Chapter One: Psychology and Scientific Thinking
What is Psychology?
Psychology is the scientific study of the mind, brain, and behavior.
As a discipline, psychology spans many levels of analysis.
• Biological social influences
Need to examine ALL of them: genetic/neurochemical/physiological and
Depression at differing levels of Explanation
Challenging and Fascinating 1.1 Explain why common sense isn’t always wrong
• Human behavior difficult to predict – many causes
• These causes influence one another
• Individual differences in thinking, emotion, and personality
• We influence one another – reciprocal determinism
• Behavior shaped by culture – Emic (culture from inside) vs. etic (culture from outside)
Belief see world precisely as is – “seeing is believing”
• Example: which table is longer (optical illusion). Point of it is, we need to look further.
When Common Sense is Right
• Not all common sense is wrong
• Can serve as generator of hypothesis
• Test the hypothesis!
Psychology as a Science 1.2 explain the importance of science as a set of safeguards against
• Not a body of knowledge • Is an approach to empiricism*
• Tests observations using rigorous methods
• Is an approach to evidence
Theories and Hypothesis
A scientific theory: explanation for a large number of findings
A hypothesis: Is a specific prediction based on a theory, and can then be tested.
Science as a Safeguard against Bias
• Tendency to seek out evidence that supports our hypothesis and neglect contradicting
Scientists need to design studies that may disprove their theories.
Sister’s Divorce Example – she never liked her husband, so she always looks for negative
evidence towards him and ignores the positive. Friend has boyfriend you don’t like: friend
discounts everything that is bad, and only talks of positive.
Belief perseverance: Tendency to stick to our initial beliefs even when evidence contradicts
them. Kate + 8 – she just can’t let go.
We Might Be Wrong
Good scientists are aware they might be wrong. Ex: put a hat on to go outside or you will get a
What is Pseudoscience?
A set of claims that seem scientific, but aren’t.
Testable beliefs not supported by the evidence.
Beware of self-help books – can convince you of things that really are unrealistic. People will
believe anything they read, even if there is no evidence to back it up with.
Warning Signs of Pseudoscience
Ad hoc immunizing hypotheses: Escape hatches to protect against falsification, usually a
loophole or exception for negative findings. Ex: This is correct, but if you do not do it correctly,
you won’t get the results.
Lack of self-correction Overreliance on anecdotes: Anecdotes are often not to representative, but can’t tell us about
cause and effect and are often difficult to verify. Ex: Her mom went to a guy who put rocks in her
hands to cure her allergy from milk, so now she claims she can drink milk, and it will work for
Our brains: make order out of disorder.
Apophenia: tendency to find connections among unrelated. Example: Some parents after
having their child vaccinated for measles, noticed that their child developed signs of autism.
Pareidolia: Seeing meaningful images in meaningless visual stimuli
Emotional reasoning fallacy: Using emotions instead evidence> Ex: love at first sight
Bandwagon fallacy: my friends say…
“Not me” Fallacy: Other people have biases – not me
Why Should We Care: 1.4 Identify reasons we are drawn to Pseudoscience
3 Major reasons:
• Opportunity cost -
• Direct Harm
• Inability to think scientifically
Scientific Skepticism: 1.5 Identify the key features of scientific skepticism
Evaluate claims with an open mind – acupuncture, actual evidence of it working
Need evidence before accepting
Critical Thinking: 1.6 Identify and explain the text’s six principles of scientific thinking
Set of skills for evaluating claims in an open-minded and careful fashion
Six critical thinking principles: GOOD SHORT ANSWER QUESTION
• Ruling out rival hypothesis
• Correlation isn’t causation • Falsifiability: Can the claim be disproven
• Reliability: Can results be duplicated?
• Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence
• Occam’s razor: simplest. Don’t use complicated theories to explain something when an
easier answer is available.
Video: This so called psychic is making very general comments about children: tantrums, not
wanting to go to sleep, etc. He has diluted himself into believing that he is an actual psychic,
very confident in saying things.
Psychology’s Early History: 1.7 Identify the major theoretical frameworks of psychology
Psychology similar to philosophy for many centuries - a lot of reasoning from psych
philosophers are still interested in.
In 1879, William Wunt = 1 lab in Germany. Origin of psychology
Psychology broke away from spiritualism as well. Has roots back in the softer sciences.
Great Theoretical Frameworks: 1.7
Five primary schools of thought have shaped modern thinking:
• Identify basic structures of experience
• Systematic observation to study conscious experience
• William James, heavily influenced by Charles Darwin (evolution)
• To understand the adaptive purposes of thought and behavior
• We develop certain ways of thinking in psychology because it was adaptive
• Watson and Skinner and Pavlone. Watson thought he could take a child and turn the
child into any person he wants.
• Uncovering general laws of learning • You can only know something that you can observe and that you can never understand
what someone is thinking. The behavior that results after stimuli is given.
• Paiget – mostly concerned with cognitive development. Child developed interaction with
• Mental processes involved in different aspects of thinking
• Use such an intense way of observing kids and developed theories
• Freud & Jung
• Internal psychological processes – unconscious
• We don’t always know what’s in our mind. There is a huge element of unconscious
thinking going on in our minds.
