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University of York

Introduction to Cognitive Psychology: An Experimental Science

University of York via FutureLearn


Conduct, analyse and understand cognitive psychology experiments

Cognitive psychology is the scientific study of internal mental processes. On this 3-week course, you will be introduced to two key areas of cognitive psychology: reasoning and thinking, and mental imagery.

Explore cognitive psychology as an experimental science

You’ll begin by studying how the mind works and learning why cognitive psychology is an experimental science. From the psychology of thinking and reasoning to the psychology of imagination and visual thinking, you’ll gain a strong introduction to cognitive psychology.

We’ll discuss how to measure the mind and think like a scientist before exploring the numerical rule and confirmation bias.

Learn to build experiments and discover mental rotation and mental imagery

In the second week, you’ll learn how to run an experiment, collect data, and understand the science behind memory and behaviour through experiments.

You’ll also learn how to carry out memory studies, after exploring the notion of mental imagery and how it can inform us about the inner workings of the mind.

Finally, you’ll delve into experimental work on mental maps, mental scanning and mental rotation.

This course is designed for anyone with an interest in the workings of the mind and how to study this through experiments. It would be suitable for learners interested in experimental science, especially those who wish to further their knowledge of different areas of psychology.

This course will be of specific interest to A-level students who are considering studying Psychology at university, and in particular those thinking of applying to study degree level Psychology at the University of York.

This course will also benefit those already working in the healthcare sector who want to deepen their understanding of current practices and theories in psychology.


  • An introduction to Cognitive Psychology as an experimental science
    • Setting the scene
    • The science of cognitive psychology
    • Building our own experiments
    • Week 1: Class experiment
    • Week 1: Rounding up
  • Thinking and reasoning
    • Logic and reasoning
    • Thinking logically is only part of the story
    • Two modes of thinking?
    • It matters how problems present themselves
    • Week 2: Class experiment
    • Week 2: Rounding up
  • What does mental imagery reveal about how the mind works?
    • Foundations
    • The experimental approach to studying visual thinking
    • Mental rotation
    • Week 3: Class experiment
    • Week 3: Rounding up

Taught by

Iain Barr


4.5 rating at FutureLearn based on 195 ratings

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