Cognition & Information

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Approximately 2 hours time to complete

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long-form content and interactive media

Course Overview

This course helps to understand the mechanisms by which we make sense of information. The goal of the course is to shed some light on how information can be used to influence by introducing concepts of cognition important in how we receive and understand incoming information. While certainly not an inoculation against influence, by learning how cognition and information interact, one can be better equipped to identify elements of influence, or factors that might lead them to be more easily influenced. Homeland security professionals are not immune to these effects, and may encounter information from various sources more than the those in other professions. It is important to understand how influence works, and therefore look at incoming information with a more discerning eye. While these sections do not explicitly tie back to homeland security, the point is to look at the elements in the context of the larger picture of influence and how it relates to you and your profession. 

Learning Objectives
  • Learn about attention when it comes to incoming information, and the cognitive processes behind what directs are attention and how are attention is directed.  
  • Gain an understanding about why memory is important in understanding information, including brief introduction on memory processes, and different memory systems.  
  • Think about how memory and the semantic network aid in understanding information, and how that might be used in an influence campaign. 
  • Understand schemas in the framework of sense making, and apply it back to how you might interpret information in the same or different manner than another person. How does this knowledge help in understanding influence.  
  • Gain insight into the cognitive processes involved in judgment and decision making, and how some of our adaptive processes can be subject to influence.  

About the Instructor

Dr. McGuire is an assistant professor in the Information Sciences Department at the Naval Postgraduate School.  She teaches research methods in the IS department as well as for the Master’s program in the Center for Homeland Defense and Security (CHDS). Currently, she is working on research investigating the decisions humans make when teaming with automation, particularly in contexts characterized as high-stress. Additionally, she is interested in the effect of misinformation/disinformation and aggression in the information space. Dr. McGuire received a BA in Psychology from Southern Methodist University, and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University.

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