Cognitive Psychology (A complete guide)

Cognitive psychology is the study of the internal processes of the mind.

Everything that happens in your mind; thought, perception, attention, memory, problem solving, learning, and language is part of cognitive psychology.

Although it is a small branch of psychology, it is quickly growing into one of the most popular subfields.

There are many practical applications of cognitive research, such as helping to deal with memory impairment, decision-making accuracy, finding ways to help people recover from brain damage, treating learning disorders, and developing learning programs to strengthen the effectiveness of teaching and learning. 

Knowing more about how people think and process information not only helps researchers gain greater insight into how the human brain works, but also enables psychologists to develop new ways to help people deal with mental disorders.

For example, by recognizing that focus is a selective and limited source, psychologists can come up with solutions that make it easier for those who have difficulty focusing on improving their focus and attention.

Findings in cognitive psychology increase our understanding of how people create, maintain and recall memories.

By learning more about how these processes work, psychologists can create new ways to improve memory and help people cope with potential memory problems.

For example, if your Short-term-memory STM is small and limited (it can last between 20 and 30 seconds and between five and nine objects), psychologists have found that practice strategies improve the likelihood that information will be transmitted to the Long-term-memory LTM, making it more stable and stronger.

The cognitive psychologist asks such questions:

·      How can we gain knowledge of the divine universe?

·      How can we store and process information?

·      How can we solve problems?

·      How does a breakdown in our thinking cause flaws in our thinking?

·      How do deficits in our thinking create emotional thinking and negative behavior?

The term ‘cognitive psychology’ was first coined in 1967 by Ulric Nieser[1].

Since then, there have been a number of interventions in cognitive research that are useful to you in the field of psychology.

Psychology also affects many other disciplines. As a result, people often read it in various fields including medicine, education and business.

Cognitive psychologists focus on goals and addressing any problems from scratch.

It can be helpful to establish a goal you would like to work on with your cognitive psychologist.

This can help to more critically evaluate problems or sticking points and set markers to work towards.

A cognitive psychologist can then help you work towards those goals.

Actively having goals to work towards and someone to keep you accountable to them, such as your therapist, is a great way to aid in sticking to or working towards your goals.  

Most cognitive psychologists try to follow these guidelines when working with patients:

  • Have a good working relationship between client and doctor.
  • The belief that psychological distress is actually the result of disturbances in cognitive processes.
  • Focusing on changing perceptions to provide desirable changes in mood and / or behavior.
  • Time-limited, educational therapy focused on specific issues.

Some psychologists focus on research and are employed by universities or government agencies, while others take a clinical focus and work directly with people who face challenges associated with various psychological processes.

These psychologists can be found in hospitals, state run mental health clinics, or through private services. 

Psychologists specializing in this area of the field often work in a specific area of ​​interest, such as memory.

Some prefer to work directly on specific health problems that plague the brain, such as dementia or brain damage.

Reasons for contacting a cognitive psychologist might be:

·      Treatment with practical therapies for mental illness

·      Exploring treatment options for trauma

·      If you are experiencing cognitive or hearing problems

·      As part of the treatment of speech or language disorders

·      If you have Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or amnesia

·      Exploring various interventions for learning disabilities

The role of cognitive psychologists is important as they aid in helping people who are suffering from cognitive deficiencies.

Attention and problem-solving skills are crucial to our daily lives.

Disorders that disrupt the normal flow or ability to perform tasks using them can have an impact on every aspect of living.

Attention issues make it difficult to focus on work, school, or even in conversations with friends or loved ones.

Lacking problem solving skills can leave someone stranded in limbo if they feel like they can not complete what is asked of them.

Even minor memory problems can make it difficult to cope with internal and external stressors.

For example, consider how negative thinking can interfere with your health and happiness.

We all experience negative thoughts from time to time, but some people are so overwhelmed with pessimistic thinking that it becomes difficult to function in life.

These thoughts increase stress, lower self-esteem  and can lead to self-harm, or other dangerous activities such as drug or alcohol abuse. 

With the help of psychologists, people are often willing to find ways to deal with and overcome such difficulties[2].

Therapeutic strategies developed through research are focused on helping people to transform these negative thoughts and instead, shift perspectives and formulate strategies to aid the client in working through what is disturbing them.

The Impact of Cognitive Psychology on mental health

In addition to contributing to our understanding of how the human brain works, psychology has also influenced our view of the mind.

Prior to the 1970s, most of psychology was focused on psychoanalysis, analysis of behaviors, and human approaches.

