8 Basic Psychological Processes

8 basic psychological processes

Our own behavior is the resource we have in adapting to the world around us. It makes us reshape our environment and reality to adapt to what is happening in our lives. We know that our behavior is mediated through internal mental processes. But what are those basic psychological processes?

The basic psychological processes are: (a) perception, (b) learning, (c) language, (d) thinking, (e) attention, (f) memory, (g) motivation, and (h) emotions. Let’s look at all the processes one by one. They are all closely related. While they maintain their terminological independence, not many of them could exist without others. It is better to see this distinction as an artificial classification that facilitates scientific work.


Perception is responsible for having an “image” of the reality around us. It processes the information we receive about the external stimuli of our senses.

Perception organizes and gives purpose to all sensory stimuli. Its mission is obvious: knowing the environment around us makes us move and interact with it. These are the basic needs necessary to achieve effective adaptation.


In this way, we shape and acquire knowledge, abilities, skills, behaviors, and so on. It works with the events of the past. Learning also helps us relate our behavior to their consequences. It is very closely related to memory.

The light bulb is a puzzle

The study of learning is largely based on behavioral science. From it we get classic and workable theories that explain the way we learn.

This process is useful because it allows us to vary our behavior depending on what happened in the past. It also makes us more responsive to current and future situations.


Humans are social beings. That is why language is a very important process. It gives us the ability to communicate with others. In the case of humans, this communication takes place through complex symbolic codes, i.e. language. The complexity of language makes us accurately describe almost everything, whether it was related to the past, present, or future.

The usefulness of this process comes from our need to maintain the complex social relationships that help us survive in a hostile environment. Language gives us a way of communication that is broad enough to sustain societies between people.


Thinking is a complex process that psychology defines as the process responsible for transferring information to organize it and give it purpose. The study of thought began with the logic of Aristotle. However, it was not an effective method of analysis because people do not make sense using logic.

The way we think is a contradictory problem. This is due in part to the terminological confusion surrounding it. The most accepted idea is that it aims to act as a means of control when we face situations that arise before us.

the man's thoughts go here and there


Attentiveness focuses our resources on many stimuli while ignoring the rest of them. We get a large number of stimuli at the same time, and we can’t focus on them all at the same time.

The mindfulness process is adaptive, because if it didn’t exist, we would become overwhelmed by stimuli. We would not know what we should react to. It is paradoxical that self-determination of cognitive limitation means evolution-like adaptation, but that is only the case.


Memory makes us compress information for future storage and retrieval. It is an important process and is closely related to all other processes.

The memory makes us remember detailed information such as the French capital, or functional information such as cycling. Memory exists because it is really useful that we have access to information from past experiences. It makes us guess the future and act accordingly. Without this process, there would be no other ordinary psychological processes, as memory strongly supports all of them.


Motivation is responsible for getting the body the resources it needs to behave. It is the process responsible for activating the body and putting it in an ideal state of mind. Another important aspect of motivation is direction. Not only does it prepare the body, but it is also responsible for directing behavior between possible choices.

The purpose of motivation is to get the individual to direct their behavior towards their goals and objectives. It prevents the individual from standing still. This process is closely related to emotions and learning.

woman and sense of victory


Emotions are reactions to external stimuli. They make us guide our behavior and act quickly in response to the demands of our environment. The lessons have three components:

  • Somaticity: physiological changes caused by emotions
  • Behavior: Emotion-triggered behavior
  • Emotional state: an individual’s subjective experience

Emotions control our behavior in a fast and efficient way. Most decisions don’t matter enough to us to spend a lot of time on. That’s when emotions emerge. It is important to understand that all decisions are conveyed to some degree according to our feelings.

In this article, we have revealed the basic psychological processes in a very superficial way. They are all topics of extensive research with many details that we could include in this article. Intensive study of each of them gives us basic information to better understand human behavior and the mental process.

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