What Is the Study of Cognitive Psychology About?

Cognitive psychology is the subfield of psychology that studies the internal mental processes of the brain. Cognitive psychologists study perception, memory and knowledge. This article provides more details about the study of cognitive psychology. Schools offering Clinical Psychology degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

The Study of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes, such as decision-making and learning. Many other areas of psychology study the relationship between thoughts and behavior, but cognitive psychology is concerned with internal processes instead. The field is associated with philosophy, in that the focus is on many of the same questions from a non-scientific standpoint. Cognitive psychologists may also work with neuroscientists to study brain functioning.

According to the American Psychological Association, professionals in this discipline investigate whether or not our minds represent reality, how people make decisions and how thoughts interact with language. Common areas of study include perception, memory and thought processing.

Important Facts About Cognitive Psychologists

Required Education Doctoral degree
Licensure Licensure is required for practicing psychologists
Median Salary (2014) $92,110 (for psychologists, all other)
Job Outlook (2014-2024) 10% (for all psychologists, all other)

Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

Perception

Cognitive psychologists study how normal perception differs from the perception of people with certain psychological disorders. By studying these differences, individuals in the profession hope to learn about normal perception and how to treat certain disorders.

Memory

Cognitive psychologists study not only how we make memories, but also why our memory is the way it is. For instance, professionals may study the theory of childhood amnesia, which is the question of why we can remember so little of our lives before age two. Other memory-related areas that cognitive psychologists are interested in include:

  • Memory biases
  • False memories
  • Relationships between emotions and memory

Thought Processing

The field of cognitive psychology is also concerned with the process of decision-making. Cognitive psychologists look at how we use logic and rationality to make choices. Compared to animals, human beings have advanced problem-solving skills, and cognitive psychologists study how these processes occur in our brains.

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