The Cognitive approach


Basic assumptions:

  • Thought processes can be, and should be, studied scientifically. They feel that introspection is too unscientific and that well controlled lab studies can investigate what we are thinking. 
  • The mind works like a computer, in that it has an input and an output.
  • Stimulus and response is appropriate but only if the thought processes that occur between the stimulus and response are acknowledged - this is a direct criticism of behaviourism

The study of internal mental processes:

Cognitive psychologists endeavour to work out what thought processes are occuring from the behaviour and experiment elicits. 

They apply the scientific method.

The role of schema:

  • Schemas are ways of organising information about the world into similar groupings. They are a collection of ideas about a person or situation formed through experience which helps the individual to understand and predict the world around them.
  • Knowledge of the world that is stored as schemas is not in the form of single concepts but a cluster of relevant ideas including individual past experiences.
  • So, an individual's schema about restaurants contains factual information about restaurants, how to behave in them (cognitive scripts) and personal experiences of restaurants (episodic memory).
  • People from the same culture tend to have similar schemas due to shared experience. However, it is our personal experience that dictates the schemas we form.

Theoretical and computer models:

  • Theoretical and computer models can be used to explain and make inferences about mental processes. Inferences are pieces of missing information that an individual fills in through previous knowledge or through theories or prior belief. 
  • Cognitive psychologists advocate the use of theoretical models as it supports a scientific approach to enquiry testing. 
  • The use of models means that components can be tested individually and examined in detail. If data from experiments does not 'fit' with the model it can be adjusted. It also means that certain areas of the brain can be identified as specific to certain tasks. 
  • One of the assumptions of the cognitive psychology approach is that the mind functions like…


No comments have yet been made