Cognitive psychology is a point of view in psychology with its own specific journals, researchers, and research programmes. Contrast with other domains in psychology: biological psychology, clinical psychology, educational psychology, evolutionary psychology, experimental psychology, developmental psychology, social psychology, and linguistics. Contrast with other theoretical perspectives in psychology: behaviorism, dynamic psychology, introspectivism, Freudian psychology, and pop psychology.
The field of cognitive psychology is expansive, but generally starts by looking at how sensory input is transformed into beliefs and actions through the process of cognition. It has a reputation for being slightly more scientific than other areas of psychology, putting great emphasis on experimentation and verification, and the scientific method in general. Cognitive psychology, in contrast to pop psychology, explicitly dismisses anecdotal introspective evidence as a valid foundation for psychological theories.
The term "cognitive psychology" was coined by Ulric Neisser in 1967, in a book of the same name. It was a name given to an emerging point of view that bootstrapped off the computer metaphor to describe the human mind, without relying on it to the point of reducing the human mind to a computer. Like the rest of materialist science, cognitive psychology acknowledges that the mind is defined as what the brain does, and the brain is a purely physical system that operates (albeit complexly) within the constraints of natural law and the forces of cause and effect. This view is called causal functionalism or simply, functionalism.
Cognitive psychology focuses on digging up the "specs" of the human brain. It tracks how many items we can hold in memory simultaneously, how different streams of sensory data are blended to produce higher-level inferences, our strengths and weaknesses in judging probabilities in everyday situations, how knowledge is represented in the human mind and brain, the formation of conceptual categories, and many other fascinating research areas. Cognitive psychology is a big part of the interdisciplinary superfield of cognitive science, which also encompasses neuroscience, artificial intelligence, computer science, biology, and other scientific disciplines.