Monday, March 1, 2021

The research methods in cognitive psychology

The research methods in cognitive psychology

The Research Methods in Cognitive psychology is that the study of mental processes like perceiving, remembering, and reasoning. At one level, we've an interest in explaining your ability to understand what you're reading, and in so doing, we are likely to appeal to processes of perception of words and computation of meaning. At another level, we'd explain your motivation for reading in terms of your goal to end this course, which successively is motivated by your goal of obtaining a degree so on follow some plan that you simply simply have for a career. Cognitive psychology the aim is that your behaviour of reading this book is set partially by your intent to satisfy some goal and fulfill some plan. Intentionality, goals, and plans are mental phenomena that affect behaviour. Further, the precise behaviour, during this case, reading, is understood by appeal to the precise mental processes involved in perception and comprehension of text. In short, the study of mental processes is significant because these processes are responsible for much of our behaviours and interests.

This consists of the numerous research methods that we use in psychology . Every research features a goal and it's achieved through appropriate methodology. Cognitive psychology allow us to ascertain what are the goals of research.

Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology

For the research methods in cognitive psychology Use various methods to explore how humans think. These methods include (i) laboratory or other controlled experiments, (ii) psychobiological research, (iii) self-reports, case studies, naturalistic observation, and (iv) computer simulations and AI . Each method offers distinctive advantages and disadvantages .

i) Experiments on Human Behaviour: the research methods in cognitive psychology  In controlled experimental designs, an experimenter conducts research, typically during a laboratory setting. The experimenter controls as many aspects of the experimental situation as possible. There are basically two sorts of variables in any given experiment – independent variables and dependent variables. The irrelevant variables are held constant and are called control variables.

ii) Psychobiological Research: the research methods in cognitive psychology  Through psychobiological research, investigators study the connection between cognitive performance and cerebral events and situations. the varied specific techniques utilized in the psychobiological research generally fall under three categories. the primary category is that of techniques for studying an individual’s brain post-mortem, relating the individual’s cognitive function before death to observable features of the brain. The second category is techniques for studying images showing structures of or activities within the brain of a private who is understood to possess a specific cognitive deficit. The third is techniques for obtaining information about cerebral processes during the traditional performance of a cognitive activity (e.g. by using brain imaging techniques).

iii) Self-Reports, Case Studies, and Naturalistic Observation: the research methods in cognitive psychology  Individual experiments and psychobiological studies often specialize in precise specification of discrete aspects of cognition across individuals. to urge richly textured information about how particular individuals think during a broad range of contexts, researchers may use self-reports (an individual’s own account of cognitive processes), case studies (in-depth studies of individuals), and naturalistic observation (detailed studies of cognitive performance in everyday situations and no laboratory contexts). On the one hand, experimental research is most useful for testing hypotheses. On the other hand, research supported qualitative methods is typically particularly useful for the formulation of hypotheses. These methods are also useful to urge descriptions of rare events or processes that we've no other because of measure.

iv) Computer Simulations and Artificial Intelligence: Digital computers played a fundamental role within the emergence of the study of psychology . One quite influence is indirect though models of human cognition supported models of how computers process information. Another kind is direct, that's through computer simulations and AI . In computer simulations, researchers program computers to imitate a given human function or process. Some researchers even have attempted to make computer models of the whole cognitive architecture of the human mind.

The research methods in cognitive psychology  Cognitive psychologists often broaden and deepen their understanding of cognition through research in science . science may be a crossdisciplinary field that uses ideas and methods from psychology , psychobiology, AI , philosophy, linguistics, and anthropology.

Four main research methods in cognitive psychology

Given that we’re studying the blackbox that we may not open, the next logical question is how does one study it? It would appear in the area of cognitive psychology, there are four main ways of studying cognition: A) by experiment, B) by comparing brain-damaged patients, C) by developing computational models, and D) by brain scans.


out of all the methods, the experimental methods is the easiest to understand. There are usually conducted in a controlled environment, which lends itself to scientific studies of data. However this type of approaches are commonly challenged for two reasons: A) as explained before, these can only provide indirect evidence about the internal processes involved, and B) given the context of a controlled environment, which is highly artificial, it is often difficult to justify or believe that the subjects will behave in an identical manner in real life.


the comparison method is an interesting one. Essentially, cognitive psychologists look for brain-damaged patients and compare what they can or cannot do with other patients. For example, if they have patients who can speak very well but cannot hear, they can then conclude that the processes involved in speaking are independent of those for hearing. This method is most conclusive when patients with opposite skills matrix occur. For instance, if a group of patients can do task A very well but not task B, and another group of patients can do task B very well but not task A, we can then conclude with confidence that the processes involved in task A or B are totally independent of each other.

This method has its own limitations though. For example, where patients can perform part of the task, can we still make a conclusion? Also, this issue is that there is only one or two of the brain that contributes to a certain function. However, more often than not, unless the task is exceptionally simple, different functions of the brain will be invoked. Take matching shapes as an example. Young children are often given toys which required them to recognise different shapes. This is a very simple task in its own right. However, it involves long-term memory (remembering the instruction given), short-term memory (what their eyes have just seen), decision-making, and motor skills. It is often very difficult to isolate these processes as totally independent of each other.

Computational models

Computational models are closely akin to a branch of computer science called artificial intelligence. Feeding by the information gathered through previous methods, programmers builds computational models to represent cognitive processes. Although cannot guarantee to be representative of the exact cognitive process involved, it does allow a systematic way of investigating the processes. Usually, the programmers involved use what is known as the connection networks, where there are input links, processing units, and output links. Unlike computer networks where there is specific location for memories, connection networks in psychology have memories distributed over the network.

Brain scans

finally, the last approach makes use of a modern technology in brain scanning to establish where and when cognitive processes happen within the brain. This method of study has been very useful in areas where processors function in discreet ways. However, it has been less successful in higher order cognitive functions such as reasoning and decision-making or where cognitive functions and processes do overlap.


it has been very interesting to read through the introductory chapters of my first book in cognitive psychology. I have found the definition and scope of cognitive psychology very helpful and the chapters discussing the four major approaches informative. I was very surprised to see how brain-damaged patients can help in research. And of course technological advances has made it possible to probe into the blackbox itself.

Moving On

This book then continues to discuss cognitive psychology in four main study areas: A) three chapters on recognition and perception, B) two chapters on memory management, C) two chapters on language comprehension and production, and D) three chapters on problem solving and decision making. I will be updating my blog as I read and reflect on the material as I consider these areas one at a time.

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