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Cognitive Psychology Definition Paper

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Cognitive Psychology Definition Paper

Courtney Jones

PSY 360

May 21, 2012

Bridget Rivera, PSY.D.

Cognitive Psychology

The field of psychology is made up of different branches and each branch gives a range of different ideas and theories toward the compound field of psychology. Cognitive psychology is one branch that focuses on how cognition directly affects human behavior. Primarily cognitive psychology tries to uncover the underlying mental processes that play a role on particular human behaviors. Cognitive psychology was created in distinction of behavioral psychology. Major human functions can be observed through theories from the cognitive branch of psychology. These things can range from language, problem solving skills, memory functioning, and perception. Cognitive psychologists have developed many theories over the years that have made major contributions to the general field of psychology.

The Foundation of Cognitive Psychology

Prior to cognitive psychology becoming a significant branch of the psychology field, behavioral psychology was the main branch within psychology. Cognitive psychology came about when psychologists began to have questions about the behavioral method to psychology. Several psychologists felt that the behavioral approach to psychology had many gaps when it came to basic human functions such as memory, language, and learning. Psychologists attempted to fill these gaps by comparing the human mind to a computer (Willingham, 2007). Psychologists and scientists who studied artificial intelligence considered that the human mind functioned similar to an information processor. They believed that when humans processed information it resulted in the output of human thoughts and behaviors. These psychologists and scientists also made the association that there were different modules that existed. Each module had a specific job in processing information. The brain is composed of different lobes and each part has different functions and responsibilities. These various parts of the brain represent the modules in an information processor.

Cognition and Philosophy

Psychology and philosophy have always been closely connected since ancient times. Renaissance and Greek philosophers had a lot of questions about the human mind and behavior. Philosophers Aristotle and Descartes questioned a lot about human existence and the processes that are behind human functions. Early philosophers did not have any evidence of how the human mind worked or what was behind human behavior. These questions that were formed by them helped to shape the field of psychology. Theories back then were based mostly off of assumptions and hunches. Early philosophers focused on acquiring knowledge. They were interested knowing how human beings gained and retained knowledge. Philosophers back then may not have been completely accurate in their assumptions but they did make way for some of the building blocks of cognitive psychology.

Cognitive Psychology versus Behavioral Psychology

Behavioral psychology is based on observing behaviors while cognitive psychology is based on inner thoughts or consciousness. Prior to cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology was the main branch of psychology. Behaviorism was dominant because psychologists felt as if they were being scientific when they emphasized behavior because it



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