Cognitive Psychology Discipline Evolution


The term cognition in science refers to mental processes. There are a number of mental processes, which are referred in cognition. They include attention, memory, learning, producing, understanding a language, decision making, reasoning and problem solving among others. In general, the term cognition involves thinking. It is about how the mind of human being interprets information. However, cognition is often studied in various disciplines including psychology. The term is used differently in the various disciplines. In psychology, it refers to the process by which information is processed and interpreted in the mind of a human being. This leads to the different psychological functions of different individuals. The term can as well be used in the social psychology branch referred to as social cognition. This refers to the attitudes and attributions (Sternberg & Mio, 2009).

Interdisciplinary perspective as it relates to cognitive psychology

Cognitive psychology is part of psychology as a whole, as well as an interdisciplinary cognitive science subject (Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, 2012). As a subject that involves other disciplines, cognitive science focuses on critical aspects. These aspects include the psyche and intellect of individuals. It involves a number of fields which include Neuroscience, anthropology, psychology, philosophy, and artificial intelligence, as well as linguistics. This paper mainly focuses on cognitive psychology, which is about information processing in the minds or brains of individuals. Cognitive psychology refers to the way people perceive situations, how they think, how they remember or how they solve problems. It explores the internal mental activities. Therefore, cognitive psychology accepts the fact that internal mental states do exist. In addition, it allows the use of scientific methods as an investigative method. It does not recognize the use of introspection. Introspection is the situation whereby one assesses his or her own feelings and conscious thoughts. Therefore, it is going to explain how cognitive psychology evolved as a discipline (Robinson-Riegler & Robinson-Riegler, 2012). It is imperative to note that cognitive psychology as a discipline has a great influence on other disciplines.

Evolution of cognitive psychology as a discipline

In assessing the evolution of cognitive psychology, it is important to highlight the fact that human beings were not meant to process information, store it or even learn, think or present information (Heyes, 2000). These abilities have arisen as human try to find ways of surviving and reproducing. For a human being to survive or find a mate in order to reproduce, they are compelled to collect and process information so as to come up with the best through way to achieve this. The understanding of cognitive psychology evolution as a discipline is preceded by the history of psychology. Modern psychology, like any other science, has developed into one path. However, it has a lot of subdivisions. One of the branches is the cognitive psychology. Psychology is the best way that one can use to study the manner with which people behave and the reasons as to why they behave in a certain way. It is a field of study that is marked with a number of shifts. The shifts can be referred to as the paradigm shifts (Heyes, 2000).

There are various situations that can be associated with the evolution of cognitive psychology. For instance, human beings face numerous problems in their lifetime. There is always a need to find a solution to such problems so as to enable them to live. Take an example of an aircraft that has a certain default. It will not fly unless the problem is solved. People will start behaving in a manner such that they will eventually solve the underlying problem. This is what has led to numerous discoveries in the field of cognitive psychology. This is one of the theories that were highly influential in the discovery of the law of short term memory. The law was discovered in the year 1966 by George Miller. He found out that most people can only remember 7 digits (plus or minus two) at a glance. The law plays an important role in the emergence of cognitive psychology since it indicated that information stored in human beings is a short term, and hence the mental processes are also short term (Heyes, 2000).

Decline of behaviorism on the discipline of cognitive psychology

Before the emergence of cognitive psychology, behaviorism dominated the field of psychology. This was in the first half of the 20th century. Behaviorism started to decline slowly in the 1950s as cognitive psychology started to emerge (Heyes, 2000). At this time, psychologists started to discover new ways in which the human brain works. They also started to understand the complexity of the brain. A number of theories on the functioning of the human brain started emerging. Precisely, the research by Karl Lashley in the year 1963 indicated that the memory is scattered all over the brain. This marked the beginning of behaviorism decline. Behaviorists did not consider the internal functioning of the brain. As a result, they failed to acknowledge aspects of memory. The work of Ulric Neisser also highlighted the failure of behaviorism to consider the internal processes of the brain. In general, this shortcoming was the main reason as to why behaviorism declined and domination of cognitive psychology (Shettleworth, 2010).


Heyes, C. M. (2000). The evolution of cognition. Cambridge, Mass. [u.a.: MIT Press. Robinson-Riegler, B., & Robinson-Riegler, G. (2012). Cognitive psychology: Applying the science of the mind. Boston: Pearson Allyn & Bacon.

Shettleworth, S. J. (2010). Cognition, evolution, and behavior. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Sternberg, R. J., & Mio, J. S. (2009). Cognitive psychology. Australia: Cengage Learning/Wadsworth.