Approaches to Cognition: Contrasts and Controversies

Approaches to Cognition: Contrasts and Controversies

Approaches to Cognition: Contrasts and Controversies

Approaches to Cognition: Contrasts and Controversies

Excerpt

Albert Gilgen in 1982 asked historians of psychology to rate what they felt were the major events and influences in the discipline since World War II. "Skinner's contributions" and "the increasing influence of cognitive theory" tied for second place, and the "general growth of psychology" ranked number one.

It is perhaps due to the general growth of psychology that few cognitive psychologists are aware of the continuing impact of Skinner's work. This may also be the reason that most psychologists who ascribe to Skinner's views are unlikely to know much about recent developments in cognitive psychology.

To the vast majority of academic psychologists the study of cognition refers to that area of psychology known as "cognitive psychology." The major basis of this area has been the computer metaphor with its accompanying notion of the individual as an information-processing system. Yet within the field the study of cognition is much broader and has a history that reaches into antiquity, whereas "cognitive psychology" as information-processing psychology has only recently become the standard bearer of cognitive studies.

One of the purposes of this volume is to articulate some of the fundamental distinctions between and concordances among different orientations concerning the study of cognition. The collection includes chapters on information processing, ecological, Gestalt, physiological, and operant psychology.

We begin with Daniel Robinson's prefatory essay on the philosophical roots of cognition. This survey leads him to argue for a logical distinction between perception and cognition that he believes is not observed by most contemporary cognitive psychologists. This is followed by Terry Knapp's chapter that traces the development of cognitive psychology through the decades after World War II

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