What is Cognitive Psychology?
Cognitive psychology is an area of the study of psychology which examines various mental and psychological processes. Simply put, it is the scientific study of how individuals perceive, think, speak, remember, and work out problems. In addition, it is greatly related to other areas such as linguistics, neuroscience, and philosophy. Enhancing memory, improving decision-making, and improving an educational curriculum, are a few of the practical applications of research in the field of cognitive psychology.
It is important to note that cognitivism, a school of thought in psychology, came from this approach. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) was also greatly influenced by cognitive psychology. CBT is a therapy that combines and uses principles and methods of behavioural and cognitive psychology to treat patients with psychological problems.
Ulric Neisser, an American psychologist, first coined the term “cognitive psychology” in 1967. This term has a lot to do with cognition. Based on Neisser’s book entitled “Cognitive Psychology”, cognition involves all mental processes in which sensory data is stored, transformed, reduced, elaborated, used, and recovered. According to him, cognition is still involved in these mental processes even in the absence of an appropriate stimulus (e.g. in the case of hallucinations).
Now that we understand what cognitive psychology is, we can now discuss questions that are often asked when it comes to having a career in this field.
What Do Cognitive Psychologists Do?
For those interested in this field, this question is commonly asked. In general, most of today’s cognitive psychologists conduct research on an individual’s thought processes and its mechanisms. Just like other professionals in the field of psychology (e.g. clinical psychologists, industrial psychologists, etc.), they may be employed in a variety of work settings such as:
- colleges and universities
- government agencies
- hospitals and health care facilities
- corporate organizations and private consultation
Cognitive psychologists may teach and do research work in colleges and universities as well as hold administrative positions. They may also be employed in different government institutions and agencies. Moreover, they may also apply their expertise and work as consultants in industrial companies and private firms. To make it short, there are a lot of job opportunities for cognitive psychologists just like any other psychologists of other specialization.
What is the average salary of Cognitive Psychologists?
The salary of cognitive psychologists may greatly vary depending on a lot of factors, such as the level of education and acquired training, location of work, type of employer, cost of living, and other factors as well. Based on the 2010 survey released by the U.S. Department of Labor, the average salary of cognitive psychologists working in the U.S. as consultants (for private firms and companies) was about $114,040.00 per year, while the middle 50% has a salary of about $87,330.00 per year. According to the 2009 survey of the American Psychological Association (APA), the average salary for those cognitive psychologists working in college or university settings was about $76,090.00 per year.
What does it take to become a Cognitive Psychologist?
Because most careers in cognitive psychology require at least a master’s or even a doctorate degree, it is very rare to find entry-level job opportunities for graduates holding a bachelor’s degree. If you wish to be employed in applied areas such as industrial-organizational psychology, and human factors (which are most likely to develop in the future), a master’s degree is enough for you to become a competitive candidate in the job market.
A master’s degree usually takes about 2 years on average to complete while a doctorate degree takes about 5 years on average. The main difference of these two programs is that a doctorate degree focuses more on research. Aside from bigger salaries, those who hold doctorate degrees are offered more job opportunities and have more chances of career growth.
Nowadays, the demand for cognitive psychologists may vary. Most are employed in teaching and research positions by colleges and universities. However, it should be noted that in recent years there has been a significant growth in other areas such as software development, industrial-organizational psychology, and human-computer interaction. Job opportunities in these areas are expected to grow even further as the demand of the various organizations for professionals in the field of psychology increase. This will bring more job opportunities to professionals working in the this field. In a job posting survey seen in APS Observer Employment Bulletin conducted from 1991-1996, cognitive psychology jobs report for about 7.5% of the overall number of job listings.