Beyond two modes of thought: A quantum model of how three cognitive variables yield conceptual change

Frontiers in Psychology 13 (2022)
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We re-examine the long-held postulate that there are two modes of thought, and develop a more fine-grained analysis of how different modes of thought affect conceptual change. We suggest that cognitive development entails the fine-tuning of three dimensions of thought: abstractness, divergence, and context-specificity. Using a quantum cognition modeling approach, we show how these three variables differ, and explain why they would have a distinctively different impacts on thought processes and mental contents. We suggest that, through simultaneous manipulation of all three variables, one spontaneously, and on an ongoing basis, tailors one's mode of thought to the demands of the current situation. The paper concludes with an analysis based on results from an earlier study of children's mental models of the shape of the Earth. The example illustrates how, through reiterated transition between mental states using these three variables, thought processes unfold, and conceptual change ensues. While this example concerns children, the approach applies more broadly to adults as well as children.



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