The cognitivismo is the branch of psychology that studies the prospect cognitive and tries to understand cognition . Rooted in Gestalt psychology and the work of Jean Piaget , cognitivism has been a very important part of psychology since the 1960s; this theory contrasts with behaviorism, in which psychologists concentrate their studies on behavior that can be observed. Modern research links the cognitivismo with the idea that people process the information in the same way they do computers , following a set ofspecific rules ; so in many occasions it is related to studies in artificial intelligence . Additionally, cognitivism has influenced education , as studies of how people learn shed a light on how to teach more effectively.


What is cognitivism?

Cognitivism is the branch of psychology that is responsible for studying and focusing on different mental processes , including how people perceive, think, remember, learn, solve problems, and direct their attention to one stimulus more than another.


What does cognitivism study

Cognitivism is responsible for studying cognition , that is, the different processes of the mind that are related to knowledge . Therefore, we can say that cognitive psychology studies the mechanisms that people use to obtain knowledge , and all the steps or methods included within it using the senses . It seeks to understand the way in which people understand the reality that surrounds them from the transformation of sensory information.


Characteristics of cognitivism

Its main characteristics are:

  • The knowledge for cognitivismo is functional .
  • Through it you can develop plans and set goals , reducing negative consequences.
  • It focuses on the mental processes of learning and how they are stored in memory .
  • They have a research base for carrying out scientific work.
  • Different environmental conditions are part of the learning process.
  • The explanations, examples and demonstrations form a guide for proper learning .
  • The knowledge must be meaningful .
  • The student is helped to organize and relate new information with the knowledge they already have.
  • The subject is seen as an active processor of information through the registration and organization of information.


The first studies carried out that had a purely cognitive approach were carried out in the fifties, presenting itself as a theory that sought to replace the theory of behaviorism . All the ideas of these thinkers had in common the focus on attention , perception , memory , intelligence , language and thought .


The first approaches that were given in this matter arose practically from the time of Descartes , with his paradigm ” cogito ergo sum “, which means; ” I think, therefore I exist “, which explains, in other words, that we must think first in order to exist. Historically, this theory is between behaviorism and constructivism , of which it is a precursor. Its development occurs between the years 1950 and 1960 , having greater influence in the 70s . It has its roots in England when the studies on perception, thought andcognitive processes.

Representatives of cognitivism

Its main representatives were:

  • Jean Piaget : said that mental development from birth to adulthood is progressive , goes from lower to higher, and this governs the development of intelligence.
  • Jerome Bruner : psychologist and pedagogue originally from the United States who developed the theory of learning by discovery , which promoted the student to acquire his knowledge by himself.
  • David Ausubel : Creator of meaningful learning , explained that learning was the incorporation of new information to the cognitive structure of people facilitating their learning.
  • Robert Gagné : created eight different levels of learning .
  • Howard Gardner : I believe the theory of multiple intelligences against the paradigm of a single intelligence. He said that people had different types of intelligence.


The principles of cognitivism are as follows:

  • It sees the subject as an active processor of stimuli and this processing determines our behavior .
  • Learning is developing skills to understand reality that will allow generating appropriate responses to various contexts.
  • Studies aspects observable and unobservable .
  • Explore the following processes memory, perception, recall, forgetting, transference and assimilation. Through assimilation , meaningful learning is achieved .
  • To develop cognitive processes, cognitivism allows the student to be aware of their own cognitive processes, allowing them to be more independent and reflective .
  • It considers the individual as an active being and a builder of his own knowledge.


His main contributions have been to education , especially in the aspect of teaching and learning . He has managed to contribute special and essential abilities for learning such as memory and reasoning . It has also contributed in the attempt to predict and control behavior empirically and experimentally , planning and organization that must be given to the teaching process, the search for different reinforcements to achieve the educational objectives and the evaluation of the students according to the objectives.


In education it has been very important because educators must perceive the student as an active processor of information and not simply as recipients of education , with this, a series of aspects related to the student must be taken into account to verify their ability when performing mental operations.

Importance of cognitivism

Cognitivism is important because it teaches us to observe the processes of the mind to obtain knowledge . Through it, it is possible to observe and study the different mechanisms to achieve a better education , which helps to develop plans and set goals, minimizing the chances of experiencing negative consequences.


An eight-month-old baby who, since he was born, has been acquiring knowledge of his environment, from the recognition of his parents’ voice and face, to the sounds around him, little by little, he learned to distinguish shapes, colors, tastes and sounds that he was associating to various objects, people and situations . All this thanks to cognitive development . The baby did not lose his old knowledge when he obtained new ones, the old ones were assimilating, organizing and balancing the new ones, giving rise to a greater adaptation to his environment.

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