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Cognition is the reason computers will never completely replace real, live human beings. Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines it as “the act or process of knowing,” including both awareness and judgment—two things your fancy laptop will never have. Cognitive psychology majors examine memory, perception, thinking, and intelligence. They study how our brains work to perceive, process, and store information. You’ll learn how our mental processes—like mood swings—affect our behavior and to what extent we can control and hone them. Cognitive psychology majors pay attention to those details that make up sensation, attention, and reasoning. You’ll also examine the many processes involved in problem solving and decision making.

Your cognitive psychology major will expose you to research from the past and the research that is being done today—in most programs you’ll even have a chance to do some research of your own or assist with others’ projects. Learning about the problems, advancements, and theories from the past will help you understand where cognitive psychology has been, where it is, and where you might lead it.

As with most psychology disciplines, cognitive psychology is interdisciplinary to a large degree, and your studies will draw from courses in philosophy, linguistics, statistics, and other areas of psychology such as social, clinical, and developmental psychology.


  • Abnormal Behavior

  • Behavior Therapy

  • Childhood Behavior Disorders

  • Development of Human Behavior

  • History of Psychology

  • Human Memory

  • Human Neuropsychology

  • Intelligence

  • Learning

  • Motivation and Emotion

  • Research Design

  • Statistical Methods

  • Tests and Measurements


Since psychology requirements usually comprise a wide selection of both humanities and science courses, you should try to take a little of everything—English, history, languages, sciences, and math. It’s important, too, to take higher-level courses such as calculus—tough math courses will build a strong foundation for your college studies, since you’ll be dealing with statistics in your research. And any psychology courses your school offers will give you a good introduction to your chosen field. You might even check out a book of Freud’s theories for some leisure reading; you might be surprised at what you learn!