Psychology Approaches

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One assumption of the Cognitive approach is that our minds work like a computer with inputs and outputs. We process information received from the environment around us in order to produce a response. In Savage Rumbaugh, Kanzi had to see a symbol on the lexigram, thereafter mentally process what he thought the symbol was and then produce an output which was to point at the correct symbol.

One strength of the Cognitive approach is that it tends to use scientific measures which are high in reliability. It allows for the experiments to be controlled and standardised which make them easily replicable. In Loftus and Palmer they used a lab experiment to see the effect of leading questions on eye-witness testimony. They made all the participants to watch the same car crashes and they were all asked the same critical question where the verb was changed. There were no distractions to the experiment as it was in a controlled lab environment.

One weakness of the Cognitive approach is that it doesn’t know exactly what one is thinking but can only assume. This makes the findings and generalisations questionable. In Savage Rumbaugh, they never fully knew whether the lexigram was actually measuring Kanzi’s ability with language.  However, recent advancements in science and technology have made it so that we can study brain activity and find out what part of the brain is active.

A further strength of the Cognitive approach is that it has useful applications. The findings from the experimental study done by Loftus and Palmer can be used in everyday life.  Police and the courts now know the effect of leading questions on an Eye-Witness’ Testimony and how it can cause a person to give an answer which they think


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