PSYCH 1200 – INTRO CHAPTER 1
- Psych is the scientific study of behaviour. The term behaviour refers to actions and responses
that can be observed and measured directly as well as mental processes such as thoughts and
feelings that must be inferred from directly observable responses.
- Basic research is the quest for knowledge for its own sake whereas applied research involves the
application of knowledge derived from basic research to solve practical problems.
- The primary goals of psychological science are to describe, explain, predict and influence
behaviour and apply psychological knowledge o enhance human welfare.
- Several perspectives have shaped psych’s scientific growth. Each perspective views human
nature differently and focuses on different causes of behaviour.
- With roots in physiology, medicine and Darwin’s theory of evolution, the biological perspective
examines how bodily functions regulate behaviour. Physiology psychologists study brain
processes and other physiological functions that underlie our behaviour; sensory experiences,
emotions and thoughts. Behavioural genetics study how behaviour is influenced by our genetics
heritage (ie migration of butterflies). Evolutionary psychologists examine behaviour in terms of
its adaptive functions and seek to explain how evolution has biologically predisposed modern
humans towards a certain way of being.
- Psychology’s intellectual roots lie in philosophy; biology and medicine. In the late 1900s Wundt
and James helped found psychology. Structuralism, which examined the basic components of
consciousness and functionalism, which focuses on the purposes of consciousness, were psych’s
two earliest schools of thought.
- The cognitive perspective views of humans as information processors, who think, judge and
solve problems. Its roots lie in the early schools of structuralism, functionalism and Gestalt
psychology. Piaget’s work on cognitive development, the study of linguistics and the advent of
computers parked a new interest in mental processes. Research in artificial intelligence develops
computer models of human thought, whereas cognitive neuroscience studies brain processes
that underlie mental activity. Social constructivism maintains that much of what we call reality is
a creation of our own mental processes.
- The psychodynamic perspective calls attention to unconscious motives, conflicts and defence
mechanisms that influence our personality and behaviour. Freud’s psychoanalytic theory
emphasized unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses and early childhood experiences that
- With roots in early 18 century British empiricism, the behavioural perspective emphasizes how
the external environment and learning shape behaviour. Behaviourists such as Watson and
Skinner believed that psychology should only study observable stimuli and responses, not
unobservable mental processes. They argued that to change behaviour the key is to modify the
environment. Behaviourists discovered basic laws of learning through controlled research with
laboratory animals and successfully applied these principles to enhance human welfare. - Humanists reject the notion that people are controlled by unconscious forces or merely react to
environmental stimuli. Instead the humanistic perspective emphasizes personal freedom and
choice, psychological growth and self-actualization.
- The sociocultural perspective examines how the social environment and cultural learning
influence our behavioural thoughts. Cultural psychologists study how culture is transmitted to
its members and examines similarities and differences among people from various cultures. An
orientation toward individualism versus collectivism represents one of many ways in which
- Factors that influence behaviour can be organized into three broad levels of analysis. The
biological level of analysis focuses on brain processes, hormonal and genetic influences, and
evolutionary adaptations that underlie behaviour. The psychological level of analysis examines
mental processes and psychological motives, and how they influence behaviour. The
environmental level of analysis calls attention to physical and social stimuli, including cultural
factors that shape our behaviour and thoughts.
- To understand behaviour, we often move back and forth between these levels of analysis. For
example, when as children we are exposed to cultural norms, those norms reflect a
characteristic of our environment. However, once we adopt norms as our own, they become a
part of our worldview and now represent the psychological level of analysis.
- Biological, psychological and environmental factors contribute to the development of
depression. These factors can also interact to influence a given behaviour. It may only take a
mild setback to trigger depression in a person who has a strong biological predisposition
towards depression, whereas a person who does not have such a biological predisposition may
become depressed after suffering a severe setback.
- Psychologists specialize in numerous subfields and work in many settings. Their professional
activities include teaching, research, clinical work and application of psychological principles to
solve personal and social problems.
- Psychologists today conduct research and provide services around the globe.
- You can use principles derived from psychological science to enhance your learning and increase
your likelihood of performing well on tests. These include time management principles,
strategies for studying more effectively, test-preparing strategies and techniques for taking
Applied research: research involving