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Cognitive psychology is the psychological science which studies cognition, the mental processes that are hypothesised to underlie behaviour. This covers a broad range of research domains, examining questions about the workings of memory, attention, perception, knowledge representation, reasoning, creativity and problem solving.
Cognitive psychology is radically different from previous psychological approaches in two keys ways.
Cognitive psychology is one of the more recent additions to psychological research, having only developed as a separate area within the discipline since the late 1950s and early 1960s (though there are examples of cognitive thinking from earlier researchers). The term came into use with the publication of the book Cognitive psychology by Ulrich Neisser in 1968. However the cognitive approach was brought to prominence by Donald Broadbent's book Perception and Communication in 1958. Since that time, the dominant paradigm in the area has been the information processing model of cognition that Broadbent put forward. This is a way of thinking and reasoning about mental processes, envisaging them like software running on the computer that is the brain. Theories commonly refer to forms of input, representation, computation or processing, and outputs.
This way of conceiving mental processes has pervaded psychology more generally over the past few decades, and it is not uncommon to find cognitive theories within social psychology, personality, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology; the application of cognitive theories in comparative psychology has led to many recent studies in animal cognition.
Because of the use of computational metaphors and terminology, cognitive psychology was able to benefit greatly from the flourishing of research in artificial intelligence and other related areas in the 1960s and 1970s. In fact, it developed as one of the significant aspects of the inter-disciplinary subject of cognitive science, which attempts to integrate a range of approaches in research on the mind and mental processes.
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