Experimenting with Latent Semantic Analysis

I am officially done with paper writing for the summer. I now have a whopping week before Fall begins (sigh).

Below is my final paper for the Psychology course I took this summer:

Abstract: The aim of this paper is to test both the practical use value and the psychological underpinnings of Latent Semantic Analysis (LSA), which is a statistical theory and method for extracting and representing the contextual meaning of words. To test the practical use value, we will use LSA to analyze a large corpus of articles within a particular discourse and ask, can LSA decide which category each article goes in? Is LSA able to categorize as well as a human editor? To test LSA’s ability to simulate psychological processes, we will experiment with Kintsch, Patel and Ericson’s (1999) hypothesis that the semantic space created by LSA is similar to an expert’s Long Term Working Memory (LTWM).

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Limited Capacity Model and the Cognitive Processing of Television Shows

I’ve been feeling like a paper mill lately. The summer classes I took seemed pretty heavy on the written word (the sunshine is no guarantee of reprieve). Here’s the paper I wrote for the Psychology of Media course.

Overview: In Everything Bad is Good For You: How Today’s Popular Culture is Actually Making Us Smarter, Steven Johnson argues that television is making people smarter. He bases his claim on two factors: 1) present-day viewers prefer complex and fast-paced television, with more characters and narrative threads, and 2) he makes the general observation that IQ scores are increasing. Despite Johnson’s well-intentioned effort, certain questions remain. In particular, how can we be sure that the human cognitive system is able to fully process this more complex popular culture? Although 24 is undoubtedly more complex than Dallas, how can we be sure that consumers are fully “getting-it?? To begin to answer this question, I will perform an analysis of two television shows created approximately 30 years apart, 24 and Starsky and Hutch. To analyze these television shows, I will employ the Limited Capacity Model of Mediated Message Processing. I believe that this model not only provides a fecund framework for understanding television message processing, but it also raises some questions regarding Johnson’s claims. I hope to answer the following question: are we able to process more complex media today than we were 30 years ago (hence concluding that we are smarter), or has our culture and tastes simply changed, leading us to simply misunderstand more of what we are watching.
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