April 11, 2013
Hermann Ebbinghaus said, “Psychology has a long past, yet its real history is short” (Goodwin, 2008, p. 28). He was referring to the belief that while the study of human thought, emotion, and behavior is firmly entrenched in philosophy, psychology as its own discipline has only been around a short time. During this short time, different branches of psychology have come out, one of them is cognitive psychology, which is only roughly 50 years old. Cognitive psychology expands upon other fields of psychology to further reveal why human beings act in the way they do. This paper will define cognitive psychology, explore key milestones in its development, and discuss the importance of observation as it relates to cognitive psychology. While human behavior has been observed since the beginnings of psychology, the different fields focused only on observable behaviors. In contrast to that, cognitive psychology is a perspective that looks at the mental processes involved with human intelligence and behavior. These processes include thinking, speaking, perceiving, memory, and problem-solving (Willingham, 2007). This field of psychology researches the unobservable nature of these processes, and uses abstract constructs to better understand these processes (Willingham, 2007). Cognitive psychology has evolved from other fields of psychology, one of which is behaviorism. Behaviorism was a very popular field of study during the early part of the 20th century. Many well-known psychologists like Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner made their mark during this behaviorist revolution. The behaviorist movement was firmly rooted in the scientific method and relied heavily on the observable actions. While behaviorism was a useful tool in explaining behaviors based on instinct and drives, it had several large hold-ups in being useful for humans. First, most of the experiments were done...