Development of Cognitive Psychology

Cognitive-behavioral perspective within a historical context

~Developed in the 1950s~

Behaviorism and objective empirical research was the norm within psychology at the time (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014). Going back to suggesting the study of inner thought processes and other proposed cognitive functions was thought of as taboo (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014).

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Cognitive Perspective vs. Behavioral Perspective

Cognitive psychologists believed there is more to learning and behavior than what can be discovered by focusing only on external forces (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014). Behaviorists along with other psychologists believed cognitive approaches could not be proven, and therefore were worthless in terms of scientifically-based research (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014).

Some influences of cognitive psychology at its time of development:

Finally in the late 60s...

*Cognitive Psychology is Accepted*

Conveying how certain behaviorist approaches, such as goal-directed behavior and learning through conditioning, cannot be explained using only objective/empirical concepts, professionals began accepting the cognitive approach (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014). After which, the school of thought began developing, putting out journals, employing cognitive psychology labs, and so on, to what it is known today (Hergenhahn & Henley, 2014).

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Psychologists like Ellis and Beck began merging the behavioral perspective with the cognitive perspective as it was believed at the time of development, up to current research, that each approach is only partially explanatory and that aspects of both are needed to gain a more complete understanding of human thought and behavior, how one impacts the other and vice versa (McLeod, 2015).


Hergenhahn, B., & Henley, T. B. (2014). An Introdution to the History of Psychology (7th ed). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage.

McLeod, S. (2015). Cognitive behavioral therapy. Simply Psychology. Retrieved from

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