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Cognitive Psychology in Business: Understanding the power of the mind

Read further to discover what role cognitive psychology plays in the business world, and how our students are learning to apply it.

Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that studies mental processes like perception, thought, memory, and reasoning. Cognitive psychology is important in the realm of business because it helps to understand the human mind and how it influences behavior and decision-making in the workplace.

First things first - what is cognitive psychology?

We already know that is all about mental processes. Some of the key topics are memory, attention, perception, problem-solving, and decision-making. I’m guessing that this is already hinting at how psychology plays a role in business. So let’s cut to the chase.

What is the importance of cognitive psychology in business?

We can’t stress enough how important cognitive psychology is in the world of business. But to make it less vague, there are 3 major lenses through which you can look at it. 

The first one is products and services. Organizations may develop goods, services, and strategies that better match the demands of their customers by understanding how people think, process information, and make decisions.

The second one is the workforce. Cognitive psychology can assist firms in understanding why individuals act in specific ways and make decisions that affect their performance. Creating a positive and motivating environment at work is maybe the most important thing employers can do. 

The third one is customer satisfaction. 

The first lens already talks a bit about that but it was more focused on improving the product. However, Customer happiness can also be driven by, for example, marketing strategies that are more effective and appealing to the target audience by understanding how people absorb information and make decisions. 

How are our students learning to apply cognitive psychology to a business?

To answer this question, I’ve interviewed one of the Business Psychology teachers Stijn Schenk, who also has his own psychological practice on the side, and asked him to give us a sneak peek at the current module that students are going through.

“First we approach the subject from a scientific perspective and what it means to be scientific. Things like peer review, what are biases, and ethical questions. After we have an understanding of how we look at science, we start focusing on the scientific history of cognitive psychology, things like memory, linguistics, intelligence, and perception, so students get a good overview of the history. Thus we’ve laid a good foundational understanding. 

Students later will practice applying this knowledge in a practical way. For example one of the assignments where the business part really comes in advising a festival on how to be more effective in achieving their goals. 

During that festival, the questions discussed will be related to sustainability issues. The students need to use their knowledge of cognitive psychology to advise the festival, on how can they reach the attendees and impact their behavior but also motivation.

They would need to answer questions like:
– What kind of memories are there and how can you make them work for you?
– What type of intelligence is there and you can make it work for you? 

Because I come from a psychology background in Trauma, I believe in taking a holistic approach to things. But that can be difficult to combine with a more scientific approach. Because of this, I teach my students about the wisdom of the body. There are many abstract emotions and things on the subconscious level that take a big part in decision-making. I

In order to make the big leap from scientific research to practical advice that can be implemented, we use a framework and study the book on insights on body wisdom Peter Levine, which is also about the 4 parts of the brain, like sub-conscience and how that affects our decisions.”

(From the interview with Stijn Schenk)


To sum it up, cognitive psychology is super important in helping us understand how our minds work and how that affects the way we act and make decisions in the business world.

Our Bachelor Program in Business Psychology can help you understand how to apply such knowledge in different organizations and help with real world problems in a practical way.