What Is Cognitive Pragmatics in Psychology?


Martha Robinson

Cognitive pragmatics is a subfield of psychology that focuses on how people use language in real-life situations to convey meaning. It explores the cognitive processes that underlie effective communication and how language is used to achieve specific goals.

The Basics of Cognitive Pragmatics

At its core, cognitive pragmatics is concerned with the relationship between language and thought. It aims to understand how people use language to convey meaning and how they interpret it in different contexts.

One of the key concepts in cognitive pragmatics is implicature. Implicature refers to the meaning that arises from what is implied but not explicitly stated. For example, if someone says “I have a headache,” they might be implying that they need some quiet time or rest.

Another important concept in cognitive pragmatics is relevance theory. This theory suggests that people only pay attention to information that is relevant to their goals or interests. When communicating, speakers must take into account what their listeners consider relevant and focus on providing information that meets those needs.

Applications of Cognitive Pragmatics

Cognitive pragmatics has many practical applications, particularly in fields such as education and healthcare. By understanding how people interpret language, educators can develop more effective teaching methods and materials.

In healthcare, cognitive pragmatics can help improve patient-physician communication. By understanding patients’ needs and concerns, physicians can provide more effective treatment plans and help patients make informed decisions about their health.


In conclusion, cognitive pragmatics is an important field of study within psychology that examines how people use language in real-life situations. By exploring the cognitive processes involved in communication, researchers can gain insights into how we think and interact with others. The concepts of implicature and relevance theory are central to this field, which has many practical applications in education and healthcare.