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Psychology is the study of mind, emotion and behaviour

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Introduction

Psychology is defined as the study of mind, emotion and behaviour. One major perspective within psychology is known as cognitive psychology, which is primarily concerned with the explanation of thought processes through the development of theoretical mental systems. Cognitivism is somewhat broad in it's approaches to psychology and only linked in it's goal to create hypothetical mental structures to explain behaviour ("History & Scope Of Psychology"). The exact origins of cognitivism are difficult to pinpoint. Ideas that make up the perspective have been traced back to ancient Greece; however it is in modern times that it has developed to it's prominent status of today. This period of time is referred to as the "cognitive revolution" of the 1960's, lead by the work of those such as Piaget and Chomsky. Prior to this revolution, behaviourism (the study of cause and effect; environmental factors and their effect upon behaviour) was considered to be the dominant school of thought in psychology; however cognitivism soon emerged as the new dominant perspective. ("The History & Scope of Psychology"). It was in the 1967 publication of Cognitive Psychology by Neisser that a name was coined for the rising field of psychological science, and an outline of major research-to-date and significant concepts was offered. (Maclin & Solso, 2000) The goals of cognitivism are to attempt to understand the way in which the many processes of our minds work, through use of the scientific research method. ...read more.

Middle

(History & Scope of Psychology). His opinions and work could classify him as a cognitivist. He also developed the first methods of scientific research to analyse perception and sensations. Claude Shannon's publications (1948) were the birth of information processing theories. Neisser (1976) stated that the basis of the cognitive processes is perception, which acts as a building block for all cognitive thoughts. In addition, he was responsible for first defining cognitivism as a branch of psychology. Linguist Noam Chomsky's publications, Syntactic Structures (1957) and a review of Skinner's Verbal Behaviour (1959) were considered to be ground-breaking, playing a significance role in the rise of psycholinguistics and the decline in popularity of Behaviourism. Chomsky's argument was that language and its acquisition were formed on a basis of pre-existing mental rules, structures and syntactical abilities, rather than learnt solely by a stimulus-response system. Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, conducted research and found that that children of different ages have dramatically differing abilities to understand concepts and reason, and theorised that there must be a series of stages of development that humans go through, which he named the mental 'schemes'. He went further to state humans experienced universally the same sequence of stages, albeit at slightly different ages. Another contributor was Donald Broadbent who made a distinction between a short term memory and long term memory, a discovery which still underlies much research and experimentation. ...read more.

Conclusion

Furthermore, the fact remains that while much behaviour is observable, mental processes are not; therefore many of the cognitive concepts and theories are exceedingly difficult to concretely prove. Cognitivism gives a somewhat limiting mechanical view of human nature and behaviour. While understanding and hypothesising over the specific mental processes may be a vital step to understanding behaviour, no emphasis or consideration is placed on the influence of environmental factors upon behaviour. This leads to an incomplete method of explaining human behaviour. Studying the specific mental accompaniments of behaviour has a limited impact on discovery of methods of which to control, treat or manipulate behaviour. Cognitivism is considered as the dominant perspective in psychology today. This extremely broad science, with many notable contributors such as Piaget, Chomsky and Shannon, is concerned with the inner workings and processes of our mind. It is difficult to summarise each specific topic area, except to describe its aim to understand the mental accompaniment of behaviour. Through the scientific method, experiments, inferential statistics, hypothesised mental structures and theories; cognitivism provides a complex, yet mechanical, view of the mind and its relationship to behaviour. It is generally more focused on attempts to understand and interpret what accompanies behaviour, rather than the causes of behaviour or ways in which it can be manipulated. However, it fails to give a complete and thorough explanation of human behaviour, as it is specifically focused upon the mind, and is not concerned with other significant influences such as environment and culture. Nevertheless, cognitivism is a strong, imperative and fascinating branch of psychology. ...read more.

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