What Are the Theories of Cognitive Psychology?


Jane Flores

Cognitive psychology is a field of study that focuses on understanding the mental processes involved in learning, remembering, and thinking. It emerged as a response to the behaviorist school of psychology, which emphasized observable behavior rather than internal mental processes. In this article, we will explore some of the major theories of cognitive psychology.

The Information Processing Model

One of the most influential theories in cognitive psychology is the information processing model. This theory compares the mind to a computer, suggesting that information is processed through a series of stages, including input (perception), storage (memory), and output (behavior). This model proposes that memory can be divided into three distinct types: sensory memory (briefly stores sensory information), short-term memory (stores information temporarily), and long-term memory (stores information indefinitely).

The Levels of Processing Model

The levels of processing model proposes that memory retention is influenced by the depth at which information is processed. According to this theory, shallow processing involves only basic sensory features such as visual appearance or sound, while deep processing involves semantic meaning and connections to existing knowledge. The deeper an item is processed, the more likely it will be retained in long-term memory.

The Dual Coding Theory

The dual coding theory suggests that there are two distinct ways in which we process and store information: verbally and visually. This theory posits that visual images are easier to remember than verbal ones because they can be stored in both verbal and nonverbal forms. For example, if you were trying to remember a list of words such as “tree,” “dog,” and “car,” you might have an easier time if you mentally picture each item rather than simply repeating them aloud.

The Working Memory Model

The working memory model proposes that short-term memory involves not just storage but also manipulation of information. This model suggests that working memory consists of three components: the central executive (which controls attention and coordinates the other two components), the phonological loop (which temporarily stores auditory information), and the visuospatial sketchpad (which temporarily stores visual and spatial information).


These are just a few of the many theories that make up cognitive psychology. By studying these theories, researchers can gain a deeper understanding of how our minds work and how we process, store, and use information. Whether you’re a student of psychology or simply interested in learning more about the workings of the human mind, cognitive psychology offers a fascinating field for exploration.