As more interest has been put towards the “cognitive changes” that occur during over time, a greater emphasis has been placed on understanding how people’s processing of information and thought processes contribute to psychological distress.

As a result of research done by psychologists in the area of the field, new therapies have been developed to treat depression, anxiety, fears and other mental health problems.

Targeted Behavioral Change and Cognitive Behavior Change are two therapies used today in which clients and therapists are more active in the basic perceptions that contribute to psychological distress.

Clinicians can help clients identify illicit beliefs and other misconceptions and turn such ideas into practical and healthy beliefs.

If you experience symptoms of mental health issues that you think could benefit from the use of cognitive techniques, it might be helpful to see a psychologist trained in some of these psychotherapy techniques.

Some psychologists or clinical social workers may not be specifically cognitive psychologists or completely cognitive focused.

However many of the strategies they use come from cognitive culture and would be incredibly helpful and effective at treating many ailments. 

What can you do after you if you are diagnosed with cognitive impairments?

Being diagnosed with a mental illness or illness is often scary and sometimes confusing, but it’s important to remember that you are not alone.

By working with your therapist, you can come up with effective treatments to identify the cognitive and psychological problems that you feel impair your functioning the most.

Your treatment may include a consultation with a psychiatrist who can help identify the background for a specific concern.

Otherwise working with a psychiatrist who has training and knowledge about your specific illness can help you to work towards whatever your goal is with your treatment.

It can be helpful to make a list of questions you have before your next visit with your doctor, accredited psychologist or psychiatrist, or licensed clinical social worker can be helpful.

This can help you feel better and more prepared for the next steps in your treatment and aid in squashing any doubts or questions that are troubling you. 

Side Note: I have tried and tested various products and services to help with my anxiety and depression. See my top recommendations here, as well as a full list of all products and services our team has tested for various mental health conditions and general wellness.

Frequently asked questions about cognitive psychology:

What does cognitive psychology mean?

Cognitive psych is the study of mental processes and how they impact things like critical thinking, creative endeavors, how we create memories, and how we perceive things both internally and externally. 

What is an example of cognitive psychology?

Memory is a great example of cognition.

Our brain makes connections when something happens to us and the connections that it makes enable that event to go into either short term or long term memory.

How we think about and how that memory makes us feel are also key examples of cognition. 

Why is cognitive psychology important?

Cognitive psychology explores processes like language, problem solving and memory.

It is  useful and has gained popularity because it can be applied to many other fields in psychology.

Memory, attention, perception, child development, problem solving, eyewitness testimony and gender role development are all other psychology specificites that cognitive psychology can be applied to. 

What are the three main cognitive theories?

There are three cognitive theories that are very influential.

The three theories are Piaget’s developmental theory, Lev Vygotsky’s sociocultural cognitive theory, and the information process theory, associated with Atkinson and Shiffrin .

Each theory helps to flesh out different parts of cognition, Piaget’s with childhood development, Vygotsky’s with relationships, and Atkison/Shiffrin’s with memory.

What are cognitive problems?

Cognitive disorders or neurocognitive disorders , are a category of mental health disorders that primarily affect one’s cognitive abilities such as learning, memory, perception, and problem solving. 

These types of disorders can be diagnosed as mild or major based on the severity of their symptoms and their impact on functioning. 

Want to learn more about cognitive psychology? Check out these books:

Blink:The power of thinking without thinking

Drawing on cutting-edge neuroscience and psychology and displaying all of the brilliance that made The Tipping Point a classic, Blink changes the way you’ll understand every decision you make.

Never again will you think about thinking the same way.

Thinking, Fast and Slow

In the highly anticipated Thinking, Fast and Slow, Kahneman takes us on a groundbreaking tour of the mind and explains the two systems that drive the way we think.

System 1 is fast, intuitive, and emotional; System 2 is slower, more deliberative, and more logical.

Kahneman exposes the extraordinary capabilities—and also the faults and biases—of fast thinking, and reveals the pervasive influence of intuitive impressions on our thoughts and behavior.

The impact of loss aversion and overconfidence on corporate strategies, the difficulties of predicting what will make us happy in the future, the challenges of properly framing risks at work and at home, the profound effect of cognitive biases on everything from playing the stock market to planning the next vacation—each of these can be understood only by knowing how the two systems work together to shape our judgments and decisions.

How the Mind Works

In this extraordinary bestseller, Steven Pinker, one of the world’s leading cognitive scientists, does for the rest of the mind what he did for language in his 1994 book, The Language Instinct.

He explains what the mind is, how it evolved, and how it allows us to see, think, feel, laugh, interact, enjoy the arts, and ponder the mysteries of life.



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