PSYC 100 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Wilhelm Wundt, Personality Psychology, Karl Lashley
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PSYC 100 – Psychology – The science of behaviour
The nature of Psychology
Psychology: the scientific study of behaviour and the mind.
--> behaviour = actions and responses that we can directly observe
--> mind = internal states and processes, such as feelings and thoughts, that cannot be seen but inferred
from observable, measurable responses.
-->scientific= answering questions objectively based on observation, data and established methods.
Ex. We cannot directly see a person's love or admiration but we can infer how the person feels through
verbal statements like "I love you"
Clinical psychology: the study and treatment of mental disorders
many clinical psychologists diagnose and treat people with psychological problems in clinics,
hospitals, and private practice.
Some are scientists who conduct research on the causes of mental disorders and the effectiveness
of various treatments
Cognitive psychology: specializes in the study of mental processes, especially from a model that views
the mind as an information processor.
Many cognitive psychologists examine topics such as consciousness, attention, memory, decision
making and problem solving.
An area within cognitive psychology called psycholinguistics focuses on the psychology of language
( the jumbled word exercise relates to the work of psycholinguistics
Biopsychology: focuses on the biological underpinnings of behaviour.
Biopsychologists examine how brain processes, genes, and hormones influence our actions,
thoughts and feelings.
Developmental psychology: examines human physical, psychological, and social development across the
Some developmental psychologists explore the emotional world of infants.
Experimental psychology: focuses on such basic processes as learning, sensory systems (eg vision,
hearing), perception, and motivational states (eg. Sexual motivation, hunger, thirst)
Industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology : examines people's behaviour in the workplace.
I/O psychologists study leadership, teamwork, and factors that influence employee's job satisfaction,
work motivation and performance.
Personality psychology: focuses on the study of human personality
Personality psychologists seek to identify core personality traits and how different traits relate to
one another and influence behaviour.
Social psychology: examine's people's thoughts, feelings, and behaviour pertaining to the social world:
the world of other people.
Social psychologists study how people influence one another, behave in groups and form
impressions and attitudes.
Psychology's scientific approach
Empirical science and critical thought
Empirical approaches make use of research evidence rather than rely on popular opinion, common
sense or intuition, mental shortcuts (the difference between psychology and philosophy)
o E.g. Thinking based on stereotypes, looks, personal experience which may be atypical
Empirical evidence is gained through experience and observation
o This includes, evidence from manipulating or "tinkering around" with things then observing what
happens (essence of experimentation)
o E.g. If we want to know how people's intellectual abilities change as they age, we don't rely on
intuition, pure reasoning, or folk wisdom to obtain an answer. Rather, we collect empirical data by
exposing people to do intellectual tasks and observing how they perform.
o These observations need to be systematic (eg. Performed according to a system of rules or
conditions) so that they will be as precise as possible
Thinking critically about behaviour
Involves taking an active role in understanding the world around you rather than merely receiving
information; evaluating the validity of something presented to you as fact.
By adopting a scientific approach, psychologists can take concrete steps to avoid or at least minimize
biases and problems that can lead to inaccurate conclusions.
To minimize drawing erroneous conclusions about what has caused what, psychologists often are
able to examine behaviour under highly controlled experimental conditions in which they
intentionally manipulate one factor, try to keep others constant and see how the manipulated factor
o Do happy and unhappy people differ in their religiosity?
o Does early parent-child attachment affect adult intimate relationships?
4 goals of psychology :
To describe behaviour and mental processes
To explain and understand causes of these behaviours
To predict behaviours
To influence and control behaviours under certain conditions
Psychology as a basic and applied science
Psychologists employ a variety of research methods for developing and testing theories about
behaviour and its causes.
Basic research: the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake
o The goals of basic research are to describe how people behave and to identify the factors that
influence or cause a particular type of behaviour.
Applied research: designed to solve specific practical problems
o Applied research often uses principles discovered through basic research to solve practical problems.
Psychology's broad scope: a simple framework