Ten Famous Cognitive Psychologists

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Cognitive psychologists are essentially professionals who study the working of a human’s mind. This field deals with the intricacies of the thinking, remembering and learning processes of a human mind. In other words, this arena of Science deals with how people interact with their environmental stimuli as well as the processes they undergo in order to internalize the new information and use it when required. The Science of behavior is relatively easy to master, as it essentially focuses on understanding and observing the outward behavior of humans. On the other hand, cognitive psychology is a complex subject as it focuses on the mental constructs and development of mental schemas, which is very personal. Nevertheless, there are scientists who have well studied this Science and have formulated certain theories to understand the functioning of human mind better. Here the ten most famous cognitive psychologists.


1. Wilhelm Wundt


Wundt, better known as the father of psychology, has made unique contributions in the field of cognitive psychology. He is known to be the premiere psychologists to have separated philosophy from psychology so as to understand human mind as an individual entity. His branch of psychology is better termed as Voluntarism, the science of organizing and understanding mind. He is celebrated by the modern scientists for making sincere efforts in understanding the intricacies of the unconscious mind responsible for manifesting certain inexplicable outward behavior.

2. Wolfgang Kohler


This German based psychologist made a unique contribution in the field of psychology with his Gestalt Psychology. This branch essentially deals with the concept of structuralism and science of human behavior. The theory takes an opposite stance to the theories on Structuralism by Wundt, who was criticized by Kohler for reducing human perceptions into individual parts. Kohler, with his Gestalt theory has laid emphasis on dealing human perceptions as a whole and not as parts.

3. Jean Piaget


Jean was one of the first psychologists to have made meticulous efforts in understanding the cognitive development in children. Through various experiments, he made an in depth study of the mental framework of children, essentially with the purpose of making their education more meaningful and useful for them. Following his study, he came up with four mental stages of development among children. These are- the sensorimotor stage, the pre-operational stage, the concrete operational stage and the formal operational stage. Each of these stages is characteristic of unique cognitive development of children.

4. B.F. Skinner


This American Scientist served as an inspiration to many the-then psychologists and is still revered as the best cognitive psychologist the history has ever witnessed. His concept of operant conditioning brought in a revolution in our traditional education system. His theory suggested that if the learner’s actions were immediately rewarded with a positive and rewarding consequence, the probability of the action will increase. This concept was immediately adopted by schools to make the learning process of children easy.

5. Edward B. Titchener


Edward is an England based psychologist and credited for fathering the concepts of structuralism and introspection in the arena of cognitive psychology. While the former concept aims at well defining the human’s mind into different structures or categories, the latter essentially aims at analyzing oneself for learning one’s desires, goals, opinions and needs. Unlike his mentor Wundt, Edward concentrated his studies more on understanding the functioning of a conscious mind rather than the unconscious mind.

6. Hermann Ebbinghaus


He was the first scientist to study the concept of forgetting. What’s interesting are the experiments that he conducted wherein he used himself as the specimen of study so as to closely understand the phenomenon of forgetting. His findings are well written in his research paper called Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology.

7. Edward C. Tolman


Tolman holds a position of eminence in the field of Cognitive psychology. His concepts of cognitive mapping and latent learning has helped many young psychologists as well as school authorities to understand the functioning of the human brain and seek ways to inculcate learning, especially among children. He paved way for the concept of reinforcement as an essential requisite for enhancing learning. His theories suggest that the potency of performing the newly learned behavior increases, if the learned action is immediately rewarded with a reinforcing agent.

8. Naom Chomsky


This philosopher, American linguistic, logician and a cognitive scientist seeped in a revolution in the field of cognitive psychology with his modern concept of imbibing linguistics. His major work, The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory asserted a new concept of learning language. He proposed that humans are mentally well equipped to internalize language with their innate mechanism. He propelled the role of brain structures as well as neural actively responsible for speeding their speed of learning language.

9. David Rumelhart


Dr. Rumelhart, a PhD degree holder in Mathematical psychology suddenly changed the course of his specialization and took to cognitive psychology when he joined the prestigious University of California as a faculty member. He is known for his unique contributions in forming the computational theory of mind. Later in the 1970s, he further explored the nuances of human mind and came up with his studies on unleashing the flexibility and comprehension capacity of human intelligence.

10. James McClelland


A professor and the head of the department of Psychology, Stanford University, his biggest contribution include his research work on the concept of Parallel Distributed Processing and statistical learning. He dedicated most of his studies and experiments to further elucidate the complexities of cognitive phenomena like recognition of both audio and visual words. He fathered the concept of connectionism and to a large extent is responsible for spearheading the connectionism revolution during the 1980s. The phenomenon of connectionism essentially deals with the concepts of artificial intelligence, neuroscience and cognitive psychology which explain the functioning of mental schemas and behavioral patterns of human beings.

These were the most famous cognitive psychologists who have spearheaded and dedicated their research  work on studying the functioning of human mind- its manner of solving problem, internalizing new information, processing language and interacting with the external stimuli.

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