The Cognitive Approach



  • Human processing is simular to that of a computer, imput, stores and retrieves information to the determine a response. 
  • Studying mental processes allows us to understand why people behave like they do.
  • The mind actively processes information that comes in. There is an informational processor between stimulas and repsonse.
  • All studies are researched both scientifcally and objectively. 
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Research Methods

  • Mental processors studied scientifically using controlled lab experiments. 
  • Mental processors studied both scientifically and objectively. 
  • Experiments are done as its main method of investigation. 
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The Study Of Internal Mental Processes

  • It is impossible to see in someone's mind when they are thinking. So, Psychologists study internal mental processors by measuring some kind of behaviour (whether verbal or written). This is an objective method of measurment that allows Psychologists to create theories of what goes on in our heads. 
  • Behavioural repsonses are then used to study mental processors. 
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Wason (1968)

Aim - To find if people reason in a logical way like a computer and if so whether the computer anology is correct. 

Method - P's shown cards and told each card has a letter on one side and a number on the other. There were also told if there is an R on one side then they're is a 2 on the other. They were then shown 4 cards shwoing R G  2  4 and where asked to turn over only those cards nessessary to discover if the rule was true or false. 

Reuslts - Most turned over correctly with the letter R on it as a number other than 2 wuld prove the rule to be false. Few turned over card with 7 on it. It is nessessary to turn over this card as if there was the letter R on the other side the rule would have been proved false. 

Conclusion - Logical way to prove or disprove the rule is to tun over the R and the 7. Since most P's did not do this, the experiment shows that pure logical thinking may be difficult for most.

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The Use Of Models To Explain Processes

Primary model used is a computer: 

  • Computer is an information processor, and mental processes such as memory are seen to operate in a simular way. 
  • The computer allows mental processes to be thought of in terms of inputting information, storing it and retreiving the information. 
  • In human terms, information is input through our senses, information is stored in memory amd can be retrieved from memory through recall/recognition. 
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  • Adopts scientific procedures to develop and test theories using experiments. It therefore has strengths of scientific approach. 
  • Dominent approach in Psychology.
  • Use of models (Computer) helps us understand mental processers. 
  • Approach emphasises importance of mediational processers, such as perception and thinking of which occur between a stimulas and a repsonse. 
  • Research carried about by Cognitive psychologists has aided our understanding of mediational processers. 
  • Pratical insights offered into such issues as how memory can be made more effective and how to improve problem solving skills. 
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