How Does Linguistics Contribute to Cognitive Psychology?


Jane Flores

Linguistics is the scientific study of language and its structure. Cognitive psychology, on the other hand, is the study of mental processes such as perception, attention, and memory.

The two fields may seem unrelated at first glance, but they are actually closely intertwined. In this article, we will explore how linguistics contributes to cognitive psychology.

Linguistic relativity

One of the main ways in which linguistics contributes to cognitive psychology is through the theory of linguistic relativity. This theory suggests that language influences our perception and understanding of the world around us. For example, if a language does not have a specific word for a certain color, speakers of that language may find it more difficult to distinguish between shades of that color.

This idea was first proposed by Benjamin Lee Whorf in the early 20th century and has since been debated by scholars in both fields. However, many studies have shown evidence for linguistic relativity in various aspects of cognition, such as memory recall and problem-solving.

Language acquisition

Another area where linguistics contributes to cognitive psychology is in the study of language acquisition. Children learn language at an astonishing rate without formal instruction or explicit rules. Linguists have studied this process extensively and have identified several stages that children go through when acquiring their first language.

Cognitive psychologists have used this knowledge to better understand how humans learn and process information more generally. For example, studies have shown that infants as young as six months old can recognize grammatical patterns in speech even before they start speaking themselves.

  • Language processing
  • Finally, linguistics also contributes to our understanding of how humans process language.

This includes everything from how we recognize speech sounds to how we comprehend complex sentences. Linguists use techniques such as eye-tracking and brain imaging to investigate these processes.

Cognitive psychologists then take these findings and apply them to other areas of cognition. For example, studies have shown that the same brain regions that are activated when we process language are also involved in other tasks such as problem-solving and decision-making.


In conclusion, linguistics and cognitive psychology are two fields that are closely related. Linguistics contributes to our understanding of how language influences our perception of the world, how we acquire language, and how we process language.

This knowledge is then used by cognitive psychologists to better understand human cognition more broadly. By studying language, we can gain insights into the workings of the human mind.