Cognitive and Affective Psychology Essay

Pages: 8 (2587 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Psychology

Cognitive and Affective Psychology

According to Eysenck and Keane (2005, p. 1), cognitive psychology focuses upon how the human faculties make sense of th einvrionment, as well as the processes involved in making decisions regarding appropriate responses to the environment. The specific processes involved in cognitive psychology include attention, perception, learning, memory, language, problem solving, reasoning and thinking.

According to the authors, there are four major approaches to human cognition (Eysenck & Keane, 2005, p. 3): experimental cognitive psychology; cognitive neuropsychology; computational cognitive science; and cognitive neuroscience.

Affective psychology concerns human emotion and the effect of this upon behavior; in other words, the outward expression of inner feelings. According to Brett et al. (2003), many professionals regard the affective domain as including three subcomponents: feeling, cognition, and behavior; where feeling refers to physiological sensation, cognition to subjective thoughts about such sensations, and behavior that relates to both. The affective domain furthermore also relates to the ability of the individual to manage his or her own emotions while functioning among other individuals with emotions and related behavior of their own.

It also encompasses our awareness or discernment of our and other's emotions, the ability to connect our emotions to those of others, the display of emotion, and the ability to manage or regulate one's emotions.

2: Cognitive Neuroscience

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Cognitive neuroscience is related to the field of cognitive psychology, but is more concerned with the biological foundations of mental processes than their psychological origins. In other words, the biological processes within the brain are investigated to determine how these relate to the cognitive process.

3: Perception, Attention, Consciousness

TOPIC: Essay on Cognitive and Affective Psychology Assignment

According to Ian Heath (2003), perception can be both passive and active. Initial, or "ordinary" perception is a passive phenomenon. Elements in the environment are perceived by means of the senses without the interference of the conscious mind. Perception becomes actve when attention is paid to a specific perception. The perception of cold weather would for example lead to the action of putting on a jacket. More complex cogntive action can also be involved. After the process of passive perception, active perception can be engaged by means of judgment. An element in the perceived environment then receives very focused attention to impose judgment upon it.

As mentioned, paying attention to certain perceptions makes the act of perception active. The phenomenon of attention has received considerable focus from cognitive researchers. Some findings from such research have revealed that human beings can divide their attention to engage in multitasting, multiple visual attention, and focus upon distinguishing a single element within many similar ones (Psyblog, 2010). In this way, attention can be either selective or inclusive, depending upon the circumstances and necessity of the situation.

V. George Matthew (2001) defines consciousness as "awareness of awareness." This phenomenon has increasingly enjoyed attention from the cognitive psychological field, due to an increased social need for cognitive fulfillment and meaning. While the study of cosnciousness is empirical, it is also relevant to descriptive and theoretical understanding. There are various states of consciousness that can form the focus of psychological study, including the state of sleeping, dreaming, hypnosis, and pathological states.

4: Memory Models and Processes

Memory can be defined as the human mental ability to store and recall information regarding stimuli that were encountered before, but are no longer present in the environment or accessible to perception (Science Encyclopedia). During a lifetime, the human brain gathers and stores a vast body of information. Memories of past experiences help the individual to understand new experiences, as well as to anticipate future experiences or dangers. Decisions can then be made regarding behavior, and whether to avoid or seek experiences that are related to specific memories.

One example of a memory model is procedural memory. This involves recalling the steps necessary to perform certain procedures and activities. Such activities could include skills such as cycling or swimming, cooking, or building a model. Well-learned procudures will have the effect of a task being performed without conscious awareness. In some activities, this means that the attention can be directed to other important environmental elements.

5: Knowledge Representation and Manipulation

Human beings receive a vast array of information and Knowledge via the senses. In order to organize and distinguish this information in degrees of importance, processes such as knowledge representation and manipulation are used. In other words, human beings select and control the disorganized raw data received through the sense organs (Sternberg and Mio, 2008, p. 303-304). When receiving this information, it is necessary to relate it to already existing internal information. Knowledge representation then means that information is investigated and organized according to its perceived importance. Knowledge manipulation means the use of acquired knowledge to perform cognitive tasks.

