Toward a Cognitive Psychology of Science: Recent Research and Its Impl

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Toward a Cognitive Psychology of Science: Recent Research and Its Impl

By | December 2001
Page 1 of 2
Toward a Cognitive Psychology of Science: Recent Research and Its Implications
In the article written by Ryan Tweney, he is contemplating the idea of whether there is a cognitive significance to scientific thinking. Many different studies are mentioned to try and answer this contemplation. One study on discovering the complexity of the universe found that subjects did the best if they confirmed evidence supporting their hypothesis early, and disconfirmed evidence later; this explains the persistence of many scientists. Another study found that the subjects could be divided into "experimenters" or "theorists." Yet another study showed that cognitive science and history influence each other. This finding should not at all be surprising. To answer his initial contemplation of whether scientific thinking is cognitively significant, Tweney says yes and no. On one hand, cognitive science is a special domain in which many fields intersect, but everyday thinking is also core to scientific thinking. We can now hopefully expect more opportunities for improving science education, with psychology holding its role of supporting science.

In my child development class this semester, we learned a lot about the psychologist Jean Piaget and his work with children. Interestingly enough, Tweney mentions Piaget for his ideas of the "child as scientist." The theories of Piaget actually fit right in with Tweney's ideas of cognitive thought and science. Piaget was a student of biology, psychology and philosophy and he used those fields to construct his idea of "symbolic thought," which is the coordination of thought and action by children as they construct knowledge from the world and people. This actually falls under the ideas of genetic epistemology, which is the experimental science of the acquisition of knowledge.

A result from one of the studies mentioned struck my attention. It was found that it was better for scientists to ignore disconfirming evidence early in their tasks,...