Information processing: The language and analytical tools for cognitive psychology in the information age

Aiping Xiong, Robert W. Proctor

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


The information age can be dated to the work of Norbert Wiener and Claude Shannon in the 1940s. Their work on cybernetics and information theory, and many subsequent developments, had a profound influence on reshaping the field of psychology from what it was prior to the 1950s. Contemporaneously, advances also occurred in experimental design and inferential statistical testing stemming from the work of Ronald Fisher, Jerzy Neyman, and Egon Pearson. These interdisciplinary advances from outside of psychology provided the conceptual and methodological tools for what is often called the cognitive revolution but is more accurately described as the information-processing revolution. Cybernetics set the stage with the idea that everything ranging from neurophysiological mechanisms to societal activities can be modeled as structured control systems with feedforward and feedback loops. Information theory offered a way to quantify entropy and information, and promoted theorizing in terms of information flow. Statistical theory provided means for making scientific inferences from the results of controlled experiments and for conceptualizing human decision making. With those three pillars, a cognitive psychology adapted to the information age evolved. The growth of technology in the information age has resulted in human lives being increasingly interweaved with the cyber environment, making cognitive psychology an essential part of interdisciplinary research on such interweaving. Continued engagement in interdisciplinary research at the forefront of technology development provides a chance for psychologists not only to refine their theories but also to play a major role in the advent of a new age of science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1270
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Issue numberAUG
StatePublished - Aug 8 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychology(all)


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