When Was Cognitive Psychology Founded?


Diego Sanchez

Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that deals with the study of mental processes such as perception, attention, language, memory, and thinking. It is one of the most popular fields of psychology today, but when did it all start? Let’s take a closer look.

The Beginnings of Cognitive Psychology

The roots of cognitive psychology can be traced back to the late 1800s when psychologists began to shift their focus from studying the brain to studying behavior. The early pioneers in this field were Wilhelm Wundt and his student Edward Titchener who developed a school of thought called structuralism. Structuralism focused on breaking down mental processes into their basic components and analyzing them.

However, it wasn’t until the 1950s that cognitive psychology began to emerge as a distinct field. This was largely due to several key developments in the field of computer science which led psychologists to view the mind as an information processing system similar to a computer.

The Founding Fathers of Cognitive Psychology

Two psychologists are often credited with founding cognitive psychology: George Miller and Ulric Neisser.

George Miller was an American psychologist who wrote a groundbreaking paper in 1956 titled “The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on Our Capacity for Processing Information.” In this paper, Miller argued that humans have a limited capacity for processing information and that this capacity is around seven items (plus or minus two).

Ulric Neisser was another American psychologist who is considered one of the founding fathers of cognitive psychology. In 1967 he published a book titled “Cognitive Psychology” which helped establish cognitive psychology as a distinct field. In this book, Neisser argued that the mind should be studied as an integrated whole rather than broken down into its component parts.

The Rise of Cognitive Psychology

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, cognitive psychology continued to grow and gain popularity. Researchers began to use new technologies such as brain imaging and computer modeling to study mental processes in greater detail.

One of the most significant developments in cognitive psychology during this time was the development of the cognitive revolution. This movement emphasized the importance of studying mental processes such as perception, attention, and memory from a cognitive perspective.

Today, cognitive psychology is one of the most popular branches of psychology. Researchers continue to explore new areas such as decision-making, problem-solving, and artificial intelligence using a variety of techniques including brain imaging and computer modeling.


In conclusion, cognitive psychology has come a long way since its beginnings in the late 1800s. It wasn’t until the 1950s that it began to emerge as a distinct field with the help of key developments in computer science. George Miller and Ulric Neisser are often credited with founding cognitive psychology, but it was through the work of many researchers throughout the years that this field has grown and evolved into what it is today – one of the most popular branches of psychology with a focus on understanding how our minds process information.