Welcome to Cognitive Psychology

What is Cognitive Psychology?

Cognitive psychology is an approach to psychology which asserts that an understanding of internal states and episodes is essential to a complete understanding of behaviour. Furthermore, these internal states and episodes are physically embodied. In humans and other organisms, these processes of "mind" are embodied in the brain and nervous system. Whether or not non-organic devices, such as digital computers, could give rise to intelligent behaviour continues to be a matter of debate.

Cognitive psychology is part of cognitive science, which is "the interdisciplinary study of mind, informed by theoretical concepts drawn from computer science and control theory"1. According to Margaret Boden (see footnote one), early researchers had intended that the term "cognition" would include all mental processes, such as motivation, emotion, thinking about social interaction, and motor control. However, those first three topics were harder to study than other aspects of cognition, let alone simulate in computers, and so were put aside whilst researchers focused on perception, attention, memory, knowledge representation, language, problem solving, reasoning, and decision making. Consequently, people have come to think of motivation and emotion as separate areas of psychology from cognition. However, the terms "cognitive" psychology and "cognitive" science were originally chosen simply to distinguish the focus on mental processes from the behaviourist approach that had been so prevalent throughout much of the twentieth century.

This site is under construction

This site is intended primarily for students of cognitive psychology at university level. Cognitive psychology lecturers who would like to contribute to the development of the material here are invited to join by clicking the "How do I join this site?" link to the left. Please include your real name and a verifiable university email address.

Recent additions to the site are shown below:

Most recent additions/updates
Category Topic Date
Perception and attention Perception section is currently being constructed updated on 27 June 2009
Foundations Precursors updated 16 April 2009
Thought Problem solving 12 April 2009
Thought Problem solving and insight 12 April 2009
Thought Problem solving in animals 12 April 2009

A note on style and sources

Students please note: For ease of reading, and because this site makes many links to other sources, I have not followed the standards for citations and references that will probably be expected of you on your course. The standard style for psychology students is APA style. Another useful site for style guidelines is The University of Hull's Reference Psyte.

Authors, publishers, and site editors please note: Contributors to this site are asked to ensure that, to the best of your knowledge, your contributions are all your own work (copying text that you yourself have published elsewhere may still be in violation of publishers' copyright). This material is contributed on the understanding that it is covered by a Creative Commons License (see note at the foot of the page).

Material on this site may have been produced by various individuals; if any author or publisher has a concern about any text of image, please draw this to my attention.

David Hardman

Charles Babbage's Difference Engine No. 2, as constructed by London's Science Museum according to the original plans

About Google Analytics

This website uses Google Analytics, a web analytics service provided by Google, Inc. (“Google”). Google Analytics uses “cookies”, which are text files placed on your computer, to help the website analyze how users use the site. The information generated by the cookie about your use of the website (including your IP address) will be transmitted to and stored by Google on servers in the United States . Google will use this information for the purpose of evaluating your use of the website, compiling reports on website activity for website operators and providing other services relating to website activity and internet usage. Google may also transfer this information to third parties where required to do so by law, or where such third parties process the information on Google's behalf. Google will not associate your IP address with any other data held by Google. You may refuse the use of cookies by selecting the appropriate settings on your browser, however please note that if you do this you may not be able to use the full functionality of this website. By using this website, you consent to the processing of data about you by Google in the manner and for the purposes set out above.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License