Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive Psychology is the study of how people think, make decisions, and pay attention. Broader fields of psychology that include cognitive psychology include neuroscience, philosophy, artificial intelligence, industrial organizational psychology, and linguistics. Since this branch of psychology touches so many other fields, people in many different areas can benefit from these studies. Research in this field is based on memory, intelligence, problem solving, and biopsychology. Biopsychology discusses how the brain and nervous system impact human behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. In essence, cognitive psychology will include everything a person does and will focus on internal mental states. This area of psychology will use scientific research methods to study mental processes.

Educators, as well as curriculum and web designers, can use studies to better understand how people process, learn, and retain information. Many important studies have recently been conducted in the area of online learning and course development, as well as gaming and virtual training techniques. Curriculum designers are interested in understanding just how much people learn, process, and retain information learned in a non-classroom based environment. Usability specialists (or web designers) will want to know if people are able to navigate their websites without instruction. Engineers and scientists are equally intrigued by how humans will interact with the design and development of new materials and objects. Careers in this profession may be found at colleges and universities, government agencies, private consulting, and business.

Most people who study cognitive psychology begin their career with a bachelor’s degree and later acquire a master’s or doctorate degree. Growth is expected in the field, especially in the area of industrial organizational psychology. This rewarding career helps solve real-world problems. Careers may be obtained in diverse industries with the opportunity for self-employment. Most jobs in academia require a lot of research which some people find tedious. These positions will usually require a doctorate degree.

Salaries in cognitive psychology will depend on the degree, location of the position, and amount of experience in the field. An average salary for an industrial organizational psychologist stretches from $87,000 and $114,000 a year. The median salary for someone on a university faculty is about $76,000 plus benefits.

Depression is one area of mental health that uses cognitive therapy to treat patients. People with depression battle negative thoughts that can distort their mood and sense of reality. Cognitive therapy can help provide strategies for changing the way a depressed person sees the world. Some studies have shown that cognitive therapy has worked just as well as antidepressants for mild to moderately depressed patients. Other forms of treatment have used a combination of medication and cognitive therapy to help diminish a bout of depression. Through cognitive therapy, a person may be able to identify his destructive behaviors and thoughts before they lead to depression. This recognition can take time, however. The “power of positive thinking” forms the foundation for this logic. Positive thinking helps a person see the problem and identify the emotions, thoughts, and physical feelings surrounding it. It is important for the person to be able to stop his destructive impulses and actions before, during, and after the problem occurs.

Cognitive therapy will help a person manage their problems by viewing them in different parts. Patients are taught to make small, incremental changes in the ways they think and behave. These small changes can lead to lasting changes and improvements in mood. They can also enhance a person’s overall energy level, quality of sleep, appetite, and sex drive. Many people with chronic pain have reported relief and reduced depression-related symptoms as a result of cognitive therapy.

Cognitive therapy is cost-effective in that benefits are identified within weeks of treatment versus the months or years it can take with other approaches. Cognitive therapy costs less because no medication is involved and does not have any side effects that many pain medications cause. Although cognitive therapy is a viable form of treatment for depression, it is best left up to a mental health provider to make this suggestion and diagnosis.

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