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The Science of Behaviour.doc

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Jiahua Chen

Psychology: The Science of Behaviour • consequences of behaviour on behaviour themselves • Behaviour genetics – studies role of genetics in behaviour o Examine similarities in physical and behavioural characteristics of blood relatives • Cognitive psychology – studies complex behaviours and mental processes such as perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and problem solving o Events that cause behaviour consist of functions of brain in response to environmental factors o Explanations involve characteristics of inferred mental process such as imagery, attention, and mechanisms of language • Cognitive neuroscience – attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by studying brain mechanisms that are responsible for them (cognitive psychology + physiological psychology) o Study people whose brains have been damaged by natural causes – disease, stroke, tumors • Developmental psychology – studies changes in behavioural, perceptual, and cognitive capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience o Study causal events that are as comprehensive as all of psychology – physiological processes, cognitive processes, and social influences • Social psychology – study of effects people have on each other’s behaviour o Explore perception, cause-and-effect relationships, group dynamics, and emotional behaviours (agressions, sexual behaviour) • Personality psychology – attempts to categorize and understand causes of individual differences in patterns of behaviour o Look for causal events in person’s history – genetic and environmental • Evolutionary psychology – explains behaviour in terms of adaptive advantages that specific behaviours provided during evolution of a species (use natural selection as guiding principle) o Interested in studies of behavioural genetics and comparative psychology • Cross-cultural psychology – studies effects of culture on behaviour • Clinical psychology – devoted to investigation and treatment of abnormal behaviour and mental disorders Fields of applied psychology: • Clinical neuropsychologists – specializes in the identification and treatment of behavioural consequences of nervous system disorders and injuries • Health psychologists – works to promote behaviours and lifestyles that improve and maintain health and illness • Engineering psychologists (ergonomists or human factors psychologists) – focus on the ways that people and machines work together o Use knowledge of behaviour and its causes to help designers and engineers design better machines • Forensic psychologists – advise members of legal and justice systems with respect to psychological knowledge Philosophical roots of psychology • Animism (animare – to quicken, enliven, endow with breath or soul) – belief that all animals and all moving objects possess spirits providing their motive force • Psychology as a science is based on assumption that behaviour is subject to physical laws • Rene Descartes ( 17th century French philosopher and mathematician) - advocated sober, impersonal investigation of natural phenomena using sensory experience and human reasoning o World is mechanical entity set in motion by god but runs on its own o To understand world one must understand how it was constructed – opposes church’s belief that purpose of philosophy was to reconcile human experience with truth of god’s revelation o Living things were machines affected by natural causes and producing natural effects o Reflexes - automatic response to stimulus not using mind o Dualism – belief that reality consists of mind and matter with a causal link between mind and physical housing (unique)  Extended things – physical bodies  Thinking things - minds o Humans are set apart b/c they possess a mind which is not part of natural world and therefore obeys different laws o Mind controlled movements of body and body supplied mind with info about environment (through organs)  Took place in pineal body – small organ on top of brain stem buried beneath large cerebral hemispheres  Pineal body tilted causing flow of fluid to proper set of nerves and initiated muscles to inflate and move • Moving statues in Royal Garden served as inspiration  First to use technological device as model of nervous system • John Locke (17 century philosopher) – replaced Descarte’s rationalism (pursuit of truth through reason) with empiricism (pursuit of truth through observation and experience) o Rejected belief that idea were innately present in infant’s mind and proposed that all knowledge must come through experience o Model of mind was tabula rasa (clean slate) o Knowledge developed through linkages of simple, primary sensations combined to form complex ones • George Berkeley (18 century Irish bishop, philosopher and mathematician) – knowledge of events in world required inferences based on accumulation of past experiences – we learn how to perceive • Tried to fit nonquantifiable variable reason into equation • James Mill (19 century Scottish philopher) – developed materialism (reality can be known only through an understanding of physical world which mind is a part of ) into system for looking at human nature o Mind was also a machine, passive responding to body Biological roots of psychology tth • Luigi Galvani (18 Italian physiologist) showed Descarte’s hydraulic model of body to be incorrect – showed muscles could contract by applying electrical stimulus to them or to nerves attached to them • Johannes Muller (19 German physiologist) believed in isolating organs o Doctrine of specific nerve energies – same current different channels  Implications – different parts of brain must have different functions th • Pierre Flourens (18 French physiologist) – pr
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