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What is Cognitive Psychology?

The field of psychology is a complex one with many sub-fields, one of which is called cognitive psychology. This is a branch of psychology that is still relatively young. It started to gain a following in the 1960s, following a period of time when behaviorism had been the predominant psychology branch. The meaning of the word cognition has to do with how people acquire knowledge. While behavioral psychologists are mostly interested in how people behave, cognitive psychologists are interested in learning more about the ways people think. Some of the important topics in the field include memory, perception, and language acquisition.

Minds Like Computers

One of the ways in which cognitive psychologists talk about how people learn is to compare the human mind to a computer. Those who study and work in this field think about the ways in which people take in and process information. Just like computers, some of the information that human beings process gets used relatively soon, and some of it gets stored in various parts of the brain to be used later (hence the emphasis on memory). A psychologist in this field is still interested in how someone behaves or acts, but they see that as a result of how someone thinks or processes information mentally.

Topics You Might Study and Roles You Might Take On in Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychologists study how people get information, process it, use it and remember or recall it. They are interested in creativity and how people solve problems. Sometimes they study research data and sometimes they learn through observing people. Computer models, case studies, and experiments in a lab are all ways cognitive psychologists learn and develop. Some of the topics you might study if you chose to go into this branch of psychology include neuroscience (particularly the study of the human brain), perception, language acquisition and development, memory loss, computer science, and statistics and other forms of research methodology. Obviously the field is an important one if you are interested in becoming a psychologist who deals with these kinds of issues, but it can also be a subject of interest for people in related fields, such as teaching, engineering, or linguistics.

There are many roles you could play with knowledge of this branch of psychology, since your learning could be applied in different ways. You might be an educator studying how people learn and how they can best cope with learning disabilities. You might be a scientist who is researching into the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and how it progresses. Artists or art therapists might benefit from studying how the brain processes information and makes creative decisions. The roles vary widely and the field is connected to other branches of psychology, including educational psychology, developmental psychology, and personality psychology.

There are many branches of psychology, each with its own emphasis and methodology, so it can be a good idea to read up on the various branches if you are interested in studying psychology. Cognitive psychology can be an interesting branch of study if you are especially interested in considering how the human mind processes information and solves problems.

See also: Top 25 Online Master’s in Educational Psychology 2016

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