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Holt, R.R. (1964). The Emergence of Cognitive Psychology. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 12:650-665.

(1964). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 12:650-665

The Emergence of Cognitive Psychology

Robert R. Holt, Ph.D.

One of the great unmistakable trends in psychology during the past decade and a half has been the emergence of a new and vigorous interest in cognition. This last term itself has experienced a revival of currency and respectability; once a scholastic term for knowledge, encountered in the classical threefold division of human function into cognition, affection, and conation, it has now shaken off such dusty and facultative connotations and is used boldly by neo-behaviorists who still feel a trifle shy about admitting an interest in thinking as a subject matter for psychology. The scope of the term is, to be sure, a good deal broader than thought processes: it comprises perceiving, judging, forming concepts, learning (especially that of a meaningful, verbal kind), imagining, fantasying, imaging, creating, and solving problems. One might try to summarize all this by saying that cognition deals with all aspects of symbolic behavior, in the broad sense, if it were not for the fact that the study of language is traditionally separated off into linguistics. Such boundaries are, of course, artificial, but the attempt to draw them helps us to recognize that cognitive psychology is growing actively at its peripheries as well as in its core area of thinking.

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