I. The Nature of Psychology
A. Definition of psychology:
The scientifi study of behavior and ental processes
1. Scientific: Answering questions objectively based on observation, data, and
established methods. Empirical methods.
2. Behavior: Observable activity
3. Mental processes: Thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, motivations,
dreams, subjective experiences.
B. Subfields of psychology
1. Clinical psychology: the study and treatment of mental disorders
2. Biopsychology: focuses on the biological underpinnings of behavior
Developmental psychology: examines human physical, psychological, and social
development across the lifespan.
4. Experimental psychology: focuses on such basic processes as learning, sensory
systems, perception, and motivational states.
5. Industrialorganizational (I/O) psychology: examines people’s behavior in the
6. Personality psychology: focuses on the study of human personality.
7. Social psychology: examines people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior pertaining
to the social worldthe world of other people.
II. The Big Issue in Psychology: The NatureNurture Question
We share a common origin that gives us an inborn human nature in common.
We have differences that are shaped by our environment
Psychology’s Scientific Approach
A. Empirical approaches make use of research evidence rather than rely on popular
opinion, common sense or intuition, mental shortcuts (e.g., thinking based on
stereotypes, looks, personal experience which may be atypical).
B. Psychology may help us to look for alternative explanations, other perspectives.
C. Empirical research relies on or is derived from observation, experimentation,
IV. Thinking Critically About Behavior
A. Critical thinking questions
1. What is the claim, is the source credible?
2. What is the evidence for that claim, are there other explanations?
3. What is the appropriate conclusion?
V. Psychology’s Goals
To describe how people and other animals behave
B. To explain and understand the causes of these behaviors
C. To predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions
D. To influence or control behavior through knowledge and control of its causes to enhance human welfare
VI. Psychology As A Basic And Applied Science
A. Basic research
1. the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake
2. to describe how people behave and to identify the factors that influence or cause a
particular type of behavior.
B. Applied research
1. is designed to solve specific practical problems
2. uses principles discovered through basic research to solve practical problems
VII. Psychology’s Broad Scope: A Simple Framework
A. Levels of analysis: Behavior and its causes can be examined at the biological level,
the psychological level, and the environmental level
1. The deep level, Biology: genes, brain, neurotransmitters, survival, reflexes,
2. In the middle, Psychology: thoughts, emotions, moods, choices, behaviors, traits,
motivations, knowledge, perceptions
3. The outer level, nvironment soc: l Influences, culture, education, relationships
B. Interaction not one way street
1. Biology: a. Genetics
b. Neurotransmitters (serotonin)
c. Brain areas affected
2. Psychological: a. Pessimistic thinking style
b. Heightened sensitivity due to childhood experiences may lead
to different reactions
3. Environment: a. Abuse
b. Social Support
c. Cultural norms
d. Coping skills
e. Stress levels
VIII. Perspectives On Behavior
1. Provide history & context for study of psychology
2. Are guides to understanding
3. Are viewpoints on behavior
4. Considers different components to be important
B. Illustrates that behavior has diverse causes (interaction between nature and nurture)
IX. Psychology’s Intellectual Roots
A. Roots of Psychology Are In Philosophy
1. Rene Descartes: Dualism is the idea that the mind (spiritual/mental) & body
(physical) are separate entities.
2. Plato: Nativism is the idea that certain kinds of knowledge are inborn or innate.
3. Aristotle: Philosophical empiricism is the idea that all knowledge is acquired
B. From speculation to science: The Birth of Modern Psychology 1. Aristotle (4 century BCE) asked questions to understand the relationship
between body and psyche.
His way of answering those questions was to observe and ake guesses .
2. Wilhelm Wundt (18321920) added two key elements to help make psychology a