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Cognitive States: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:03 Definition of Cognitive States
  • 0:34 Examples of Cognitive States
  • 3:29 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Natalie Boyd

Natalie is a teacher and holds an MA in English Education and is in progress on her PhD in psychology.

A cognitive state is your thought processes and state of mind. In this lesson, you'll read about some examples of cognitive states, and also take a short quiz in order to test your understanding.

Definition of Cognitive States

Imagine this. . . right before you leave for an important job interview, you and your romantic partner get into a huge fight. During the interview, your thoughts keep going back over your fight, and you can't concentrate. In this situation, your cognitive state could be defined as distracted. Your cognitive state is your state of mind, which can vary widely. Typically, your cognitive state will affect your cognition, which is how you process information.

Examples of Cognitive States

There are many different types of cognitive states, including distracted, confused, and engrossed. These are all examples of common cognitive states that everyone has experienced. Let's look at a few more examples:

1. Interestedness is the state of being interested. Have you ever been reading a book that you couldn't put down, watching a movie you couldn't walk away from, or learning about a topic that made you want to keep delving deeper into the material? This would be because you were interested.

2. Amnesia is a cognitive state that involves losing part or all of your memory due to a physical factor, such as drugs, disease, or brain damage. Amnesia can come in many forms, including amnesia that prevents individuals from creating new memories, that cause individuals to forget one specific memory, or that prevent individuals from remembering faces.

3. Paramnesia is when dreams and reality are confused. Have you ever woken up from a vivid dream and, for a few moments, been unable to determine if the dream was real or not? This could be considered paramnesia.

4. Curiosity is a state of wanting to learn more about something. Maybe you're listening to music or watching a movie and suddenly you become interested in looking up the band or actor you're enjoying on the internet. This would mean that you were curious about them.

5. Certainty is the state of being sure about something. If you're absolutely positive about something, like 2 + 2 = 4 or that there are 50 states in the United States of America, you would feel confident and certain about that fact.

6. Doubt is the opposite of certainty; it is the state of not being sure of something. Maybe you share a living space with two roommates, and one day some of your food goes missing. Both roommates tell you that they didn't take it, but since it wasn't you, you know it must have been one of them. Since you can't know for sure who it was, this situation would cause you to doubt them both.

7. Morbidity is a cognitive state that includes a preoccupation with death or dying. In the wake of the death of a friend, a family member, or even a pet, you may find yourself shifting into a morbid state of mind, where you're more aware than usual that all life leads towards death. This would be a state of morbidity.

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