Project Archive: Whatcha Thinking About? Cognitive Psychology and You

This is a snapshot of project information archived on 2 September 2022. Please contact the project team for most recent updates.

Whatcha thinking about? Cognitive Psychology and You

Subject: Psychology

Book Language: English

Audience: Undergraduate majors in psychology taking upper-level courses

Created date: June 3, 2021

Updated date: August 3, 2021

Target Release Date: 2022-01-01


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About the Project

Welcome participants and potential volunteers to this little pet project I’ve started. This project came about as a result of discussions with my students over the years and their reports that they do not relate to the textbook (regardless of what textbook I used - and there were many). Often times, students listened to my explanations and examples of the concepts, and still demonstrated that they were able to meet the learning objectives. In addition, cost was also a factor for them. So, knowing that there was not a free option that was relatable drove me to start this project. So, please join me on this adventure. I’m looking for proofreaders, contributors, and collaborators on this project! If you are interested, please reach out to me by filling out this




The primary motivation for this project came from reports from students that they weren’t reading the assigned textbook. They didn’t feel as though they could relate to what was written in the textbook, and relied heavily on my lectures and our class discussions to make it relatable. Word was getting out, and students wouldn’t even purchase the textbook. In addition, other students found that the assigned textbook wasn’t always affordable - even for a rented or electronic version. In an effort to address both these difficulties, I embarked on this project.


The primary student audience includes upper-level psychology majors who are taking a cognitive psychology course. It is geared towards students who have taken some lower-level psychology courses, including those that teach research. Secondarily, the project is geared towards educators and meant to be an easy-to-comprehend introduction to cognition.


The text is broken up into five modules. Each module will consist of 2-3 chapters. Each chapter will then have sections to keep the content organized. In order to ensure alignment with course level objectives, there will be module objectives, and section objectives. Ancillary materials will include discussion questions, links to activities, test questions…


The book will carry a CC-BY-SA license and why. People can use it as they please, and change it. You can read more about this license here:

Creative Commons website

, or the

Rebus Community Licensing Policy


“While the global license for the book is CC-BY, some differently licensed materials may be included so long as they are clearly demarcated in the text and any changes are made in accordance with the conditions of the other license. This might apply in the cases of images, videos, or sections of non-CC-BY text that are essential to the book. However, we strongly discourage relying on this exception in order to protect and promote downstream uses. For more, see the [author guide].”


May 31, 2021 - table of contents - Complete

August 31, 2021 - All chapter of the book (text) written in Pressbooks (likely without pictures)

September 30, 2021 - Pictures, links, and resources in Pressbooks

October 1-31, 2021 - Peer Review Process complete

November 1-31, 2021 - Revisions

Spring 2022 semester - pilot with students

June 2022 - incorporate student suggestions

Fall 2022 semester - 2nd pilot with students

Continuous revisions

Measures of Success

Initial success will be measured when I pilot the book with my own students. I want to ensure that I have been culturally and educationally inclusive.

Short Description:

I’ve long told students that the best way to retain information is through repeated exposure. However, how is this possible when students don’t read, or even purchase the assigned textbook? How do we address this when students may not be able to afford the assigned textbook? If they do purchase the textbook what if students simply don’t relate to the examples in it? Over the course of many years, after changing textbooks several times, I decided to write an open resource for students that would be culturally sensitive, relatable, and free. In this resource, students will read about the different cognitive processes and learn how they play a role in our everyday lives. There will be special considerations of cognition in current events, discussing such topics as artificial intelligence, CTE in football players, aphasia, the role of genetics in Alzheimer’s disease, and distracted driving.


Section 1 - The Background

Chapter 1: Introduction to the field of cognitive psychology

a. What is cognition?

b. The history of cognitive psychology

c. The field of cognitive psychology today

Chapter 2: How is the scientific method applied to cognitive psychology (how do you

study what you can’t directly observe)?

a. What is the scientific method?

b. Research methods review

c. Measures in cognitive psychology

d. Other methods/advances in cognitive psychology research

e. Being a good “consumer” of research.

Chapter 3: The Brain

a. Early research on the brain

b. Neurons

c. Brain

d. Current research on the brain

e. Special section on the effects of disease/damage (highlight CTE)

Section 2 - Perception and Attention

Chapter 4 – How we perceive the world

a. Define perception

b. Role of the sensory systems in perception

c. Perceptual processing

Chapter 5 – Paying Attention

a. Views and theories of attention

b. Factors that influence attention

c. Automatic/Controlled Processing

d. Special topic on distracted driving

Section 3 - Making Memories

Chapter 6 – Introduction to Memory

a. Importance of memory in our lives

b. Is memory a structure or process?

c. The modal model of memory

d. Working memory

e. Prospective memory

Chapter 7 – Long-term memory (the study skills chapter)

a. Forgetting

b. Rehearsal

c. Methods of encoding that will improve memory

d. Methods of retrieval that will improve memory

e. Mnemonics

f. Bizarreness effect

g. Self-reference effect

h. Generation effect

i. Mental frameworks and schemas

j. Autobiographical memory

Chapter 8 – When Memory Goes Wrong

a. Reconstructive memory

b. Seven sins of memory

c. Schemas and scripts

d. Photographic vs. flashbulb memories

e. Memory errors in the laboratory

f. Eyewitness memory

g. Special discussion of “Repressed” memories

h. Amnesia

i. Alzheimer’s dementia

j. Childhood amnesia

Section 4 - Using your Imagination, Speaking your Mind, and Being Knowledgable

Chapter 9 – Mental Imagery

a. Define mental imagery

b. Mental imagery representation in the mind

c. What is the role of imagery in memory?

d. Imagery in problem solving

e. Imagery in the ability to navigate the environment

f. Nonvisual images

Chapter 10 – Language

a. What is it?

b. Structure

c. From sounds to words, to sentences, to text

d. Language production vs. language comprehension

e. Dialogue

f. Language development

g. Animal communication

Chapter 11 – Knowledge

a. Define knowledge

b. Define concepts

c. Conceptual organization

d. Everyday use of concepts

Section 5: Advanced Cognition

Chapter 12 – Problem solving

a. What is a problem?

b. What is problem solving?

c. Well-defined vs. ill-defined problems

d. Defining and representing problems

e. Approaches of problem solving

f. How cognition limits ability to solve problems

g. Experts vs. novices in solving problems

h. IDEAL framework

i. Special topic: can you become a better problem solver? How?

Chapter 13 – Reasoning and Decision Making

a. What is reasoning?

b. Deductive reasoning

c. Inductive reasoning

d. What is decision making?

e. What is the role of reasoning and decision making in our real lives?

Chapter 14 – Special introduction to artificial intelligence

a. What is AI?

b. How is AI being used in the different fields

c. The future of AI