Cognitive psychology is one of the most important fields of study in modern psychology. It focuses on how people think, learn, and process information. The founder of cognitive psychology is none other than Ulric Neisser.

The Birth of Cognitive Psychology

Before cognitive psychology, behaviorism was the dominant school of thought in psychology. Behaviorists believed that all behavior could be explained through conditioning and reinforcement.

However, in the 1950s and 1960s, psychologists began to question the limitations of behaviorism. They believed that it couldn’t fully explain complex human behaviors like language acquisition and problem-solving.

Enter Ulric Neisser

Ulric Neisser was born in Germany in 1928 and immigrated to the United States as a child. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1956 and went on to become a professor at Cornell University before eventually settling at Emory University.

In 1967, Neisser published a groundbreaking book titled “Cognitive Psychology”. The book argued that mental processes like perception, attention, and memory were just as important as observable behaviors. This was a revolutionary idea at the time, and it marked the birth of cognitive psychology as a distinct field of study.

The Legacy of Ulric Neisser

Neisser’s contributions to cognitive psychology didn’t stop with his book. He continued to publish groundbreaking research throughout his career, including studies on visual perception, memory retrieval, and emotion.

Neisser also played an important role in establishing cognitive science as an interdisciplinary field that brings together experts from psychology, neuroscience, linguistics, philosophy, computer science, and anthropology.

Sadly, Ulric Neisser passed away in 2012 at the age of 83. However, his legacy lives on through his numerous contributions to cognitive psychology and his impact on the broader field of psychological science.


In conclusion, Ulric Neisser’s contributions to the field of psychology cannot be overstated. His pioneering work in cognitive psychology transformed the way we think about mental processes and paved the way for countless researchers to explore this fascinating area of study. By recognizing the importance of mental processes like perception, attention, and memory, Neisser laid the foundation for modern cognitive psychology and helped shape our understanding of human cognition.