The Cognitive Perspective

Cognitive psychology is concerned with how people acquire, store, transform, use and communicate information. Following the influential and exciting conferences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the 1950s, there was an explosion of research into cognitive processes such as memory, language acquisition, attention, perception, and problem solving. Cognitive psychologists rejected the behaviorist assumption that mental events or states were unsuitable for scientific study.

Developments in the fields of engineering, computer science and linguistics helped cognitive psychologists develop models showing how information could be efficiently represented, stored and transformed. They also provided analogies for cognitive psychologists to use when attempting to explain complex behaviors. More recently, development of brain-scanning techniques provided conceptual links between the cognitive and biological perspectives. Brain-scanning techniques have also provided psychologists with the means to actually see the physiological processes within the brain that are associated with cognition.

Cognitive psychologists recognize that using computer analogies to explain human behavior has limitations. This recognition has led to the development of alternative models and fields of inquiry. These include research areas such as social cognition and the development of cognitive-based techniques.

Learning Outcomes: (Read: Test Questions!)