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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Roshan Singh 09/23/07 Mr. Joordens PSYA01H3 Chapter 1 Notes Psychology – The scientific study of the causes of behaviour; also, the application of the findings of psychological research to the solution of problems. It comes from 2 Greek words, psukhe meaning breath or soul and logos meaning word or reason. The modern meaning of psychology is the science of the mind. This can be misleading as by definition it is the study of behaviour and not literally the mind. The reason behind this is that in the development of psychology people perceived the mind as an independent, free- floating spirit and later on they described it as a characteristic of a functioning brain whose ultimate function was to control behaviour and thus the shift of focus. Since the brain accommodates both the mind and behaviour it was soon incorporated as the study of the brain. The ultimate goal of research in psychology is to understand human behaviour i.e. to explain why people do what they do. How do psychologists provide an explanation of behaviour? First we describe it, then we categorize and measure behaviour in order to maintain the different approaches of different psychologists, after that we must discover the causes of the behaviour we observe and if we are able to discover them then we have explained it. The use of such different levels of explanation is one reason why psychology is such a diverse discipline. Causal event – An event that causes another event to occur. What is the purpose of psychological research? One answer could be curiosity but the main reason as to why psychologists conduct researches is due to the fact that it holds the promise of showing how we could solve our most important and pressing problems. Problems around the world today such as hunger, poverty, crime and many others are all caused by human behaviour and if we are able to change people’s behaviour then their living conditions could be improved drastically Research psychologists differ from one another in 2 principal ways: Types of behaviour they investigate Causal events they analyze Physiological psychology – The branch of psychology that studies the physiological basis of behaviour. An organism’s physiology, especially its nervous system is considered to be the appropriate level of explanation. They study almost all behavioural phenomena in non-human animals such as learning, memory, sensory processes, emotional behaviour, motivation, sexual behaviour and sleep. It is considered to be a model that can help us discover the causal events in human behaviour. Comparative psychology – The branch of psychology that studies the behaviours of a variety of organisms in an attempt to understand the adaptive and functional significance of the behaviours and their relation to evolution. Roshan Singh 09/23/07 Mr. Joordens PSYA01H3 Chapter 1 Notes They are likely to study inherited behavioural patterns such as courting and mating, predation and aggression, defensive behaviours and parental behaviours. Behaviour analysis – The branch of psychology that studies the effect of the environment on behaviour – primarily, the effects of the consequences of behaviours on the behaviours themselves. They are primarily interested in learning and motivation. They believe that an important cause of a specific behaviour is the relationship between the behaviour and some consequent event i.e. good events are tend to be repeated and bad events are usually not repeated. Their findings are done in labs and are applied to teaching, business management, and psychotherapy. Behaviour genetics – The branch of psychology that studies the role of genetics in behaviour. They study the role of genetics in behaviour by examining similarities in physical and behavioural characteristics of blood relatives. Also perform breeding experiments in order to see what aspects of behaviour can be transmitted to an animal’s offspring. Cognitive psychology – The branch of psychology that studies complex behaviours and mental processes such as perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and problem solving. The events that cause behaviour consist of functions of the human brain that occur in response to environmental events. The following are related to the field of research psychology: Cognitive neuroscience – The branch of psychology that attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by studying the brain mechanisms that are responsible for them. Development psychology – The branch of psychology that studies the changes in behavioural, perceptual, and cognitive capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience. They study the phenomena of adolescence or adulthood, particularly the effects of aging. Social psychology – The branch of psychology devoted to the study of the effects people have on each other’s behaviour. They study the phenomena of perception, cause and effect relations in human interactions, attitudes and opinions, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics and emotional behaviours, including sex and aggression. Personality psychology – The branch of psychology that attempts to categorize and understand the causes of individual differences in patterns of behaviour. They look for causal events in a person’s history, both genetic and environmental. Roshan Singh 09/23/07 Mr. Joordens PSYA01H3 Chapter 1 Notes Evolutionary psychology – The branch of psychology that explains behaviour in terms of adaptive advantages that specific behaviours provided during the evolution of a species. Evolutionary psychologists use natural selection as a guiding principle. They trace traits such as our adaptive advantage to walk upright in comparison to others and explore how these could help explaining the behaviour of modern humans. Cross-cultural psychology – The branch of psychology that studies the effects of culture on behaviour. Clinical psychology – The branch of psychology devoted to the investigation and treatment of abnormal behaviour and mental disorders. They are mostly applied psychologists but there are a few who dedicate their work on finding the causes of mental disorders. The following are related to applied psychology: Clinical neuropsychologist – A psychologist who specializes in the identification and treatment of the behavioural consequences of nervous system disorders and injuries. Health psychologist – A psychologist who works to promote behaviours and lifestyles that improve and maintain health and prevent illness. School psychologist – A psychologist who deals with the behavioural problems of students at school. They were among the first applied psychologists. Consumer psychologist – A psychologist who helps organizations that manufacture products or that buy products or services. Community psychologist – A psychologist who works for the welfare of individuals in the social system, attempting to improve the system rather than treating people as problems. Organizational psychologist – A psychologist who works to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of organizations. It is one of the largest and oldest fields of applied psychology. Their predecessors concentrated on industrial work processes. Engineering psychologist (aka ergonomists or human factors psychologists) – A psychologist who studies the ways that people and machines work together and helps design machines that are safer and easier to operate. Forensic psychologist – A psychologist who studies human behaviour as it may relate to the legal system and to matters involving criminal justice. Animism – The belief that all animals and all moving objects possess spirits providing their motive force. Even gravity was explained through animism as the rocks fell to the ground because the spirits within them wanted to be reunited with the earth. Roshan Singh 09/23/07 Mr. Joordens PSYA01H3 Chapter 1 Notes Psychology as a science must be based on the assumption that behaviour is strictly subject to physical laws, just as any other natural phenomenon is. Descartes viewed animals and humans as creatures of the natural world as their beha
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