Cognitive psychology is branch of psychology, which deals with the perception, learning, and thoughts of people. Cognitive psychologists study how people perceive, remember and think about information.
Now the question arises about influencing human cognition. Is it nature or Nurture? The most accepted current view is that both are incomplete. Nature and nurture both work together in determining who we are. One may ask when and where did the study of psychology begin? There are different schools of thoughts to answer this question. Structuralism understand the structure of the mind and its perception by analyzing those perceptions into their constitute components. An alternative school of thought i-e functionalism suggests that psychologists should focus on the processes of thought rather than on its contents. Associationism suggests how different events or ideas can become associated with one another in mind to result in a form of learning. Behaviorism, which may considered an extreme version of associationism, focuses entirely on the association between the environment and an observable behavior. Gestalt deals with the maxim “the whole differs from the sum of its parts”. Cognitive psychology deals with various methods that prove helpful to explain how people think. These methods include laboratory experiments, psychobiological research, self reports, case studies, naturalistic observation, and computer simulations.
Sometimes it happens that we are not aware of what we are doing; even then we actively process information. It is the attention that allows us to use our limited active cognitive resources. According to cognitive psychologists there us a difference between conscious and preconscious attention, and they explain it by distinguishing between controlled and automatic processing. Attention has different functions that are (i) signal detection, (ii) selective attention and (iii) divided attention.
We perceive stable objects in our environment. To explain this phenomenon we have to focus on our perceptual experience. Our perceptual experience involves four elements: distal object, informational medium, proximal stimulation, and perceptual object. Perception has two theoretical approaches: bottom-up approach (direct perception), and top-down approach (constructive perception).
The next step after perceiving is memorizing the information. The question arises whether it is possible to measure memory or not? The answer of this question is simply yes, researchers have devised various tasks to measure memory. These tasks are recall task, serial-recall task, free-recall task, cued-recall task, implicit memory tasks, recognition task, and task involving procedural knowledge. Memory is the means by which we draw our past knowledge to use this in present. The prevailing traditional model of the structure of memory involves three stores of memory: (i) sensory store, (ii) short term memory store, and (iii) long term memory store. The process of memory generally comprises on three common operations: encoding, storage, and retrieval. Encoding refers transforming a sensory input into a kind of representation. Storage refers retaining encoded information. Retrieval means gaining access to information stored in memory.
We represent knowledge in our mind in two ways: declarative and nondeclarative (procedural) way. Cognitive psychologists are interested in our mental representation of knowledge. Imager is the mental representation of things, the most commonly studied imagery by cognitive psychologists is visual imagery. Kosslyn has synthesized a hypothesis that images may involve both analogous and propositional forms of knowledge representation. One may ask how words and symbols are organized in mind. The basic unit of symbolic knowledge is the concept, which organized into categories, which may include other categories to form schemas, which may include other schemas, and which may include information about relationships between concepts, contexts and general knowledge. Many cognitive psychologists proposed models for procedural knowledge based on computer simulations to represents other forms of knowledge in our mind.
Cognitive psychology is a dynamic discipline, rather than as one comprising static facts that we only can pretend will never change.