Is Psychology Part of Cognitive Science?


Vincent White

Psychology and Cognitive Science are two closely related fields that are often used interchangeably. However, there are some key differences between the two, and it is important to understand these differences in order to fully appreciate the scope and significance of each field.

What is Psychology?

Psychology is a social science that studies human behavior and mental processes. It seeks to understand how people think, feel, and behave in different situations. Psychologists use various research methods such as experiments, surveys, case studies, and observations to explore human behavior.

Psychology has several subfields such as developmental psychology, clinical psychology, social psychology, cognitive psychology, and educational psychology. Each subfield focuses on a specific aspect of human behavior or mental processes.

What is Cognitive Science?

Cognitive Science is an interdisciplinary field that brings together various disciplines such as psychology, linguistics, neuroscience, philosophy, computer science, anthropology, and education. It seeks to understand how the mind works by examining various mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, language processing, problem-solving, decision-making, and reasoning.

Cognitive scientists use various research methods such as brain imaging techniques (fMRI), computational modeling techniques (computer simulations), behavioral experiments (reaction time), linguistic analysis (corpus analysis), and neurophysiological measurements (EEG) to study the mind.

The Relationship Between Psychology and Cognitive Science

Psychology and Cognitive Science share a common goal of understanding human behavior and mental processes. However, they differ in their approach to this goal.

Psychology focuses on studying behavior directly by observing it or asking people about it through surveys or interviews. On the other hand, Cognitive Science focuses on studying mental processes indirectly by examining their underlying mechanisms in the brain or through computer models.

Cognitive Science draws heavily from psychology but also incorporates insights from other disciplines such as linguistics and neuroscience. In contrast to Psychology which is primarily concerned with human behavior, Cognitive Science is focused on understanding the workings of the mind.


In conclusion, Psychology and Cognitive Science are related but distinct fields. Psychology focuses on studying human behavior directly, while Cognitive Science focuses on understanding the underlying mental processes that drive this behavior. While there is some overlap between the two fields, they approach their common goal in different ways and draw on different disciplines to achieve it.