Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that focuses on the study of mental processes such as attention, perception, memory, problem-solving, and language. This field emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a response to behaviorism, which dominated psychology at the time.
The Roots of Cognitive Psychology
The roots of cognitive psychology can be traced back to the work of psychologists such as Wilhelm Wundt and William James in the late 19th century. These psychologists studied consciousness and mental processes using introspection, which involves the examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.
The behaviorist movement, led by B.F. Skinner, dominated psychology throughout much of the first half of the 20th century. Behaviorists rejected introspection and focused instead on observable behavior.
The Cognitive Revolution
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, a group of psychologists began to challenge behaviorism and promote a new approach to psychology that focused on mental processes. This movement is known as the cognitive revolution.
One key event in the cognitive revolution was a symposium held at MIT in 1956 that brought together leading researchers in fields such as psychology, linguistics, computer science, and anthropology to discuss topics related to cognition.
The Key Figures
Several key figures played important roles in the development of cognitive psychology:
- George Miller: Miller was one of the organizers of the MIT symposium and is perhaps best known for his research on working memory capacity.
- Noam Chomsky: Chomsky is a linguist who argued that language acquisition cannot be explained purely by environmental factors but instead has an innate component.
- Ulric Neisser: Neisser wrote a book called “Cognitive Psychology” in 1967 that is considered one of the founding texts of the field.
The Cognitive Approach Today
Today, cognitive psychology is a thriving field that encompasses a wide range of topics and methods. Researchers use techniques such as brain imaging, computational modeling, and behavioral experiments to study topics such as attention, perception, memory, decision-making, and language.
Cognitive psychology has also influenced other fields such as education, artificial intelligence, and human factors engineering.
In conclusion, cognitive psychology emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a response to behaviorism. The movement focused on mental processes such as attention, perception, memory, problem-solving, and language. Today, cognitive psychology is a thriving field with many applications in other fields.