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Are you interested in studying psychology? A psychology bachelor’s degree program will introduce you to fundamental theories and concepts in the field, including cognitive psychology. Cognitive psychology is an important subfield of psychology that examines mental processes such as perception, memory, thinking, language, and decision-making. It explores how individuals acquire, process, store, and use information. Unlike the branches of psychology that emphasize outward-facing human behavior or emotions, cognitive psychology has more of an internal focus.

In the South University Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Psychology program, cognitive psychology is one of the many topics featured in our curriculum. This blog post previews some of what you’ll discuss in your psychology courses—and how these concepts apply to the professional world*.

Areas of Exploration in Cognitive Psychology

Perception: This area examines how people interpret sensory information from the environment, including what they see, hear, taste, smell, and touch.

Memory: Cognitive psychologists study how individuals encode, store, and retrieve information over time. This includes short-term memory, long-term memory, and the factors influencing memory recall.

Learning: Understanding how we acquire new knowledge, skills, and behaviors is fundamental to cognitive psychology. Classes on learning typically cover conditioning, reinforcement, and observational learning.

Language Processing: Cognitive psychology delves into how humans acquire and use language, including how they comprehend and produce speech, interpret written language, and communicate with others.

Problem-Solving and Reasoning: Cognitive psychologists study how we approach and solve problems, make decisions, engage in critical thinking, and reason through various situations.

Attention: This area looks at how individuals selectively focus on specific stimuli and how attention affects perception, memory, and overall cognitive functioning.

Cognitive Development: Cognitive psychology investigates how cognitive abilities and processes evolve across the lifespan, from infancy through adulthood and into old age.

Cognitive Neuroscience: This interdisciplinary domain explores the neural basis of cognitive processes using techniques like brain imaging and electrophysiology.

Applications of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive psychology has contributed significantly to our understanding of human behavior, learning, problem-solving, and mental health. Understanding how people process information, think, learn, and remember is crucial in tailoring clinical interventions, designing effective communication strategies, improving learning environments, and enhancing mental well-being. Let’s look closer at a few practical applications.

Education: Cognitive psychology helps instructional designers and educators create effective teaching materials and strategies that match how learners process and retain information. This includes optimizing content structure and length, incorporating visual aids, and utilizing techniques to enhance memory and understanding.

Clinical Psychology: Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a widely used therapeutic approach. CBT helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors, making it effective in treating conditions like anxiety, depression, phobias, and PTSD. Clinicians also draw on cognitive psychology when recommending memory improvement techniques to patients. These techniques can aid memory retention and retrieval for clients with memory disorders or cognitive decline.

Human-Computer Interaction and Artificial Intelligence: Cognitive psychology principles guide the design and testing of all types of technology. By understanding how users process information and interact with technology, designers can create more intuitive, efficient, and user-friendly software and hardware. Cognitive psychology can also inform the design and development of AI systems.

Marketing and Advertising: Marketers use cognitive psychology principles to understand how consumers perceive, process, and make decisions about products and advertisements. Marketers can tailor their strategies to align with consumers' cognitive processes and preferences.

Business and Government: Cognitive psychology can help leaders understand decision-making processes and apply better problem-solving techniques. This can allow individuals and groups to makes more strategic plans, policies, and decisions.

Healthcare: Cognitive psychology can help organizations and individual care providers design programs to improve cognitive function in older adults, potentially delaying cognitive decline and improving quality of life.

Get Started on Your BA in Psychology

Want to learn more about psychology? Explore South University’s Bachelor of Arts in Psychology or request information to speak with an Admission Representative today!

*South University does not promise or guarantee employment.