Cognitive psychology sees the individual as a

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Cognitive psychology sees the individual as a processor of information, in much the same way that a computer takes in information and follows a program to produce an output. BASIC ASSUMPTIONS The information processing approach is based on a number of assumptions, including: 1) information made available by the environment is processed by a series of processing systems (e.g. attention, perception, short-term memory); 2) these processing systems transform or alter the information in systematic ways; 105
3) the aim of research is to specify the processes and structures that underlie cognitive performance; 4) information processing in humans resembles that in computers. COMPUTER - MIND ANALOGY The development of the computer in the 1950s and 1960s had an important influence on psychology and was, in part, responsible for the cognitive approach becoming the dominant approach in modern psychology (taking over from behaviorism). The computer gave cognitive psychologists a metaphor, or analogy, to which they could compare human mental processing. The use of the computer as a tool for thinking how the human mind handles information is known as the computer analogy. Essentially, a computer codes (i.e., changes) information, stores information, uses information, and produces an output (retrieves info). The idea of information processing was adopted by cognitive psychologists as a model of how human thought works. For example, the eye receives visual information and codes information into electric neural activity which is fed back to the brain where it is “stored” and “coded”. This information is can be used by other parts of the brain relating to mental activities such as memory, perception and attention. The output (i.e. behavior) might be, for example, to read what you can see on a printed page. Hence the information processing approach characterizes thinking as the environment providing input of data, which is then transformed by our senses. The information can be stored, retrieved and transformed using “mental programs”, with the results being behavioral responses. Cognitive psychology has influenced and integrated with many other approaches and areas of study to produce, for example, social learning theory, cognitive neuropsychology and artificial intelligence (AI). INFORMATION PROCESSING & ATTENTION 106
When we are selectively attending to one activity, we tend to ignore other stimulation, although our attention can be distracted by something else, like the telephone ringing or someone using our name. Psychologists are interested in what makes us attend to one thing rather than another (selective attention); why we sometimes switch our attention to something that was previously unattended (e.g. Cocktail Party Syndrome), and how many things we can attend to at the same time (attentional capacity).

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