Types of Psychologists: 1.8 Describe different types of psychologists and identify what each of
• Counseling – deals with problems that aren’t as severe. Med.
• School – through school system
• Developmental - studying kids for developmental purposes
• Experimental – general area. Usually can’t get a job just as experimental psychologist
• Biopsychologist – look at biological side of biopsychology
• Forensic – could be clinical psychologist, could be a profiler. Might be interested in
Great Debates in Psychology: 1.9 Describe the 2 great debates that have shaped the field of
Two great debates: Nature vs. Nurture
• Gene vs. Environment
Free will vs. Determinism
• What causes our behavior? Outside forces? Should people get off with serial killing if the
frontal part of their brain (where moral decisions are made) is turned off. How psychology affects Our Lives 1.10 Describe how psychological research affects our daily
• Examines how the mind works: memory, attention
• Examines how we use basic research to solve real world problems. What types of
therapy are best therapy for depressions? What makes a good employee? You can
directly apply findings to the real world.
*** End of Chapter one: Go and look at questions of Moodle.
CHAPTER TWO: RESEARCH METHODS
Facilitated communication – started off with a person putting their hand on an autistic child and
putting the child’s hand on the keyboard. They discovered the child could actually type things
out on the computer. After systematic study, it turns out that it did not work and the facilitator
was the one who was actually doing the typing.
Lobotomy – for a while were really popular. Always about desperation. Really popular for
treating depression, schizophrenia. Got rid of parts of the frontal lobe, ended up that a lot of
patients were like zombies. Once systematically studied, it was discovered to be more harmful
then helpful. Designer won Nobel prize.
Two Modes of Thinking: 2.1 Identify 2 modes of thinking and their application to scientific
System One – Intuitive thinking
• Quick, reflexive, almost automatic
• Relies on heuristics
• Enables us to use less resources, our brain doesn’t have to work as hard
System Two – Analytical thinking
• Slow, reflexive, effortful.
• Ex: Resisting chocolate bars. System you use when presenting in front of class, and
• Uses a lot of mental energy. Using a lot of glucose
• Mental short cuts. Whenever we can we take short cuts in our thinking. The Scientific Method Toolbox: 2.2 describe the advantages and disadvantages of using
naturalistic observation, case studies, self-report measures, and survey’s.
Allows us to test specific hypotheses derived from broader theories of how things work
Theories are never “proven”, but hypotheses can be confirmed or disconfirmed
We can use a number of different types of SM tools to gain information and test hypotheses.
Most of us start off with case studies.
Common heuristics (come from our brain trying to be efficient and take short cuts) Studied by
Kahneman and Tversky
Representativeness – “like goes with like” John is a perfectionist, socially awkward. His school
has 85% ppl taking BA and 10% BSc and other 5% are engineers. How what faculty will John
be in? on percentage base, he would most likely take BA. Just because of his personality,
doesn’t mean he would fall in that category.
• Engineer example
• Base rate – how common a characteristic
• Availability - “off the top of my head” ease with which it comes to our minds. Most likely
to die in car or plane, you would most likely think plane just because of the media
coverage they get.
Cognitive Biases: Systematic Errors in Thinking
Hindsight bias (“I knew it all along”) – (e.g “I knew they were the perfect couple”)
Over confidence – overestimate ability to make correct predictions
The Scientific Method in Psychology
Scientific Method: Set of procedural research rules scientists should follow
Four major types of research design:
• Naturalistic Observation: You observe kid A and every time kid A shares you record it.
Filming behavior you’re interested in and coding it.
• Case Study: Used in abnormal psychology. You do a detailed observation of that person.
• Correlation Study: Answering questionnaires, they take your answers, add them up, and
correlate them to varies things.
• Experiment: Manipulate independent variable. Conclude causation. Evaluating Measures: 2.2 describe the advantages and dis. Of using naturalistic observation,
case studies, self-report measures and surveys
To trust results:
• Reliability – consistency of measurement (ability to repeat and maintain experimental
• Validity- how much it measures what it actually claims to measure
Self-Report Measures: 2.2 SHORT ANSWER QUESTION
• Easy to administer
• Direct (self) assessment of a person’s state
• Accuracy is skewed for certain groups (narcissists – believe they are god like, think they
are more special then everyone else)
• Potential for dishonesty – motives to want to embellish
• Responses sets – ex; answering slightly true for everything just to get survey done
• Positive impression management
• Rating others
• Still has problems
• Halo Effect – you really like your kid, so even if your kid has an attention span on a nat,
the parent rates their attention span a lot better than it was
Correlational Designs 2.3 Describe the role of correlational designs and distinguish correlation
You want to see how closely 2 variables are related ** good question
Vary from -1 to +1 and can be:
• Positive V1 (up) then V2 (up) • Negative V1 up then V2 (down)
• Zero (no relationship)
Depicted in a scatterplot
The Great Fourfold Table of Life
Diagram in text – crime association with a full moon
• Biracree (1984)
• Men’s income and the correlates highly with cheating
• Women’s income does not
• Reasons? One of the reasons you could have this correlation is because there is
another variable that goes with this correlation. The more income he has, the more
stressed he g