Cognitive psychology is concerned with information processing, and includes a variety of processes such as attention, perception, learning, and memory. It is also concerned with the structures and representations involved in cognition. The greatest difference between the approach adopted by cognitive psychologists and by the Behaviorists is that cognitive psychologists are interested in identifying in detail what happens between stimulus and response.
Some of the ingredients of the information processing approach to cognition were spelled out by Lachman, Lachman, and Butterfield (1979). In essence, it is assumed that the mind can be regarded as a general purpose, symbol processing system, and that these symbols are transformed into other symbols as a result of being acted on by different processes. The mind has structural and resource limitations, and so should be thought of as a limited capacity processor.
A key issue in the field is the extent to which human and computer information processing systems resemble one another. The consensual view is probably that there are indeed striking similarities between computer minds, but there are also probably substantial differences. In recent years, explicitly cognitive approaches have been adopted in social and developmental psychology, as well as in occupational and clinical psychology.
- Eysenck, M.W. (Ed.). (1990). Blackwell Dictionary of Cognitive Psychology. Cambridge, MA: Basil Blackwell.
- Lachman, R., Lachman, J.L., & Butterfield, E.C., (1979) Cognitive psychology and information processing. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.