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Cognitive Psychology Theories and Theorists

Those who study psychology through a cognitive framework are typically interested in the mental processes involved in absorbing, processing and storing information. German psychologist Ulric Neisser is regarded as the father of the discipline. He used the first used the term in 1967, distinguishing the framework from behaviorism and psychoanalysis.¹

Another important contributor is Jean Piaget who developed Piaget’s Theory of Cognitive Development. He was a developmental psychologist who relied on a cognitive framework. To learn more about Piaget and his theories, consult the Developmental Psychology section of BrainMass. Cognitive psychology can be applied in many realms of psychology. It has seen practical application in abnormal, social and developmental psychology, among others.

Major topics covered in cognitive psychology include perception, linguistics, learning, attention, memory and intelligence.¹

Many cognitive psychologists believe it is possible to change someone’s learning potential for the better. While behaviorists use learning models based on conditioning, cognitive psychologists have pointed to ‘learning’ phenomena that is inconsistent with the simple operant response model. These include:¹

Latent learning  - When something is learned but not manifested as behaviour until later.

Cognitive maps - A mental representation of a set of physical features

Insight learning - Arriving at an understanding suddenly on how to solve a complex problem after thinking about problem.

Observational learning - When someone learns through seeing the consequences that others experience as a result of their behavior. Cognitivists note that a neural phenomenon called “mirror neurons” (neurons that fire both when an individual performs an action and when they see another individual performing a similar action) support their framework. Researchers agree that these neurons are essential in observational learning and early childhood developments such as learning to speak.

Among the aforementioned cognitive psychology theories and trends, BrainMass’ section of Cognitive Psychology Theories and Theorists also includes solutions about theories of intelligence, William Wundt, Gestalt Laws of Perceptual Organization, left-right brain dominance debate and the phenomenon of forgetting.




Cognitive Psychologist Jean Piaget 



1.Psychology - The Science of Behaviour, by Neil R. Carlson, William Buskist, C. Donald Heth, Rod Schmaltz.

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