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The Cognitive Approach | AQA B Psychology
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The Cognitive Approach

Cognitive Perspective


  • Assumes that conscious, cognitive experience, internal processes sich as memory, perception and decision making are key to understanding people.
  • The most appropriate methods for studying mental processes is the scientific method
  • It is assumed that computers can provide an analogy of how the human mind works
  • Information processing provides a model of how human thought works
  • It is assumed that individual thoughts and beliefs about how the world works dictate how they behave
  • Computer programmes can carry out complex tasks like humans and this is called Artificial Intelligence

Mediational Processes

  • Stimulus – In the environment
  • Organism – Mediation processes – conscious and unconscious
  • Response – Behaviours performed.

Conscious – Aware we have, both of stimuli in the environment

Computer Analogies

“Computers take a symbolic input, recode it, make decisions about the recoded input, make new expressions from it, store some or all of the input, and give back a symbolic input” (Lachman 1979)

  • CODING – transferring information into different forms/information processing
  • CHANNEL CAPACITY – amount of information it can deal with at any one time
  • SPAN OF APPREHENSION – how much information can be taken at one time
  • CENTRAL PROCESSING – manipulates information
  • INFORMATION STORE – information is then stored to memory


  • Over interested in mental processing
  • Lack ecological validity
  • Too narrow. No behaviour mentioned
  • Doesn’t look at whole person


  • Scientific and objective
  • Practical implications
  • Treatments: Cognitive therapy.
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