Deutsch: Repräsentation / Español: Representación / Português: Representação / Français: Représentation / Italiano: Rappresentazione

Representation in the psychology context refers to the mental encoding, storage, and recall of information. It involves how information about the world is transformed into mental formats that can be effectively used by the cognitive system to reason, reflect, and act. This concept is crucial in understanding how people perceive, interpret, and interact with their environment.


In psychology, representation can encompass everything from sensory impressions to abstract concepts. It covers the way in which knowledge and information are structured and utilized in the mind. This process includes:

  • Sensory Representation: How sensory input, such as sights and sounds, is transformed into neural signals that represent these experiences within the brain.
  • Mental Models: Internal depictions of external reality, which people use to predict outcomes, solve problems, and understand complex information.
  • Symbolic Representation: The use of language and symbols to represent objects, ideas, and relationships.

Application Areas

Representation is a fundamental concept in various branches of psychology:

  • Cognitive Psychology: Studies how mental representations influence thought processes, including perception, memory, and problem-solving.
  • Developmental Psychology: Examines how mental representations evolve from infancy to adulthood, influencing learning and understanding.
  • Neuropsychology: Investigates the neurological bases of mental representations and how injuries affect these processes.

Well-Known Examples

In research, psychologists often explore representation through tasks like:

  • Visual imagery tasks, where individuals are asked to mentally manipulate images or recall visual details from memory, testing the vividness and accuracy of mental representations.
  • Concept mapping, which involves creating visual diagrams that show relationships between concepts, helping to understand how individuals organize knowledge.

Treatment and Risks

Understanding mental representations can help in diagnosing and treating cognitive impairments. For example, atypical representations might be evident in conditions like autism spectrum disorders or schizophrenia, where individuals may interpret information or form mental models in unique ways. Therapeutic interventions often aim to modify problematic representations or develop new, more adaptive ones.

Similar Terms

Related concepts include:

  • Schema, a cognitive framework or concept that helps organize and interpret information based on accumulated knowledge.
  • Cognitive map, a type of mental representation that enables an individual to navigate and understand spatial environments.


Articles with 'Representation' in the title

  • Enactive representation: Enactive representation refers to a phrase Bruner used to describe how young children tend to represent their world in terms of sensations and actions, therefore the phase is called "enactive"
  • Self-representation: In psychology, "self-representation" pertains to the way individuals perceive and depict themselves to both themselves and others. It encompasses the multifaceted aspects of self-identity, self-concept, and self-presentation, all of which . . .
  • Illness representations: Illness representations (schemas) refer to an organized set of beliefs about an illness or a type of illness that include its nature, cause, duration, and consequences
  • Misrepresentation: Misrepresentation in Psychology: Understanding, Examples, and Recommendations- Misrepresentation in the field of psychology refers to the act of conveying false or misleading information about oneself, one's experiences, or one's intentions . . .
  • Representational Play: Representational Play refers to pretend play which emerges when a child begins to use familiar objects in appropriate ways to represent their world, an example is a cooking gas toy where a food is being cooked
  • Schematic Propositional Associative and Analogic Representational Systems: Schematic Propositional Associative and Analogic Representational Systems (SPAARS) refers to one of the most interesting multi-level theories of emotions put forward by Power and Dalgleish (1977)


In psychology, representation involves the ways in which the mind encodes, organizes, and utilizes information. It plays a crucial role in how individuals perceive, understand, and interact with the world, impacting cognitive functions and behaviors. Understanding representation is essential for advancing psychological theories and improving therapeutic techniques.