To answer the question “what is a cognitive psychologist?” it helps to understand what a psychologist is first. Psychologists typtically fall into two cateorgies: applied psychologists and research/academic psychologists. Applie psychologists practice applying the psychological science in the real world. Applied psychologists may be behaviorial therapists, working with students in schools, or industrial/organizational psychologists, who work in employment settings. Research/academic psychologists typcially specialize in one field of psychology, such as cognitive psychology. They spend their careers conducting research to advance the science of their field and teaching students.
A cognitive psychologist is usually a research/academic psychologist but sometimes works in applied settings. They study how sensory input is processed, recovered, stored and used in the brain. An extensive amount of education is required, and a variety of research and applied career options exist.
What They Study
Cognitive psychologists are concerned with the brain and how it stores and processes information. There are a variety of different subfields in cognitive psychology, and most of these psychologists have a specialty. Specialty areas can include memory, problem solving, information processing, attention and language. Research might be conducted, for instance, on memory disorders or how the brain conducts tasks. Psychologists conduct their own research in areas that interest them and also contribute to larger university research projects.
How to Become One
The education required is quite extensive, usually up to the level of the Ph.D. or Psy.D. The first step is to obtain an undergraduate degree with a major in psychology. Obtaining research experience in cognitive psychology during the undergraduate degree helps with getting into graduate programs. Some of these psychologists obtain work after a Master’s degree program, but a doctorate degree is required for most positions. The next step after obtaining a Ph.D. or Psy.D. is to look for internships and entry-level jobs in cognitive psychology. Those wishing to be applied psychologists need a certain amount of hours of relevant work experience to qualify for licensing examinations.
Their Many Careers
Although most of these psychologists work in academia or in applied settings with people with disorders, more career options are becoming available in this field. Jobs in technology for these psychologists are becoming more widespread, and areas of employment include software development and human-computer interaction. Since these psychologists understand the mind, they have valuable insight on how to create the best user design interfaces in computers and software. Another career area available is marketing and advertising. Market research uses cognitive psychology in the creation of surveys. Research on consumer decision making also has a foundation in cognitive psychology models.
Cognitive psychology is the study of how the brain processes, stores and retrieves information. There are many subfields within cognitive psychology that one can specialize in, such as attention or problem solving. Psychologists usually conduct their own research but also contribute to larger-scale projects. They also may work in applied settings. To obtain work in cognitive psychology, a Ph.D. or Psy.D. is usually required. Obtaining an undergraduate degree with a major in psychology is the first step. More career paths are becoming possible in the field of cognitive psychology. In particular, the fields of software development and human-computer interaction can benefit from the knowledge of a cognitive psychologist.