Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that pays keen interest in how the human brain works when processing information. Based on our environment, cognitive psychology looks at the type of information we receive, how the brain treats the information, and the feedback as a result of the information. Some of the areas that cognitive psychology dwells around include perception, attention, thinking, and memory (Myers, 2012). In addition to receiving and responding to information, storage and handling problems are critical in this field. In relation to problem-solving, the breakdown process based on one’s perception may cause an error in thinking. As a result, this may cause emotional distress or even negative behaviors.
The word cognitive psychology was first used in 1967 by Ulric Neisser (Neisser, 2014). However, ever since, much research has been done in the cognitive study, which has been beneficial to psychology. Cognitive psychology is applied in various aspects of life, and several studies on multiple fields have been carried out over time. Some of these fields include medicine, education, and business (Barnes, 200, p. 130). Cognitive psychology is structured so that it is goal-oriented, and it mainly focuses on a problem from the very beginning. An example of a significant cognitive problem can be seen when seeking specialist help from a psychologist. The patient is usually advised by the cognitive psychologist to identify their problem, and then the psychologist helps them come up with a structured way to solve the problem. This can be done by formulating particular goals (Barnes, 200, p. 130).
In a real-life setting, if one is supposed to carry out a presentation the following day, they may fear failing it. Therefore, they may use anything within the surrounding environment to act as a distraction keeping them away from working on the presentation. This will hinder one from a proper preparation for the task ahead, which will fail. In such a case, a cognitive psychologist would examine the most valid reason that can cause any possible failure. Then they would suggest alternative approaches that would help one succeed in their presentation.
Based on the numerous cognitive researches, various practical applications have been put in place to assist in a wide array of problems. These ranges from coping up with memory disorder, increasing the accuracy in decision making, treatment of learning disorder, and assisting a sick individual to recover from brain injury (Block and Gellersen, 2010, p 610). Therefore, it is clear that apart from the understanding of how the human brain processes information, cognitive psychology comes in handy when assisting people dealing with psychological difficulties. A better illustration of this application is by realizing that attention is both a selective and limited resource. Therefore, a psychologist can come up with better solutions for people with attention difficulties to improve their focus and concentration.
Recalling, storing, and forming memories are some of the areas that have also been found to be improved by cognitive psychology. Having a better understanding of how these processes work, a solution can be identified to improve the memory or combating potential memory problems. For instance, the short-term memory is usually limited and unstable, thus only capable of only holding between five to nine items at a period of up to thirty seconds. Psychological strategies like rehearsal can tremendously improve short term memories into long term memories, which are more stable and durable (Schneider, and Pressle, 2013).
All the cognitive psychology components are pivoted in forming who we are, our human perception, and how we behave. The thoughts related to cognition can either be conscious or non-conscious. For example, a student may consciously choose to be attentive during a particular lecture. On the other hand, a light flickering through the room may un-consciously cause a distraction.
Human perception can be described as a set of unconscious processes that one undergoes to make sense of their surroundings, stimuli, and the sensation they encounter. Our perceptions are based on how we interpret various phenomena. Human perceptions help us in our day-to-day activities and in navigating the world (Sternberg, 2016). One of the best ways to get to understand perspective is through perceived illusions. Through such, we can determine the capacity and limit of the perceptual apparatus that are found within a given constraint.
Perception, as a process of making sense of our surroundings, is a cognitive process that makes it possible to interpret the various stimuli received on the sensory organs. This is an essential cognitive ability applicable in our day-to-day life and helps us understand our surroundings (Sims, 2018, p 650). Perception is not a single spontaneous process; instead, a series of phases occurs to get the right response. In perceiving visual information, it’s not enough for light just to reflect off an object. The perceived light information has to be sent to the correct retinal cell, which will, in turn, transfer the information to the selected area of the brain for interpretation. For all these to happen, a perception has various phases ranging from selection, organization, and interpretation.
