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Cognition in the Real World

Alastair D. Smith

01 May 2023

ISBN: 9780198790914

528 pages

Price: £44.99

The only textbook to frame cognitive psychology in the context of our everyday lives.



Cognition in the Real World offers a fresh take on cognitive psychology by focusing on everyday behaviours to place our understanding of the mind in a real-world context. Instead of looking at functions in isolation, it explores how different cognitive processes work together when we perform common activities.

  • A refreshing and original approach to cognition, which focuses on everyday behaviours and their real-world contexts, such as drawing a picture, remembering personal events, or medical decision making.
  • Cognitive psychology is broken down into behaviours, rather than component functions, allowing students to see how different functions work together-for example, when we use place learning and reorientation to navigate around new cities.
  • Places cognitive psychology within the broader context of psychological science, incorporating essential findings from areas such as developmental psychology and neuroscience.

About the Author(s)

Alastair D. Smith, Associate Professor in Psychology, University of Plymouth

Dr Alastair D. Smith is an Associate Professor (Reader) in the School of Psychology at the University of Plymouth. He received a BSc in Psychology from the University of Birmingham, and a PhD from the University of Bristol, where he then worked as a Research Fellow. He took up a lectureship at the University of Nottingham in 2008, and moved to his current role in 2017. Dr Smith runs the Spatial Behaviour Laboratory at Plymouth and is also a Lab Head in the Brain Research and Imaging Centre (BRIC). His work focuses on the cognitive and neural foundations of human spatial abilities and he has published research on typical and atypical function using a variety of empirical methods.

Table of Contents

    1:Introduction, Alastair D. Smith
    Part 1: Perception and Attention2:Perception and Attention: Introduction, Alastair D. Smith
    3:Looking behaviour in real-world search, Tom Foulsham
    4:Attention and driving, Harriet Allen
    5:Person identification at passport control: Matching of unfamiliar faces, Markus Bindemann and Matthew C. Fysh
    6:Cultural differences in visual cognition, Elizabeth Sheppard
    7:Perception and Attention: Summary, Alastair D. Smith
    Part 2: Movement and Action8:Movement and Action: Introduction, Alastair D. Smith
    9:Making my mark: Using drawing behaviour to understand cognitive impairment, Alastair D. Smith
    10:The Principles of People Watching: Understanding the actions and intentions of others, Lauren Marsh
    11:Finding your way: Navigation and the acquisition of spatial knowledge, Alastair D. Smith
    12:Movement and Action: Summary, Alastair D. Smith
    Part 3: Memory and Emotion13:Memory and Emotion: Introduction Alastair D. Smith
    14:The Best of Times, the Worst of Times: Memory for Emotional Experiences, Kate Bailey and Peter Chapman
    15:Been there, done that: A cognitive account of déjà vu, Chris J. A. Moulin
    16:Prokofiev makes me productive: Examining the possibility of music as a cognitive enhancer, Catherine Loveday
    17:Memory and Emotion: Summary, Alastair D. Smith
    Part 4: Speech and Language18:Speech and Language: Introduction, Alastair D. Smith
    19:Passing the time of day: The cognition of chatting, Anne Cutler, Janise Farrell, and Laurence Bruggeman
    21:Learning an additional language: Consequences for language and cognitive processes, Walter van Heuven
    22:Speech and Language: Summary, Alastair D. Smith
    Part 5: Learning and Decision-Making
    23:Learning and Decision-Making: Introduction, Alastair D. Smith
    24:Associative learning and personality, Mark Haselgrove and Nicola Byrom
    25:Making choices for others: The psychology of surrogate decision-making, Fenja Ziegler
    26:The psychology of financial crises: How biases in individual decision-making affect the efficiency of markets, Richard J. Tunney
    27:Learning and Decision-Making: Summary, Alastair D. Smith
    Part 6: Commentary
    28:Cognition in time and place, Vicki Bruce


"This is the book I wish I'd had as an undergraduate." - Roger Newport, Senior Lecturer, Loughborough University

"A most accessible, student friendly cognitive psychology text book; one of the best I have yet come across." - Richard Stephens, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, Keele University

"The approach is excellent and innovative and the focus on cognitive processes underpinning real-world problems would make the subject more popular among students. " - Carlo De Lillo, Associate Professor, University of Leicester

Additional Resources

Digital formats and resources

Cognition in the Real World is available for students and institutions to purchase in a variety of formats. The e-book offers a mobile experience and convenient access:

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