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Cognition is the act of a controlling system executed transformation of information . The name is derived from the Latin cognoscere and means: 'recognize', 'experience' or 'get to know'. Cognition is an inconsistently used term that refers to the processing of information by people and other systems. Often, “cognition” means thinking in a comprehensive sense.


A person's cognitive abilities include, among other things

Another definition describes cognition as the sum of all thought and perception processes and their mental results (knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, expectations), whereby cognitions are  conscious , e.g. B. when solving a math problem, or unconsciously, z. B. when forming an opinion.

Also emotions have a significant cognitive component. Cognitive skills are studied by various sciences, e.g. B. Psychology , Biology , Neuroscience , Psychiatry , Philosophy and Research on Artificial Intelligence . Scientific research into cognition is summarized under the term cognitive science .

Cognition in psychology

In psychology , cognition describes the mental processes and structures of an individual , i.e. thoughts, opinions, attitudes, judgments, wishes and intentions. Cognitions can be understood as information processing processes in which new things are learned and knowledge processed, e.g. B. in relation to thinking and problem solving . In competitive sports and other competition disciplines such as the Quick Read or Tastschreiben in which strokes a minute are measured, information processing speed plays a special role.

Cognitions contain what individuals think about themselves, their environment , other people, their past , present and future . Cognitions can influence or be influenced by emotions (feelings).

One can therefore hold that cognitions all the internal requirements are that a person from the world (subjective reality) and themselves construct can (within the meaning of radical constructivism ).

The systems theory of cognition (Santiago theory) goes back to Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela , who defined the mind as the actual process of life in the 1960s. External stimuli are seen as disruptive influences which a living being counteracts in order to enable its continued existence (cf. autopoiesis ). A cognitively observer of this reaction is the living being i. d. Usually also attribute cognition. Maturana summarized his theory under the catchphrase to live is to know .

Limits of Cognition

"Due to the design", the cognitive performance has some weaknesses:

Not all information that is available to the sense organs can be consciously perceived. Rather, a large part of them are massively filtered, integrated and changed in many other ways before they reach consciousness.
Example: You are walking down the street and you come to a field of freshly scented, but unfamiliar flowers. You are in a hurry and in your thoughts, you can hear birds chirping, cars and when you see the flowers you subconsciously smell a smell that you dislike, such as: B. a scent that is too “sweet” ( tastes are known to be different .) However, this causes a negative emotion for you, as your brain connects this scent with a similarly stored domain. Conclusion: For you, all types of flowers will not smell “good” at this moment, since under all these influences the brain has no time to filter out individual scents. However, this is also not due to the current situation priority and thus only the currently "most important" information is passed on in order to move forward with the tasks you have prioritized ( safely reaching the route goal ).
The working memory, in which the mental processing of information takes place, usually has a smaller capacity in relation to the other forms of memory.
The information stored in the long-term memory is often changed both in advance (e.g. through expectations) and afterwards (e.g. through subsequent information).
The information “actually” available in long-term memory can often not be called up precisely (the so-called retrieval problem ).
Motivation and focus
Fatigue, listlessness, lack of motivation , distractibility, etc. can impair cognitive performance.
However, it can also be a sign of boredom, as your abilities may already exceed the topic to be dealt with and you are longing for a new challenge.
Information processing and action speed

Cognition in Marketing

Cognition is relevant for marketing insofar as the process of information processing plays an important role in purchasing and consumer behavior. Several different basic theories about the process of information processing also apply here. Information processing refers to a process that takes place between a sender of information, the company, and a recipient of this information, the consumer who is about to make a purchase decision. The extent and quality of this information processing process determine which information reaches the customer and how he receives it, assesses it, stores it and uses it with regard to his purchase decision. However, it has been proven that there is also an unconscious decision that influences the buying process.

Information processing phases

Information search

The information search refers to the acquisition of external information, i. H. those that are not yet available in long-term memory. Marketing is particularly interested in the extent of the information search in order to provide information accordingly. The extent of the search for information depends on the following factors:

  • the consumer's ability to search for information,
  • the expectation of the consumer regarding the usefulness of the information search,
  • the expectations of the consumer with regard to the effort required to search for information,
  • the experiences that the consumer has already had with the product,
  • the involvement of the consumer.

Cognition in Law

In law , cognition describes the scope and intensity of the judicial review of an appeal or an appeal . Free cognition means free appraisal of all evidence. Arbitrary cognition means only a limited review of the court for qualified inaccuracy of an appeal.

See also

Portal: Mind and Brain  - Overview of Wikipedia content on Mind and Brain


  • Tobias Starzak: Cognition in humans and animals, a comparative philosophical perspective (= epistemic studies. Volume 30). De Gruyter, Berlin / Boston, MA / Munich 2015, ISBN 978-3-11-037477-3 (Dissertation University of Bochum 2014).
  • Horst Völz : That is information. Shaker Verlag, Aachen 2017. ISBN 978-3-8440-5587-0 .
  • Horst Völz: How we got to know. Not everything is information. Shaker Verlag, Aachen 2018. ISBN 978-3-8440-5865-9 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Cognition  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Werner Stangl : Cognition. In: Online Lexicon for Psychology and Education. Werner Stangl, 2018, accessed on July 29, 2018 .
  2. ^ Arnd Krüger : Sprinting ability and information processing capacity of humans. In: The teaching of athletics. 30, No. 44/45, 1979.
  3. ^ S. Ian Robertson: Problem Solving. Psychology Press, 2001, ISBN 0-415-20299-X .