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The cognitive approach Define the cognitive approach
Cognitive psychologists focus on our mental processes or cognitions. These mental processes that cognitive psychologists focus on include memory, perception, thinking and language.
The main concern of cognitive psychology is how information received from our senses is processed by the brain and how this processing directs how we behave. It is concerned with information processing. Cognitive processes are examples of hypothetical constructs. That is, we cannot directly see processes such as thinking but we can infer what a person is thinking based on how they act.
Cognitive psychology has been influenced by developments in computer science and analogies are often made between how a computer works and how we process information. However we are much more sophisticated than computer systems and an important criticism directed at the cognitive approach is that it often ignores the way in which other factors, such as past experiences and culture influence how we process information.
Loftus and Palmer's (1974) study of eyewitness testimony demonstrates how the cognitive process of memory can be distorted by other information supplied after an event. This highlights that memory is not merely a tape recording but is a dynamic process which can be influenced by many events such as leading questions.
Similarly Deregowski's (1972) study of the cognitive process of pictorial perception demonstrates how perception is influenced by our culture. The study is therefore able to demonstrate that the experiences our culture provides us with can shape how we perceive and understand our world.
Baron-Cohen's (1985) study shows that our behaviour can be influenced by a cognitive process called a theory of mind. Having a theory of mind enables a person to appreciate that other people have thoughts and beliefs that are different from their own. Baron-Cohen's study demonstrates that the central deficit of autism is a failure to develop this cognitive process of a theory of mind. Terms and definitions Information Processing
This Cognitive Approach considers that information is processed in the brain (information processing).
Processing is considered to be linear i.e. information flows through the brain in a straight line. Information is taken in by the senses before being processed.
It is then encoded and subsequently stored.
When remembered it is retrieved from storage and there is an output. The brain, as an information processor, is also said to be likened to a computer which also has input, processing and output.
Cognitive psychologists conduct scientific experiments that explore how information flows into the brain, how it is processed and its output.
Information is encoded (translated into a manageable form), stored and retrieved.
The process of memory can be explained by different theories.
Multi store model of memory, for example, argues that information is taken in by the senses, if it is attended to; it is transferred into short term memory which has a limited capacity and lasts for only up to 30 secs (Peterson and Peterson 1959).
If it is rehearsed, it is transferred into long term memory.
In Levels of Processing Theory, memory does not follow such a linear path but can be explained by how it is processed (deep, acoustic or shallow). It is the depth of that processing that determines whether it will be remembered. Forgetting
The inability to recall or recognise information.
This can be caused by problems with encoding (how it is processed), storage and /or retrieval. Problems at encoding and storage may mean that information disappears and therefore is no longer available to be retrieved, i.e. trace decay, displacement and interference.
Problems at retrieval sometimes mean that information is available within the memory system but it is not accessible, i.e. cue dependent forgetting. Storage
How information is retained in the brain ready for retrieval and how they remain as memories after they have been registered.
Levels of processing theory argues that we remember best when information is stored semantically according to its meaning.
Similarly, F. G Bartlette (1932) demonstrated with War of The Ghosts that information is stored in LTM according to its meaning. We use schemas acquired through our experiences of the world to make sense of new experiences and things we don't understand. Information stored might also be a product of our prejudices, preconceived notions and biases.
Loftus's work on the misinformation effect also demonstrates that what is stored does not necessarily mirror what had been taken in by the senses. Retrieval
How information is retrieved from memory if output is needed.
Sometimes information is available to us but is inaccessible.
Cue dependent theory of forgetting (Tulving 1974) argues that we need a cue to retrieve that information. The cue should be learnt at the time of learning the content (encoding specificity principle).
If we are unable to retrieve information, in may also be unavailable to us.
This may have been due to displacement (whereby information has been displaced by incoming information due to limited capacity of short term memory) or trace decay whereby the trace has decayed due to lack of rehearsal. Content The multi-store model of memory Atkinson and shiffrin (1968)
Can last to around 2 seconds
Information is taken in (input) by our senses
If the information is not attended to it will be permanently lost
Short term memory
Stores approx. 7 +/- 2 items
E.g. looking up a phone number and remembering it for the short time it
takes to dial it
Lasts only temporarily
Common to rehearse the information
E.g. looking up a phone number you will say to yourself '01983…' several times to yourself as you walk to the phone to dial it
Mainly auditory and had a limited capacity
If information is not rehearsed it is lost
Long term memory
Can last for years and supposedly has an unlimited storage time frame
Mainly encoded in terms of meaning (semantically encoded memory)
Procedural long term memory is associated with remembering highly automated tasks which are done procedurally rather than thoughtfully e.g. walking/ tying a shoe lace, this is often most difficult to fathom Evaluate
Supported by many lab experiments
Glanzer and cunitz (1966)
Scientifically based study using word lists
First words in a list were remembered well, as were the last, but words in the middle weren't remembered quite so well
The first words were remembered well and in the long term memory (primary effect)
The last words were still In the STM memory (recency effect)
The middle words were in neither Clive wearing case study who's hippocampus was damaged preventing memories being transferred from the STM to the LTM, this provides support Shalliace and warrington (1970) showed that a victim of a motorbike accident was able to add long term memories even though his short term was damaged, going against the model Experiments used to give evidence for the model were all artificial tasks, which means the results might not be valid Craik and lockhart (1972) proposed the levels of processing framework, which they said better explained primary and recency effects, as their model was designed as an improvement on the multi-store model
LOP framework Craik and Lockhart (1972)
Proposed an alternative to structural models of memory, focussing instead on memory processes.
They suggested that information can be processed at different levels, and that the way in which memory is processed can affect the likelihood of it being retrieved in the future.
Depth of encoding
Depending on what we do with information at the time of encoding, processing can be shallow and superficial, or deeper and more meaningful. Craik and Lockhart argued that deeper levels of processing result in more long lasting and more retrievable memories, whereas shallow levels of processing result in memories that are less long-lasting and less likely to be retrieved.
If information is considered understood and related to past memories to gain meaning, the deeper the information is processed and the longer tit will last
Levels which verbal information can be processed- boy
Structural: Is this word in capital letters?
Phonetic: Does this word rhyme with Toy?
Semantic: Does this word fit in the following sentence? The ______ ran ahead of the group.
In the first task, it is simply necessary to process the word structurally, scanning the word visually. To complete the second task it is necessary to carry out sound based processing, mentally sounding out the word. To complete the third task it is necessary to think about the meaning of the word and relating it to the rest of the sentence, or put it into a meaningful category.
Craik and Lockhart's theory would predict that words which are processed for meaning (deep processing) will be remembered better than words processed for sound (intermediate processing) which in turn will be
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