats. Radio is a medium processed on a low-involvement basis. Also, novel stimuli benefit more from the spacing effect than familiar ones. The research discloses greater effectiveness for increased advertising weight for new brand than for familiar brands. The research discloses better results. Again, the meaningfulness of the repeated stimuli influences the size of the spacing effect. Less meaningful stimuli benefit more from distributed exposures than do more meaningful stimuli. Last, cued processing of repeated exposures benefits from spaced schedules more than incidental processing does. Cued processing is like involved processing. Purchase situations higher in involvement might benefit more from spaced schedules. More semantically complex content benefits more from spacing than less difficult content. It is appropriate to space more complex content such as print advertisements with relatively long copy. There would be less of a disadvantage for a more massed campaign for simpler advertisements.

The spacing effect is on repeated symbols and pictures, words, sentences, and other educational materials. Variables that make a difference in the lab offer the best predictions about advertising. Advertisers should attempt to space exposures across a period as long as that time span does not exceed what is needed for retention of some sort of memory trace of the prior exposure. Spaced multiple exposures produce greater learning than repeated exposures with short intervals. Longer intervals between exposures result in better learning than shorter intervals. To conclude, my interpretation of this article is positive. Next time I spend money, time and energy to advertise my business, I will implement these principles. I think these principles are applicable to internet marketing.

The article “Understanding How Cognitive Psychology Can Inform and Improve Spanish Vocabulary Acquisition in High School Classrooms” shows how educators deal with dynamic functions of the human brain daily (Erbes et al., 2010). This empirical study investigates how information about human memory from the field of cognitive psychology can be applied specifically to teaching Spanish vocabulary in high school classrooms. Research on human memory can improve teaching vocabulary in high school Spanish classes.

The field of cognitive psychology lays a foundation in teacher preparation because all prospective teachers begin the road to teacher certification with courses in cognitive development. In schools, teachers interact regularly with students in classrooms where students are receiving, processing, storing, and retrieving information using their brains. The brain can receive and store information in multiple different ways. Through numerous sensory rich input mechanisms, the brain receives bits of information and carefully stores it into its short term, working, or long term memory. People could connect their learning capacities with instructional goals to bridge educational and cognitive psychology. The brain can retain and retrieve knowledge using its different memory systems.

Foreign language classes have presented declarative knowledge memorizing information. There are different types of memory functions of the brain that can be utilized to help students retain and retrieve information learned in a classroom. Foreign language teaching is an example of the implementation of teaching methodologies which do not take advantage of the long term memory capacities of the brain. Rote rehearsal is implemented in school foreign language classrooms and is a conventional technique that involves mainly continual repetition. Elaborative rehearsal links new information with familiar material. Through rehearsal, learners extract the meaning of the new information and then link it to pre-existing material already in memory. The more associations, the more likely one is to remember the new information later. Using this method, people tend to remember meaningful material better than arbitrary facts.

Common strategies of teaching foreign language vocabulary included the keyword approach, the use of real life things, associating personal connections to the semantic structures of words, rote rehearsal, using picture-word pairs, and rehearsing vocabulary using flashcard images. In this study, the student populations reflect upper-middle class communities. The two classes are chosen based on teacher permission and class scheduling. Each class consists of an average of 25 students. All student participants complete a pre-survey, are present for scripted lessons, and take all six post tests. The students are learning Spanish for the first time. The data analyzed for this study included a total of 78 students. The objective of each lesson is for the students to learn 15 food vocabulary words in Spanish. In the study, the traditional lesson involves mainly rote repetition. In this case, the teacher makes students repeat each Spanish word twice along with its English translation after the teacher. Afterwards, the teacher proceeds with an activity where the students orally repeat each Spanish word again after the teacher models the pronunciation of the word, and then students write the vocabulary word under its visual image on a worksheet.

The non-traditional lesson involves deeper processing with the use of real food items, and an exercise that prompts students to consider whether they like or not the food items. The teacher then holds up a real food item of each vocabulary word and asks the students to repeat. On the worksheet, students mark the box to indicate a pleasant or unpleasant connection to a particular vocabulary word. A high inter-rater reliability is determined with a Pearson product-moment correlation (PMCC). Microsoft Excel and SPSS are used to conduct statistical analyses, examining the effects of the two teaching methods based on the quizzes.

Results show a significant multivariate effect and significant within-subjects effects. Tests of between-subjects effects reveal a significant school effect. Memory for these vocabulary words is highest immediately after the non-traditional lesson followed by a loss of memory after 3 and 24 days after the lesson. Traditional and non-traditional lesson exposures produce the highest scores when testing is immediately after the lesson. Subsequent testing reveals progressively lower scores. These results indicate that memory for this vocabulary word is higher after an exposure of the non-traditional teaching methods, even 3 days and 24 days later.

To conclude, I find this study very interesting. I am not surprised of the results. My first language is Italian and I teach it to private students sometimes. In my teaching it, I implement principles of Neuro-Lingusitic Programming, which involve all senses. For instance, I take students for a walk and I make them touch certain things in the environment and create for them a concrete, experiential association with words and their sounds, surface or touch or kinesthetic, smell, color, and shape. I notice that my students are likely to retain the words better when I introduce these hands on experiences, than when we sit at the table at my desk in the office. I was taught English from age 7, but from an Italian teacher with an accent and studying British literature, like Shakespeare. I am not surprised that when I came to the States, I was and still am speaking English with an Italian accent. I am also not surprised that my English back then was not conversational, as the old Shakespearian language did not come in handy. I would like to see more scientific research on the differences of learning foreign languages at different ages, to show when the brain is more highly predisposed to learn foreign words. I hypothesize it is at a young age.


Boan, D. (2006). Cognitive-behavior modification and organizational culture. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 58(1), 51-61.
Erbes, S., Folkerts, M., Gergis, C., Pederson, S., & Stivers, H. (2010). Understanding How Cognitive Psychology Can Inform and Improve Spanish Vocabulary Acquisition in High School Classrooms. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 37(2), 120-132.
Matlin, M. (2008) Cognition New York: John Wiley & Sons.
Oyserman, D., Sorensen, N., Reber, R., & Xiaohua Chen, S. (2009). Connecting and Separating Mind-Sets: Culture as Situated Cognition. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 97(2), 217-235.
Sawyer, A., Noel, H., & Janiszewski, C. (2009). The Spacing Effects of Multiple Exposures on Memory: Implications for Advertising Scheduling. Journal of Advertising Research, 49(2), 193-197.

Thank you.

Dr Elena Pezzini
You Have Got The Power, Inc.
You Got The Power, non profit organization
Turnaround Coaching Psychology & Hypnosis
Office (702) 518-6649 Fax (251) 217-0082

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