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Unit 5

5.0 Unit 5 Overview: Cognitive Psychology

3 min readmarch 13, 2021


Dalia Savy


Sadiyya Holsey

From the College Board

👀 Developing Understanding of this Unit

According to the College Board, "In this unit, knowledge surrounding sensation 👀, perception 🌈, and learning 📖 provides the foundation for an understanding of cognition. Cognitive psychologists focus their research on the complex nature of the brain, particularly the areas of memory processes and intelligence and the influence of mental processes on behavior. Understanding how this information is gathered and processed gives insight into how we make sense of and perceive the world 🌎
Some cognitive psychologists attempt to answer how and why cognitive processes fail despite (or because of) the complexity of our biological structures. Other psychologists study intelligence 💯and the reasons for individual differences. This cognitive perspective offers one way to understand how our thinking impacts our behavior, which can in turn provide insight into psychological disorders and their treatment."

🔎 Guiding Questions

  1. What roles do memory and thinking play in our behaviors?
  2. What is intelligence and how can we study it to understand it?

Contextualizing the Unit

Cognitive psychology became a heavily studied psychological approach in the late 1950s and is still studied quite a lot today.  
Cognitive psychology involves the study of the human mind. 
Cognitive psychologists try to understand the mental processes that occur in the human mind 🧠They study processes such as language, perception, thinking, memory, and problem-solving 🤔Understanding cognitive psychology can help individuals who have problems with their mental processes. 
Memory is all about putting the last 2 units together! Your brain takes in all of this information (unit 3), processes it (unit 3), learns it (unit 4), and then keeps it. Memory is that last portion.
About 13-17% of the exam is on this unit.

Key Facts

🤓 Psychologists to Know

Noam Chomsky 

Chomsky contributed ideas of language acquisition to cognitive psychology. He proposed the language acquisition device theory stating that humans have an innate ability to develop language 🗣️He also believed that children tend to overgeneralize language. 


Hermann Ebbinghaus 

He was the first to study memory in a scientific manner and the first to study the concept of forgetting 😟He came up with the forgetting curve and a few ways to improve your memory.

Wolfgang Köhler

He discovered insight in problem-solving; he saw how finding a solution to a problem could be sudden. He discovered this through experiments with chimpanzees 🐒 

Elizabeth Loftus 

Loftus is known for her expertise in eyewitness testimony, false memories and the misinformation effect.


George A. Miller

He discovered that the capacity of short term memory is limited. Short term memory has a capacity of about 7 items at a given time and between 15 to 30 seconds of storing these items.  

Benjamin Whorf 

Created the theory of Linguistic Relativity, which states that language determines the way we think.


Image Courtesy of Careers in Psychology.

📝 Vocabulary

Effortful ProcessingAutomatic ProcessingDeep ProcessingShallow Processing
Selective AttentionDivided AttentionMetacognitionShort-Term Memory
Long-Term MemoryExplicit MemoryImplicit MemorySensory Memory
Flashbulb memoryVisual EncodingAcoustic EncodingSemantic Encoding
RehearsalIconic MemoryEchoic MemoryChunking
RecallRecognitionRelearningSerial Position Effect
PrimingMnemonic DevicesPrototypeSchema
Retroactive InterferenceProactive InterferenceAmnesiaRepression
Long-term PotentiationAlgorithmHeuristicMental Set
CreativityFixationFunctional FixednessMisinformation Effect
FramingIntelligenceBiasesFlynn Effect
Intellectual DisabilitySavant SyndromeIQMental Age

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Unit 1: Scientific Foundations of Psychology
Unit 2: Biological Bases of Behavior
Unit 3: Sensation and Perception
Unit 4: Learning
Unit 6: Developmental Psychology
Unit 7: Motivation, Emotion, & Personality
Unit 8: Clinical Psychology
Unit 9: Social Psychology
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