Cognitive Shift

Cognitive shift (in the development of psychology) is also a term that relates to the understanding that thoughts (i.e. cognitions) play a key role in a person's emotional state and actions (behaviour). It was theorised by earlier behavioural psychologists that individuals were empty vessels and new experiences would be created by being repeatedly exposed and/or rewarded in relation to certain things (such as in rote learning of times tables).

The cognitive shift however, demonstrated that thoughts also play an integral process. A key experiment placed a rat in a circular maze and after rotating the maze the rat was able to use pointers around the room in order to find a food reward. This suggested that the rat had used internal cognitions in order to influence its behaviour to gain a reward.

Also the fact that children, when learning a language, often and quite suddenly begin to apply rules they have learnt to new phrases such as by saying "I've drinken all my drink" after learning "I've eaten all my food". This is usually without being taught these rules first and as such demonstrate a key role of cognitions in terms of learning.

Read more about Cognitive Shift:  Psychedelic Phenomenon, Native American Usage

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