Cognitive Approach (4)
Weaknesses: A weakness of the cognitive approach relates to the validity of measuring cognitive processes. We can only infer what a person is thinking and therefore the cognitive approach relies heavily on self report measures and observation. There are a number of reasons why we have to question the validity of self report measures and observation. For example we can only infer that adults with autism have theory of mind difficulties from the results of the Eyes Task or that pygmy chimps are really using language when they communicate through a Lexigram. However, because of the developments of brain scanning techniques we are able to record the active parts of the brain more accurately nowadays and cognitive science is providing a more and more detailed description of how cognitive processes work. For example, brain scanning techniques are giving great insights about how memory works. It has been argued that a weakness of the cognitive approaches reliance on the computer analogy leads to a reductionist and mechanistic description of experiences and behaviour. Reductionism is the idea that complex phenomena can be explained by simpler things. The cognitive approach often takes this narrow focus and ignores social and emotional factors which may impact on cognition. For example, the autism study investigated just one central cognitive deficit as an explanation for autism. However the reductionist approach does have strengths. An advantage of the reductionist view is that by breaking down a phenomenon to its constituent parts it may be possible to understand the whole. This type of single mindedness has lead to some great discoveries in psychology as it has in the 'natural' sciences.