Cognitive psychology

subdiscipline of psychology

Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that looks at basic actions of the mind. These are aspects of the higher brain, such as thought, feeling, problem solving, memory, and language. Cognitive psychologists often look at mental changes that happen after a stimulus (things that can be felt by the five senses) and before a behavioral response (what a person does after sensing something).

The general idea of cognitive psychology was surveyed in several 19th century works:

  • Carpenter, William Benjamin 1874. Principles of mental physiology. London: Henry S. King. Reprinted: ISBN 1-85506-602-5
  • James, William 1890. Principles of psychology. 2 vols, Harvard University Press. Reprinted by Dover Publications in 1950, vol 1: ISBN 0-486-20381-6, vol 2: ISBN 0-486-20382-4.

Cognitive psychology had its beginnings in the Gestalt psychology of Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka, and in the work of Jean Piaget, who came up with a theory of "stages" or "phases" that describe children's cognitive development.[1]

Major research areas



  1. Mandler G. 2002. Origins of the cognitive (r)evolution. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 38, 339–353.