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The Cognitive Perspective. Computers vs. Humans. Starter (10 mins). Name the 5 perspectives in Psychology. Name 3 main assumptions of the 2 perspectives we have studied so far. Using a mind map layout these 2 assumptions, displaying the main theories, evidence and evaluative points.

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The Cognitive Perspective

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the cognitive perspective

The Cognitive Perspective

Computers vs. Humans

starter 10 mins
Starter (10 mins)
  • Name the 5 perspectives in Psychology.
  • Name 3 main assumptions of the 2 perspectives we have studied so far.
  • Using a mind map layout these 2 assumptions, displaying the main theories, evidence and evaluative points.
the development of cognitivism
The Development of Cognitivism
  • While behaviourism was a popular approach in the 40’s and 50’s, some psychologists have pointed out that internal processes play a large part in many human functions and therefore should have a place in psychological study.
While behaviourists acknowledge the existence of internal processes such as thinking and emotion, they don’t consider them to be an appropriate focus of study because they are not directly observable. Some psychologists argue this provides a limited account of psychological functioning.
what does cognitive psychology focus on
What does Cognitive Psychology focus on?
  • It focuses on the way in which we take in, process, store and respond to information.
  • Particularly in; Perception, Attention, Memory, Language and Thinking.
cognitive main assumptions
Cognitive Main Assumptions
  • People are like machines (parallels can be drawn between computer processors and the brain).
  • All memory processes can and should be investigated scientifically.
  • Models of psychological functions can be proposed and tested by observable behaviour and conscious report.
  • Humans are not passive responders to their environment, there has to be some process between stimulus and response.
there are 3 main types of enquiry in cognitive psychology
There are 3 main types of enquiry in cognitive psychology
  • Experimental cognitive psychology
  • Cognitive science
  • Cognitive neuropsychology
cognitive neuropsychology
Cognitive Neuropsychology
  • Typically studies cognitive processes in people who have suffered different types of brain damage. For example, in 1895 Paul Broca discovered that a particular area of the brain was concerned with speech production. He found that damage in this area affected speech production but not the ability to understand speech.
cognitive science
Cognitive Science
  • This is largely to do with theories and theoretical development.
  • An example of this is the debate about processing. Do we process information in a linear fashion, one piece at a time (serial processing), or whether we process more than one piece of info at a time (parallel processing).
experimental cognitive psychology
Experimental Cognitive Psychology
  • This is our main area of interest as it studies all types of mental processing in normal, healthy people, in controlled experimental settings.
  • For example memory studies.
classic study ebbinghaus 1885
Classic Study Ebbinghaus (1885)
  • This was the first experimental study of internal mental processes.
  • He used nonsense words such as ‘bok,’ ‘waf’ and ‘ged’.
  • He memorised long lists of these nonsense words and tested himself on recall and retention.
  • He found that forgetting happened most, closer to the experiment, after a few days it levelled off.
  • This method of recall of words has been used ever since.
what s the point
What’s the point
  • This shows that cognitive psychologists study internal mental processes by measuring some kind of behaviour (usually verbal or written responses).
  • This objective method of study allows cog psychologists to create theories of what might be going on inside our minds.
  • We cannot see a person’s memory working but we can measure it’s effects. This is the basis of Cog Psychology.
now try to remember these letters
Now try to remember these letters
  • MA
  • SCI
  • ENG
  • HIST
  • GEOG
  • FRE
  • SPA
  • PSY
Using some clever experiments, cognitive psychologists have studied how we evaluate arguments and beliefs, that is, how we reason.
  • A classic study of deductive reasoning (drawing a logical conclusion from a set of statements) was conducted by Wason (1968)
deductive reasoning wason 1968
Deductive ReasoningWason (1968)


  • To show how people reason and how this might not be entirely logical.


  • Participants were shown four cards and told that each card had a letter on one side and a number on the other. They were also told that all the cards conform to the following rule.
If a card has an A on one side, then it has a 3 on the other side.
  • Participants were shown four cards showing A, B, 3 and 2. They were then asked to turn over only those cards necessary to discover if the rule was true or false.


  • Most participants correctly turned the card with the A on it (a number other than a 3 would prove the rule wrong). However, very few people turned over the card with 2 showing.
It is necessary to turn over this card since if there was an A on the other side it would prove the rule to be false.


  • The logical way to prove or disprove the rule is to turn over the cards with A and 2 showing. Since most participants did not do this, the experiment shows that pure logical thinking may be difficult for people.
  • This experiment shows how cognitive psychologists use experiments to study internal mental processes.
the influence of computers
The Influence of Computers
  • Computers provided an analogy of human mental processing.
  • Info is taken in, processed in some way, and this processing in turn affects behaviour and experience; The Computer Analogy
  • Name the 4 main assumptions of Cognitive Psychology.
  • Why do Cognitivists disagree with Behaviourists?
  • Define what is meant by the Computer Analogy.