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PSYC 100
Daniel J Levitin

September 7 2010I have a couple of announcements to make first We have a new TA so I introduced you to Johanna last week and the second TA for the course is Sarny Balegh who is here and you can email her through WebCT and her name is on the new revised syllabus that was uploaded Theyre going to be holding office hours and leading a review session before the midterm and perhaps another before the final if you feel you need it And there are now some copies of the textbook on reserve at Redpath Library is that rightAnd just to remind you you need the third edition of the book for this course If you feel that you need a copy of the textbook for this course and you cannot afford one come see me during my office hours on Thursday and I might be able to help you out Theres a signup sheet for my office hours in front of my office which is in Stewart Bio N 611So the idea here is that you should use the discussion board to help you with the class If you have any questions I propose that you post your question on the discussion board and somebody in the class will probably answer it correctly and if they dont the TAs will step in and let you know there was an incorrect answer posted so that you dont go believing the wrong thing Speaking of the discussion board last time we were talking about my philosophy of grading and teaching and so on if you have any suggestions about how to make the course better or the exams more fair or more better in some way use the discussion board for that too I cant guarantee that I can follow everybodys advice particularly since in my experience you may be giving contradictory advice so I cant do that but Ill take everything under advisement Please post any suggestions you have on the discussion board and Ill do what I can There was a little bit of confusion at the end of last class I put up this information and this wont be on an exam but for those of you who use social networking and are interested in such things I have a Twitter account and I post almost every day on something that has to do with psychology or brain science occasionally music and the brain But almost every day theres some news story Ive culled from the web and if you follow on Twitter you can stay in touch with the latest in psychological science and we can also have conversations about that through Twitter if that appeals to you and theres also the Facebook address if that appeals to you also but there wont be any questions from my Twitter feed on the exam Just to make that clear This is supplementary Ive been experimenting with these as ways of talking about the brain and psychological science and Im not sure that its working or not but Im willing to keep giving it a try A student told me recently that Twitter is something old people like me use because we think that young people like you are using it The goals of this course which I didnt get to last time which are on the syllabus but in theinterest of putting everything out in front of you I see the goals of the course to help you gain an understanding of the current ideas of the nature of human behavior and thought to help you develop your own positions on current controversies in the field and there are a lot of controversies Were dealing with the science of human behavior and human behavior is largely unpredictable Thats sort of what were going to be talking about for the next 13 weeks how we can better predict human behavior and how we can better understand it and to help you become exposed to some of the major ideas and topics in contemporary psychology I mean the practical reason is preparation for upper division courses in psychology but also in philosophy biology and other related fields And to help you develop your skills in critical thinking and evaluation of scientific claims almost every day were assaulted with headlines that claim to have proven something about science not just human science and neuroscience but science in general and part of your university education here is to help you sift through the BS factor and figure out whats true and whats not true and how you even go about evaluating what is true or not whether the journalists have done a good job of nailing down the evidence for what theyre claiming So a central theme is what we do we know about behavior and how do we evaluate the claims And Gazzaniga and Halpern and Heatherton the authors of your textbook have seven themes of psychological science that run throughout the book The first is that psychology is an empirical science What we mean by that is that the results of our experiments ideally if theyre welldone are measurable and repeatable and amendable to experimentation That means we take variables and we manipulate them We do this sometimes in the laboratory we do it with animals we do it with humanswe sometimes go out into the real world and do the manipulations of the variables Im going to tell you a story in a minute about a research done by Darley and Latan its one of my favorites in experimental psychology Ill tell you in a minute after I run through these other seven just to run through the kinds of experimental psychologists do to gather information about human behavior Any of you encountered the Darley and Latan study before Oh goodAlright Another theme is that nature and nurture are inextricably intertwined What does that mean Does anyone want to venture a guess Our behavior and attitudes and opinions and beliefs and actions are influenced both by our upbringing and by genetics and biological predispositions towards those states So the idea here is that lets take the example of height you can have a genetic predisposition that makes you 7 ft tall but that doesnt mean automatically a spot on the NBA In fact if you take all of the people in the world who are 7 ft tall its a very small minority of them that are professional basketball players On the other hand I cant think of a single NBA player whos only four feet tall so you can see theres an interaction here between nature and nurtureBut we see this also in a number of behavioral not just physical properties that allow you to do athletics but we see them in behaviors Someone may have a genetic biological preference towards patience or tolerance it doesnt mean that theyre going to take anything thats thrown at them Everybodys got a boiling point Somebody cuts you off in traffic and somebody throws a tomato at your window At the same time you get some bad news on your cellphone that somebody youre close to was injured in a senseless bar fight and you might snap and resort to flipping off the driver in front of you or actually taking your car and ramming into him
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