As I cross the busy highway, I am faced with a sea of information of varying degrees of importance.
Keeping your attention on oncoming traffic is paramount, but I’m barely aware of the seagulls flying overhead. LGBT friendly psychologist
These noisy birds only get attention when I’m safely walking across the road, their cries reminding me of my childhood vacation by the sea.
Cognitive psychology focuses on the internal mental processes necessary to make sense of the environment and decide the next appropriate action (Eysenck & Keane, 2015).
This article explores the cognitive psychology approach, its origins, and various theories and models involved in cognition.
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What is the cognitive psychology approach?
The increase in research on the mysteries of the human brain and mind has been considerable in recent decades, with the recognition of the importance of the cognitive process in clinical psychology and social psychology (Eysenck and Keane, 2015).
As a result, cognitive psychology has profoundly affected the field of psychology and our understanding of what it is to be human.
Perhaps most surprisingly, it has had such an effect without clear boundaries, an integrated set of assumptions and concepts, or a recognizable spokesperson (Gross, 2020).
So what exactly is the cognitive psychology approach?
Cognitive psychology attempts to understand human cognition by focusing on what appear to be low-effort cognitive tasks (Goldstein, 2011).
Let’s go back to our example of walking down the road. Imagine now that we are also taking a call. Now we are combining several simultaneous cognitive tasks:
- Perceiving the environment
Distinguish cars from road signs and discern their direction and speed on the road, as well as people ahead, standing, talking, and blocking the sidewalk.
- Pay attention
Taking into account what our partner asks us by phone, above the noise of the traffic.
Form a mental image of the elements of the house, answering the question: “Where did you leave the car keys?”
- Comprehension and production of language.
Understand the real question (“Do I need to take the car. Where are your keys?”) From what is being said and formulate an appropriate response.
- Problem resolution
Find out how to get to the next appointment without the car.
- Decision making
Come to the conclusion that a meeting calendar will not work and choose to postpone it to another day.
While cognitive psychologists initially focused firmly on an analogy comparing the mind to a computer, their understanding has advanced.
There are currently four approaches, often overlapping and frequently combined, that science uses to understand human cognition (Eysenck & Keane, 2015):
- Cognitive psychology
The attempt to “understand human cognition through the use of behavioral evidence” (Eysenck & Keane, 2015, p. 2).
- Cognitive neuropsychology
Understand “normal” cognition through the study of patients living with brain injury.
- Cognitive Neuroscience
Combining evidence from the brain with behavior to form a more complete picture of cognition.
- Computational cognitive science
Use computational models to understand and test our understanding of human cognition.
Cognitive psychology plays a massive and essential role in understanding human cognition and is stronger due to its close relationships and interdependencies with other academic disciplines (Eysenck & Keane, 2015).