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What is Psychonomics?

By Constance Simmons
Updated May 17, 2024
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Psychonomics is a term used in the United States to describe experimental psychology. It is concerned primarily with cognitive psychology, which focuses on thinking. Cognition is the work done by the brain that includes activities such as learning and remembering. Psychonomics was developed in response to the dissatisfaction that experimental psychologists had with the American Psychological Association (APA).

The term psychonomics is defined as the study of the laws of the mind. Those who study psychonomics use the scientific method and meticulous research standards to study behavior and cognition. The psychological theory that focuses on behavior and how thoughts create behavior is the basis for cognitive therapy.

The dissatisfaction that experimental psychologists had with the APA stemmed from the fact that its focus was clinical psychology. Clinical psychology is different from experimental psychology in that it focuses not on research, but on assessing individual clients in therapy then developing a treatment plan based on the needs of the client. Psychonomics was a counter reaction to the focus on clinical therapy by researchers who wanted to instead focus on research.

Cognitive therapy concerns itself with the same areas on which psychonomics focuses, including memory, learning, and perception. While some schools of psychological thought are concerned with observing behavior as a starting point for treatment, cognitive psychologists are concerned with how thoughts are creating the behavior. They believe this strait forward approach to how thoughts create how people react to their lives lends itself to research more than the clinical approach to psychology.

The Psychonomic Society was created to organize the professionals in psychology who wanted to focus on experimental psychology instead of clinical psychology. Experimental psychologists who want to join the Psychonomics Society must have PhD degrees and also have published meaningful research outside of the work done for their PhDs. The group meets once per year. Potential members must also have held their PhDs for at two years prior to applying for membership. Prospective members must also be nominated by a current member and voted in by a board of distinguished members.

An important function of the Psychonomic Society is to publish professional peer-reviewed journals. These journals enable the psychonomic scientists who belong to the society to publish their research findings. Some of the journals published by the society include: Behavior and Research Methods, Memory and Cognition, Attention Perception and Psychophysics, and Learning and Behavior.

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Discussion Comments

By anon243428 — On Jan 27, 2012

Nice blog but I don't think you have CBT right, in that while it isn't touchy feely, is clinical but of course, evidence based.

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