Describe the historical schools of psychological to development of cognitive psychology.
Historical Schools of Psychological:
Philosophically, ruminations of the human mind and its processes have been around since the times of the ancient Greeks. In 387 BC, Plato is known to have suggested that the brain was the seat of the mental processes. In 1637, Rene Descartes posited that humans are born with innate ideas, and forwarded the idea of mind-body dualism, which would come to be known as substance dualism (essentially the idea that the mind and the body are two separate substances).
From that time, major debates ensued through the 19th century regarding whether human thought was solely experiential (empiricism), or included, innate knowledge (nativism).
Some of those involved in this debate included George Berkeley and John Locke on the side of empiricism, and Immanuel Kant on the side of nativism. With the philosophical debate continuing, the mid to late 18th century was a critical time in the development of psychology as a scientific discipline. Two discoveries that would later play substantial roles in cognitive psychology were Paul Broca’s discovery of the area of the brain largely responsible for language production, and Carl Wernicke’s discovery of an area thought to be mostly responsible for comprehension of language.
Both areas were subsequently formally named for their founders and disruptions of an individual’s language production or comprehension due to trauma or malformation in these areas have come to commonly be known as Broca’s aphasia and Wernicke’s aphasia.
In the mid-20th century, three main influences arose that would inspire and shape cognitive psychology as a formal school of thought.
With the development of new warfare technology during WW-II, the need for a greater understanding of human performance came to prominence. Behaviorism provided little if any insight into these matters and it was the work of Donald Broadbent, integrating concepts from human performance research and the recently developed information theory, that forged the way in this area.
Developments in computer science would lead to parallels being drawn between human thought and the computational functionality of computers, opening entirely new areas of psychological thought. Noam Chomsky’s 1959 critique of behaviorism, and empiricism more generally, initiated what would come to be known as the “cognitive revolution”. Ulric Neisser is credited with formally having coined the term “cognitive psychology” (in terms of the current understanding of cognitive psychology) in his book Cognitive Psychology, published in 1967.
During the 18th century, Berkeley’s most influential essay is A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. It was this that earned Berkeley the title of “subjective idealist,” “imaterialist,” “Spiritualist,” and these are what helped to make his small book one of the more misunderstood essays in philosophy.
James Mill (1773-1836) believed that the human-mind was totally passive. He felt that the mind was a machine functioning in the same way as a clock, acting upon external stimuli. James Mill was considered a British empiricist, focusing on the primary role of sensation processes and the relationship between conscious processes and association. John Stuart Mill, who believed in Mental Chemistry, was the son of James Mill. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a British empiricist who was concerned with Associationism.
In the 19th century, psychology broke away from philosophy and began to form its own discipline based upon empirical results rather than on speculation. “Only in the last 100 years has it been realized that human cognition could be the subject of scientific study rather than philosophical speculation” (Anderson, 1995).
Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) established the first psychology laboratory in Leipzig, Germany in 1879 and published the first journal, Philosophische Studien, that contained a report of experimental results. Wundt taught at the University at Leipzig from 1875 to 1917. Wundt founded the psychological institute at the University of Leipzig. Hermann Helmholtz was born in 1821 in Potsdam, Germany and is known for his theory of unconscious inference, for example visual perception of space.
Helmholtz was an advocate of the natural sciences. He had a particular interest in the speed of neural impulses. Hermann Ebbinghaus was determined to study higher mental processes and examine these processes that were neglected by Wundt. Galton did not believe the environment determined human character. He believed there existed innate social worth.
He was interested in a small portion of the population, the exceptional. Galton published Hereditary Genius which “proposed to show that a man’s natural abilities are derived by inheritance”.
Born in 1867, Edward Titchener was a follower of the psychological teachings of Wilhelm Wundt. Titchener’s view was based on his belief that all consciousness was capable of being reduced to three states: sensations, which are the basic elements of perception images, which are the pictures formed in our minds to characterize what is perceived and affections, which are the constituents of emotions. By 1915 Titchener had formulated his context theory of meaning.
William James (1842-1910) wrote the first psychology textbook, Principles of Psychology, expressing functionalism in psychology, functionalism refers to the adaption of living persons to their environment. James also contributed to the James-Lange theory. This theory states that we feel an emotion because of the action in which we choose to engage. For example, we infer are afraid because we run.
In the first half of the 20th century, Edward Tolman was known for his work that centered around demonstrating that animals had both expectations and internal representations that guided their behaviour. He believed that rats used a cognitive map in order to complete the maze instead of memorization. Sir Frederick Bartlett was known for his study of memory. He placed his emphasis on studies under natural conditions. Therefore, he rejected laboratory research.
He felt that past experiences helped reconstruct the material able to be retrieved. He used a method called serial reproduction. According to Anderson (1995), cognitive psychology first emerged in the two decades between 1950 and 1970.
The modem development of cognitive psychology was due to the WW—I1 focus on research on human performance and attention, developments in computer science, especially those in artificial intelligence, and the renewal of interest in the field of linguistics. Today, cognitive psychology freely uses the knowledge of neurology and techniques like MRI.