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Discuss How And Why Particular Research Methods Are Used At The Cognitive Level Of Analysis

1332 words - 6 pages

This essay will discuss about how and why particular research methods are used to investigate the cognitive level of analysis. The cognitive level of analysis studies cognition, which refers to mental processes such as: perception, attention, language, memory, decision-making and problem solving. The mind, in terms of structures and processes which are involved in the reception, storage and use of knowledge, is studied in this level of analysis. In Psychology, research methods are used for collecting and analyzing data, in other words are ways they conduct their studies. There are a number of different research methods, the 3 main research methods that will be focused on in this essay ...view middle of the document...

An example of lab experiment would be Loftus and Palmer (1974), which is a study on reconstruction of automobile destruction. The aim is to investigate whether language and the use of leading questions would influence recall. The participants were asked to estimate speed, as if it’s a situation where people appear in court as eyewitness testimonies. The procedure was carried out by having 45 American students, who were shown videos of traffic accidents and were asked questions about the accident. Within the series of questions that were asked, the most critical question was "About how fast was the cars going when they hit each other?" The word “hit” was replaced by the following words: “smashed”, “collided”, “contacted” and “bumped”. The average estimate of speed was the highest in the “smashed” condition, with the speed of 40.8 mph. The average estimate of speed was lowest in the “contacted” condition, with the speed of 31.8 mph. The results demonstrate that memory is unreliable and it can be manipulated by using specific words.

The answer to the question from by the participants is consistently altered by the critical word in the question, which is the verb. This can be explained by the impact of the manipulation of distinct words on the participants’ mental representation of the accident.. For example, the verb “smashed” initiates a schema for a severe accident, resulting to the increase of speed estimate. So, the actual details of the accident are not in fact remembered, but rather whatever it is in the cognitive schema of a serious accident. This supports Bartlett’s hypothesis of reconstructive memory. However, participants could have had difficulties estimating speed.

This experiment was controlled thoroughly, consequently a cause-and-effect relationship between the IV (the critical words) and the DV (estimation of speed) was established. Since this experiment was conducted in a laboratory, therefore it has a rather low ecological validity due to artificiality. Also, this experiment used only students as participants, which manifests its low population validity, which is a kind of external validity. In this case, the sample used can't be generalized to the general population, because students are not representatives of the whole population. Lastly, another limitation would be that the video clips shown in the experiment were created for teaching purposes, therefore it wouldn’t provide the same experience for the participants in comparison with a real accident.

Apart from lab experiment, another commonly used research method at the cognitive level of analysis would be brain imaging technologies, such as: PET (Positron Emission Topography), fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging), MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) and CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography). These advanced technology can be used in researching on cognitive processes, providing insights into the complexed activities of the brain’s neural network in the cognitive...

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