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Lecture 1 - Introductory Class - January 8.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Dan Dolderman

January 8, 2013. Lecture 1 – Introductory Class Why to study psychology  Handle stress better  Reach goals easier o Example of a study where students participated in a one-off, personal intervention for a few hours about goals, obstacles, solutions and managed to significantly improve their grades  Deal with issues o Studies show that a mere 15 minutes of journal writing a day can significantly improve a person’s issues with depression, feelings of inferiority, lack of self-fulfillment, body image issues, etc.  Understand people’s motivations About Psychology  Wide variety of career opportunities o Teaching, business/international/social relations, therapy, social work, etc.  Lots of overlap with other subjects o Psychology often used/involved in anthropology, religion studies, sociology, etc.  Parallels between how the mind and self function and things like institutional systems, government, large corporations/organizations, NGOs, scientific paradigms, etc. Fundamental Insights of Psychology  Lessons that a century’s worth of psychology research and studies show us  Key points that tie all aspects of psychology through history together  Number 1: Reality is story, told to us by our brains. o The Matrix is story about how reality is filtered by our brains o We go through life thinking we are “plugged in” to reality o We think what we experience is “real” o Fact is we interact and react to an interpretation of reality, rather than reality itself o Plato’s cave basically o Our brains are artists, not mirrors o Like an author telling a story that could be pure fiction in which the story’s characters are manipulated/controlled/directed by the author’s story o Our experiences do not reflect “reality itself”, but rather a construction, or representation of reality  This construction process involves a lot of guesswork – “filling the gaps”  Like reading a story with a percentage of the words erased  Subconsciously filling the figurative gaps in our interpretation of reality  This subjective representation occurs within the brain  Humans are bombarded by signals, information, things to perceive  Our capability for sensory perception is somewhat limited due to: o Sensitivity of our sensory mechanisms (some frequencies we can’t hear, noses can’t smell like dogs’ can, etc.), this cuts out some information from the start o Our attentional capacity (can’t pay attention to a million things at once), this cuts out a lot of infor
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