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1.2: What is Cognitive Psychology?

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    The easiest answer to this question is: “Cognitive Psychology is the study of thinking and the processes underlying mental events.” Of course this creates the new problem of what a mental event actually is. There are many possible answers for this:

    Let us look at Knut again to give you some more examples and make the things clearer. He needs to focus on reading his paper. So all his attention is directed at the words and sentences which he perceives through his visual pathways. Other stimuli and information that enter his cognitive apparatus - maybe some street noise or the fly crawling along a window - are not that relevant in this moment and are therefore attended much less. Many higher cognitive abilities are also subject to investigation. Knut’s situation could be explained as a classical example of problem solving: He needs to get from his present state – an unfinished assignment – to a goal state - a completed assignment - and has certain operators to achieve that goal. Both Knut’s short and long term memory are active. He needs his short term memory to integrate what he is reading with the information from earlier passages of the paper. His long term memory helps him remember what he learned in the lectures he took and what he read in other books. And of course Knut’s ability to comprehend language enables him to make sense of the letters printed on the paper and to relate the sentences in a proper way.

    This situation can be considered to reflect mental events like perception, comprehension and memory storage. Some scientists think that our emotions cannot be considered separate from cognition, so that hate, love, fear or joy are also sometimes looked at as part of our individual minds. Cognitive psychologists study questions like: How do we receive information about the outside world? How do we store it and process it? How do we solve problems? How is language represented?

    Cognitive Psychology is a field of psychology that learns and researches about mental processes, including perception, thinking, memory, and judgment. The mainstay of cognitive psychology is the idea where sensation and perception are both different issues.

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