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Applied Cognitive Psychology


Entry requirements

All 60 ec of the first-year in Psychology obtained.


What can we do to prevent human errors in the workplace? How can we design products and interfaces such as apps and websites so that they are the most intuitive and efficient to use? What information should automated vehicles share with drivers and pedestrians? What is the influence of sleep or diet on human performance? How can we evaluate the accuracy of witness statements in court? How does distraction and workload affect task performance? These questions and many more fall within the scope of Applied Cognitive Psychology (ACP): the application of fundamental knowledge of cognitive psychology to almost all aspects of every-day modern life. Students will be introduced to important topics and methodologies within the field of ACP, learn to apply their knowledge of psychology to real life cases and apply critical and creative thinking to identify possible solutions.

Course objectives

Students will learn to:

  • Identify and characterize the topics and theories related to Applied Cognitive Psychology (ACP);

  • Critically evaluate the current state of research in the field of ACP; and

  • Analyse real-world problems and to provide practical solutions based on their theoretical knowledge of cognitive psychology.


For the timetable of this course please refer to MyTimetable


NOTE As of the academic year 2021-2022, you must register for all courses in uSis. You do this twice a year: once for the courses you want to take in semester 1 and once for the courses you want to take in semester 2.
Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from July. Registration for courses in the first semester is possible from December.
The exact date on which the registration starts will be published on the website of the Student Service Center (SSC). First year Bachelor students as well as premaster students will be registered by the Student Service Center; they do not need to register themselves.

The registration period for all courses closes five calendar days before the start of the course.
Also read the complete registration procedure


Elective students have to enroll for each course separately. For admission requirements contact your study advisor.

Mode of instruction

8 2-hour lectures and 2 series of 4 2-hour compulsory work group sessions.
In the lectures the basics of cognitive psychology are revisited in the light of applied psychology, important methodological principles are introduced, and 6 different topics in the applied cognitive field are discussed. In each series of the work group sessions, students will work in a small group on one ACP topic, and will learn to apply methods important in the field. For instance, by performing a case study, doing a task analysis or designing an experiment. In the work group sessions, students will discuss their progress, as well as review the work of their peers. The lectures are in English, as are the work group sessions.

Assessment method

Assessment will consist of a combined grade for both projects (60%), and an individual exam (40%).

Students will be graded individually for each project; this includes their engagement during peer-review and the quality of the final product. The final exam consists of 4 essay questions and several multiple-choice questions, and tests the knowledge acquired during the lectures and from self-study (literature, lecture slides). Exam questions are in English. However, students in the Dutch program can answer the essay questions in Dutch.

There is an optional online mid-term exam to prepare for the final exam, consisting of representative essay questions and multiple-choice questions. The mid-term will not be graded, but exemplary answers will be made available.

The Institute of Psychology uses fixed rules for grade calculation and compulsory attendance. It also follows the policy of the Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences to systematically check student papers for plagiarism with the help of software. Disciplinary measures will be taken when fraud is detected. Students are expected to be familiar with and understand the implications of these three policies.

Reading list

Readings will be announced via Bright Space. Exemplary literature includes:

  • Wickens, C. D., & Carswell, C. M. (2012). Information Processing. In G. Salvendy (Ed.), Handbook of Human Factors and Ergonomics (4th ed., pp. 117–161). Hoboken, NJ, USA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

  • Preece, J., Sharp, H. & Rogers, Y. (2015). Interaction Design, beyond Human Computer Interaction (4th ed., pp. 1–33). New York, NY: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. (Chapter 1).

  • Dekker, S., Cilliers, P., & Hofmeyr, J. H. (2011). The complexity of failure: Implications of complexity theory for safety investigations. Safety Science, 49(6), 939–945.

  • Miyake, A., Friedman, N. P., Emerson, M. J., Witzki, A. H., & Howerter, A. (2000). The unity and diversity of executive functions and their contributions to complex “frontal lobe” tasks: a latent variable analysis. Cognitive Psychology, 41, 49-100. ONLY pages 49-58, 60, 86-92.

  • Theeuwes, J. (1992). Perceptual selectivity for color and form. Perception & psychophysics, 51(6), 599-606.

  • Loftus, E. (2011). Intelligence gathering post-9/11. American Psychologist, 66, 532-541.

  • Carsten, O., & Martens, M. H. (2019). How can humans understand their automated cars? HMI principles, problems and solutions. Cognition, Technology and Work, 21(1), 3–20.

Contact information