Cognitive Psychology

The cognitive approach in psychology is a very exciting and contemporary approach to human behaviour. This approach focuses on studying our own mental thought processes and therefore assumes that behaviour can be largely explained in terms of how the mind operates, rather than genetic factors.

This scientific study of human behaviour focuses on studying internal processes such as attention, memory, perception, language, reasoning, decision making and learning, and regards humans as working in a similar way to computer systems – i.e. we process information by inputting, storing and retrieving data.


Assumptions of the approach

  • Behaviour is controlled by our own thought processes, as opposed to genetic factors
  • Human behaviour should be investigated using scientific, rigorous methodology
  • The mind works in a way similar to a computer: inputting, storing and retrieving data

Core Studies

The three core studies covered by this approach are as follows:

Evaluation of the approach


+ Tends to use scientific, rigorous methodology to study human behaviour

+ Provides insight into the human mind and how it operates

+ Is very useful and has provided many practical applications, such as the use of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy


– Lacks validity as cognitive functioning can not be directly observed

– Takes a reductionistic approach and tends to over-simplify complex human behaviour

– Tends to use highly-controlled laboratory experiments conducted within artificial settings to observe human behaviour which may lack ecological validity

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