Approach #3: The Cognitive Approach

The value of studying the mind is obvious

The problems with studying the mind are not so obvious

An extinct approach to studying the mind: The structuralist (or introspectionist) approach for studying conscious thoughts

Why study an approach that is extinct?

1. Historical reasons

a. To understand why behaviorism was so popular for so long.

b. Wilhelm Wundt

2. To appreciate a defining characteristic of science.

3. To understand the difficulty of studying thoughts.

What were the structuralists (introspectionists) trying to do? (Hint: How have physics, chemistry, and biology tried to understand their subject matter?)

Why Gestalt psychologists believed that the structuralist's mission was misguided.

(If you came from the Perception lecture, click here to get back to the Perception lecture)

How were the introspectionists (structuralists) trying to accomplish their mission?

Similarities of their approach to that of physical sciences

What is wrong with introspection?

The Wundt/Kulpe debate illustrates the problem with introspection from a scientific point of view

Conclusion from the debate:

In addition, Nisbett & Wilson find another problem with introspection.

Modern Cognitive Psychology
(an approach that looks at the inner world of conscious thoughts).

A. View of humans:

B. What should psychology be?

C. Objections/Problems:

1. Can thoughts be objectively and accurately measured?

2. Do thoughts (such as attitudes) really determine behavior?

D. Recent advances in cognitive psychology

1. Computer-related advances

2. Linking to behavior

E. The cognitive approach applied to therapy

1. Aaron Beck's cognitive therapy for depression:

2. Ellis' Rational Emotive Therapy (RET): Critically analyzing assumptions and biases as a way to better mental health.






3. Seligman's learned optimism

By now, you should be able to:

1. Name the founder of psychology.

2. Describe the goal of structuralism

3. List at least two characteristics that structuralism shared with biology, physics, and chemistry.

4. Explain why introspection was not scientific.

5. Explain why we shouldn't ask other people "Why did you do that?"

6. Explain how cognitive psychology differs from structuralism.

7. Explain how cognitive psychology differs from behaviorism.

8. Explain why advocates of the cognitive approach think their approach is better than the behavioral approach.

9. Explain how cognitive psychology differs from the neurophysiological approach.

10. Give at least one example of how a cognitive psychologist would try a different approach than a structuralist to get an answer to the question about how the mind works.

11. Give evidence to challenge the statement "Cognitive psychology is not scientific."

12. Describe how a cognitive therapist might diagnose and treat a violent individual.

In addition, you should:

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Wundt vs. Kulpe


Cognitive therapies

      Albert Ellis