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what are the paradigms of cognitive psychology? information processing approach and ecological approach

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James Worthy eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Cognitive psychology revolves around the actual cognitive process—that is, the unique way that each of our brains deals with thought. The general idea behind cognition is that none of our cognitive processes are the same. Each individual brain literally deals with the physical act of thinking slightly differently. The information processing paradigm deals with the how the physical cognitive process provokes a response in behavior in humans. The ecological approach deals more with the impact of the environment (how we are raised) on how we deal with information and how that information is reflected in our behavior. For example, the cognitive process of someone who was raised in isolation is vastly different from that of a child who was raised in a nurturing environment that fostered more contact. This is one example of the cognitive perspective's take on the "nature versus nurture" debate.

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Two contrasting paradigms of cognitive psychology are the information processing approach and the ecological approach. The information processing approach compares the mind to a computer. The environment produces stimuli which are taken in by the senses. After the information goes through several mental "programs" (i.e. storing, changing, and retrieving), a behavior is produced. Unlike the information processing approach, the ecological approach places importance on the natural environments in which cognitive activities take place. In order for an individual to perform an action, there needs to be a good match between the individual and the environment.

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