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Cognitive Psychology Essay

Cognitive Psychology is the study of how people absorb, process and store information. It is considered as a discipline in dealing with other fields like science, philosophy and language. Perception, thinking, attention, memory, decision Making and Problem Solving ability are some factors that determine this field of psychology. This field serves as an aid in making educational curriculum and other software designs needed for learning. Studying this field focuses on human information processing.

            Internal mental state is the focus of cognitive psychology. People who focuses on this field merely studies how to understand, trace and find cure to serious problems relating to mental health. There are 7 themes associated with Cognitive Psychology: Attention, Automatic and conscious processing, Data driven and conceptually driven processing, Knowledge representation, Metacognition, Unconscious processing and Levels of analysis in cognitive science (Pritchard, 2000).

            One discipline involved in this field is that cognitive psychology is said to be different from neuroscience because it discusses information processing at a software level. The primary method used is through experimentation on human subjects. Wilhelm Wundt is one remarkable cognitive psychologist who established his first laboratory in 1879.

His study focuses on conscious experience (Pritchard, 2000). “Wundt did experiments involving introspection. Introspection is self-examination of the mind, or conscious experience. Wundt asked subjects to introspect about the feelings and sensations they had in response to a physical stimulus” (Pritchard, 2000). His perseverance on studying cognitive psychology made him consider this subject as a formal academic discipline.

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            Through further studies and continuous search for developing this field, Wundt was able to train another psychologist like him in the person of Edward Titchener. “Titchener tried to determine the contents of the mind further (Pritchard, 2000). Structuralism was discovered by him where he was able to determine the elements of thought and how those elements were  combined.

            Another fundamental of cognitive psychology is Herman Ebbinghaus’ discovery during the late 19th century. “Ebbinghaus used nonsense syllables to study memory in a quantifiable manner. Nonsense syllables are CVCs, consonant- vowel-consonant trigrams. Ebbinghaus chose those as his subject matter, because he wanted to study memory in a pure form. Hence, he did not want to use items that already had some meaning attached to them. Ebbinghaus demonstrated effects of interference, practice time and forgetting” (Pritchard, 2000).

            Another proponent is Edward Tolman who was famous because of his work that centered around animals who demonstrates behaviors based on expectations and internal factors. The importance of his study on cognitive psychology is about memorization. He made experiment on rats by putting them in a maze after they were trained. The rats reached the goal point without going to the learned place. This supported the notion that they had created a cognitive map.

            Behavior on the other hand is relevant to cognitive psychology because this is where the processed information appears. The effect of consciousness is determined by the outcome through a person’s behavior. “Wundt and Titchener were aware of the subjectivity of consciousness, but they still believed that consciousness could be studied”(Pritchard, 2000). Behavior is said to be objective and not subjective. The universal laws of behavior can be determined through psychology because all living things are subject to experimentation of why they come up with such results.

            Cognitive psychology and behaviorism goes hand in hand because there are certain aspects that cannot be determined by one field alone. Behaviorism is seen through actions while cognitive deals with information processing. Because of behaviorism’s emphasis on the observable there were some things that they just didn’t talk about. Memory, language, and other mental activities would not be discussed by behaviorists. At least they wouldn’t be discussed as we would discuss them, with reference to mental events and thoughts that are unobservable by other people. They tried to explain these phenomenon by constructing theories involving biological drives and habits” (Pritchard, 2000).

            Although there are some arguments relating to behavior and cognitive psychology, since there are claims that Mental processes were considered habits that  were not connected to the brain, still Cognitive psychology diminishes the confusions as to why human come up with that action. There are interacting determinants between behavior and cognitive psychology. Through these field people learn that as a discipline, cognitive psychology is developed to bridge the gap between behaviorism and cognitive social psychology. Tracing the development of cognitive psychology, it developed mainly from Behavioral psychology because through observations and critical thinking, cognitive psychologist learn to investigate more about information processing.


Pritchard, Evan (2000) Attention and Memory Chapter 1 How Cognitive Psychology      Developed. An article about Cognitive Psychology from the winnipeg website.

            Retrieved March 15, 2008 from: http://io.uwinnipeg.ca/~epritch1/amdvlop.htm

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