What Is the Philosophy Behind Cognitive Psychology?


Jane Flores

Cognitive psychology is a field of psychology that aims to understand the mental processes behind human behavior. This philosophy is based on the belief that human cognition, or the way we think and process information, is responsible for our actions and behaviors.

History of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology emerged in the late 1950s and early 1960s as a response to behaviorism, a philosophy that focused solely on observable behaviors rather than mental processes. Cognitive psychologists sought to understand how people think, remember, reason, and solve problems.

One of the founding fathers of cognitive psychology was George Miller, who conducted research on memory capacity and attention. Miller proposed that people can only hold around seven pieces of information in their working memory at any given time.

Another pioneer in cognitive psychology was Ulric Neisser, who wrote a book called “Cognitive Psychology” in 1967. In this book, he argued that cognitive psychology should focus on how people organize and make sense of the world around them.

The Main Tenets of Cognitive Psychology

There are several key principles that underlie cognitive psychology:

1. Mental Processes Are Important

Unlike behaviorism, which focused exclusively on observable behaviors, cognitive psychology places a great deal of emphasis on mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, language use, problem-solving abilities, and decision-making skills.

2. The Mind Is an Information Processor

Cognitive psychologists view the mind as an information processor that takes in sensory input from the environment and transforms it into meaningful representations.

3. Mental Representations Are Vital

According to cognitive psychology theory, mental representations are essential for understanding how people think about concepts such as objects or events. These representations help us make sense of the world around us by organizing sensory information into meaningful patterns.

4. Thinking Can Be Studied Scientifically

Cognitive psychology is a scientific discipline that uses empirical research methods to study mental processes. Researchers in this field use a variety of techniques, including experiments, observations, and interviews.

Applications of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology has many practical applications in the real world. For example, cognitive psychologists have developed strategies to help people improve their memory, attention, and problem-solving skills. They have also applied their research findings to fields such as education, business, and healthcare.


In conclusion, cognitive psychology is a philosophy that emphasizes the importance of mental processes in understanding human behavior. Its key tenets include the idea that mental processes are important, the mind is an information processor, mental representations are vital, and thinking can be studied scientifically. With its many practical applications in daily life and scientific research methods, cognitive psychology continues to be an important area of study in modern psychology.