This approach focuses on how people know, understand, and think about their world, and how their thoughts influence their behaviors. The proponents of this approach believe that people do not respond to the external events, but to their interpretation of those events. They propose that humans are active processors of information. They receive external information, process it stage by stage until they produce an output in the form of behavior.
The cognitivists emphasize the study of mental processes, which people use in learning, perceiving, thinking, remembering, deciding, and problem solving. These mental processes help us understand and react to our environment.
Many forms of abnormal behaviors are the results of maladaptive thought processes. Those who think positively show successful adaptation to their environment. To help a person get rid of his abnormal behavior is to train him to change his thought processes. Only then, he can improve his personality. In this approach, there is no emphasis on unconscious urges.
The cognitive psychologists use experimental method, sometimes with the help of sophisticated instruments, to make inferences about the internal mental processes. Cognitive approach has substantial influence in all aspects of psychology, particularly in social, developmental, and educational areas.