The Need for Cognition in Cognitive Psychology

I have always been fascinated by how all the disciplines of psychology are related. As a result, I was interested when the need for cognition was brought up in class one day. The need for cognition is “the tendency for people to vary in the extent to which they engage in and enjoy effortful cognitive activities”. The need for cognition is a personality trait discussed in my social psychology class, so I wanted to explore more the effect it has on the cognitive processes we learn about in cognitive psychology.

In The need for cognition, the authors discuss how the need for cognition can lead to the creation of false memories, a topic we have discussed often in class. The reason for this is that people with a high need for cognition can make strong connections, connections that are so strong that they can believe they have seen or experienced something if it similar to something in there memory, even if they have not.

However, high need for cognition doesn’t always lead to inaccuracy according to the authors. High need for cognition can reduce the occurrence of another process that we have talked about often in class, priming. Individuals with a high need for cognition are less easily primed to believe something because they are more likely to think deeply about a topic.

Additionally, a cognitive study done on the effect of cognitive training (“brain training”) found that cognitive training was much more successful for people with a high need for cognition. This means that those who were more motivated to improve their cognitive skills (with a high need for cognition), where more successful at doing so. These included working-memory skills, which is a very important topic in cognitive psychology.

I think this shows greatly how important all aspects of psychology are important to each other. The studying of the same trait, the need for cognition, has led to many advancements in both social and cognitive psychology.


1 thought on “The Need for Cognition in Cognitive Psychology

  1. kharner

    I learned about this in my social psychology class as well. Specifically, we read about attitudes and persuasion in regards to need for cognition. I learned that in order to change the attitude of people who are high in need for cognition, the argument should be rational, easy to learn, and believable. This is called the central route to persuasion and people who are persuaded by these arguments tent to engage in critical thinking about the logic and strength of an argument. On the other hand, people with low need for cognition may be easier persuaded by superficial cues such as reputation of the speaker, physical attractiveness, long lists of statistics and charisma. Even if the argument is not sound, it may come off as believable to people who are unable or unwilling to scrutinize it logically.

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