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PSY1101 - What Is Psychology?

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University of Ottawa
Mark Dallas

PSY1101▯ January 6th, 2013 What is Psychology? - Today’s definition: The scientific study of behaviour and mental processes - scientific: answering questions objectively based on observable facts, data, and established methods - behaviour: observable actions - mental processes: thoughts, feelings, sensations, motivations, dreams, subjective experiences Roots and Early History Roots of Psychology Philosophy Ancient philosophers asked questions about human existence - Rene Descartes: Dualism, or the idea that the mind and body are separate entities that interact - Plato: Nativism, or the idea that certain kinds of knowledge are inborn or innate - Aristotle: Philosophical empiricism, or the idea that all knowledge is acquired through experience Roots of Psychology Physiology The branch of biology that studies the functions and parts of living organisms - In the 1600s, physiologists begin to study the workings of the brain and its relation to behaviour - By the 1700s, physiologists find that specific bodily functions can be traced to specific brain areas - Some early ideas, such as phrenology, did not stand the test of time Psychology:ADiscipline Is Founded Wilhelm Wundt - Uses scientific methods to study psychological process - Writes first psychology textbook (1874) - Establishes first psychology research laboratory at the University of Leipzig, Germany Early Schools of Psychology Functionalism Advocated by William James and influenced by Darwin, functionalism focuses on how behaviours function to allow people and animals to adapt to their environment Psychoanalysis - The Unconscious: is the part of the mind that operates outside of conscious awareness - Unconscious conflicts determine behaviour and personality - Psychoanalytic Theory: unconscious mental processes shape feelings, thoughts, and behaviours PSY1101▯ January 6th, 2013 Behaviourism Psychology redefined as the scientific study of observable behavior - Ivan Pavlov: discovers conditioned reflexes - John Watson: extends approach to human behaviour - B.F. Skinner: further experiments on behaviour, learning, and conditioning Humanistic Psychology - Positive potential of human beings is assumed - Emphasis on self-determination, free will, and the importance of choice - Areaction to negative implications of Freudian and emphasis on external influences of the behaviourist school Cognitive Psychology - The scientific study of how perception, thought, memory, and reasoning are processed - Areturn to an emphasis on mental processes and how they influence behaviour Perspectives and Practices Nature vs. Nurture Psychology’s Big Idea -Are gender differences biologically predisposed or socially constructed? - Is a child’s grammar mostly innate or formed by experience? - How are differences in intelligence and personality influenced by heredity and environment? Psychology’s Current Perspectives - Aperspective is a way of viewing subject matter or phenomena - Neuroscience: how the body and brain enable emotions, memories, and sensory experiences? - how are messages transmitted within the body? - how is blood chemistry linked with moods and motives? - Evolutionary: how the natural selections of traits promoted the survival of genes - how does evolution influence behaviour tendencies? - Behaviour Genetics: how much our genes and our environment influence our individual differences - to what extent are psychological traits such as intelligence, personality, sexual orientation, and vulnerability to depression attributable to our genes? To our environment? - Psycho-dynamic: how behaviour springs from unconscious drives and conflicts - how can someone’s personality traits and disorders be explained in terms of
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