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Discussion: Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology

Discussion: Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology

Discussion: Research Methods in Cognitive Psychology

In the Module One overview and resources, you learned that the field of cognitive psychology examines human thought processes through a variety of research techniques. The field encompasses several areas including neuroscience, memory, attention, and problem solving. Based on what you know about cognitive psychology, compare and contrast two different research methods that are used in cognitive psychology. Next, find an article that uses one of the research methods you have discussed. Summarize the main points of the article and discuss why this particular method was useful.

In your responses to your peers, consider their evaluation of the different research methods, and weigh in as to whether you agree or disagree with their assessment and why. Also, consider the article and experiment they summarized. How might you “translate” the same experiment into a different research method?

To complete this assignment, review the Discussion Rubric document (attached).




The human mind and the mental processes of the brain are the drive of cognitive psychology. I was amazed when I read that cognitive psychology or at least some form of it, has been around for thousands of years. As researchers continued their studies in other fields, they began to utilize their methods to study the mind. Today, the most popular research methods used in cognitive psychology are, case studies, correlational studies, and experimental studies.

Two research methods that I will compare, and contrast are: correlational studies and experimental studies. A correlational study allows a researcher to observe groups of people, while being able to record the frequency and/or intensity of many variables at once (McBride & Cutting, 2019). In correlational studies, observations may include measures such as self-reporting and the observations are done in a relatively naturalistic setting.

Experimental studies are one of the most popular types of research done by psychologists. An experimental study is conducted by introducing an intervention and study the effects among different groups of subjects. The group populations are usually randomized, meaning the subjects are grouped by chance. Experimental studies use different variables to study the impact of the select population. In contrast to correlational studies, experiments intentionally involve the manipulation of variables. It is only in experimental studies that a causal relationship can be defined. Both methods may be conducted in certain studies. Because experimental studies are more costly, a correlational study may be done to see if its worth going forth with the experimental study.

I chose the article, “Attention training improves intelligence and functioning of children’s brain” because it focuses on a cognitive area of interest and it utilizes the experimental method for its research. In this article, a group of researchers from Grenada, Spain “evaluated the influence of a computer-based attention-training intervention on intelligence scores and brain functioning on a group of pre-school age children” (University of Granada, 2018 para 1). The study was done at the Mind, Brain, and Behavior Research Center (CIMCYC). Children took part in an attention-training intervention program that was delivered on a digital platform. The results show that these children improved their intelligence score and their brain function that was related to their attention control. The training program was developed by researchers at the University of Grenada. It consisted of exercises that activate different brain areas that are responsible for the control of attention. These activities were performed on computers and tablet, and they required the child to focus their attention to different situations where the dominate response would not be correct. The experimental method was the best choice for this research study because it gave the researchers a chance to test a theory of whether attention training improves intelligence. Researchers were able to have control over their independent variables. This allowed them to make conclusions about whether the independent variables really affect the dependent variable.


McBride, D. M., & Cutting, J. C. (2019). COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGY: Theory, process, and methodology (Second ed.). Los Angeles: Sage Publishing.

University of Granada. (2018). Attention training improves intelligence and functioning of children’s brain. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2019 from…



We are always interested in how the brain works, whether this be in the field of psychology, our children, or co-workers and they do things that just make you shake your head. My son has definitely made me shake my head a lot, but I am sure my parents did the same thing when I was growing up and I am sure my parents would have loved to conduct some cognitive psychology to understand my thoughts better. Unfortunately they couldn’t do that but based on my past experiences and the trends in our societies today, I would be interested in attention and problem solving. They are both their own separate entity but also dependent on each other, and every so often you have those individuals that go against the norm and can struggle in the attention area but great at problem solving. With attention, researchers want to understand what makes individuals pay attention to something and what also distracts our attention. Why studying this, researchers examine this impact on what it has on tasks that deal with problem solving.

Now these two methods are unique to each other but also serve their own purpose. For example, if we wanted to see how an individual(s) conduct shopping we may give them a task to look for a certain items and see how quickly, or the route they take to reach those products. Can they maintain their attention and focus on the list and do what they are told or will they come up with a solution to find the products in the quickest manner possible. Can they keep their attention and stay focused or will they get distracted and unable to solve the problem of getting the products. If a researcher was to throw ‘traps’ at the individual and see if they can maintain attention, while also solving the problem of getting around these traps, or can they loose their attention and be unable to solve the problem.

“Mind wandering is a pervasive feature of human cognition often associated with the withdrawal of task-related executive control processes” (Seli, Cheyne, Smilek, 2013, p.1). In their researcher, Seli et. al., (2013), wanted to see what exactly cause individuals to mind wander, outside of the the obvious factors of individual differences. Can we see markers or predictors that are obvious, to see what exactly causes us to wander in our minds. In today’s society it can be pretty easy to see that because there is so much technology available to us and we can become easily distracted. but there are also internal reasons for this, and these researchers are hoping to shed some light on to those reasons. To examine their hypothesis, the researchers had 43 participants partake in an experiment where the participants were tasked with pressing a button (space-bar) to see if they could focus on the task or if their mind would wonder. They were given a variety of sounds and every time they heard a sound they were to press the space-bar and some sounds were piercing and some were subtle sounds. After each sound and press the participants were asked if they stayed on task, zoned out, or just all together tuned out the sound.

What these researchers discovered was that, “Results from both samples showed significantly more behavioral variability associated with both types of mind-wandering reports (i.e., tuned-out and zoned-out reports) relative to on-task performance, thereby providing initial support for the variability hypothesis” (Seli et. al., 2013, p.3). This study shows that when it comes to mind-wandering, it is based on the behavior of the individual. There are those people that tune-out those things around them and there are those that just simply zone-out and this has nothing else to do with other than just the behavior of the individual. Now this does not mean that another study would produce different results, it just means that for this research, these researchers discovered that it was the behavior of the individual that caused their mind to wander.


Seli, P., Cheyne, J.A., & Smilek, D. (2013). Wandering Minds and Wavering Rhythms: Linking Mind Wandering and Behavioral Variability. Journal of Experimental Psychology. 39(1), 1-5. doi: 10.1037/a0030954.

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