Revealing The Terms Cognitive And Cognitive Model

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The origins of the cognitive approach include psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus (1850-1909) who pioneered an experimental study of memory. In the 1920s Gestalt psychologists argues that our perceptions are organised so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Jean Piaget (1896-1980) explained how children’s thinking process become more sophisticated with age. Lev Vygotsky (1886-1934) believed that the environment in which children developed had an important impact on their development, for example, scaffolding of children. Sir Frederick Bartlett (1931) acknowledged the role of individual experiences in cognition and perception for example, chinese whispers.

Cognitive psychology emerged during the 1960’s and 1970’s part due to the dissatisfaction with the behavioural approach. Ulric Neisser’s book ’Cognitive Psychology’ (1967) made allusions of the human mind working in a similar fashion to computers which marks the official beginning.

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The term cognitive has come to mean mental processes, so this approach focuses on how our mental processes for example thoughts, perceptions, memory, language and attention affect behaviour. Internal mental processes, private operations of the mind such as attention and memory that mediate between stimulus and response. 

Cognitive psychologists often break down the units of knowledge into three different types, concepts, prototypes and schemas. A concept is basically a larger category of knowledge which exists in your mind where similar items are grouped together. You have concepts for concrete things like a dog, as well as abstract ideas like love. A prototype refers the most recognisable concept that comes to mind. Mental processes are highly influenced by pre-existing schemas. Schema’s compartmentalise mental representations. They are developed from experience. As we go through life, we develop representations of how things look and how things work. Schema’s act as a mental framework for the interpretation of incoming information. You have schemas for a wide variety of objects, ideas, people and situations. However, schemas may also distort our interpretations of sensory information. 

In cognitive psychology computers and computer models are often used to explain how we think and behave. These models use the concepts of the central processing unit (the brain), the concept of coding (to turn information into a useable format) and the use of ‘stores’ to hold information. For example, input (environment) through to processes (pre-existing schema) and output (behaviour). Such computational models of the mind have proved useful in the development of ‘thinking machines’ or artificial intelligence.

The cognitive model assumes that emotional problems can be attributed directly to distortions in our thinking processes. These take the form of negative thoughts, irrational beliefs and logical errors, such as polorised thinking and overgeneralization. Such thinking is thought to be automatic and unconscious. Examples of these could be thoughts such as, “I must get three grade As in my exams or I am worthless”. This way of thinking is known as cognitive bias. This approach was founded by Albert Ellis (1962) and Aaron Beck (1963) who criticised the behavioural model for not taking mental processes into account. The rationale behind the cognitive model is that the thinking processes that occur between a stimulus and a response are responsible for the feeling component of the response.

Beck (1976) believed that errors in thinking underpin mental disorders. He found that depressed people tend to draw illogical conclusions when they evaluate themselves. Such negative thoughts lead to negative feelings which in turn can result in depression. Beck identified three forms of negative thinking surrounding the self, the world and the future (the cognitive triad) that he thought were typical of those suffering from depression.

The cognitive model offers a useful approach to disorders like depressions and anorexia. This is because it considers the role of thoughts and beliefs, which are greatly involved in problems like depression. Cognitive therapies have often successfully treated depression, anxiety, stress and eating disorders. It allows a person to take control and make a positive change to their behaviour. The parallel between human processing and computers are compelling for examples information needs to be held for a period of time while some other function is performed relevant to WMM, computers have data bases and stores which is similar to LTM. Highly scientific due to the methodology it uses. Lots of empirical studies to support research. Highly applicable for example, eye witness testimony, therapy.

Faulty cognitions may simply be the consequence of a disorder rather than its cause. For example, depression may be caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain, which causes people to think very negatively. Cognitive therapies may take a long time and be costly. They may be more effective when combined with other approaches, for example cognitive-behavioural methods. The treatments work better with some conditions than others. The person could begin to feel like he or she is to blame for their problems. It has low ecological validity. Ignores biology and the influence of hormones. Strong nomothetic view, that is models would apply equally to everyone. Not taking into account individual differences, emotions and free will.

Cognitive therapies assume that we can treat psychological disorders by eliminating or changing the original faulty thoughts and beliefs. They’re used to treat a wide range of conditions and can be particularly helpful with problems such as depression and anxiety. They’ve also been shown to be effective as medication for some conditions.           


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