What Is Cognitive Psychology?

Cognitive psychology is concerned with how people acquire, process and store information. Major areas of interest in cognitive psychology include language, attention, memory, decision-making and problem-solving. Cognitive psychology has many practical applications. For example, cognitive principles are often used in the creation of educational curriculum and software design.

What Exactly Do Cognitive Psychologists Do?

Cognitive psychologists work in a number of areas. Many cognitive psychologists conduct applied research or basic research on the human thought process. Cognitive psychologists often work at colleges and universities, government agencies, corporate businesses and in private consulting. Common careers titles include university instructor, human factors consultant, industrial-organizational manager and usability specialist.

What Type of Degree Do Cognitive Psychologists Need?

While there are some entry-level opportunities available to graduates with a bachelor’s degree, most careers in cognitive psychology require a master’s or doctorate degree. Those working in applied areas can often find employment with a master’s degree. These applied areas include human factors and industrial-organizational psychology, which are expected to grow in the future.

What are the Pros and Cons of a Career in Cognitive Psychology?

Benefits of a Career in Cognitive Psychology

  • Cognitive psychologists are able to help find solutions to real world problems.
  • Opportunities for self employment through consulting work.
  • Diverse career paths (i.e. private sector, consulting, government, education).

Downsides of a Career in Cognitive Psychology

  • Most positions require a doctorate degree in cognitive psychology.
  • Research can be tedious and may lead to burnout.

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