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Cognitive psychology is a discipline within psychology that investigates the internal mental processes of thought such as visual processing, memory, thinking, learning, feeling, problem solving, and language.

The school of thought arising from this approach is known as cognitivism which is interested in how people mentally represent information processing. It had its foundations in the work of Wilhelm Wundt, Gestalt psychology of Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka, and in the work of Jean Piaget, who provided a theory of stages/phases that describe children's cognitive development. Cognitive psychologists use psychophysical and experimental approaches to understand, diagnose, and solve problems, concerning themselves with the mental processes which mediate between stimulus and response. Cognitive theory contends that solutions to problems take the form of algorithms—rules that are not necessarily understood but promise a solution, or heuristics—rules that are understood but that do not always guarantee solutions. Cognitive science differs from cognitive psychology in that algorithms that are intended to simulate human behavior are implemented or implementable on a computer. In other instances, solutions may be found through insight, a sudden awareness of relationships.

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History

Ulric Neisser coined the term "cognitive psychology" in his book Cognitive Psychology, published in 1967,[1] wherein Neisser provides a definition of cognitive psychology characterizing people as dynamic information-processing systems whose mental operations might be described in computational terms. Also emphasising that it is a "point of view" which postulates the mind as having a certain conceptual structure. Neisser's point of view endows the discipline with a scope which expands beyond high-level concepts such as "reasoning", often espoused in other works as a definition of cognitive psychology. Neisser's definition of "cognition" illustrates this well:

The term "cognition" refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation, as in images and hallucinations... Given such a sweeping definition, it is apparent that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do; that every[2] psychological phenomenon is a cognitive phenomenon. But although cognitive psychology is concerned with all human activity rather than some fraction of it, the concern is from a particular point of view. Other viewpoints are equally legitimate and necessary. Dynamic psychology, which begins with motives rather than with sensory input, is a case in point. Instead of asking how a man's actions and experiences result from what he saw, remembered, or believed, the dynamic psychologist asks how they follow from the subject's goals, needs, or instincts.

Cognitive psychology is radically different from previous psychological approaches in two key ways.

The school of thought arising from this approach is known as cognitivism.

Cognitive psychology is one of the more recent additions to psychological research, having only developed as a separate area within the discipline since the late 1950s and early 1960s following the "cognitive revolution" initiated by Noam Chomsky's 1959 critique[4] of behaviorism and empiricism more generally. The origins of cognitive thinking such as computational theory of mind can be traced back as early as Descartes in the 17th century, and proceeding up to Alan Turing in the 1940s and '50s. The cognitive approach was brought to prominence by Donald Broadbent's book Perception and Communication in 1958. Since that time, the dominant paradigm in the area has been the information processing model of cognition that Broadbent put forward. This is a way of thinking and reasoning about mental processes, envisioning them as software running on the computer that is the brain. Theories refer to forms of input, representation, computation or processing, and outputs. Applied to language as the primary mental knowledge representation system, cognitive psychology has exploited tree and network mental models. Its singular contribution to AI and psychology in general is the notion of a semantic network. One of the first cognitive psychologists, George Miller is well-known for dedicating his career to the development of WordNet, a semantic network for the English language. Development began in 1985 and is now the foundation for many machine ontologies.

This way of conceiving mental processes has pervaded psychology more generally over the past few decades, and it is not uncommon to find cognitive theories within social psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, and developmental psychology. In fact, the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development have fully integrated the developmental conception of changes in thought with age with cognitive models of information processing.[5] The application of cognitive theories to comparative psychology has driven many recent studies in animal cognition. However, cognitive psychology dealing with the intervening constructs of the mental presentations is not able to specify: "What are the non-material counterparts of material objects?" For example, "What is the counterpart of a chair in mental processes, and how do the non-material processes evolve in the mind that has no space?" Further, what are the very specific qualities of the mental causalities, in particular, when the causalities are processes? The plain statement about information processing awakes some questions. What information is dealt with, its contents, and form? Are there transformations? What are the nature of process causalities? How do subjective states of a person transmute into shared states, and the other way around? Finally, yet importantly, how is it that we who work with cognitive research are able to conceptualize the mental counter concepts to construct theories that have real importance in real every day life? Consequently, there is a lack of specific process concepts which enable to derive new developments, and create grand theories about the mind, and its abysses.

The information processing approach to cognitive functioning is currently being questioned by new approaches in psychology, such as dynamical systems, and the embodiment perspective.

Because of the use of computational metaphors and terminology, cognitive psychology was able to benefit greatly from the flourishing of research in artificial intelligence and other related areas in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, it developed as one of the significant aspects of the inter-disciplinary subject of cognitive science, which attempts to integrate a range of approaches in research on the mind and mental processes.[6]

Major research areas in cognitive psychology

Perception

Categorization

Memory

Knowledge representation

Numerical cognition

Language

Thinking

Influential cognitive psychologists

See also

References

  1. ^ Note however that there was an earlier publication of the same name: Thomas Verner Moore's Cognitive Psychology, published in 1939. Neisser was not aware of that book when he chose his title (cf. Surprenant & Neath (1997), Psychonomic Bulletin & Review 4(3), 342-349.)
  2. ^ abstract Social Science Information, Vol. 39, No. 1, 115-129 (2000)
  3. ^ Schunk, Dale H. Learning Theories: An Educational Perspective, 5th. Pearson, Merrill Prentice Hall. 1991, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008. pp. 14, 28
  4. ^ Chomsky, N. A. (1959), A Review of Skinner's Verbal Behavior
  5. ^ Demetriou, A., Mouyi, A., & Spanoudis, G. (2010). The development of mental processing. Nesselroade, J. R. (2010). Methods in the study of life-span human development: Issues and answers. In W. F. Overton (Ed.), Biology, cognition and methods across the life-span. Volume 1 of the Handbook of life-span development (pp. 36-55), Editor-in-chief: R. M. Lerner. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
  6. ^ R. Sun, (ed.), (2008). The Cambridge Handbook of Computational Psychology. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2008.

Outline of psychology

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Study guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiversity

What is cognitive psychology?

Cognitive psychology focuses on study of higher mental functions with particular emphasis on the ways in which people acquire knowledge and use it to shape and understand their experience in the world. This figures indicates key foci of cognitive psychology ([1]):

CognitivePsychology.svg

References

  1. Solso, R. L. (1991). Cognitive psychology (3rd ed.), pp. 7, 289, 290. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

See also

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Wikibooks

Up to date as of January 23, 2010
(Redirected to Subject:Cognitive psychology article)

From Wikibooks, the open-content textbooks collection

< Psychology

Books in this subject area deal with cognitive psychology: the branch of psychology that investigates internal mental processes such as perception, learning, problem solving, memory, attention, language, and emotion.

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