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PSYA01 Textbook & Lecture Notes Chapter 1

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Introducing Psychological Science PSYA01 | Chapter 1 CH1.1 | THE SCIENCE OF PSYCHOLOGY  2011  IBM sent its supercomputer (Watson) to compete on Jeopardy against highly successful human players o ppl believed machines lack human elements: i.e. personality, wisdom, sense of humor, soul  Anthropomorphism | [psychology] act of treating objects or animals like people  Psychology is a vast discipline; collection of discipline, composed of many overlapping fields of study: 1. Involves study of behaviour that can include perceptions, thoughts, emotions 2. Employ the scientific method in their work  Psychology | scientific study of behaviour, thought and experience THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD  A person carefully following a system of observing, predicting, and testing is conducting science o Whether a field of study is a science, or a specific type of research is scientific, is based not on the subject but on the use of the scientific model  Scientific Model | way of learning about the world through collecting observations, proposing explanations for the observations, developing theories to explain them, and using the theories to make predictions HYPOTHESES: MAKING PREDICTIONS  Scientific thinking & procedures revolve around the concepts of hypothesis and theory  Hypothesis | testable prediction about processes that can be observed and measures o A testable hypothesis is one that can be confirmed or rejected (you do not prove a hypothesis) o Scientific hypothesis must be testable [fig1.1] The Scientific Method. Scientists use theories to generate hypotheses. Once tested, hypotheses are either confirmed or rejected. Confirmed hypotheses lead to new ones and strengthen theories. Rejected hypotheses are revised & tested again, and can potentially alter an existing theory. Introducing Psychological Science PSYA01 | Chapter 1  A good scientific hypothesis is stated in more precise, and publicly relevant terms: i.e. the following o “People become less likely to help a stranger if there are other around.” o “Cigarette smoking causes cancer.” o “Exercise improves memory ability.”  Pseudoscience | refers to ideas that are presented as science but do not actually utilize basic principles of scientific thinking or procedure THEORIES: EXPLAINING PHENOMENA  Hypotheses are a major component of scientific theories.  Theory | an explanation for a broad range of observations that also generates new hypotheses and integrates numerous findings into a coherent whole. o Built from hypotheses that are repeatedly tested and confirmed  good theories become accepted explanations of behaviour or other natural phenomena  Essential quality of scientific theories: can be proved false with new evidence o *any scientific theory must be falsifiable  Theories can be updated w/ new evidence o The process helps to ensure that science is self-correcting  THEORIES: o …are not the same thing as opinions. o …are not equally plausible.  Groups of scientists might adopt different theories for explaining the same phenomenon  i.e. several theories explaining the reason behind depression  there are good/bad theories o A measure of theory is not the number of people who believe it to be true. THE BIOPSYCHOLOGICAL MODEL  Thoughts and behaviours have multiple influences  psychologists adopt multiple perspectives to understand them  Biopsychological Model | means of explaining behaviour as a product of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.  Biological influences on out behaviour: incl brain structures, chemicals, hormones, drug effects  Family, peers, immediate social situation also determine how one thinks, feels, and behaves  Balanced understanding  requires consistent incorporation of ethnicity and gender in our discussion of human behaviour Introducing Psychological Science PSYA01 | Chapter 1 [fig1.2] The Biopsychosocial Model. Psychologists view behaviour form multiple perspectives. A full understanding of human behaviour comes form analyzing biological, psychological, social and cultural factors. PERSPECTIVE FOCUS EXAMPLES - Genes - Genetics of behaviour and psychological disorders - Brain anatomy and - Brain-behaviour relationships Biological function - Drug effects - Evolution - Behaviour - Language Psychological - Perception - Memory - Thought - Decision making - Experience - Personality - Interpersonal - Attraction relationships - Attitudes and stereotypes - Families Sociocultural - Conformity - Groups - Societies - Ethnicities BUILDING SCIENTIFICLITERACY  Goal: develop scientific literacy  