Returns to Its Roots: Renewed Interest in Cognition and
applied psychology has blossomed in recent years, research has
to evolve. Ironically, two of the latest trends in research hark
a century to psychology's beginning, when psychologists were
interested in consciousness and physiology. Today psychologists
showing renewed interest in consciousness (now called "cognition") and
physiological bases of behavior (Baars, 1986; Bruce, 1980).
refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge.
other words, cognition involves thinking or conscious experience. For
decades, the dominance of behaviorism discouraged investigation of
mental processes, and most psychologists showed little
in cognition. During the1950s and 1960s, however, this situation
began to change. Major progress in the study of children's cognitive
(Piaget, 1954), memory (Miller, 1956), language (Chomsky,
and problem solving (Newell, Shaw, & Simon,1958) sparked a surge of
in cognitive psychology.
then, cognitive theorists have argued that psychology must study
mental events to fully understand behavior (Gardner,1985;
Advocates of the cognitive perspective point out that our
of mental images surely influence how we behave.
focusing exclusively on overt behavior yields an incomplete
of why we behave as we do. Equally important, psychologists
decision making, reasoning, and problem solving have shown
methods can be devised to study cognitive processes scientifically.
the methods are different from those used in psychology's early
recent research on the inner workings of the mind has put the psyche
in contemporary psychology.
1950s and 1960s also saw many discoveries that highlighted the
among mind, body, and behavior. For example, psychologists
that electrical stimulation of the brain could evoke emotional
such as pleasure and rage in animals (Olds, 1956). Other work
that the right and left halves of the brain are specialized to
different types of mental tasks (Gazzaniga, Bogen, & Sperry, 1965).
was also generated by the finding that people can exert some
over internal physiological processes, including electrical
in the brain, through a strategy called biofeedback (Kamiya,
These and many other findings stimulated an increase in research on
biological bases of behavior. Advocates of the biological perspective
that much of human and animal behavior can be explained in terms
the bodily structures and biochemical processes that allow organisms to
As you know, in the l9th century the young science of psychology
a heavy physiological emphasis. Thus, the recent interest in the
bases of behavior represents another return to psychology's
adherents of the cognitive and biological perspectives haven't
as much organized campaigning for their viewpoint as proponents of the
traditional schools of thought have done, these newer perspectives
become important theoretical orientations in modern psychology. They
increasingly influential regarding what psychology should study and
The cognitive and biological perspectives are compared to other
theoretical perspectives (behavioral, psychoanalytic, and
in Table 1.2.
War I and World War 11 played a major role in the growth of applied
as psychologists were forced to apply their expertise to
problems, such as ability testing and training. The top photo
military personnel working on one of a series of tests devised to aid
the selection of air crew trainees during World War 11. The bottom photo
a booklet sold to help recruits prepare for the Army General
Test and other related tests. Its popularity illustrates the
attached to the military's mental testing program.
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