What Is Cognitive Model in Psychology?


Diego Sanchez

In psychology, the cognitive model is a theoretical framework that describes how people perceive, think, and learn. It is based on the idea that our mental processes influence our behavior and emotions.

What is the Cognitive Model?

The cognitive model was first introduced by psychologists Aaron Beck and Albert Ellis in the 1960s and 1970s. According to this model, our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions affect our behavior and emotions.

The cognitive model suggests that people have automatic thoughts that come to mind quickly and are often negative or distorted. These automatic thoughts can lead to negative emotions such as anxiety or depression.

Components of the Cognitive Model

The cognitive model consists of three main components:

  • Thoughts – Our thoughts include beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions about ourselves, others, and the world around us.
  • Emotions – Our emotions are influenced by our thoughts.
  • Behavior – Our behavior is also influenced by our thoughts.

Cognitive Distortions

Cognitive distortions are errors in thinking that can lead to negative emotions. Some common cognitive distortions include:

  • All-or-nothing thinking – Seeing things as black or white with no middle ground.
  • Overgeneralization – Making sweeping conclusions based on one event.
  • Mental filtering – Focusing only on negative aspects of a situation while ignoring positive ones.
  • Catastrophizing – Assuming the worst-case scenario will happen.

The Role of Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is a type of psychotherapy based on the cognitive model. The goal of cognitive therapy is to help individuals identify their negative automatic thoughts and replace them with more realistic and positive thoughts.

Cognitive therapy can be used to treat a variety of mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


The cognitive model is an important theoretical framework in psychology that explains how our thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions affect our behavior and emotions. By understanding the cognitive model and identifying our automatic negative thoughts, we can learn to replace them with more realistic and positive ones through cognitive therapy.