PSY1101 Lecture 1: Class 1 PSY1101

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27 Jul 2016
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Chapter 1 Thinking Critically
Prologue and Chapter 1, pg. 1-45
-Psychology - the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes
Scientific - we will be answering questions objectively based on observable facts,
data, established methods
Behaviour - what drives us to these certain observable actions
Mental processes - thoughts, feelings, sensations, perceptions, motivations,
dreams, subjective experiences
-Roots and Early History
-Scientific study of the mind is relatively recent, before this, people looked at the mind
by the way their own minds operated
-Plato - Nativism - certain kinds of knowledge are with us from birth
-Aristotle - we are born as a blank slate, everything we get is from the experience of
the world. Extreme opposite from Plato, no one holds this anymore
-Rene Descartes (about 1500y later) - Dualism, the mind and the body are somehow
separate entities - independent of each other, a soul and a body. We have moved
away from this, the mind and the body are part of the same thing, both biological
processes
-We will not need to remember the year of birth or death of any psychologists
discussed
-Relatively recent views about how the mind works (goes back about 400y ago)
-Physiology
The branch of biology that studies the functions and parts of living organisms.
1600s - Physiologists began to study the workings of the brain and its behaviour
1700s - found that bodily functions are linked to certain areas.
Tried to explain from the physical map of the brain how they work in a way to guess
what was going on inside the mind, as surgery was not as popular then
-Earliest experimental psychologist - Wilhelm Wundt
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016
First one to use scientific methods to study psychological processes - (first
researcher)
-Edward Titchener Held that conscious experiences can be broken down into
elemental parts or structures
-Functionalism: Big “Shake Up” in Psychology — Advocated by William James,
influenced by Charles Darwin, focuses on how behaviours function to allow animals to
adapt to their environment
-Darwin influenced psychologists to investigate how behaviour allows animals to adapt
to their environment
-Really helped psychology understand what was behind human behaviour
-Sigmund Freud: Second Big “Shake Up” in Psychology - (Victorian mindset) The
unconscious is the part of the mind that operates outside of conscious awareness.
There are things going on over which we have no rational or conscious control.
Unconscious conflicts determine behaviour and personality
-Challenge we ran into with Freud: if we think of everything as subconscious, it can’t
be a science, we have nothing to test. Freudian theory became somewhat useless. A
number of people said that what we are interested in is studying observable
behaviour
-New Schools Develop: Behaviourism. Psychology became redefined as the scientific
study of observable behaviour not just introspection. Pavlov, Watson, Skinner
-Reaction to this: Humanistic psychology - higher level going on. Positive potential of
human beings, emphasis on self-determination, importance of choice. Rogers,
Maslow
-Now: Cognitive Psychology - scientific study of how perception, memory, reasoning
are processed.
-Nature vs Nurture - controversial. Psychology’s big question - are our minds a blank
slate or do we come fully formed by the environment/culture we are in? socialization,
parenting. Concerned about for a long time
Are gender differences biologically predisposed or socially constructed?
Is a child’s language skill mostly innate or formed by experience?
How are differences in intelligence and personality influenced by heredity and the
environment?
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Wednesday, May 4, 2016
-Many reasons why it is believed the mind is not a blank slate
-If you’re dealing with a society, there is a belief in the blank slate that everyone could
be moulded - anyone who refused to be moulded could be gotten rid of
-Others believe that you are born the way you are, you cannot be changed. Resulted
in the death of many people in concentration camps - the idea that human nature is
unchangeable
-Psychology’s Current Perspectives
-Neuroscience - How the body and brain enable emotions, memories, and sensory
experiences. On a neural level. - How are messages transmitted within the body?
How is blood chemistry linked with moods and motives?
-Evolutionary - How the natural selection of traits promoted the survival of genes -
How does evolution influence behaviour tendencies?
-Behaviour genetics - How much our genes and environment influence our individual
differences - To what extent are psychological traits (intelligence, personality, sexual
orientation, vulnerability) attributable to our genes? To our environment?
-Psycho-dynamic - How our behaviour springs from unconscious drives and conflicts -
How can someone’s personality traits and disorders be explained in terms of sexual/
aggressive drives or as the disguised effects of unfulfilled wishes/childhood traumas?
-Cognitive - How we encode, process, store and retrieve information - How do we use
information in remembering/reasoning/solving problems?
-Social-cultural - How behaviour and thinking vary across situations and cultures. -
How does our specific cultural context affect how we perceive the world?
-The Scientific Attitude & Critical Thinking
-In whatever setting in science, it is an approach based on research and discoveries -
this is how we build knowledge
-Critical thinking: examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence,
assesses conclusions
-Psychologists seek to maintain a scientific attitude: curiousity, skepticism, humility -
ability to change your mind when your previous beliefs are contradicted
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