What is cognitive psychology?
Cognitive Psychologists look at our higher mental processes such as language and memory.
The Study of our internal mental processes is important to understanding our behaviour. The human brain, like a computer is an information processor. We receive, interpret and respond to information and these processes can tested scientifically.
Methods of Investigation..
- Cognitive Psychologists conduct their research under strict laboratory conditions.
- An Independent variable is manipulated and a dependent variable is measured.
- For example, the IV in Loftus and Palmer’s eye witness testimony experiment is the wording of the critical question and the DV is the how fast the participants estimated the car was traveling.
2) Case Study..
- This method is used by Cognitive Psychologists when conducting research on an unusual case.
- A case study involves conducting research on just one participant in detail and over a long period of time.
- For example, cognitive psychologists may use the case study method when looking at rare cases of amnesia or when attempting to teach an animal to use language.
Loftus and Palmer (1974) Eye Witness Testimony
Aim: To see if the wording of a question affects memory.
Variables: IV: the wording of the critical question. DV: the estimated speed and whether participants reported seeing non-existent glass.
Procedure: (Experimental design) Participants watched video clips of car crashes and were asked a number of questions. The Critical question: “how fast were the cars travelling when they smashed/collided/bumped etc”.
Results: Participants who had heard the more emotive verbs e.g. smashed were significantly more likely to estimate that the cars were travelling faster and they were significantly more likely to have reported that they had seen glass than those who had heard the less emotive verbs- e.g. contacted. This shows us that memories can be distorted after an event and that the wording of questions affects memory.
Conrtibutions to Psychology..
Cognitive Psychology has helped us to understand the following:
Memory: Research into the nature and structure of memory / Methods to improve memory / Explanations of forgetting.
Therapy: Cognitive behavioural techniques.
Education: Improving teaching techniques.
Strengths & Weaknesses..
- It mostly uses rigorous scientific methods.
- The approach has had many practical applications.
- This area has worked with other areas of psychology to produce the following: social learning theory, social cognition and artificial intelligence.
- It is too simplistic.
- It ignores the complexity of the human functioning.
- It ignores biological influences of human functioning.
- It ignores emotions, conscious experience and free will.
- Cognitive Psychologists look at our internal mental processes.
- They carry out their research using the experimental method and the case study method.
- Their research has many practical applications in understanding our how our memory works, how people learn, and in therapy.
- It is scientific, but it has been accused of being overly simplistic.