Return to:  The Cognitive Approach
The cognitive approach studies our information processes of perception, attention, language, memory, and thinking, and how they influence our thoughts, feelings and behaviours. It considers each, and their contribution to our ability to operate successfully in our world. The cognitive approach rightfully views us as active processors of information from our outside world. We are not passive learners, as behaviourism would have us believe. This is emphasised in the mediational nature of our information processes as illustrated by the computer analogy. Individual cognitions further explore this fact. Perception for example is understood from the point of view of our senses working in tandem with an innate ability called gestalten, and our previous past experience of stimuli in our world. It is previous past experience that makes the difference between one person's perception and another's. What is meaningful to you also influences another crucial information process, memory, and as a result your ability, or otherwise, to think and problem solve. All our information processes, while studied individually, work collectively as we operate in and through our environment. The cognitive approach has had a huge influence over the last 30 years, and continues to do so. It has been applied to the world of advertising, marketing, public relations, work, society, politics etc. However, anything the cognitive approach discovers about our cognitions, and their influence on our behaviours has to be inferred. This is because cognitions are hypothetical constructs. This has led to criticisms, such as a lack of ecological validity, being levied at the approach. It also ignores biological and social factors, and their interaction of both, as further reasons behind why we think, feel, and behave as we do.

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