Cognitive Methodology

  • Created by: Emily
  • Created on: 18-12-12 13:55

Lab Experiment Introduction

The cognitive approach (CA) favours using lab experiments. Lab experiment are controlled studies carried out under artificial conditions when there's an IV and a DV. For example, Loftus and Palmer's lab study of leading questions involved different groups of participants watching films of the same car accident, in a lab.

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Strength of Lab experiments

One strength of CA lab experiments is that they are highly scientific. Only observable behaviour is measured and possible confounding variables are controlled. Having an IV and a DV enables cognitive psychologists to establish a cause and effect. For example, Morris was able to show that a football schema (IV) enabled participants to recall more correct football scores (DV).

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Weakness of lab experiments

However, one weakness is that CA lab experiments are low in external validity. This is because research reflects internal processing is complete in a lab, with artificial tasks. For example, in the Stroop test participants are asked to state the colour that a word is written in, whilst completing a conflicting colour and word task. This is not a task that a person would complete in everyday life. This suggests that lab experiments may not paint a true picture of processing in the real world.

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Case Studies Introduction

Alternatively, cognitive psychologists also use case studies of brain damaged individuals. Case studies give a unique insight into the working of the mind as a psychologist can build up an in depth, detailed investigation into one person, or group of people. For example, studying Clive Wearing, who has severe amnesia due to brain damage (caused by the encephalitis virus), helps us better understand how memory works.

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Strength of Case Studies

A strength of case studies is that they are high on validity. This is because they are based on studies of real life clients and produce qualitative data, rather than studying participants in artificial lab situations, giving rich detail. For example, cognitive psychologists studied the case of HM who could recall events before his surgery, but could not store new information, thus helping psychologists to understand internal processes of the mind. This suggests that using case studies paints a true picture of behaviour, thus strengthening CA methodology.

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Weakness of Case studies

However, a weakness is that some cognitive case studies can be seen as unethical as there is sometimes a lack of fully informed consent. For example, HM is unable to retain information about any procedures, scans and tests he may have completed fter his surgery and hence, if he were unable to retain new information, he might not fully understand what he was consenting to. This suggests that the case studies might break ethical guidelines, thus weakening cognitive methodology.

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