Psychology has experienced many stages of development and gained momentum with many prominent psychologists attempting to map the human mind and explain the behaviors involved. These individuals have shaped the many theories of psychology and given insight to the vast complexity of the human mind in nearly all walks of life. Up until the 1960’s psychology was dominated with behaviorism and gained popularity with findings by B. F Skinners rate maze (Bjork, 2010). B. F. Skinner believed that the mind was invisible and irrelevant to scientists.
He believed that concerns should be focused on end results rather than internal processes. The incomplete analysis of human behavior sparked many questions giving rise the theories of cognitive psychology, which examine the internal processes, problem solving skills, memory and language and the general mystery of how people think, remember, learn and behave (Boeree, 2006). This paper will examine four milestones in cognitive psychology and why the concepts of behaviorism cannot be ignored in the cognitive approach as it relates to human behavior. On the forefront of psychology as a scholarly study is Wilhelm Wundt.
His foundation of a formal institution to study the many aspects of human behavior paved the way for the development of the many schools of thought in the field of psychology. His establishment of the first psychology lab at the University of Leipzig separated psychology as a dedicated science field of study and as thus made the development of cognitive psychology possible. Though Wundt was studying the mind through a perspective considered structuralism, his model of studying the various aspects of the human mind, presented a model to be emulated by psychologists around the world.
Jean Piaget, a Swiss psychologist, was interested in the growth of human cognitive capacities. Piaget explored how children grow and develop in their abilities to reason and think. His studies were focused on how a child would reach a certain conclusion rather than whether the reached conclusion was accurate. Piaget developed the four stage process of child development and laid out a pattern of how information flows differently during the brain development of humans. These stages are vital to the understanding of physical and mental limitations in the processing of data as it enters the brain.
His model of child development serves as guidance for school curriculums and education modules (Huitt, 2003) Albert Bandura initially studied human behavior through the eyes of behaviorism, but realized that the mind absorbs information differently depending on the circumstances surrounding a person, and as such the processing is equally important as the information being fed. (Boeree, 2006). He is often considered the initiator of the cognitive movement, when his realization of the various factors contributing to the retention, processing and memory of information began to emerge in the expansion of studies in psychology (Boeree, 2006).
The last noted contributor to the development of cognitive psychology was George Miller. His publication of “The Lucky Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two” illustrated the limitation of the human brain and its capacity to retain and process data (Miller, 1956). Miller points out the ability to retain a data set exceeding the value of seven becomes more challenging and the average human does not have the capacity to accurately process information in excess of seven. He illustrates this theory by tying it to the numerical representation of the number seven in significant events and happenings around the world.
The seven seas, the seven deadly sins, the seven days of the week and the coincidental assignment of seven-digit phone numbers serve as related findings of astonishing fascination. The value of observations in cognitive psychology can not be ignored due to the nature of cognitive psychology. It was founded on the basis of many schools of thought and as such it is the study of the mind, which functions based on external factors as well as internal happenings. Unlike a computer, which functions the same, regardless of how the information was entered, a human being will react and process the information differently.
For instance, a computer will carry out a calculation in the same way, without regard to the emotional state the person enters the data. To a computer it is irrelevant how the person feels. A person will process information depending on the state he or she is in and this varying state of mind influences a person’s ability to retain data, misinterpret instructions or react to situations. This can be evident in ability to focus on simple tasks when a person is in strenuous or emotionally charged situations.
The observation of behavior in cognitive psychology will give clues on the effects of mental disposition prior to receiving data and the various outcomes. This approach sheds light on the dependence of behavior and attitude towards the ability to simply process data. Without consideration of other factors the field of cognitive science would be unreliable as the physical process of data as it enters the brain results in vastly different reaction in people. This difference can be attributed to personality, experience and other factors of the human mind.
Cognitive psychology is a fairly new science, though the many branches have laid the foundation of it over the past centuries. The fascination of human behavior has taken many shape and forms and given birth to the many approaches of study. Cognitive psychology has accepted the challenge to not only look at the behavior or what causes it, but also how this determination is made in the human brain. This perspective of psychology can be challenging and as such, the study will continue for many years, as the observation is not visible to the human eye.
With the help of modern technology, the process of translating immeasurable data happening inside the human brain to evidential data in explaining the functions of thinking, reasoning, memory and retention has become vast and continues to inspire further interest in the exploration of the complex human mind. Boeree, George. (2006). Albert bandura. Retrieved from http://webspace. ship. edu/cgboer/bandura. html Boeree, George. (2006). Jean piaget. Retrieved from http://webspace. ship. edu/cgboer/piaget. html Bjork, Daniel. (2010). B. f. kinner (1904 – 1990) behavioral analysis, social service, educational reform. Retrieved from http://education. stateuniversity. com/pages/2421/Skinner-B-F-1904-1990. html Huitt, W. , & Hummel, J. (2003). Piaget’s theory of cognitive development. Educational Psychology Interactive. Valdosta, GA: Valdosta State University. Retrieved from http://www. edpsycinteractive. org/topics/cogsys/piaget. html Miller, George. (1956). The Magical number seven, plus or minus two: some limits on our capacity for processing information. Retrieved from http://www. musanim. com/miller1956/
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