Influential Tenets of Psychotherapy


Psychotherapy functions on the basis of a number of tenets. What complicates this is the fact that different types of psychotherapy have different tenets. In order to maintain a focus on cognitive and affective psychology, psychotherapy that focuses on these aspects will be considered for its basic principles.

Donald Meichenbaum (in Zeig, 1992, p. 116), lists several of these principles. The first principle of psychotherapy, especially as it relates to the cognitive and affective aspects, is the view that beahvior is influenced by thoughts, feelings and psychological processes, as well as the consequences of these reciprocal influences. According to this view, there is a circular, reciprocal view of behavior rather than a linear one, with causes, effects and outcomes. The outcomes themselves perpetuate the consequences and exacerbate any negative feelings that may result. In other words, thoughts and feelings influence each other, rather than one always being the cause and the other the effect.

The second tenet is the complexity of cognition, which the author gropus into cognitive events, processes, and structures. This complexity leads directly to the third tenet, which is the purpose of the therapist to help clients understand how they construct reality by means of their reciprocal cognitive and affective processes. One aspect of this is creating data that confirms erroneous thinking. In other words, there are various ways in which therapeutic clients elicit responses or select events as confirmation for their thinking, and the perpetuation of their belief and the associated emotion.

The fourth principle concerns the therapeutic relationship. In contrast to rationally oriented forms of therapy, the cognitive therapist does not directly oppose erroneous thinking. Instead, he or she forms a relationship with the client. This means that the therapist attempts to see the world from the client's viewpoint, and then finding ways within this viewpoint to gradually guide the client towards a more realisitc mode of thinking. This is what the author refers to as the "therapeutic alliance," where there is a partnership between the therapist and client in order to achieve the goal of healing.

The fifth principle acknowledges the influence of hisotircal, developental, familial, and sociolcultural factors upon the cognitive and affective aspects that arise in the therapy. These aspects must be addressed as strongly as the cognition, feelings, and behavior they cause. At the same time, a process of transference relates to therapy, where the client tends to transfer blame for his or her feelings and behavior to other people or events. Such transference prohibits the therapeutic process, as it encourages a tendency to avoid responsibility, and also guilt.

Finally, the seventh important principle of psychotherapy is post-therapeutic care, where the therapist is to focus upon relapse prevention and behavioral training. In this aspect, the therapist acknowledges that the therapy as such does not end. Depending upon the severity and nature of the problem, the therapist might for example suggest support groups, training sessions, reading materials, or informal therapy sessions to reinforce what was accomplished.


The major themes within cognitive psychology include perception, language, attention, memory, problem solving, decision making and judgment, and intelligence. To some degree, all of these relate to the tenets mentioned above. The psychotherapist can for example work on helping a person change his or her perception of a problem to help increase the client's problem solving, decision making, and judgment abilities. Furthermore, each client has a unique set of memories that influences his or her perceptions and attention to various aspects of the problem.

While language and intelligence are not as closely related to the tenets above, they are nonetheless also relevant. A specific type of language is for example used in providing the tools for problem solving. Intelligence also manifests in unique ways in each person, while different types of intelligence can also be developed. The psychotherapist can determine the specific influence of an intelligence type on a person's unique problem, and then use this in order to cultivate a higher level of intelligence for the specific purpose of promoting the healing process.


The underlying themes within cognitive psychology, as mentioned above, are generally supported in the literature relating to the field. The tenets of psychotherapy (see no. 1 above) are also in keeping with the currently recognized principles of the humanities. Human beings are… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Cognitive and Affective Psychology" Essay in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Cognitive and Affective Psychology.  (2010, February 14).  Retrieved October 26, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Cognitive and Affective Psychology."  14 February 2010.  Web.  26 October 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Cognitive and Affective Psychology."  February 14, 2010.  Accessed October 26, 2021.