Scientific Literacy | ability to understand, analyze, and apply scientific information. [fig1.3] Model of Scientific Literacy. Scientific literacy involves four diff. skills: gathering knowledge about the world, explaining it using scientificterms and concepts, using critical thinking, and applying and using information. Working the Scientific Literacy Model: How we learn and remember  This’ll help to move beyond the vocabulary and  understanding scientific explanations, thinking critically and discovering applications of the material What do we know about effective studying techniques? Introducing Psychological Science PSYA01 | Chapter 1  Massing | mode of studying where there is a break up of a large pile of cards into smaller groups and move through each pile separately  Spacing | mode of studying where one leaves the cards in one big stack and moving through them one at a time.  Most students prefer massing – seems easier & more effective  Actually, the two strategies are not equally effective and spacing is the better of the two How can science explain this difference?  Nate Kornell (2009); psychologist | conducted an experiment: o 20 student volunteers practice studying vocabulary words for a standardized test o Tried studying using both massing & spacing methods o Concluded that better to study by studying (allowed to remember more words) Can we critically evaluate alternative explanations?  With all research, there are limitations and other considerations to think about o Study methods people choose to use are counterintuitive o This study doesn’t provide evidence that spacing works for all kinds of learning o Kornell’s result may be limited (i.e. to factual and vocab learning) CRITICAL THINKING, CURIOSITY, AND HEALTHY SKEPTICISM  Misinformation can sometimes seem far more abundant that truth  good reason for developing critical thinking skills  Being psychologists: requires having a certain set of attitudes or dispositions o Incl. curiosities that drive us to ask thoughtful questions, to look beyond simple answers, and to demonstrate skepticism toward simplistic or outlandish claims  Critical Thinking | involves exercising curiosity and skepticism when evaluating the claims of others, and w/ our own assumptions and beliefs. o For psychologists, critical thinking  apply scientific methods carefully / examine our assumptions and biases / tolerate ambiguity when the evidence is inconclusive  We must always be curious! o Ask questions about all kinds of behaviour (not just the unusual/problematic) o i.e. how do we remember where we left our car keys?  Also important to approach matters w/ cautious skepticism! o i.e. ads for products o Being skeptical can be challenging, especially when it means asking for evidence that we may not want to find  We view curious & cautious skepticism as means of raising important questions  both attitudes lead us to search for and evaluate evidence  Critical thinking: involves skills that can be learned and developes – core set of habits & skills to develop it: 1. Be curious. Simple answers are sometimes too simple, and common sense is not always correct (or even close to it – the sun only appears to orbit around the Earth). Introducing Psychological Science PSYA01 | Chapter 1 2. Examine the nature & source of the evidence; not all research is of equal quality. 3. Examine assumptions and biases. This includes your own assumptions as well as the assumptions of those making claims. 4. Avoid overly emotional thinking. Emotions can tell us what we value, but they are not always helpful when it comes to making critical decisions. 5. Tolerate ambiguity. Most complex issues do not have clear-cut answers. 6. Consider alternative viewpoints and alternative interpretation of the evidence.  Critical thinking: o Not a philosophy/belief/faith/meant to make everyone arrive at the same answer o Cannot guarantee correct answer/can deliver unpleasant answers – will help find and justify good answers o Truly engaged (break some very persistent mental habits employed by nearly everyone) o i.e. Jon / university acceptance / T-shirt as early present  Complex questions may often issues remain ambiguous / a question may have several plausible answers  Doesn’t mean being negatively or arbitrarily critical – means respecting other viewpoints  examines knowledge, beliefs, and the means by which conclusions were obtained  To do psychology/other sciences o Needs to carefully steer around the mental barriers to rational thought  critical/scientific thinking o Human brain may perhaps be too willing to make connections. CH1.2 | HOW PSYCHOLOGY BECAME A SCIENCE  Socrates & Aristotle pondered the notion that physical objects have an essence (but only in the mind of the beholder)  Paul Bloom (2010) | revived & modified the notion of an essence o Uses the term essentialism to explain this very human tendency to ascribe significance to certain instances of some objects but not to others. o Studies how humans, starting at a very young age, “essentialize” certain objects (i.e. child & teddy bear) PSYCHOLOGY’S PHILOSOPHICAL & SCIENTIFIC ORIGINS  Science: actually a philosophy of knowledge that stems from 2 fundamental beliefs: empiricism and determinism  Empiricism | a philosophical tenet that knowledge comes through experience o “Seeing is believing” o [scientific term] knowledge about the world is based on carful observation, not common sense/speculation o Scientific theories must be rational explanations of how the observations fit together  Determinism | belief that all events are governed by lawful, cause-and-effect relationships o i.e. gravity – if one drops an object, it will fall o But does the lawfulness of nature apply to the way we think and act? We don’t have control over our own actions?  “Free will versus determinism” Introducing Psychological Science PSYA01 | Chapter 1  Psychologists recognize behaviour is determined by both internal (genes, brain chem) & external influences  Psychological science: both empirical & deterministic o Our understanding of behaviour comes from observing what we can see and measure and behaviour is caused by a multitude of factors  Scientific method (started to take hold ~1600s)  physics, astronomy, physiology, biology, chemistry expaaaanded  Only late 1800s – psychology became scientific o Zeitgeist | (German, “spirit of times”) refers to a general set of beliefs of a particular culture at a specific time in history o Power of zeitgeist can be strong = prevented psychological science to develop in 1600s o Ppl not ready to accept a science that could be applied to human behaviour and thought – would imply materialism  Materialism | belief that humans, and other living beings are composed exclusively of physical matter o We’re nothing more than complex machines that lack a self-conscious, self-controlling soul  Dualism | belief that there are properties of humans that are not material (mind or soul separate from the body)  Early influences on psychology came form the natural & physical sciences *[fig1.6] Major Events in the History of Psychology INFLUENCES FROM PHYSICS: EXPERIMENTINGWITH THE MIND  Gustav Fechner (1801-1887); physicist| worked on sensation & perception o Interested in how the physical & mental worlds interact o Coined the term psychophysics o Psychophysics | study of relationship b/w the physical world & mental representation of that world o Developed an eq. to precisely calculate the perceived change in weight (extended formula to apply to changes in brightness, loudness & other perceptual experiences) o i.e. Fechner tested how people detect changes in physical stimuli INFLUENCES FROM EVOLUTIONARY THEORY: THE ADAPTIVE FUNCTIONS OF BEHAVIOUR  Charles Darwin (1809-1882); natural selection | noticed that species are fine-tuned to their particular environment in which they lives, making them better equipped for survival & reproduction o This theory explains Earth’s diversity of life o Behaviour is shaped by natural selection, just as physical traits are o Noted that survival and reproduction are closely related to an individual’s ability to recognize some expressions as threats & others as submissions  appeared that emotional expressions & other behaviours were influenced by natural selection  Artificial selection – humans selectively breed animals to behave certain ways o Retrievers & pointers are good at hunting w/ humans – not poodles Introducing Psychological Science PSYA01 | Chapter 1 INFLUENCES FROMMEDICINE: DIAGNOSES& TREATMENTS  Medicine contributed greatly to psychology – as well as clinical psychology  Clinical psychology | field of psychological concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders  Brain localization: idea that certain parts of the brain control specific mental abilities and personality characteristics  Mid-1800s: 2 competing views of localization st  1  phrenology | Franz Gall (1758-1828) & Johann Spurzheim (1776-1832) o gained popularity for +100 yrs. o Believed that the brain consisted of 27 “organs” corresponding to mental traits & dispositions that could be detected by examining the surface of the skull o [fig1.8] A Phrenology Map. Early scholars of the brain believed that mental capacities and personalities could be measure by contours, bumps, & ridges distributed across the surface of the skull  Other approach  entailed the study of
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