May 11, 2015
Cognitive Psychology Paper
Due to the prominent contrast, behaviorism and cognitive psychology are often being compared. Cognitive psychology focuses on determining the understandable explanations of the human mental processes, whereas behaviorism does not address the concerns of the mental processes. The main objective of cognitive psychology is to explain the human transformations of thoughts into manifestations through a cognitive process. There have been some important key milestones within the development of cognitive psychology, as well important behavioral observations both of which will be discussed.
According to Merriam-Webster, by definition, cognitive psychology is “a branch of psychology concerned with mental processes (as perception, thinking, learning, and memory) especially with respect to the internal events occurring between sensory stimulation and the overt expression of behavior.” (Merriam-Webster, 2015) According to our text (which I feel is a better explanation) says that “cognitive psychology deals with our mental life: what goes on inside our heads when we perceive, attend, remember, think, categorize, reason, decide, and so forth.” (Galotti, 2014) Knowing now what cognitive psychology is, there are many areas of study that made it what it is today.
Behaviorism was the dominant belief in psychology until the 1950s. From 1950 to 1970 the behaviorism school of thought began to lose ground to cognitive psychology. Behaviorism focused on scientific methods developed for observing behavior, but the majority of the behaviorist observations was animal oriented, which some thought could not efficiently explain abilities of the human language (Watrin & Darwich, 2010). The focus shifted to issues like memory, problem solving, and attention. This period was deemed the cognitive revolution because of considerable research in areas such as cognitive research methods and process models. This period also produced the beginning of the term cognitive psychology in 1967, developed by Ulric Neisser, an American psychologist. According to Neisser, cognition involves "all processes by which the sensory input is transformed, reduced, elaborated, stored, recovered, and used. It is concerned with these processes even when they operate in the absence of relevant stimulation, as in images and hallucinations... Given such a sweeping definition, it is apparent that cognition is involved in everything a human being might possibly do; that every psychological phenomenon is a cognitive phenomenon." (Neisser, 2003)
Eventually, a metaphor for comparing the human mind to machines was developed. This metaphor suggested correlations between characteristics shared by machine and man. These similarities included; the way the human mind processed information, the nature of the process of human language, and retaining memory. The similarities between the two systems gave rise to a new school of thought that was more complex and considerably more abstract than the prominent behaviorist views of the time. The computer metaphor, although not complete, definitely promoted further research along this line. (Galotti, 2014)
Arguably, the turning point for cognitive psychology came in the 1959 journal by Noam Chomsky with the review of Skinner’s book on language titled “Verbal Behavior”. Chomsky argued that language could not be explained as Skinner suggested, through a stimulus- response process, because it could not account for some common facts about language. He suggested that language used in a creative way could better be explained as a central process, as opposed to a peripheral process. Chomsky suggested that language expresses ideas and translating ideas into language is a cognitive process. This influenced interest in the cognitive processes of other forms of human behavior. Chomsky's language model included two types of structures: surface