How do you know what you know? Can you figure out how you acquire language when you were still a child? How do you concentrate on reading this paper despite all the stimuli surrounding you? What do you think goes on your mind right now? These are just a few of the questions that cognitive psychology can answer with accuracy. Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with how people think, perceive, remember and learn (“How people learn,” 2007).
In the past, behavioral scientists explained certain phenomena by simply observing, then measuring and manipulating variables (“Albert Bandura,” 2006). Contrary to behaviorism, cognitive psychology explains the mental processes that take place when a person reacts mentally to various stimuli. These mental processes vary from person to person because each has his own schema of events. Schema, which is a term first used by Jean Piaget in 1926, refers to the set of well-defined concepts which a person already has in mind. These concepts may be “processed” through assimilation (“John Piaget,” 2006).
For instance, a young child who is exposed only to `fork and spoon’ when eating will not recognize chopsticks as tools for eating as well. If you hand that child a pair of chopsticks, he or she won’t use it in picking up food to put on his or her mouth. It’s because that child doesn’t have a concept of chopsticks yet. However, after being exposed to his or her mom using chopsticks, the child will learn that those items can also be used in picking up food to bring to the mouth. That kind of learning is called assimilation which gives way to a new set of schema for the child.
Cognitive development among children is just one aspect of cognitive psychology. This branch of learning may also be applied in more recent concerns. For example, teachers and learners are interested in finding out how people process two or more information at the same time. Interestingly, Piolat, Olive, & Kellogg (2005) conducted a study to know how multi-tasked people record notes while they try to comprehend new information from speakers. They found out through their research that “note taking demands more effort than reading or learning.
However, “it requires less effort than the creative written composition of an original text” (p. 291). A working knowledge on how people think, perceive and learn is important in making predictions, making adjustments, and formulating policies that could aid the people in their day-to-day mental discourses. In one article, Jaroff (1993) told a story of a girl whose life became troubled after meeting with a psychiatrist who made her believe through “recovery” therapy that she was abused by her own father when she was a young child.
Using her knowledge on cognitive psychology, particularly pertaining to how people retrieve memory, she discovered that what she ended up confessing to the psychiatrist was false (“Lies of the Mind”). This means that an understanding of this branch of knowledge allows people to be more conscious of how they deal with the world. Cognitive psychology is more than just a branch of knowledge. It is a portal leading to your most used but most strange place in this world – that is your mind.
You think every day, you learn new things every minute but you forget to understand how all these thoughts are accommodated in your brains, in your minds. In conclusion, cognitive psychology offers explanation to the mental events that take place in a person. These mental activities can explain the past, and the present, to give way to a better future. After all your life depends not exactly on your environment but on how thoughts are processed in your head.