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Cognitive Psychology Essay

2243 words - 9 pages

Cognitive Psychology

Psychology is defined as the study of mind, emotion and behaviour. One
major perspective within psychology is known as cognitive psychology,
which is primarily concerned with the explanation of thought processes
through the development of theoretical mental systems. Cognitivism is
somewhat broad in it’s approaches to psychology and only linked in
it’s goal to create hypothetical mental structures to explain
behaviour (“History & Scope Of Psychology”).

The exact origins of cognitivism are difficult to pinpoint. Ideas that
make up the perspective have been traced back to ancient Greece;
however it is in modern times that it has developed to it’s prominent
status of today. This period of time is referred to as the “cognitive
revolution” of the 1960’s, lead by the work of those such as Piaget
and Chomsky. Prior to this revolution, behaviourism (the study of
cause and effect; environmental factors and their effect upon
behaviour) was considered to be the dominant school of thought in
psychology; however cognitivism soon emerged as the new dominant
perspective. (“The History & Scope of Psychology”). It was in the 1967
publication of Cognitive Psychology by Neisser that a name was coined
for the rising field of psychological science, and an outline of major
research-to-date and significant concepts was offered. (Maclin &
Solso, 2000)

The goals of cognitivism are to attempt to understand the way in which
the many processes of our minds work, through use of the scientific
research method. It emphasises the importance of the mind in
behaviour, something was virtually disregarded in perspectives such as
behaviourism. Focus is placed upon thinking, memory, perception,
attention, pattern recognition, consciousness, decision-making,
language and attention. It aims to understand the mental accompaniment
of everyday perceptions and actions (Barber, 1988). By devising mental
structures of mental functions and the way in which information is
processed, it could then be possible to explain observable behaviour.

The most significant concept of cognitivism is the computer or
information processor metaphor. It underlies the majority of
theoretical and empirical research in the field (Frensch, 2001). This
analogy related the mind to a computer with sequences of computational
processes. A Mathematical Theory of Communication was an influential
paper written by Claude Shannon (published in 1948) which first
presented the idea that to be communicated; information had to travel
via signals through a sequence of stages and transformations. Such
theories gave a substantially more complicated view of human
behaviour, especially in comparison to simpler stimulus-response
theories formed in...

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