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PSY 355 Psychology & Media in the Digital Age

This page was last modified on February 24, 2016

The Extended Mind Hypothesis (Clark & Chalmers, 1998)
2783 citations in Google Scholar (2015)
62,000 citations in Google

Scenario: Geometrical Shape Rotation
Geometric Shape Rotation

Case 1: Watching a computer screen with geometrical shapes and figuring out how those shapes can fit together

Case 2: Watching a computer screen with the ability to change the orientation of the shapes and figuring out how those shapes fit together

Case 3: In the future, watching a computer screen with a neural implant that can change how cognition pictures the orientation of the shapes and figuring out how those shapes fit together.

Where is the boundary between the skin and the skull?

Active Externalism

Scrabble Tiles 
Nautical Slide Rule       Multiplication & Long Division by

What does this tell us?
  • The human organism is linked with an external entity in a two-way interaction = coupled system
  • This link takes place in real time and plays a crucial role in achieving our goals, i.e., it is active link
  • In the long run, the use of such a coupled system requires reliability & accessibility, that is, available when needed
  • This requirement suggests the central role of portability in the external entity
  • Researching human behaviors in this system requires attention to more than "inner cognition"
The most crucial example of the mind's extension into the world comes in language

What about mind? Can this notion of active externalism be further advanced?
MMA     Notebook
Case A of Mary Jones vs. Case B of Fred Smith

Like memory, Fred's notebook is reliable, trustworthy, and accessible.

    What about socially extended cognition?
  • Couples or other socially-connected individuals can very well serve in similar ways to the examples cited earlier
  • The coupling between agents in a social relationship depends upon the use of language
  • Cognition can, therefore, be extended to reside within the group itself.

   The Self as Extended

William James     Ulrich Neisser

William James (1842-1910) • Harvard Psychologist
  • Material Self
  • Social Self
  • Spiritual Self
  • Pure Ego

Ulrich Neisser (1928-2012) • Cornell Psychologist
  • Ecological Self
  • Interpersonal Self
  • Extended Self
  • Private Self
  • Conceptual Self ("self-concept")

Questions to consider

  • What forms of active externalisms do each of us use every day?
  • Where are our memories stored?
  • What tools do we use in order to get our jobs and lives accomplished?
  • What media forms serve as parts of our extended selves?

Cognitive Psychology of Human Multitasking {W}

(Wang et al., 2015)

  • "Central bottleneck" problems
    • "Limited capacity" theories
  • "The Law of Less Work"

Focus of Analysis: What is involved when a human being tries to perform two tasks “in which one or both tasks utilize media technology” (p. 106)


Task Relations
: How are these two tasks related to each other?
Task Inputs: How is task information presented to the user? Task Outputs: Is any behavioral response required by the task(s)? User Differences: Do differences in users affect the processing of & response to the task(s)?

  • Task Hierarchy
  • Task Switch
  • Task Relevance
  • Shared Modality
  • Task Contiguity

  • Information Modality
  • Information Flow
  • Emotional Content

  • Behavioral Responses
  • Time Pressure

Personality styles, expertise & knowledge, etc.