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Cognitive approach

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Cognitive approach

The cognitive approach suggests that our brain processes information like a computer system with input-store-process-output. The cognitive approach advocates the scientific study of internal mental processes. The multi-store model of memory serves as a practical application of how mental processes can be explained scientifically.

Let us first examine the models and assumptions of the cognitive approach. We will then learn about schemas and evaluate the cognitive approach strengths and weaknesses.

Cognitive Approach The cognitive approach to mental processes StudySmarterThe cognitive approach to mental processes, pixabay.com

Theoretical and computer models in the cognitive approach

Theoretical and computer models suggest that our minds process information systematically, resembling a computer processing system. The model used to describe the mind is called the information-processing model. The information accepted from the senses is encoded, manipulated in the mental processes (eg, storage) and directed towards an output (emotions, response). For example, a painter looks at an outline of a portrait ( encoding ) and decides which color suits the specific areas ( processing ) before painting the canvas with brushes ( output ).

Our brain feeds on sensory information , passes it through internal mental processes such as attention or memory and then provides a response that is internally influenced by our motivations and beliefs.

Cognitive approach assumptions

The cognitive approach assumes the following:

  • Our responses determine what an individual thinks since mental processes can not be directly observed or examined.
  • Human minds and computer processes work similarly, having information inputs (encode) and processing output (decode).
  • Internal mental processes work between stimuli and responses , making them eligible to be studied scientifically.

What are schemas in the cognitive approach?

Schemas are internal scripts in our brain that direct us about what to expect and respond to in the environment. Schemas are produced and stored in the brain based on previous experiences .

For example, gender schemas presume how a male or female should behave; a girl may assume that all girls like playing with dolls because, in her previous experience, she was scolded for playing with her brother's action figures.

Schemas help mental processing by effectively interpreting all incoming information without feeling submerged by the loads of data we absorb from the environment.

Cognitive approach Human brain storing information in schemas StudySmarter Human brain storing information in schemas (past experiences) as small mental scripts, Pexels

Schemas work like stereotypes of our brain. They have the right to influence and alter the mental processing of information we absorb from the environment, i.e. alter how or what we perceive something.

What is the role of schemas in mental processing?

Schemas influence cognitive processing. These schemas become more sophisticated and detailed as we grow older with time. Perhaps, that is why our grandparents are commonly referred to as the wisest. However, schemas can also be distorted , such as in the case of eyewitness testimonies; our expectations of what we should have seen may distort what we actually saw.

What is the role of neuroscience in the cognitive approach?

Neuroscience studies the impact of brain structure on information processing of the brain. It uses brain imaging techniques such as MRI or PET scans. Braver et al. (1997) examined the central executive functioning of the brain through brain imaging scans. They found the prefrontal cortex is active when the participants performed particular tasks such as responding to the letters on the visual display with a hand-held box, implying that the prefrontal cortex is located in the brain's central executive.

What are the research methods applied by the cognitive approach?

The cognitive approach uses lab experiments, brain imaging studies and case studies to examine hypotheses involving internal mental processes.

Lab experiments

Lab experiments are one of the most preferred methods used by the cognitive approach. In lab experiments, external variables are controlled to replicate and make the results more reliable. However, this reduces their ecological validity as they are not performed in the natural surroundings of the participants. Lab experiments may create demand characteristics.

If you witnessed a car accident and were interviewed by a policeman, you will likely be careful about what and how you provide your statement. You realize there might be consequences for what you say. Your statements will be thought through and measured according to the situation. Due to demand characteristics, participants in lab experiments may not act in an authentic way, which may reduce the validity of the findings.

Cognitive approach, an MRI scan in process, StudysmarterCognitive approach, an MRI scan in process, flaticon.com

Brain imaging studies

Psychologists use brain imaging techniques like MRI and PET scans to determine the active centres of the brain, as all information processing takes place in the centre of the brain. Braver et al. (1997) found that the brain area involved in increasing metabolism lit up on the scan.

Case studies

Case studies are small samples studying rare conditions which may give an insight on how the mental processes are influenced by that condition, such as the case study of Clive wearing. Case studies are used for cases that are difficult to measure experimentally because of ethical reasons. Their generalisability is compromised because the sample is too small. Case studies have high ecological validity, unlike lab experiments, as they involve a detailed study of data gathered from the participants in their natural surroundings.

Cognitive approach Elements of case study as a research method for the cognitive approach StudySmarterElements of case study as a research method for the cognitive approach, Mehak Fatima, StudySmarter Originals

Cognitive approach evaluation

In this section, we will discuss the cognitive approach strengths and weaknesses. Following are the strengths of the cognitive approach:

  • The cognitive approach uses scientific and controlled experiments that produce reliable results and can be replicated, such as MRI scan results.
  • The cognitive approach provides practical applications for understanding internal mental processes, such as schemas. Schemas can help us understand, for example, how eyewitness memories can be distorted and become invalid.
  • The importance of studying cognitive processes helps us understand some psychological conditions such as depression. Beck (1967) suggests that the negative schemas about oneself, the world and the future cause depression.
  • This approach supports the application of cognitive behavioural therapy used to treat conditions like depression effectively.

