PSY270 Chapter One Notes
• Cognitive Psychology is the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of
• “What is the mind?”
- Mind is involved in memory
- Mind is used as a problem solver
- Mind is used to make decisions/consider possibilities
- Healthy mind is associated with normal functioning, a non-functioning mind is
associated with abnormal functioning
- Mind is valuable, something that should be used
• Mind created and controls mental functions such as perception, attention, memory,
emotions, language, deciding, thinking, and reasoning.
• Mind can also be used as a system that creates representations of the world so that we can
act within it to achieve our goals.
• Studying the Mind: Early Work in Cognitive Psychology
- The term cognitive psychology was not termed until 1967
- Franciscus Donder’s was interested in determining how long it takes for a person to
make a decision, he determined this by measuring reaction time, how long it takes to
react to the presentation of a stimulus
- In the first part of the experiment he asked participants to press a button at the
presence of a light, this is referred to a simple reaction time task. In the second part
of the experiment he presented 2 lights, one on the left and one on the right,
participants were told to push the left button when the light on the left was on, and
push the right button when the light on the right was on, this is referred to as choice
reaction time task.
- Choice reaction time took one tenth of a second longer than simple reaction time.
- Donder’s experiment is severely important because it shows mental responses cannot
be measure directly, but must be inferred from behaviour; this can be show when
Donder’s measured the relationship between the presentation of the stimulus and the
participants response, he did not measure the mental response directly, but inferred
how long it took from the reaction times.
- Hermann Ebbinghaus was interested in determining the nature of memory and
forgetting, specifically how information that is learnt is lost overtime.
- He did so by testing himself; he presented himself nonsense syllables (such as DAX,
LUH, QEH, ZIF) using a memory drum. He went through the list trying to remember
each syllable in turn, until he was going through the list without making any errors,
he noted the number of trials it took him to do this.After learning the list he waited
for delays ranging from almost immediately after learning the list to 31 days. He used
the savings method to analyze the results.
- Savings = [(initial repetitions – relearning responses)/initial repetitions]×100
- For example if it took you 9 trials to remember a list, and 3 trials to relearn that list,
then your savings score would be 67% [(9-3)/9×100=67].
- He found that the savings were greater for short intervals than for long.
- Wilhelm Wundt founded the first laboratory of scientific psychology. - Wundt focused on a structuralism, this approach argues our overall experience is
determined by the combining basic elements of experience the structuralists called
- Wundt used analytic introspection, a technique in which trained participants
described their experience and thought processes in response to stimuli.
- William James taught first psychology course called Principles of Psychology at
- John Watson founded behaviourism.
- He argues analytical introspection:
1. Produced extremely variable results from person to person
2. These results were difficult to verify because they were interpreted in terms of
invisible inner mental processes.
- Watson’s goal was to eliminate the