What Is the Definition of Cognitive in Psychology?


Martha Robinson

Cognition is a broad term used in psychology to describe mental processes, such as perception, memory, thinking, and problem-solving. Cognitive psychology focuses on how people process information and use it to make decisions and solve problems. But what exactly does the term “cognitive” mean?

The Definition of Cognitive

The word “cognitive” comes from the Latin word “cognoscere,” which means “to know.” In psychology, the term refers to mental processes that involve acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses.

Cognitive Processes

Cognitive processes are the mental activities that allow us to think, reason, and remember. These include:

  • Perception: The process by which we interpret sensory information from our environment.
  • Attention: The ability to focus on a particular stimulus while ignoring others.
  • Memory: The process by which we encode, store, and retrieve information.
  • Language: The ability to communicate through spoken or written words.
  • Thinking: The mental manipulation of information to solve problems or make decisions.

The Importance of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is important because it helps us understand how people think and behave. By understanding cognitive processes, we can develop better ways of teaching, learning, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Cognitive Development

Cognitive development is the process by which children learn to think and reason. Jean Piaget was a psychologist who studied cognitive development in children. He proposed that children progress through four stages of cognitive development:

  • Sensorimotor Stage (Birth-2 years): Infants use their senses and motor skills to explore the world around them.
  • Preoperational Stage (2-7 years): Children begin to use language and symbols to represent objects and ideas.
  • Concrete Operational Stage (7-11 years): Children can think logically about concrete objects and events.
  • Formal Operational Stage (11 years and up): Adolescents can think abstractly and hypothetically.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of psychotherapy that focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It is based on the idea that our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are interconnected. CBT helps people identify negative thought patterns and replace them with more positive ones.


In conclusion, cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that studies mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, language, and thinking. Understanding these processes is important for education, problem-solving, decision-making, and mental health.

Cognitive development in children progresses through four stages proposed by Jean Piaget. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is a form of psychotherapy that helps people change negative thought patterns and behaviors.