What is Information Processing In Behavioral Science?

What is Information Processing

Information Processing is a cognitive process that involves the gathering, manipulation, storage, and recall of information by the brain or computer systems. It refers to how individuals perceive, analyze, manipulate, use, and remember information.

Information Processing in Behavioral Science

In the realm of behavioral science, Information Processing theory scrutinizes how individuals process, store, and retrieve information, how they make decisions or solve problems, and how they encode learning into long-term memory. This theory often compares the brain to a computer and suggests that information progresses from input to processing to output. The concept of information processing forms the foundational basis of cognitive psychology, providing insight into everything from memory to problem-solving.

Key Elements of Information Processing

  • Sensation

    The first step in the process of cognition is to sense or perceive information. Sensory information is initially registered via our five senses – sight, hearing, taste, touch, and smell.

  • Perception

    Perception refines sensory information by focusing on significant aspects and filtering out unnecessary details. It integrates multiple sensory inputs to create an organized and meaningful interpretation of the raw data.

  • Encoding

    Encoding transforms sensory information into an internal representation that can be processed by the brain. This process is crucial for the creation of new memories.

  • Storage

    This stage involves the preservation of encoded information over time. It encompasses both short-term memory and long-term memory storage capacities.

  • Retrieval

    Retrieval is the process of recalling stored information when it is needed. Certain cues or contexts may trigger the retrieval of information.

  • Decision-making

    The decision-making process uses retrieved information to determine a course of action. This process integrates past experiences, current circumstances, and future expectations to make informed decisions.

Significance in Applied Behavioral Science and Behavioral Design

The concept of information processing is integral to applied behavioral science and behavioral design. Understanding how individuals manage information helps in designing user-friendly products, services, and environments.

Applications of Information Processing

  • Educational Psychology

    In the field of educational psychology, the information processing model is used to understand how students learn, process, and retain information. Effective teaching strategies may be designed based on this understanding.

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

    Understanding cognitive processes aids in formulating techniques used in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). CBT helps clients reconstruct their thought processes to improve their emotional regulation and coping mechanisms.

  • User Interface Design

    In the field of user interface design, insights into information processing are used to create intuitive, user-friendly interfaces. This may involve reducing cognitive load, or designing elements consistent with users’ mental models.

Limitations of Information Processing Model

While the information processing model has proven to be extremely beneficial in multiple fields, it’s not without limitations. The model heavily relies on the computer metaphor of the brain, which can overlook the complexity and uniqueness of human cognition. The human brain demonstrates more plasticity, adaptability, emotional influence, and subjectivity in processing information than a computer. Additionally, the model often overlooks social, cultural, and emotional factors affecting learning and cognition.


Information processing is a comprehensive cognitive model that provides valuable insights into human cognition. Although not exhaustive or immaculate, this model has substantially contributed to understanding human learning, problem-solving, decision-making, and memory. Its concepts are widely applied in psychology, education, and user interface design to enhance the efficiency and efficacy of processes, services, and products.

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