Cognitive Approach to Psychology

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Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology Shane Galvin Class: 061/AT Applied Psychology Teacher: Carol Neenan Title: Psychological Perspective Word count: 3121

The Cognitive Approach to Psychology

Contents Page 1 - Contents Page 2 – Introduction Page 3 – History Page 4 – Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive Science Page 6- Research methods i) iii) v) Reaction time Studies Eye Tracking Studies Psychophysics ii) iv) vi) Priming Studies Lateralisation Studies Single-Cell Studies

Page 8 – Memory Storage and Models Page 10 – Therapeutic Applications Page 11 – Evaluation Page 12 - Bibliography

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Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology

The Cognitive Approach to Psychology
What is Cognitive Psychology? Literally, ‘Cognition’ means knowing, but in the greater framework of Psychology, Cognition is thinking, perceiving information, understanding, construction and presentation of an answer to a question. Essentially, cognition is a term for the use of our mental processes. “Cognitive Psychology is the study of higher mental processes such as attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, and thinking.” (Gerrig & Zimbardo., 2002) Cognitive Psychology uses scientific methods and scrutiny to develop a deeper understanding of the human mind, rather than the brain, a methodology perhaps adapted from Behaviourism, in which modern Cognitive Psychology holds its roots. Yet, unlike behaviourism, which only focuses on observable behaviour, Cognitive Psychology is also concerned with internal mental states.

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Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology

History In 1932, Behaviourist Edward Tolman published his book “Purposive Behaviour in Animals and Men” In his works Tolman studied rats in a maze, in which food was placed at the end of the maze. In the initial phase of a test, the rat would not be hungry while first entering the maze; this would allow the rat to learn where the food would be and to associate a certain location with the prospect of food. Of course, being armed with such a primal survival instinct would influence the rat to learn and adapt quickly. The rat would move in the general direction of the food as opposed to a specific pathway and Tolman observed that the rats were able to use untrained routes towards the food. This meant that rats had an ability to learn, beyond mere survival instinct and presented a problem for radical behaviourism. Whether Tolman knew it or not, both he and his rats were laying down the groundwork for modern cognitive psychology.

Tolman theorized that the animal had developed an image of its environment that it later used as a reference when finding its food. This is called a “Cognitive Map” i.e., the rats showed use of their cognitive map by reaching a goal (food) from a number of different starting points. The rats had no instinctive information of the maze and no stimuli that would condition it to have knowledge of the maze, in other words; the rats learned about their environment and stored the information. This helped to establish some basis for memory storage, learned behaviour and analytical methodology for Cognitive Psychology and would help Psychologists prepare for the “Cognitive Revolution” of the 1950’s where Cognitive Psychology and its principle areas of research begin to become defined.

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Shane Galvin-061 AT-Applied Psychology

The Term “Cognitive Psychology” came into use in 1967 in the book Cognitive Psychology by Neisser. “...the term cognition refers to all processes by which the sensory input is transformed , reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered and used...it is apparent that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do; that every psychological phenomena is a cognitive phenomena” (Neisser, 1967) Perhaps it was the invention of the computer that gave Cognitive Psychology the most credibility. For the first time in history, mankind had something to which it could compare with the human brain or mind, and gave the...
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