Individual Differences


Conclusions & Summary of Cognitive Perspectives on Personality

Last updated:
21 Oct 2003


1. The Cognitive perspective helps to explain what is going on in the ‘black box’ of mind

2. There’s growing empirical evidence - via experimental cognitive psych - very good at defining concepts clearly and testing them.

3. Promising therapeutic applications

4. Integrates well with other theories

5. Too mechanistic? Can it account for ‘higher’ human motivations? Free will? Are computers and robots adequate models for human behaviour? The human mind is unlike a computer in that people are aware and experience emotions.


The human mind works like a computer - it processes information.

Experience is our ‘information’.

We store and organise experiences into patterns called ‘schemas’.

Schemas help us to interpret new experiences with cognitive efficiency.

Self-schemas organise information about how we see ourselves.

Self-schemas say whether we’re optimistic or pessimistic, what we’re motivated by, what our likes or dislikes are, etc.

Attributions are characteristic ways of explaining events.

Self-schemas, attributions and memory activations are cognitive explanations for individual differences in personality.

Self-regulation assumes that behaviour is directed from within the person

Self-regulation emphasises the importance of goals and the process of feedback control