An Introduction to Applied Cognitive Psychology - David Groome, Anthony Esgate, Michael W. Eysenck (2016)


The first edition of this book was published in 2005. We decided to write it because we could not find any other books about applied cognitive psychology, and this remains largely the case today. There are plenty of books about cognitive psychology, but few of them deal specifically with the application of cognitive psychology in real-life settings. This seems rather surprising, but it probably reflects the fact that applied cognitive psychology is a relatively new science, which has only become a major research area over the past 20 or 30 years. However, it is now beginning to be accepted that cognitive psychologists really do have something useful to say about cognitive performance in real-life situations.

One consequence of the lack of applied cognitive psychology books is that there is no clear agreement about which topics should be included in such a text, so we had to work it out for ourselves. In the first edition we tried to collect together the most important examples of the application of applied cognitive research that we could think of. There were chapters about improving the effectiveness of learning and exam revision, improving the accuracy of eyewitnesses, face identification and police lineups, and optimising the performance of individuals working under stress and multiple inputs, such as air traffic controllers. There were also chapters about the effects of drugs and circadian rhythms on cognitive performance, and on the factors that cause errors in our decision making. These are all areas in which the findings of cognitive psychologists have actually been put to use in the real world, and you will find that we have retained all of these topics in this new edition.

However, we have added several new topics, mainly in response to the feedback we have received from readers and reviewers over the past few years. We have added new chapters on perceptual errors and accidents, and on the influence of emotion on cognitive performance. There are also new chapters on cognitive factors in music, and in sport. Our book therefore covers all of the major areas of cognitive psychology, including attention, perception, working memory, long-term memory, thinking and decision making. In addition, we consider the effects of several factors (e.g. drugs, biological cycles, emotion, music) on all of these cognitive processes.

We made a deliberate decision not to include clinical aspects of cognition, such as cognitive disorders and cognitive behaviour therapy, because they each comprise a complete branch of psychology in themselves which is already well covered in specialist clinical texts. For the same reason, we have not included chapters on health psychology, educational psychology or organisational psychology, all of which have been covered elsewhere.

Being a new and developing area, applied cognitive psychology remains somewhat incomplete and fragmented, so inevitably the chapters of this book tend to deal with separate and in some cases fairly unrelated topics. One advantage of having fairly independent chapters is that you can read them in any order you like, so you can dip into any chapter that interests you without having to read the others first.

We have tried to select what we think are the most important topics to include in this book, but we are well aware that not everyone will agree with us. No doubt there will be topics that some of you think should have been included in the book but aren’t. If so, perhaps you would be good enough to write in and tell us which topics you think we should have included, and we will consider putting them in the next edition.

David Groome and Michael W. Eysenck