Cognitive Psychology Defined
The scope of cognitive psychology is very broad with many psychologists trying to explain it in their own perspectives and carry out more research on the same.
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There are many definitions of cognitive psychology which developed to counter the beliefs of behavioral scientists who attributed behavior to responses and stimuli and as a result failed to address inner processes that contributed to behavioral responses with the two studies being connected by technology (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
Cognitive psychology has the basic definition of a branch of psychology that involves the study and evaluation of internal mental processes (Galotti, 2009, p. 2).
Cognition is concerned with knowledge and mental processes of a higher degree. It focuses on processes through which sensory input undergoes transformation, reduction, elaboration, storage, recovery and retrieval for use (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
According to Galotti (2009), cognitive psychology is the study of human activities that are attributed to knowledge.
Cognitive activities include; language use, thinking, creativity, perception, problem solving, memory and attention.
It is also defined as the psychology branch that focuses on how information is acquired, processed, stored and retrieved in the human brain (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
Cognitive psychology is unique in its acceptance of scientific methods for experimentation while rejecting introspection. Psychologists assert that its acknowledgement of internal mental state including belief, motivation and desire have enhanced further research in its sub disciplines and broadened its application (Galotti, 2009).
Cognitive psychology has been widely used in disciplines such as sociology, personality development and neurosciences among others. Cognitive psychology has several assumptions that include: individual and environment focus, relative autonomy from non cognitive abilities, reliance on empirical methods, distinctions of abnormal and normal cognitions and constraints of empirical questions to neuroscience findings (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
Contributions of Cognitive Psychology
The history of cognitive psychology dates back to associationism and introspective psychology with reliance on human information systems (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
Cognitive psychology has contributed a great deal to modern day psychological disciplines with major psychologists playing a significant role in this such as Piaget, Miller, Hebb, Karl among others (Galotti, 2009).
Major developments in cognitive psychology are on the basis of technological advancement which allows the measurement of stimuli and responses with high accuracy levels.
Although solutions may be found through relationship that is sudden and insight, cognitive psychologists rely on algorithm rules which may not be basically understood and heuristics rules that are explanatory as solutions (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
The main crucial areas in cognitive psychology are: the extent to which behavior is inherited or learnt, the extent to which mental processes and structures are described by theories, empiricism and rationalism in thoughts and experiences, the extent to which processes are automatic and level of closure to other domains of cognition (Galotti, 2009).
Cognitive psychology has had research mainly in perceptions, memory with inclusion of semantic memory, numerical cognition, categorization and pattern recognition (Galotti, 2009).
Some psychologists are of the opinion that cognitive psychology relates to neurological- psychological theory (Eysenck & Keane, 2005).
The developments in cognitive psychology have been the efforts of psychologists who at many times have had contradicting views. Eysenck and Keane (2005) revisit the controversies between Lashley Karl & Hull Clark based on the function and structure of the brain, how the mind relates to it and explanation of intelligence through the use of machine metaphors. This controversies included issues to do with; generalization of stimulus, non continuity and continuity in discrimination learning, development of psychological theory and its relations to neuropsychological data.
Psychologists Hebb Donald and Karl Lashley were of the opinion that cognitive psychology is related to the nervous system since it was responsible for generating and organizing behavior which was then transmitted to the mind (Galotti, 2009). The two psychologists made significant contributions to cognitive psychology through their books “The organization of behavior: a neuropsychological theory” and “The neuropsychology of Lashley”.
Eysenck, M. W., & Keane, M. T. (2005). Cognitive psychology: a student’s handbook. East Sussex: Psychology Press Ltd.
Galotti, K. M. (2009). Cognitive Psychology: In and Out of the Laboratory. Toronto: Thomson Wadsworth.