Difference Between Behaviorism and Cognitive Psychology

By: | Updated: Aug-13, 2022
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Psychology is a very vast field of study, which deals with the mind, brain and behavior. There are many aspects of the mind that psychology studies and among them is cognition. Cognitive psychology studies the cognitive aspects of the mind and how they function. There are many different theories of cognition, but there are three main approaches to cognitive psychology. The first is behaviorism, which deals with only observable behavior. The second is cognitivism, which deals with all aspects of cognition including non-behavioral factors.

But what are the differences between behaviorism and cognitive psychology? What are the key characteristics of each approach?

Summary Table

Behaviorism Cognitive Psychology
The focus of behaviorism is on observable behavior The focus of cognitive psychology is on the non-observable mental processes
Behaviorism uses a method called the stimulus-response model Cognitive psychology uses cognitive methods to study cognition
Behaviorism is based on the principles of the mind being a product of experience Cognitive psychology is based on the principles of the mind being a product of the brain

Difference Between Behaviorism and Cognitive Psychology

What is Behaviorism?

Behaviorism is an approach to psychology that focuses on only observable behavior. It focuses on what is seen and what can be measured. Behaviorism was one of the first scientific theories in psychology, being developed by John B. Watson in 1913. Behaviorism was based on Watson’s notion that behaviors are directly caused by their causes. Behaviorism was also heavily influenced by Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic theory.

Behaviorists are more interested in the causes of behavior than the reasons behind it. Behaviorism was heavily influenced by psychoanalytic theory and thus behaviorists believed that human beings were motivated by instinctual drives and they focused on observable behaviors to study them. The concepts of stimulus and response are also important in behaviorism. The stimulus is the object that stimulates the response and the response is what is done in response to the stimulus.

What is Cognitive Psychology?

Cognitive psychology is an approach to psychology that focuses on all aspects of cognition. It also deals with cognitive processes, including the structure of the mind and the way it functions. Cognitive psychology focuses on many different things, such as memory, perception, reasoning and problem solving. Cognitive psychologists believe that all aspects of cognition are important and they study them in depth.

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The Similarities Between Behaviorism and Cognitive Psychology

Behaviorism and cognitive psychology are both similar in that they study cognition. Both psychology and behaviorism have many different theories and perspectives. Both approaches study the mind and how it functions. Both psychology and behaviorism are considered experimental sciences.

Behaviorism VS Cognitive Psychology

Now let’s take a look at the differences between behaviorism and cognitive psychology.

The focus

The focus of behaviorism is on observable behavior. It studies only observable behavior and uses these observations to form a theory about cognition.

The focus of cognitive psychology is on the non-observable mental processes. It studies all aspects of cognition including how they function and how they interact with each other.

The methods

Behaviorism uses a method called the stimulus-response model. This is based on Ivan Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiment, where dogs were conditioned to salivate at the sound of a bell.

Cognitive psychology, on the other hand, uses cognitive methods to study cognition. This includes studying how mental processes work through introspection and self-reporting methods (e.g., self-report inventories).

The basis

Behaviorism is based on the principles of the mind being a product of experience. Cognitive psychology, on the other hand, is based on the principles of the mind being a product of the brain.

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