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Lecture 1 Levels of Analysis Detailed Note.docx

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Joe Kim

Psychology Online Lecture 1: Levels of Analysis  Rene Descartes o Mind-body dualism o “I think therefore I am” o Mind and body are distinct entities that are causally linked  Muller o Different areas of bodies connected to different parts of brain  Helmholtz o Measured speed of nerve impulse o 90 ft/sec Multiple Levels of Analysis  Learning o Pavlov’s dog o Schools of thought  Structuralism  Understand structure of consciousness in its basic elements and how they are related  Goal of structuralists was to reduce consciousness into its core components such as sensation, feeling and images  Individuals were trained to observe their own experiences and report them through introspection  A subject in a typical experiment would be exposed to sensory stimuli under carefully controlled lab settings  The subject would then attempt to objectively report their experience  The critical flaw of introspection was that subjects were reporting private data, a personal interpretation of what they experienced with no independent verification of the claim  Psychologists also criticized the strategy of reducing human experience to simple sensations, rather than studying the whole  A “reductionist” strategy  Functionalism  Sought to understand the function of consciousness, which needed to be studied as a stream  William James argued that consciousness was more accurately viewed as a continuous flow of thought, rather than a series of static points  There was room for emotions, values and recognition of individual uniqueness  Behaviourism emerged through functionalism  Behaviourism  Founded by Watson  According to his view, overt behaviour is the only valid means of measure in psychology  Argued that scientists should treat the mind as a “black box” that takes input and makes output  What happens inside the black box should be considered to be outside the domain of science  Learning researchers designed experiments to understand the influence of environment on behaviour  Clearly favoured Nurture over Nature  Watson took consciousness out of the picture and refocused the field to be concerned exclusively with observable actions  To Watson, the essence of the scientific method was public data that could be observed and verified o Ex. In the game, Greg scored more of his attempts than Ryan did  What was not possible, was to objectively observe the mental processes that led a person to produce such behaviour o Ex. Greg focused more on his attempts because he knew the team depended on him for leadership  Skinner furthered this belief  He believed that we could understand everything about an organism by studying its behaviour without the need to appeal to internal mental events  Argued that internal mental events must exist, but that it was impossible to make measurements in a scientific way, at least for now  Psychodynamic o According to this view, the human actions that behaviourists studied could be better understood by examining the biological drives and motives within a person that may conflict with the demands of social convention o These biological drives could include states of deprivation and physiological arousal, which would motivate a person to meet personal needs o Sigmund Freud pushed and supported these principles o The foundation of his theoretical work would emerge from clinical experiences in treating mentally disturbed patients suffering hysteria (now known as conversion disorder) o Patients experienced a wide range of physical and mental symptoms including total or partial blindness or deafness, paralysis over parts of the body, pain, uncontrollable trembling and gaps in memory o Freud developed a theory that the symptoms of hysteria were a masked expression of emotionally charged memories o Freud’s psychodynamic theory views a person as being in a constant struggle between inner and outer forces o In particular, Freud emphasized early childhood as the critical period during which personality and potential unconscious conflict forces are formed o The psychodynamic view was eventually taken over by cognitive approaches  Cognition o Behaviourism imposed limitations in its insistence that we give up any attempt to study the mind and consciousness o The behaviourist influence even extended to the study of processes such as memory and language o However, it becomes increasingly difficult to deny the important of studying the cognitive processes that are so seamlessly tied in with human experience o Consider the few cognitive tasks part of an average morning routine as a person buys a cup of coffee  I first need to remember the location of my favourite coffee shop and navigate there from my present location  I can decipher the scribbles on the menu that corresponds to words that I can read  There may be many distracting events, but I can focus my attention on selecting a grande green tea frappucino  Finally, I use my knowledge of what each coin and bill in my wallet represents to pay for my purchase o These kinds of mental tasks are the focus of cognitive, which is the study of the internal processes of the mind, including thought, attention, memory, language and problem-solving o Cognitive psychologists use models to construct abstract representations of how the mind functions  Neuroscience o Reductionism
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