Cognition and Context

Reaserch Team:

Ana Cristina Quelhas (Project Leader)
Teresa Garcia-Marques
Jorge Senos
Csongor Juhos
Ana Cristina Martins
Ana Domingos
David Rodrigues
Marília Prada
Pedro Silva
Ricardo Fonseca
Rita Silva


Project's Summary:

This project focuses the study of some basic cognitive processes and their modulation by specific contexts, and it is developed within a framework of current cognitive and social cognitive approaches.

It is mainly in the domain of thinking and reasoning (conditional reasoning, causal and counterfactual thinking, creativity, judgment and decision), that we analyze the impact of contextual modulation. Namely:
1.the impact of semantic and pragmatic modulation on mental representation (mental models) and subsequent reasoning (e.g. Quelhas & Byrne, 2003; Quelhas & Johnson-Laird, 2004, 2005);
2.the impact of feelings on information processing mode (heuristic vs. analytic) and subsequent reasoning, judgments and decisions (e.g. Garcia-Marques, 1999; Garcia-Marques & Mackie, 2000).


Project’s aims:

There are two general goals on this research project: 1) to understand human information processing in general and specifically in the domain of feeling, thinking and reasoning; and 2) to understand how different context variables modulate those processes. These general goals encompass the development of several experimental studies in different areas of study and with different theoretical frameworks (see below). Our specific goals will be, thus the study of:
1.Initial mental models and their semantic modulation;
2.Conditional reasoning and its pragmatic modulation;
3.Causal and counterfactual thinking: their nature and relationship;
4.Pragmatic modulation on counterfactual thinking;
5.Cognitive mechanisms associated with aesthetic apprehension;
6.The role of affective variables in information processing;
7.Heuristic and intuitive thinking: their nature and function in different contextual settings.


This project is directly related with the work developed by Ana Cristina Quelhas and Teresa Garcia-Marques in their PhD dissertations (which were financed by: Science Program and Praxis XXI (1993-1996); and Praxis XXI, BD / 5100 / 95, respectively), and with their subsequent work that was integrate, as principal investigators, in several projects financed by FCT, like the European programme PRAXIS/C/PSI/13057/1998; POCTI/ PSI/42215/01; and POCTI/PSI/42239/01.

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