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
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
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