There are several different schools of thought in psychological science, and one of them is cognitive psychology. This field explores people’s thinking as a major factor influencing their behaviors in various situations. The development of cognitive psychology began during the cognitive revolution of the twentieth century, and it emphasized the significance of how people process information and the contribution the thinking processes might make on various occasions. For example, cognitive psychology can be applied to inform professional behavior, helping the representatives of different professions to use the knowledge of cognition principles to be more successful in their respective fields. This paper analyzes how cognitive psychology can inform the behavior of advertisers. Before discussing the effect of this school of thought on advertising, the paper addressed the most influential factors in the theory’s development, including major events, other theories, and culture. The cognitive revolution, the preceding theory of behaviorism, and cross-cultural considerations significantly contributed to cognitive psychology’s development, and advertisers nowadays apply it to understand people’s thinking processes and create effective advertisements.
Major Events That Have Affected Cognitive Psychology’s Development
The most significant historical event that affected the development of cognitive psychology was the cognitive revolution of the twentieth century. Understanding the correlation between that revolution and the school of psychological thought under discussion requires understanding the essence of cognitive psychology. Cherry (2022) calls it “the science of how people think,” stating that this school explores various mental processes occurring within people’s brains (para. 1). For example, those processes include attention, behavior-determining choices, decision-making, processing of information and acquisition of language, problem-solving aspect, perception of speech and visual images, and many more. Therefore, everything related to the way people think concerns cognitive psychologists as they aim to explore the related topics to understand the logic of people’s behaviors.
Scientists and researchers became highly interested in those topics in the second half of the previous century, which is how the cognitive revolution happened. It started in the 1950s when plenty of scientific works on subjects such as memory and attention began to emerge (Cherry, 2022). The community of psychological science took part in this revolution as psychologists were interested in the impact of internal thinking processes on people’s behaviors. Then, Ulric Neisser became the first scientist to introduce the term “cognitive psychology” in 1967, defining it as “the study of the processes behind the perception, transformation, storage, and recovery of information” (para. 11). Nowadays, this school of thought is one of the most popular subfields in the psychological science. Many researchers continue to contribute to its development, which started with the cognitive revolution of the twentieth century.
The Effect of Different Schools of Thought on Cognitive Psychology’s Development
Cognitive psychology is a relatively young school of thought, meaning that the preceding theories have significantly affected it and influenced its development. Before the 1950s, the dominant psychological perspective was behaviorism – a theory suggesting that behavior is a response to the environmental conditions in which a person exists (Cherry, 2022). As mentioned previously, cognitive psychology’s concern is not only thinking processes but also the way they affect people’s behaviors. When the cognitive revolution happened, scientists became more interested in how thinking affects behavior rather than the behavior itself (Cherry, 2022). However, it was still a matter of significant concern for psychologists, meaning that, in many respects, cognitive psychology can be considered a continuation of a more advanced developmental stage of the behaviorism school of thought.
The Role of Culture in the Development of Cognitive Psychology
Culture can significantly affect the development of psychological theories as it can determine people’s behaviors on certain occasions, which is why psychology may need to consider cultural features. According to Kroeber and Kluckholn, a culture of any people “consists of explicit and implicit historically derived and selected patterns of behavior” (as cited in Brady et al., 2018, p. 11406). Thereby, the knowledge of culture can become an instrument guiding psychologists’ empirical approaches and interpretations of behavior. Brady et al. (2018) refer to interpretive power, which they define as “the ability to understand individuals’ experiences and behaviors concerning their cultural contexts” (p. 11406). Cognitive psychology aims to understand people’s thinking as the primary source of their behavior. However, the psychological processes of diverse people are different since their thinking is affected by their culture.
Therefore, when cognitive psychology began to emerge, researchers in the field became concerned with the effect of culture on people’s thinking and behaviors. Psychologists supposed that those concepts differ cross-culturally, which is why the school of thought under discussion developed diverse perspectives in the related works (Brady et al., 2018). Researchers utilized interpretive power to document cross-cultural differences and build theories on how various cultural contexts can impact the development of psychological processes. Specifically, cognitive psychologists were able to identify how culture is involved in shaping people’s cognition. Moreover, scientists analyzed the effect of culture on their own empirical decisions and research assumptions, which helped cognitive psychology to become more accurate in making conclusions (Brady et al., 2018). Although culture affected the development of psychological science overall, its influence on cognitive psychology was exceptional due to its correlation with thinking and behavior.
Knowledge of Cognitive Psychology Informing Advertisers’ Professional Behavior
Cognitive psychology can affect various practical fields, informing professional behavior and influencing professional activity. According to Furnham (2019), advertising campaigns primarily aim to “communicate and inform potential purchasers of a product, service or idea that influences their subsequent behavior” (p. 168). Thereby, advertisers should understand how people think and what forces them to behave in a certain way in different situations. An advertisement can only be effective when it can make a person seeing it purchase a specific product or service. For that to happen, advertisers must analyze how their customers think and what would make them want a particular product.
Advertisers must consider several aspects of people’s thinking mechanisms when creating an advertisement, and the first of those aspects is memory. In the studies on advertising, memory is a dependent variable of cognitive psychology that influences a customer’s intention to buy a product or order a service advertised (Furnham, 2019). It does not necessarily mean that an advertisement must make anyone who sees it want to make a purchase. Memory can invoke the intention to buy when a person needs something. If somebody desires to buy a new laptop and cannot choose a brand, their memory will remind them of the brands they have seen most often. Therefore, from the viewpoint of cognitive psychology, the advertising effect is active over a long distance: people see products on television, social media, radio, or newspapers, and an image appears in their heads. The mind will invoke that image when the person needs to purchase something, reminding them of particular brands they saw.
Another thinking aspect informing advertisers’ behaviors identified in cognitive psychology is the medium for the message. It is associated with the previously discussed aspect, memory, as the corresponding research area explores what types of information are easier to remember. It can help advertisers understand the best way to push a particular product – presenting audio advertisements on the radio, audio-visual advertisements on television, or printed advertisements in newspapers (Furnham, 2019). The medium for the message identifies what forms of information people perceive better and what they want to perceive more. Cognitive psychology explains how people’s cognition works, helping advertisers analyze potential customers’ way of thinking to create more efficient advertisements.
Cognitive psychology’s development was influenced by the cognitive revolution, the behaviorism school of thought, and the inclusion of cultural differences in the theory, and the theory is now applied by advertisers to work more efficiently. The cognitive revolution occurred when the scientific community became interested in how people think and its effect on their behaviors. Before that occasion, psychologists were interested in the behavior itself, focusing on the behaviorism theory. Although the cognitive revolution made researchers more interested in how thinking affected behavior, the behaviorism school of thought significantly impacted cognitive theory’s development. In addition, cognitive psychology had to consider how culture impacted thinking processes, which is why the concepts of cross-cultural differences played a significant role in psychological research. Cognitive psychology informs advertisers’ behaviors, helping them understand how potential purchasers think and what kind of advertisement can make them want to buy a particular product or service.
Brady, L. M., Fryberg, S. A., & Shoda, Y. (2018). Expanding the interpretive power of psychological science by attending to culture. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(45), 11406-11413.
Cherry, K. (2022). Cognitive psychology: The science of how we think. Verywellmind.
Furnham, A. (2019). Advertising: The contribution of applied cognitive psychology. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 33(2), 168-190.