The following are weaknesses of the cognitive approach:

  • The cognitive approach is criticized for reducing human activity to computer levels and ignoring the role of emotions or feelings that may influence behavioural outcomes. For example, according to Yerkes & Dodson (1908), anxiety can affect our understanding of events and memory.
  • It ignores the genetic factors involved in causing certain mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
  • The use of lab experiments reduces the ecological validity of the approach, as participants are tested with complicated tests in an artificial environment.

Cognitive approaches - key takeaways

  • The cognitive approach suggests that our brain processes information like a computer system with input-store-process-output.

  • The cognitive approach advocates the scientific study of internal mental processes.

  • Human minds and computer processes work similarly, having information inputs (encode) and processing output (decoding).

  • Schemas are internal scripts in our brain that direct us about what to expect and respond to in the environment.

  • Neuroscience studies the impact of brain structure on information processing of the brain; it uses brain imaging techniques such as MRI or PET scans.

  • The cognitive approach uses lab experiments, brain imaging studies and case studies to examine hypotheses involving internal mental processes.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cognitive approach

The cognitive approach suggests that our brain processes information just like a computer system with input-store-process-output. The cognitive approach advocates the scientific study of internal mental processes.

The cognitive approach explains human behaviour as a computer processing system. Our brain feeds on sensory information, passes it through internal mental processes such as attention or memory and then provides a response that is internally influenced by our motivations and beliefs.

The social-cognitive approach advocates the main assumptions of the cognitive approach. It observes how the social thoughts and behaviour of people about social events are processed and stored.

The cognitive approach explains memory through internal mental processes that include feeding information through senses (input), processing it through information processing of the brain (process) and storing it for recalling it later (output). The multi-store model of memory serves as a practical application of how the cognitive approach explains memory.

The following are the strengths of the cognitive approach.

  • The cognitive approach uses scientific and controlled experiments that produce reliable results and can be replicated, such as MRI scan results
  • The cognitive approach provides practical applications for understanding internal mental processes, such as schemas. Schemas can help us understand, for example, how eyewitness memories can be distorted and become invalid.

The following are weaknesses of the cognitive approach.

  • The cognitive approach is criticized for reducing human activity to computer levels and ignoring the role of emotions or feelings that may influence behavioural outcomes. For example, according to Yerkes & Dodson (1908), anxiety can affect our understanding of events and memory.
  •  It ignores the genetic factors that may be involved in causing certain mental disorders such as schizophrenia.

Final Cognitive approach Quiz

Question

Describe the cognitive approach?

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Answer

The cognitive approach suggests that our brain processes information just like a computer system with input-store-process-output.


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Question

The cognitive approach advocates the ______ study of the internal mental processes.


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Answer

Scientific

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Question

Internal mental processes work between a stimulus and ______ that make them eligible to be studied scientifically.


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Answer

Response

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Question

The cognitive approach assumes that human minds and ______processes work in a similar way.


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Answer

Computer

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Question

What are schemas?

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Answer

Schemas are internal scripts in our brain that direct us about what to expect and how to respond to the environment.

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Question

Cognitive processing is influenced by _____.

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Answer

Schemas

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Question

What is the example given in the text about when schemas can become distorted?

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Answer

Eyewitness testimony

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Question

Neuroscience studies the impact of brain structure on information processing by the brain using ______.

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Answer

Brain imaging techniques

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Question

Provide one strength and weakness of the lab experiment method.


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Answer

  •  In lab experiments, external variables are controlled to make results more reliable and can be replicated.
  • However, their ecological validity is reduced as they are not performed in the natural surroundings of the participants.  

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Question

Provide one argument in favour of the cognitive approach.


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Answer

  • The Cognitive approach uses scientific and controlled experiments that produce reliable results and be replicated such as MRI scan results.

  • The cognitive approach provides practical applications for understanding internal mental processes, such as schemas. Schemas can help us understand, for example, how eyewitness memories can be distorted and become invalid.
  • The importance of studying cognitive processes helps us understand some psychological conditions such as depression. Beck (1967) suggests that it is the negative schemas about oneself, the world and the future that causes depression in people.
  • This approach supports the application of cognitive behavioural therapy that is used to effectively treat conditions like depression.

(Any one can be used)

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Question

Provide one argument against the cognitive approach.


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Answer

  • It ignores the genetic factors that may be involved in causing certain mental disorders such as schizophrenia.
  • The cognitive approach is criticized for reducing human activity to computer levels and ignoring the role of emotions or feelings that may influence behavioural outcomes. For example, according to Yerkes & Dodson (1908), anxiety can affect our understanding of events and memory.
  • The use of lab experiments reduces the ecological validity of the approach, as participants are tested with complicated tests in an artificial environment.

(Any one can be used)

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Question

What is an application of the cognitive approach provided in the text?


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Answer

This approach supports the application of cognitive behavioural therapy that is used to effectively treat conditions like depression.


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Question

Explain brain imaging studies.


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Answer

Psychologists use brain imaging techniques like MRI and PET scans to determine the active centres of the brain, as all information processing takes place in the centre of the brain.


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Question

What are demand characteristics?


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Answer

Demand characteristics are when your interpretation or opinion changes as opposed to the intimidating characteristics of the situation or a person.


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Question

Case studies are used on a small sample studying ___conditions.


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Answer

Rare

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Question

Describe the cognitive approach?

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Answer

The cognitive approach suggests that our brain processes information just like a computer system with input-store-process-output.

Show question

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