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PSYC 1001 Lecture Notes - Empiricism, Social Environment

Course Code
PSYC 1001
Ayca Guler- Edwards

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Lecture 1
September 5th 2013
Psychology is the study of the human mind and behaviour.
→ Nature vs nurture
Nature: the impact of biology.
Nurture: impact of environment.
Which of them affect our psychological characteristic. Studies find that mental illnesses are inheritable and others
are triggered by the environment. Social environment influences recovery as well. It is number 1 debate. We need
to understand both to understand psychology.
Psychological science depends on understanding both the genetic
basis of human nature and the environment that shapes it.
→ Mind vs Body
Descartes brought a new perspective to dualism by bringing mind and body to each other. His dualism helped
open the door for a science of psychology. At the same time, Hobbes argued that spirit is a meaningless concept,
only matter exists and human behaviour can be understood in term of physical processes. He was condemned to
death but saved by the king.
Around the same time with Descartes, English philosopher named Thomas Hobbes argued that spirit or soul is a
meaningless concept. Nothing exists but matter and energy (materialism). All human behaviour can be
understood in terms of physical processes in the body, especially the brain.
Each and every behaviour can be traced back to the brain, all can be explained by the acts of nerve cells.
Another group called nativists were against to the idea that some knowledge and rules of operation are native to
human mind. For instance our ability to learn a language is innate and we are preprogrammed for that. However,
nativist had no scientific explanations and these came from the studies of Charles Darwin.
Hobbes' ideas and materialism led to Empiricism (information is gained by means of observation, experience, or
experiment) . Empiricist argued that we come to the world as a blank page and we fill it with experiences. We are
reflections of our experiences in the physical and social environment.
→ Evolutionary Theory and adaptation to environment.
Charles Darwin's studies showed that
evolutionary changes occur in our body and anatomy
by natural selection
Heritable characteristics that provide survival advantage are more likely than alternative characteristics to be
passed on to following generations. These characteristics will be selected over time.
Adaptation: so that we can fit into the environment and survive
We inherit certain characteristics that serve us for survival
The mind and body are
separate and distinct (Dualism) VS The mind is simply the subjective experience
of the physical brain
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