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COGNITIVE APPROACH (PSYCHOLOGY)
The Cognitive Approach in psychology is a relatively modern approach to human behaviour that focuses
on how we think, with the belief that such thought processes affect the way in which we behave (other
approaches take other factors into account, such as the biological approach, which acknowledges the
influences of genetics and chemical imbalances on our behaviour).
What it is and where the cognitive approach came from
There is some dispute as to who created the cognitive approach, but some sources attribute the term to
the 1950s and 1960s, with Ulric Neisser's book Cognitive Psychology, which made allusions of the human
mind working in a similar fashion to computers. The approach came about in part due to the
dissatisfaction with the behavioural approach, which focused on our visible behaviour without
understanding the internal processes that create it. The approach is based on the principle that our
behaviour is generated by a series of stimuli and responses to these by thought processes.
Comparison to other approaches
Cognitive (meaning "knowing") psychologists attempt to create rules and explanations of human behaviour
and eventually generalise them to everyone's behaviour. The Humanist approach opposes this, taking into
account individual differences that make us each behave differently. The cognitive approach attempts to
apply a scientific approach to human behaviour, which is reductionist in that it doesn't necessarily take
into account such differences. However, popular case studies of individual behaviour such as HM have
lead cognitive psychology to take into account ideosynchracies of our behaviour. On the other hand,
cognitive psychology acknowledges the thought process that goes into our behaviour, and the different
moods that we experience that can impact on the way we respond to circumstances.
Human behaviour can be explained as a scientific processes
Our behaviour can be explained as a series of responses to external stimuli
Behaviour is controlled by our own thought processes, as opposed to genetic factors
Evaluation of the Cognitive Approach
A viable approach which has been used to create the multistore model of memory processes,
supported by many other experiments.
Easily combined with other approaches. CognitiveBehavioural Therapy is a popular and successful
form of treatment for issues such as obsessive compulsive disorder.
Takes into account the internal, invisible thought processes that affect our behaviour, unlike the
Depends largely on controlled experiments to observe human behaviour, which may lack ecological
validity (being compared to reallife behaviour).
Does not take into account genetic factors for example hereditary correlations of mental disorders.
Reductionist to an extent, although case studies are taken into account, the behavioural approach
attempts to apply the scientific view to human behaviour, which may be argued to be unique to each