Psych 101

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Department
Psychology
Course
PSYC 101
Professor
Lesley Jessiman
Semester
Fall

Description
PSYC 101 – INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGY 1 - Dr. Leslie Jessiman Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and the mind. Behavior refers to directly observable actions and responses. Mind refers to internal states and processes e.g., thoughts and feelings, that cannot be seen directly and must be inferred from observable, measurable responses. Different Subfields in Psychology • Biological psychology – the study of the biological processes that influence behavior e.g., brain processes, genes, hormones • Abnormal psychology – the study of deviant behavior. Propensity for human to self-interest – abnormal psychology challenges that notion. • Neuropsychology – the study of the relationship between behavior, emotion and cognition on the one hand, and brain function on the other. • Evolutionary psychology – the study of evolutionary processes (esp. natural selection) in the development of adaptive psychological mechanisms & social behavior in humans. • Psychoanalysis – the study of internal and primarily unconscious psychological forces. (Sigmund Freud) • Behaviorism – study of the role of learning & environmental control over behavior (John Watson; B.F. Skinner). School of thought – psychology as purely observable behavior. • Cognitive psychology – the study of mental processes e.g., memory, consciousness, decision making, attention etc. with a view of the mind as an information processor. Psycholinguistics (subfield in Cognitive Psychology) focuses on the psychological aspects of language e.g., how people understand, produce and acquire language. • Social psychology – the study of people’s thoughts, feelings and behavior in relation to the social world. • Developmental psychology – the study of human physical, psychological, biological and behavioral processes as we age i.e. across the lifespan. • Clinical psychology – the study and treatment of mental disorders. • Personality psychology – the study of human personality through the identification of core personality traits and how they relate to one another and influence behavior. • Experimental psychology – the study of basic processes such as learning, sensory systems (e.g., vision, hearing), perception, and motivational states (e.g., sexual motivation, hunger, thirst). Most research in this subfield involves lab experiments, often with non-human animals. • Industrial-organization (IO) psychology – study of people’s behavior in the workplace by examining aspects such as leadership, teamwork, work motivation & satisfaction etc. Psychology’s Scientific Approach Psychology is a science because it uses the scientific approach. The scientific approach is a process that involves systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions and test beliefs about the natural world. Empirical evidence is evidence gained through experience and observation. This approach is necessary to avoid, or reduce biases and problems that would lead to inaccurate conclusions. Psychology is not common sense because: 1. All good psychological theory is as the result of scientific testing 2. All research questions are subject to scrutiny 3. All measures have been deemed reliable and valid 4. Data is subject to statistical analysis 5. All findings are subject to review Critical thinking involves taking an active role in understanding the world around self- i.e. evaluating the validity of something presented as a fact. Psychology’s four goals 1. Describe how people and other animals behave 2. Explain and understand the causes of these behaviors 3. Predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions 4. Influence behavior through knowledge and control of its causes. Basic research is the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake. The goals of BR are to describe how people behave and to identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of behavior. (Check examples of basic and applied research) Applied research is the application of knowledge derived from basic research to solve specific practical problems. Intellectual roots of Psychology Dualism – mind is separate from body Rene Descartes Monism –mind and body are one and the same i.e. all mental events are reducible to the physical events in the brain. Main proponent was Thomas Hobbes Empiricism – all ideas and knowledge are gained empirically i.e. through senses. Main proponent was Britain’s John Locke. Structuralism – the study/analysis of the mind by breaking it down into its basic components, thought to be sensations. Structuralists used the method of introspection (looking within) to study sensations, which they considered the basic elements of consciousness. Structuralists left an important mark in the study of Cognitive psychology. Main proponent was Wilhem Wundt. Functionalism – study of the function of consciousness and behavior, as opposed to its structure in helping organisms adapt to their environment. Main proponent is William James. Levels-of-analysis is an approach to analyzing behavioral phenomena and their causal factors in terms of biological, psychological and environmental factors. This approach greatly simplifies psychology’s array of factors. TYPES OF PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES 1. Psychodynamic perspective 2. Humanistic perspective 3. Cognitive perspective 4. Biological perspective 5. Behavioral perspective 6. Sociocultural perspective The psychodynamic perspective – A psychological perspective that focuses on inner personality (unique pattern of traits, emotions, and motives) dynamics, including the role of unconscious impulses and defenses, in understanding behavior. Main proponent was Sigmund Freud. The behavioral perspective – a view that emphasizes the manner in which the environment and the learning experiences it provides shape and control behavior i.e. the role of the external environment in governing our actions (behavior). Main proponents were John B. Watson & B.F. Skinner. Albert Banduras, whilst partly in agreement with the behaviorism perspective that the environment exerts its effects on behavior, introduced cognitive behaviorism – where the environment influences our behavior by affecting our thoughts and giving us information. The humanist perspective – emphasizes free will, personal growth, and the attempt to find meaning in one’s existence (self-actualization). According to Abraham Maslow, the main Humanism proponent at the time, every individual has an inborn force towards self-actualization (reaching of one’s individual potential). A supportive environment nurtures positive inner nature and vice versa. The cognitive perspective – views humans as rational information processors and problem solvers, and focuses on the mental processes that influence behavior. CHAPTER 2: STUDYING BEHAVIOR SCIENTIFICALLY Scientific Attitudes • Curiosity • Skepticism • Open-mindedness Bystander effect (apathy) is the finding that the presence of multiple bystanders inhibits each person’s tendency to help; largely because of social comparison or diffusion of responsibility (a psychological state in which each person feels decreased personal responsibility for intervening). The Scientific method process 1. Identify a question of interest – After observing an event, curiosity sparks the first step why (e.g., why nobody bothered to help Kitty Genovese?) 