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PSY 3001 W5 Assignment Cognitive Psychology

PSY 3001 W5 Assignment Cognitive Psychology


Psychology is the study of the mind. In simplest terms, the word ‘cognitive’ refers to thinking. So, what makes cognitive psychology a unique field? To understand better, you might need some examples of what cognitive psychologists study, as well as a complete definition and a rundown of some of its benefits.

Cognitive Psychology – Definition

The definition of cognitive psychology is deceivingly simple. Cognitive psychology is defined as the branch of psychology devoted to studying mental processes. What may not be so easy to grasp, though, is how many different types of mental processes there are and how people use them in their unique ways to draw conclusions and make decisions. Thus, cognitive psychology encompasses a very broad range of subjects.

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An important thing to remember about cognitive psychology is that it isn’t just about the thoughts you have but also about how those thoughts impact your behavior. Cognitions, or thought processes, are what happens to you between perceiving something with your senses and behaving outwardly in response. Or, they can happen without a sensory stimulus.

An example of sensory stimuli leading to behavior via a thought process might happen if you step outside on a winter day and feel the cold wind on your face. You step back inside and put on a scarf. Between the feeling of coldness and the behavior of putting on a scarf is a thought process. Maybe you think you’ll be more comfortable if you wrap up a bit. Or, maybe you know you’re prone to sore throats and think the scarf will protect you from getting ill. Whatever that thought is, you allow it to change your behavior.

Metacognition Examples

Cognitive psychology is based on thinking about the thoughts people have and how they influence behavior. So, it’s a form of metacognition, or thinking about thinking. There are several other interesting examples of metacognition that have fascinated people throughout history.

  • If you feel you’re repeating an experience, you have a sense of déjà vu.
  • If you have a thought you believe is unique and find out that it’s a memory of something you read, heard, or saw, you have cryptomnesia. If you write it down, you may plagiarize unconsciously.
  • If you hear a statement, and every time you hear it again it seems more reasonable, you’re experiencing the validity effect.

History Of Cognitive Psychology

People have been thinking about the ways thought influences behavior for millennia. In the writings of the Ancient Greeks, there are many discussions about thinking. As a field of psychology, cognitive psychology is a much more modern branch of study.

In the 1800s, Paul Broca discovered the area of the brain where language is produced, and Carl Wernicke discovered the area of the brain where language is comprehended. With these introductions of thought into the scientific realm, cognitive psychology made sense as a new form of scientific study.

From the 1920s to the 1950s, behaviorism was the predominant theory of psychology. However, several factors made the study of thought increasingly important. First, soldiers needed to be trained to use the new war technology that came after WWII. Then, computer science came with comparisons between human thought and computer functions.

Finally, when Noam Chomsky critiqued behaviorism, he suggested cognitive psychology as a better way to approach the study of the mind. Aaron Beck, now considered to be the father of cognitive psychology, wrote extensively on this branch of study. From there, the field has grown, with entire research centers of research devoted to cognitive psychology studies.

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