PSYA02H3 Lecture Notes - Psy

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26 Mar 2012
Topic 1: Fundamental insights
SS #4045 (4TH FLOOR ELEVATOR) Wed 2-4
Why study psychology
Because interests in people & interactions, Psychology is supposed to be about
what makes people tick
Because you are person interest in finding out yourself
Because help people, understand others
Want to know if self-esteem really matters
Because want to deal with stress better
People’s strange beliefs???? (To ourselves-> it’s always other people’s beliefs
that seemed to be strange)
* Provides important insights into people & used in all different careers
(counselling, selling cars, consulting, management, activism, etc.) and
researches… Maybe even manipulating others
The incredible diversity is what makes psych fascinating & challenging
Fundamental insights of Psych
-These are lessons that a century plus of psychology research has taught us, and they can
deeply change the way you understand yourself, other people and the world around you
-Should be able to refer back and start to make more sense as you do that
-Reality is a story, told to us by our brains
-We don’t live in reality, we do not touch reality directly but only gives internal self-experience
-Our brains are artists, not mirrors
Our experiences do not reflect “reality itself,” but rather a construction, or
representation of reality
1) This construction process involves a lot of guesswork – “filling in the gaps”. We are
not exposed to the entire reality but a subset of it
2) This subjective representation occurs within the brain. The mind is brain.
We only have access to a limited subset of Reality
-Bits of reality hitting on us, however, we only experience a part of it
-The limitations of our sensory-perceptual system are due to;
1. The sensitivity of our sensory mechanisms
-Our limited of sensitivity (as compare to other people and other animals)
2. Our attentional capacity is limited
-Unable to tell a group of people’s expression as compare to when we examine each
-Can not pay attention to all at the same time
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-While sensory info is flooding in, we only have access to a limited subset of reality
-Reality happens fast and we have uncoontiously make guesses
-We don’t experience reality in its rawness
Perception is a process of creative story-telling and inference making. We have to fill
in a lot of gaps.
This is highly functional most of the time with our minds working amazingly well, can
be super-efficiently with small cost of accuracy
But this means that we are not directly interacting with reality, but rather, we are
creating a fiction about reality, and we hope it’s a pretty close match.
-Fred example: Fred has all these yellow arrows but perceives the (few) red arrows, the
red arrows represent bits of information, which forms our perception
-Act on perception, not on reality (default assumption)
-Perception gives us the basic information that guides what we do
-What we think we have received from the environment
-Sometimes reality doesn’t work as we need it to (bear vs. dog)
-For our brains to function super-efficiently, there is a small cost of accuracy (our brain
exchanges efficiency for accuracy)
-The less information we have the more likely we have to guess
But how does the Mind perceive Reality?
Perception is a process of PATTERN-MATCHING
It is as though our brains look for a correspondence between patterns that have been
stored in it through our past experience, and the patterns of sensory stimuli it is
currently experiencing.
(Looks like brain is searching correspondence from the past and compare to present)
The brain uses its pre-existing patterns (i.e., “knowledge”) to decode incoming sensory
Thus, what the brain has learned to see in the past, is largely what it sees in the
What it cannot decode, it either guesses about (if it has some reasonable info) or
ignores entirely, or just sees what it wants/likes to see
oWe often not seeing the things that maybe are right in front of us because we
are not expecting those, thus we avoid to regnize them
-Incoming pattern (reality), decoding pattern (past)
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