The cognitive perspective is a theoretical approach in psychology that focuses on the mental processes involved in perception, thought, memory, and problem-solving. This perspective emphasizes how people acquire, process, and use information to make decisions and solve problems.
What is the Cognitive Perspective?
The cognitive perspective is a way of looking at human behavior and mental processes through the lens of how we perceive, think about, remember, and problem-solve. It emerged as a dominant approach in psychology during the 1960s and 1970s as researchers began to explore the inner workings of the mind.
Cognitive psychology is concerned with understanding mental processes such as attention, perception, memory, language use, reasoning, problem-solving and decision-making. Cognitive scientists study how we learn from experience and how we use that knowledge to interact with our environment.
The Key Principles of the Cognitive Perspective
- Information processing: The cognitive perspective views the mind as a complex information-processing system that receives input from the environment through our senses.
- Mental representations: The mind creates mental representations of sensory input that allow us to perceive and understand our world.
- Cognitive structures: Our minds organize information into cognitive structures or schemas that help us make sense of new experiences.
- Cognition in context: The cognitive perspective recognizes that our thinking is influenced by social and cultural factors.
The Importance of Research in Cognitive Psychology
Cognitive psychologists use empirical methods to study mental processes. They collect data through experiments or observations that test hypotheses about how people think or learn. By analyzing this data using statistics they can test their theories about cognition.
One famous example is George Miller’s “Magical Number Seven” study in which he found that people can only remember about seven items in their short-term memory. This research has important implications for how we design instruction and how we organize information.
Applications of the Cognitive Perspective
The cognitive perspective has many practical applications. For example, cognitive therapy is an approach to treating mental illness that focuses on changing negative thought patterns.
Educational psychologists use cognitive principles to develop effective teaching strategies. And human factors engineers use cognitive principles to design products that are easy to use and understand.
The cognitive perspective is a fundamental approach in psychology that has helped us understand complex mental processes such as perception, memory, language, and decision-making. By studying these processes, cognitive psychologists have developed theories and techniques that have had a significant impact on many fields outside of psychology.