Cognitive Psychology Definition
February 3, 2014
Dr. Dione Johnson-Williams
The dominant aspects of cognitive theory involve the interaction between mental components and the information that is processed through this complex network (Neisser, 1967). As individuals learn, they activity create cognitive structures which determine their concepts of self and the environment (McEntire, 1992). Interestingly, the specific process of learning is not the primary area of concern in cognitive research; instead, learning is viewed as only one of the many processes comprised by the human mind (Anderson, 1980). Some approaches deal with detailed analyses of ...view middle of the document...
Chomsky’s critique stimulated much more interest in the cognitive processes of a type of human activity (Benjafield, 2010). He showed that language was much more complex than anyone previously believed and that behavioral explanations could not reasonably explain the complexities of language.
The modern development of cognitive psychology was due to the WWII focus of research on human performance and attention, developments in computer science, especially those in artificial intelligence, and the renewed interest in the field of linguistics. Although behaviorism became strong or even dominant in the period between 1920 through 1960, it by no mean quelled the study of cognition and perception in American psychology. The Gestalt psychologists W. Kohler and K. Koffka – open opponents of behaviorism who studied thought and perception using phenomenological methods – immigrated during the 1930s and established the Gestalt viewpoint as one to be reckoned with (Hatfield, 2002). Further, investigators originally trained in the Gestalt tradition, such as Irvin Rock (1954) and William Epstein (1973), converted to a view of perceptual processing as a combining, through cognitive or non-cognitive processes of information registered by the perceptual system.
But even beyond the ongoing work in perception, there remained a tradition of studying attention, memory, problem solving, and thought. Woodworth (1938), a popular handbook in experimental psychology, contained chapters discussing such behaviorist favorites as conditioning and maze learning. But it had many more chapters on perceptual and cognitive topics, including the use of reaction time to measure the ‘time of mental processes’ (ch. 14), and separate chapters on attention, reading, problem solving, and thinking. The latter chapter had a discussion on ‘anticipatory schema’ in thinking, and of ‘frames’ as ‘a performance in outline, needing to be filled in’ (1938, p. 798). If anything, the cognitive content was only increased in Osgood’s Method and Theory in Experimental Psychology (1953), which in its discussions of learning, problem solving, and thinking introduced what was termed Tolman’s ‘cognition theory’, and freely discussed positing, to explain both animal and human performance, ‘representational mediation processes’, described as ‘symbolic processes’ (1953, pp. 382, 401, 663).
In 1950s with the rise of the computer and discussions of information processing, provided new models and analogies psychologists could use in framing theories of problems solving or other perceptual or cognitive tasks (Hatfield, 2002). The analogy of the computer was cited explicitly as providing grounds for thinking that the internal workings of complex information-handling devices could be understood at the ‘program level’, and could be instantiated in a physical device whose operation was theoretically explicable (Green, 1967). In fact, early computer analogies in psychology did not yield...