Cognitive Framework

understanding the concept of Cognitive Framework

Cognitive framework is based primarily on principles formulated by the Swiss psychologist Jean Piaget (1974). Cognition consists in the structures and processes of knowledge: its acquisition, storage, retrieval, manipulation, and use by humans.

Cognition is typically considered to make up much of the activity of the mind. Broadly construed, cognitive activities include sensation and perception, thinking, attention, imagery, attitudes, memory, learning, language, and reasoning and problem-solving.

Piaget identified four variables that influence the development of cognitive processes:

  1. biological development,
  2. interaction with the physical world,
  3. interaction with the social world, and
  4. integration of new and past experiences as the child matures.

Piaget traced the cognitive progress of children from the primitive concrete thought of infancy to the mature abstract thinking of adolescence. He saw biological, social, and environmental influences as all playing roles in the emergence of selfhood in children.

Piaget believed cognitive development consists of a constant effort to adapt to the environment in terms of the processes of assimilation and accommodation. Another concept central to Piaget’s theory is cognitive structures, which he defined as patterns of physical or mental action that underlie specific acts of intelligence and correspond to stages of child development.

Cognition may be described generally as the visual and verbal images derived from our perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs. People whose cognitive patterns habitually distort reality and misjudge meanings may find it difficult to deal effectively with everyday life. Cognitive errors cause them to misinterpret events, respond incorrectly, and engage in self-defeating behavior.

Moving beyond a theoretical model of cognitive development in children, Aaron T. Beck, a psychiatrist, formulated a framework of cognitive principles and clinical interventions (1976, 1985).

The cognitive framework links perception, thinking, and behavior. As a result, cognitive therapy is a blend of psychological, cognitive, and behavioral correction. According to Beck, the cognitive framework utilizes the following principles:

  • The way participants cognitively structure a situation determines their reaction to it. For example, people who believe they are in danger will behave defensively or offensively to protect themselves from the danger they perceive.
  • Depending on the nature of the cognitive structure and the perceived situation, people experience an emotional reaction and behave accordingly. Individuals who react with resentment or anger tend to adopt a fight posture. Those who react with anxiety or fear tend to adopt a flight posture. People who react with affection or helplessness tend to adopt an approach posture. Individuals who react with hopelessness or sadness tend to adopt an avoidance posture.

The table below shows the relation of cognitive perception and associated behavior.

Cognitive InterpretationEmotional StateMood ResponseBehavior Response
Perceived lossSadnessDepressionContract/conserve
Perceived rewardJoyousnessHypomaniaExpand/expend
Perceived threatFearfulnessAnxietyRetreat/withdraw
Perceived punishmentAngerSuspiciousnessDefend/attack

The care provider using a cognitive approach is active and guides the client to refocus on problems, to alter erroneous thought patterns, and to rehearse new behavior patterns. The rigid beliefs and attitudes of the client are questioned, directly and indirectly, and the ultimate goal is the transformation of error and misperceptions into open-mindedness and accurate cognitive patterns.