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Special Issue "What is Cognition?"
A special issue of Behavioral Sciences (ISSN 2076-328X).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2012).
The goal of this special issue is to discuss the history and controversies associated with the term “Cognition.” We believe that a critical look at this term is both important to practicing researchers and to students entering the field of behavioral analysis. The term “cognition” is widely used but seldom defined. When it is defined, definitions vary widely. A brief survey of psychology textbooks, for example, identified 15 different definitions. Some of these definitions focused only on human behavior and others include both human and animal behavior. The term cognition is also making its way into the study of invertebrate behavior. We now read that snails, for example, possess “mini-cognitions” and honey bees and fruit flies can serve as a cognitive model for the study of human behavior.
The history of the term cognition is also unclear and in need of analysis. In an APA interview conducted with Ulric Neisser in 1983 it was suggested that he coined the term “Cognitive Psychology.” This is not true. In 1939, Thomas Moore, a Benedictine Monk and Professor of Psychology at Catholic University published a textbook titled Cognitive Psychology which predates Neisser’s 1967 text by 28 years. Moreover, the “cognitive behaviorism” of neo-behaviorists are seldom discussed in contemporary histories of cognitive psychology as are the contributions of Greek philosophy with the possible exception of the “big three” of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle.
In addition to an analysis of definitional issues and historical issues, this special issue will tackle a wide range of theoretical problems associated with the term including the lack of a coherent theory (i.e., “cognition is anything I want it to be”), lack of motivational constructs, and no discussion of the work of neo-behaviorists such as Hull, Spence, Tolman, Amsel, and Logan.
Prof. Dr. Charles I. Abramson
- cognitive psychology