2. Gather information and form hypothesis – After determining the non-existence of previous studies or theories that could answer the question, scientists form a hypothesis (a specific prediction about a phenomenon). Usually takes the form of an If-Then statement e.g., If multiple bystanders are present, Then the likelihood that any one bystander will intervene is reduced. 3. Test hypothesis by conducting research – done by simulating a similar scenario to the Kitty Genovese case. 4. Analyze data, draw tentative conclusions, and report findings – done by observing the result, and comparing to the hypothesis. If in sync, report findings to a scientific journal for review. If the scientific community is in favor, the journal is published. 5. Build a body of knowledge – once published, scientists ask further questions (e.g., what other factors could explain the hypothesis?), formulate new hypothesis and test these hypothesis by conducting further research. This process continues until scientists attempt to build a theory (set of testable propositions designed to explain a general class of phenomena). Major difference between theory and hypothesis is the former is a broad explanation while the latter is a specific explanation. Two approaches to understanding behavior 1. Hindsight – though this method can provide valuable insights about behavior, and is often the foundation for the scientific inquiry, the explanation(s) it provides can be subjective, varied and contradictory. 2. Prediction (scientific method) – this is the preferred method for scientists mainly because it’s verifiable and predictable. It can thus be inferred that understanding through prediction and control is a scientific alternative to hindsight understanding. Advantages of prediction (scientific method) 1. Satisfies curiosity 2. Builds knowledge 3. Generates principles that can be applied to new situations Characteristics of a good theory 1. It incorporates existing facts and observations within a single framework (Careful and systematic observation). 2. It is testable (falsifiable) 3. Predictions of the theory are supported by the findings of new research (replication). 4. It conforms to the law of parsimony (if two theories can explain and predict the same phenomena equally well, the simpler theory is the preferred one) Other characteristics not mentioned in the Psych book. 1. A good theory is a statement of likelihood; not a statement of fact 2. Ethical neutrality 3. Attention to empirical questions 4. Scrutiny by others (peer review) Defining and measuring variables Variable is any characteristic or factor that can vary e.g., height, sex, hair color, GPA. Operational definition defines a variable in terms of the specific procedures used to produce or measure it e.g., total words spoken per minute. Methods of measurement 1. Self-report method 2. Physiological method 3. Psychological method 4. Behavioral method 5. Experimental method Self-report method asks individuals to report on their own knowledge, beliefs, feelings, experiences, behavior etc. through interviews or questionnaires Limitations • Social desirability bias (desire to make good impression or respond in a socially acceptable manner rather than how one truly feels or behaves). • Experimenter bias – interviewer’s behavior can influence results Physiological method measures physiological responses such as heart beat, blood pressure, respiration rate, brain functions to measure behavior. Limitations • Establishing link between physical responses & mental events e.g. if the heart rate increases as a result of exam stress, exactly what part of exam stress caused the increase? Behavioral method records directly observable behavior (e.g., how quickly people respond to another person in distress in the bystander effect). A coding system is needed to ensure reliable or consistent observations. Limitations • Unreliability of observers (e.g., when two observers do not agree on the coding system). • Inter-rater reliability (e.g., people might behave differently after realizing they are being watched) Psychological method uses specialized tests such as personality tests, IQ tests, pictures with ambiguous meanings etc. to measure different variables. Limitations • Social desirability effect Experimental method uses experiments to measure behavior (e.g., checking reaction times – how long it takes for someone to press yes or no during a lexical task). Limitations • An off-line measure e.g., the time it takes from thinking to decision making • Gender differences • Response error • Age bias Methods of Research The research method chosen depends on the problem being studied, the investigator’s objectives, and ethical principles. The three methods are: 1. Descriptive/qualitative research 2. Correlational research 3. Experimental research Descriptive (qualitative) research is research whereby the main goal is to carefully describe through case studies, naturalistic observations, surveys etc. how organisms behave, especially in natural settings. a.)Case studies are an in-depth analysis of individual, group or an event. Data for this analysis may be gathered through observation, interviews, psychological tests, physiological recordings, and task performance, or from archival records. Advantages of case studies  Useful for rare phenomenon (e.g. head injury patients with unusual impairments)  May challenge validity of theories (e.g. damage to language part to the brain but retains language)  Can be a vibrant source of ideas and hypotheses, and can illustrate effectiveness of programs for special populations (e.g., failure to thrive infants) Disadvantages  Poor method of determining cause-effect relations  Failure to establish generalization due to lack of enough case studies, dependence on other research methods for accuracy etc.  Researcher bias b.)Naturalistic observations are used where researchers observe behavior as it occurs in a natural setting, and attempts to avoid influencing that behavior e.g., bullying in school. c.)Surveys – information about a topic is obtained by administering questionnaires or interviews to many people e.g. political polls. Two key concepts in survey research are population and sample. Population – consists of all the individuals needed to draw a conclusion (everyone). Sample – a subset of individuals drawn from the larger population. Representative sample - sample that reflects the important characteristics of the population. Random sampling
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