Since perception is the input to cognition, the two systems have to communicate with each other to the very least of information carried by perception to be relayed on the various cognitive systems. Tacca (2011, p 358) argues that there is a structural similarity between earlier vision and the higher cognitive system that are underlying active empirical thoughts between the two systems. In both cases, there is an essence of systematic representation.
We are exposed to many stimuli that exceed our capacity and, therefore, we need to filter and choose the information that we want to perceive. The selection phase of perceiving can be done either through attention, preference, or necessity. In the organization stage, the perceived stimuli are organized to create meaning. According to Gestalt principles, the arrangement of the stimulus has to follow a given sequence. After arranging the selected stimuli, we give them meaning to complete the perception process (Jones et al. 2002, p. 317). This is the interpretation phase.
Some of the real-life cognitive psychology that influences perception include the importance of identifying any perspective that a student might encounter. This will allow the person in charge to ensure the students get both the auditory information and the visual information. In whichever form of profession, the correct perception leads to efficiency in performance. Another common yet essential cognitive psychology is how we perceive the road signs and the sounds coming from our vehicles. This ensures safety when driving.
Perception is a cognitive skill that can be improved in various ways. One of the basic rehabilitation of cognitive skills is brain plasticity (Barsalou, 2014). In this process, the brain and the neural connection can be strengthened by challenging and working on them. Frequent training makes the brain structure to become stronger.
Cognitive psychology has been expressed with various theories, such as behaviorism. The behaviorism theory proposes that an individual can learn new things based on a given set of conditions that they perceive from their surroundings. Since perception requires stimuli from the environment, the behaviorism theory expresses how the brain can manipulate the information it gathers from the environment and utilize it to get the correct response by mastering how the brain works. Human beings should be very prepared to control, especially in avoiding addictions, such as social media addiction (Solso, et al., 2005, p 91). This can be done by diverting the concentration spent on social media upon other activities that are equally rewarding, such as hobbies and exercise.
The strengthening process of human perception is at various levels since it affects the cognitive system. For instance, a child at a tender age, if they are slow learners, frequent practices, and even the change of learning presentation, from wording to illustrative diagrams, for instance, can make a change in the way they perceive education. Therefore, diagrams are detailed and give them a clear and different perspective that they may not see when wording is used instead. This, as a result, stimulates the brain to function differently.
In a working environment, the difference in perception can either be fruition to a company or hinder the productivity of the various individuals. The difference in perspective can benefit a company if those that have a better perspective of the work to be carried out assist the others in catching up. On the contrary, it takes a lot of effort and for one to change their perceptions and even work habits so that they can be able to adapt to the new environment. In most cases, some workers may be rigid to any contradicting opinion. This could be costly to a company.
Barnes Jr, J.H., 2000. Cognitive biases and their impact on strategic planning. Strategic Management Journal, 5(2), pp.129-137.
Barsalou, L.W., 2014. Cognitive psychology: An overview for cognitive scientists. Psychology Press.
Block, F. and Gellersen, H., 2010, October. The impact of cognitive load on the perception of time. In Proceedings of the 6th Nordic Conference on Human-Computer Interaction: Extending Boundaries (pp. 607-610).
Jones, M.R., Moynihan, H., MacKenzie, N. and Puente, J., 2002. Temporal aspects of stimulus-driven attending in dynamic arrays. Psychological science, 13(4), pp.313-319.
Myers, D.G. and Smith, S.M., 2012. Exploring social psychology. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Neisser, U., 2014. Cognitive psychology: Classic edition. Psychology Press.
Schneider, W. and Pressley, M., 2013. Memory development between two and twenty. Psychology Press.
Sims, C.R., 2018. Efficient coding explains the universal law of generalization in human perception. Science, 360(6389), pp.652-656.
Solso, R.L., MacLin, M.K. and MacLin, O.H., 2005. Cognitive psychology. Pearson Education New Zealand, p.91
Sternberg, R.J. and Sternberg, K., 2016. Cognitive psychology. Nelson Education.
Tacca, M.C., 2011. Commonalities between perception and cognition. Frontiers in psychology, 2, p.358.
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