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University of Toronto St. George
Doug Thomson

Fall of 2012 Psychological Science – 3 Canadian Edition PSY100H1F Chapter1–Introductionto Psychology I. Seven Themes of Psychology 1. Psychology is an empirical science 2. Nature and Nurture are inextricably entwined 3. The brain and mind are inseparable 4. A new biological revolution is energizing research 5. The mind is adaptive 6. Psychological science crosses levels of analysis 7. We often are unaware of the multiple influences of how we think, feel, and act Psychology Is an Empirical Science  Psychology uses the Scientific Method to understand thoughts, feelings and behaviours  Psychology uses the collection of data to create a theory, and test that theory to create a conclusion Nature and Nurture are Inextricably Entwined  Since ancient times, ppl wondered which is more influential on behaviour and personal characteristics – Nature (born with it) or Nurture (childhood experiences)  Psychologists say: both nature and nurture are important. (e.g. Some psychologist study how nature and nurture influence each other on the development of brain)  E.g.: PTDS (Post traumatic stress disorder), caused by traumatic events, but research shows that certain genes make it more likely to occur. The Brain and Mind are Inseparable  Historically, ppl thought the mind was in the liver and the heart  Most of history, scholars thought mind and brain were separated  Da Vinci – Probed into the physical body, led to many conclusions on the functions of brain  Descartes – Dualism: Mind and body are separate but intertwined  Now scholars feel the mind is what the brain does New Biological Revolution is Energizing Research  New understanding in brain chemistry → understanding of how brain physically worked  Human genome → genetic codes allowed links between gene and behaviour, memory etc.  New technology (MRI, CAT) allows seeing the brain in action, blood flow etc… We Often Are Unaware of the Multiple Influences on how we Think, Feel and Act  We are influenced by events and memories we are not consciously aware of  Subtle hints (priming) like showing a person smiling can make the participant happier  One study had participants hold cup of coffee for a researcher, those that held hot coffee thought the researcher was a warm person, those that held the cold coffee felt the researcher was cold person Fall of 2012 Psychological Science – 3 Canadian Edition PSY100H1F The Mind is Adaptive  Human mind has been shaped by evolution: Evolutionary Theory – Brain evolved over millions of years to solve problems for survival  Darwin – Evolution by Natural Selection: Random mutations hinder or improve an organism’s ability to survive and pass on genes. Those best suited for the environment (most adapted) have more offspring, and the genetic line propagates  Psychologists think many behaviors and attitudes are simply the result of adaptations to survive E.g.: infants won’t crawl across a visual cliff b/c they’ve evolved so to not die.  To understand modern behaviour, scientists must know the reasons/changes that caused the evolution of the mind. o E.g.: People like sweet fatty foods b/c human ancestors faced periods of starvation o Evolutionary idea of psychology does not explain new behaviours like using computers  Culture causes adaptations o Musical/food preferences, tolerance of body odors, ideas about modesty etc. are formed from our respective culture o Cultural evolution occurs rapidly, physical evolution occurs slowly o Westerners more likely to emphasize personal strength & independence o Easterners more likely to emphasize family orientation, and need for self-improvement Psychological Science Crosses Levels of Analysis  Historically, psychology studied at only one level; now it studies on 4 levels  Psychology is an interdisciplinary field  Four levels: 1. Biological – study the genes, brain chemistry, and physical brain, heredity, 2. Individual – study perception, behavior, personality, decision making etc. 3. Social – study interactions between people, stereotypes, attitudes, relationships etc. 4. Cultural – study how thoughts, values and behavior differ between cultures II. History of Psychological Science Before the 19 thCentury  People always wanted to explain behavior, all cultures tried to explain it All philosophy,  Confucius emphasized on education, interpersonal relations and human development no  Hippocrates and Galen recognized brain as important to mental reasoning experiments  Al-Kindi wrote about ways to combat depression  At-Tabari wrote on child psychology and psychotherapy  1800s – John Mill defined psychology as “the science of the elementary laws of the mind”  From 1800 onwards, psychologists studied through scientific observation Fall of 2012 Psychological Science – 3 Canadian Edition PSY100H1F Experimental Psychology Begins with Structuralism Problem with introspection:  Wilhelm Wundt: It is subjective, and scientists o Established first psychology laboratory in Leipzig 1879 abandoned it, because it was not o Realized: psychological processes took time, the more reliable difficult, the more time o Experiment with giving a simple task, and a more complex task, the difference in time = time for a particular mental event o Developed method of introspection – examination of subjective mental experiences, looking inward and reporting the contents of thoughts  E.g: A series of objects on table, participant asked which one is more pleasing  Edward Titchener: o Used methods of introspection to create structuralism “Structuralism: conscious experience o Believed understanding basic elements of conscious would allow understanding of mind
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