ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Cognitive Psychology

Updated on March 10, 2020

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is defined as the study of higher intellectual processes such as attention, perception, problem solving, language use, memory, and thought. The development of cognitive psychology was a result of the World  War II emphasis of research on, “human performance and attention, developments in computer science, especially those in artificial intelligence and the renewal of interest in the field of linguistics” according to Anderson (Athabasca University , 2007, ¶ 15).  Cognitive psychology became well known first through the work of Noam Chomsky.  This paper will discuss Chomsky’s review of B.F. Skinner’s book as well as several milestones in cognitive psychology.  The paper will conclude with the importance of behavioral observation in cognitive psychology.

Milestones

Prior to the 1950s behaviorism was the main school of psychological thought.  Behaviorism began to fall apart making room for cognitive psychology in the late 1950s. The deterioration was due partly to skepticism about weather behaviorism could uphold the promises made.  Questions began to rise about the behaviorist theory due to the use of animals in their studies and the belief that humans were a blank slate just as animals. Additionally lack of explanations of mental processes in psychology became detrimental to the field.  Behaviorists did not place importance of genetics on behavior.  Instead the belief was held that the environment shaped humans (Willingham, 2007).

Behaviorists failed to explain how humans attain language.  B.F. Skinner was the first to attempt an explanation in his book, Verbal Behavior in 1957. The book was reviewed by Noam Chomsky and he stated, “Not only is Skinner’s account wrong, but a behaviorist explanation cannot, in principle, ever account for language” (Willingham, 2007, p. 24). Chomsky also noted that language is generative not obtained through the environment as behaviorists claimed (Willingham).

Birth of Cognitive Psychology

Psychology was dominated for decades by behaviorism before the cognitive revolution in the 1960s. The most famous turning point in Cognitive psychology was the review on Verbal Behavior written by Skinner.  In Noam Chomsky’s review he argued that use of language is explained not as a peripheral process as previously theorized by Skinner but as a central process (Athabasca University, 2007).  Chomsky became the first linguist to prove a connection between the precision of math and language. Chomsky further disputed human’s acquire language at the same physical age, something unexplainable by the child’s environment (Miller).

Parallel Distributed Processing

Discovered by David Rumelhart and James McClelland, the Parallel Distributed Processing model states information processing occurs parallel not individually. According to this theory, many processing units are responsible for sending excitatory and inhibitory signals to other units.  Their connectionist theory is the idea that processing is accomplished by interconnected elements and the reference to neural models (Athabasca University, 2007).

Cybernetics and computer science

The first computer simulated human thought was generated by Herbert Simon and Allen Newell in 1956 at Carnegie-Mellon University.  The following year General Problem Solver (GPS) was developed.  Cognitive psychology’s recent advances can be attributed to surfacing of cybernetics and computer science to include cognitive processes by computer simulation for the purpose of research.  Information processing models have been produced with the help of computer technology (Athabasca University, 2007)

Allen Newell dedicated 40 years to teaching cognitive psychologists about artificial intelligence. The study of artificial intelligence aided in scientific research into the human mind.  Artificial intelligence is anticipated to assist in more advanced computers by additional psychological research in cognition, computer science and electrophysiology.  Originally cognitive processes only pertained to cognitive psychology but have assisted in the development of other psychology fields including abnormal and developmental psychology (Athabasca University, 2007).

Cognitive Psychology printed matter

In 1967 Cognitive Psychology, by Ulric Neisser was published. The book made cognitive psychology a legitimate field of study.  The book contained four chapters dedicated to language, memory and thought.  An additional six chapters discussed attention and perception (Athabasca University, 2007). Since the publication of the first textbook on cognition the way humans comprehend memories and thoughts has changed beyond what 2500 years of philosophical assumptions achieved (Kowalski & Westen, 2005). In addition to the textbook written by Neisser, in 1970 a journal began for those interested in cognitive psychology.  The Journal of Cognitive Psychology further defined and legitimized the field (Athabasca University, 2007).

Behavioral Observation

Behaviorists initially argued that cognitive psychology was unable to observe the cognitive behaviors as they occurred. Thus cognitive psychology could not be a science. The methods of science include empiricism, public verifiability and solvable problems. Through empiricism the hypothesis must be testable and the results made verifiable the problem must also be solvable.  Cognitive psychologists remedied the problem of observable behavior by explanations of mental process theories and how unobservable processes intermingle by explaining the behavior resulting if the cognitive theory was correct (Willingham, 2007).  

Conclusion

Cognitive psychology became well known first through the work of Noam Chomsky. Even though prior to the 1950s behaviorist theory dominated the psychology field, cognitive psychology proved language is not a product of the environment but generative.  Cognitive psychologists developed the science further into explaining artificial intelligence, parallel pathways and methods of observation for thought processes.


References

Athabasca University (2007). History of Cognitive Psychology. Retrieved March 13, 2009, from http://www.muskingum.edu/~psych/psycweb/history/cognitiv.htm

Kowalski, R., & Westen, D. (2005). Psychology (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, John and Sons, Inc.

Miller, G. A. (2003). The cognitive revolution: a historical perspective. TRENDS in Cognitive Sciences, 7, 141-144.

Willingham, D. (2007). Cognition: The thinking animal (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ : Pearson Prentice Hall.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • PsychGeek profile image

      Fiona Guy 

      5 years ago from UK

      Interesting and detailed Hub on the history and key aspects of cognitive psychology - thank you for sharing, I enjoyed reading it!

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)