Generally, the idea of cognitive psychology is that, if you would like to know why people think, behave and feel in certain ways, you will need to understand how their minds work from the inside. As you can see, the term “cognition” means “knowing”, which means that cognitive psychology looks into the act or mental process that aids people in acquiring knowledge. Such an approach focuses on how human beings process information and looks at how individuals treat information, leading to responses. As for the psychologists, they study internal processes, such as language, attention, thinking, memory and perception, with the main assumption as when information is received, it is then processed by the brain that how individuals behave or justify why they behave in such a way.
A lot of research has been done on cognitive psychology, with psychologists having reached certain findings that are now accepted as fact. As a result, studying cognitive psychology in the modern world has been focusing more on elaborating and peer-reviewing existing theories. Also, there has been an emphasis on the connection between human and robotic development, with the basis that the human brain is basically a computing system that is highly complex. Researchers also believed that the first fully functional humanoid robots are going to be developed in close collaboration with people involved in this area of science. To know the implications of cognitive psychology, let us take a look at its strengths and weaknesses.
List of Strengths of Cognitive Psychology
1. It offers a lot of practical applications.
A great example of this argument is the study by Baron-Cohen, et al, which demonstrates how the theory of mind has become a deficit of autism or Asperger’s syndrome and offers a new test for such a theory. Now, it is believed that the test could also be used to help determine if a person has autism, with the knowledge that people with such a condition lack the theory of mind, helping researchers to better understand what the condition consists of and how to accommodate it into school or work environments. Aside from this, other studies, such as the one by Loftus and Palmer, have also led to questions that have made a great impacted on forensic psychology and eyewitness testimony. All of these things mean that cognitive psychology is a very useful approach that offers a lot of contributions to psychology, and then the entire society.
2. It is effective in treating anxiety.
Among all the psychological therapies available to us today, cognitive psychology is a most clinically evaluated and regarded as a very effective treatment for anxiety, where it is proven as inexpensive with an overall treatment regimen lasting for as few as 6 single-hour sessions, given that it is for mild anxiety cases. It has also appealed to psychologists in a way that it is entirely natural, and unlike medications that have side effects. Moreover, it can be performed commonly as a face-to-face treatment between client and therapist, though it is observed that it can be applied to a variety of other contexts. Basically, this approach involves the therapist and the client to collaborate on treatment goals that are measurable, specific, realistic, achievable and time-limited.
3. It bases its principles on actual experiments.
As you can see, cognitive psychology heavily relies on actual and valid experiments as its primary method for research. For example, scientists had used a laboratory experiment to investigate the impact of leading questions on memory, to investigate the theory of mind or to investigate the effects of cognitive interview techniques to assess performance of detectives in eyewitness interviews. While experiments allow for cause and effect to be determined, they more importantly allow for high control over confounding variables, which implies that research taking the cognitive psychology approach is scientific with good internal validity where extraneous variables have been controlled.
List of Weaknesses of Cognitive Psychology
1. It does not allow for direct observation.
One of the main disadvantages of the cognitive psychology is that it refers to a process that we cannot directly observe, as it relies heavily on inference. Critics to the experiments done in this area pointed to the validity of the re-constructive memory hypothesis, as researchers cannot be sure that memory has changed as they could not observe memories, but only receive answers that are possibly the result of poor judgment of speed or demand characteristics. This means that cognitive psychology might lack being scientific on the basis that it is subjective in the findings. Considering that findings are the result of invisible processes, they could be heavily subjective and lead to internal validity and self-fulfilling prophecy that are being raised as issues.
2. It is not that effective for all types of individuals.
It is important to note that there are some issues with cognitive psychology that makes it unsuitable or even uncomfortable for some individuals, especially those with learning difficulties and more complex mental health issues. Though the focus of this approach is about the client and his ability to change, some individuals would see it to be too narrow, thus causing them to ignore important issues, such as personal history, family and broader emotional problems. Remember that there is no scope within such area of psychology for personal examination and exploration of emotions, or for troubling issues from a variety of perspectives, which would require a client to turn to a different approach, such as counseling.
3. It overlooks other behavioral factors.
Another weakness of cognitive psychology is that it tends to ignore other essential factors towards behavior. For instance, a study in this area on decision-making and moral reasoning in criminals assumed that the difference between the reason why the control and experimental groups were not composed of criminals was due to the differences in cognitive decision making.
All in all, cognitive psychology is an approach that offers key strengths when it comes to practical and useful applications, but there is definitely a set of weaknesses to it. The scientific nature of its approach is worth of further discussion to be able to determine whether it is highly useful to society as a whole, or not.