Discuss Reasons for the Increased Interest in Cognitive Psychology and the Decline in Behavioristt Approach, in Addition Describe the Field of Cognitive Science Noting the Discipline That Are Included in This Field.

Discuss Reasons for the Increased Interest in Cognitive Psychology and the Decline in Behavioristt Approach, in Addition Describe the Field of Cognitive Science Noting the Discipline That Are Included in This Field.


Behaviorism also called learning perspective is defined by Wikipedia ‘ as a philosophy of psychology based on the proposition that all things that organisms do-including acting , thinking, and feeling can and should be regarded as behaviors and that psychological disorders are best treated by altering behaviors patterns or modifying the environment”. The Behaviorist school of thought are of the view that behaviors can be described scientifically without recourse either to internal physiological events or hypothetical constructs such as the mind.

During their developmental years and prime time , Behaviorist championed ideas that were in harmony with philosophical position of logical positivism equally hailed in the field of physics. In that , both fields held the stand that concepts should be defined by operations used to measure them to keep science tightly grounded to observable data in order to remove all sort of speculative fancy. John Watson for instance called for the banishment of all mental language from use in psychological research.

But their radical and narrow theories and concepts made them victims of constant critique. Thus, Behaviorist were seen as too one dimensional to behavior and that behavioral theories did not recognize free will and internal influences such as moods, thoughts and feelings. Behaviorist were criticized for their failure to account for other types of learning that occurs without reinforcement and punishment.

Lastly their inability to appreciate that people and animals are able to adapt their behavior when new information is introduced even if a previous behavior pattern has been established through reinforcement meant Behaviorist explanation was getting out of touch. By the second half of the 20th century Behaviorist faced other dominant opponents ,it was finally eclipse by cognitive revolution which ushered a new school of thought called Cognitive psychology.

Cognitive psychology is defined by most scholars as the scientific investigation of organisms mental abilities, perception, learning, remembering, thinking, reasoning, and understanding . Unlike Behaviorism, Cognitive psychology is based on the assumption that (1) Human cognition can at least in principle be fully revealed by scientific methods ,that is individual components of mental processes can be identified and understood,(2)Internal mental processes can be descried in terms of rules or algorithms in information processing models.

With a preview of Cognitive Psychology discussed i will now address what triggered these thought into a school which finally sent Behaviorist into hiding. Cognitive psychology is a new addition to psychological research. The concept of cognition is not a new knowledge, cognitive inquiries can be traced back to Aristotle’s De Memoria (Hothersall , 1984) as well as 1800’s and early 1900’s in the works of Wundt , Catelli and William James (Boring,1950).

Although Cognitive Psychologist generally agree 1956 as birth of this domain of psychology ,cognitive revolution is believed to have been initiated by Noam Chomsky’s 1959 critique of Behaviorism and empiricism concepts . Just as necessity is the mother of inventions, the inability of Behaviorist to explain behavior vividly required a need for alternate solutions, this triggered an intellectual revolution. With Behaviorism having been in ascendancy in psychology in the American Psychological Association for so long the time was ripe for a revolution.

The analysis of early cognitive psychologist (Broadbent, Miller, et al) was rigorous, proactive and opened new intellectual vistas. In real sense proponents of the revolution sought not say Behaviorism is wrong rather the cognitive approach generated adherents at the expense of the established order ,opened new techniques and methods of study and created a fancy that attracted much enthusiasm for new research.

Noam Chomsky’s work on the field of linguistics now called Cognitive Manifesto caught the attention of world and challenge the wide held behaviorist view. He argued and emphasized on the fact that mental processes is needed in order to understand language. Claiming that it will be inadequate to explain the structures of language in the pair of eyes of a Behaviorist. Consider Humans for instance, we have the ability to master and generate language which contradicts Behaviorist stands of only stimuli responds relations.

Most analyst say Cognitive Psychology rose as a result of behavioristic analysis becoming too microscopic in the 1970’s as in most fields as they develop. Behaviorist researchers began studying more and more about less and less according to (Rodd Roediger,2004). Rather than focusing on the central critical problem ,Behaviorist researchers began looking at ever more refined problems, with experimental analysis increasing in complexity all out proportioning the gains of knowledge that they enabled.

That is to say Behaviorist became so concerned about specific problem and lost the big picture. Cognitive Psychologist capitalized on this shortcoming and brought in refreshing ideas that suited modern trends and understanding which shot them into their present dominance. Cognitive Psychology rose coherently with the establishment of the field of human factor engineering. Man’s operation and design of machines during the world wars gave birth to what we call today Person machine system.

This is the idea that machinery operated by a person must be designed to interact with operators physical cognition and motivational abilities and limitations. The advent of this era and contribution of psychologist in explaining person machine system laid firm grounds for the rise of cognitive psychology. The development of relevant Cognitive theories happen to have occurred rightly at the same time as the period when and where computers and artificial intelligence were in its developmental stage.

This two similar concepts entered academia just at the right time and the ripple effect resulted in the rise of Cognitive Psychology. Like the brain, computers receive information, encodes the material, stores the material and later retrieves the stored data when needed to do so. The main component of information process approach was that mental processes can be understood by comparing it with a working computer and finally a mental process can be interpreted as information processing through the system in series of steps at a time.

With these basic concept mental processes was made much logical, less abstract and hence well received by the masses. Cognitive Psychology is apparently, closely related to the highly interdisciplinary Cognitive science in such a way that the description of the latter tends to make use of academic discipline modifiers. Cognitive Science is the interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines what cognition is, what it does and how it works. It includes how information is processed in faculties, represented and transformed in behavior.

We say cognitive science is interdisciplinary because it involves multiple research disciplines , psychology, artificial intelligence , philosophy neuroscience, anthropology ,sociology ,computer science and biology to mention but a few. Cognitive science talks about three levels of analysis;(1)Computational theory specifying the goals of the computation(2)representation and algorithm , giving a representation and output and the algorithm which transform one into the other (3) and the hardware implementation, how algorithm and representation may be physically realized.

Cognitive science is multifaceted in principle, hence some doubt whether it is a unified science and prefer to speak of cognitive sciences in plural. Irrespective of the doubts, its interdisciplinary nature gives it a wider room for better explanation of organism’s behavior in an unrivaled holistic sense.

Cognitive Science has come with its diversity , like other schools of thought its future cannot be foretold. I leave its fate for tomorrow. REFERENCES Association of psychological science observer journal (Rodd Roediger , 2004) 4th Cognitive psychology a handbook for student (Michael W Eysenck, 2005) Wikipedia (2009) About. com what is Behaviorism (Kendra Cherry, 2009) Scholarpedia Cognitive psychology (Zhong-Lin Lu and Barbara Anne Dosher, 2007)