The cognitive approach


The Cognitive approach

The Cognitive approach was developed in the 1960s as a reaction to the behaviourists ignoring what was happening inside the head during human behaviour. They believed that after the stimulus was exposed the individual makes sense of it and then responds

The assumptions:

  • Behaviour can be explained in terms of internal mental processes. According to the CA, internal mental processes can and should be studied scientifically. As a result, the CA has investigated areas such as memory, perception and thinking
  • Cognitive psychologists cannot study these processes directly so study them indirectly by making inferences about what is going on inside people's minds based on their behaviour
  • The mind works like a computer in that it has an input which it processes and produces an output

Key features:

  • Theoretical models can be used to study internal mental processes
    • One theoretical model is the information processing approach. This suggests that information flows through the cognitive system in a sequence of stages which include input, storage and retrieval
  • Computer models are used to study internal mental processes
    • This is known as the 'computer analogy'. It is based on the idea that there are similarities between the way the mind and a computer process information
    • They both have a central processing unit
    • They both involve coding of information and so transfer…


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