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chp 1 notes.doc

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Dan Dolderman

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Chapter 1. Introduction to Psychological Science Psychological science: The study of mind, brain, and behavior. Mind refers to mental activity. It is what the brain does. Brain involves biological processes that result in mental activity. Behavior is used to describe a wide variety of actions that occur in organisms. WhatAre the Themes of Psychological Science? Psychological scientists use the methods of science to understand how people think, feel, and act. Scientific methods refer to the use of objective, systematic procedures that lead to an accurate understanding of what is being studied. The Principles of Psychological ScienceAre Cumulative The first theme is that research on mind, brain, and behavior has accumulated over time to produce the principles of psychological science. Psychological science replies on empirical evidence and builds on previous discoveries in a dynamic way. ANew Biological Revolution is Energizing Research The second theme is this:Anew biological revolution of profound significance is in progress at the dawn of the twenty-first century, bringing with it a deeper understanding of the human mind and behavior. Three developments have set the stage fro a new biological revolution contributing to our understanding psychological phenomena. Brain chemistry: The brain wrks through the actions of chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which communicate messages between nerve cells. Hundreds of different substances play critical roles in mental activity and behavior. The human genome: Scientists have been able to map out the human genome, the basic genetic code or blueprint for the human body and have developed various techniques that allow them to discover the link between gens and behavior. Almost all psychological and biological activity is affected by the actions of multiple genes. It is he expression of genes that helps give rise to mind and behavior. Watching the working brain: Using methods of brain science, or neuroscience, psychological scientists have been able to address some of the most central questions of human experience. Knowing that there are consistent patterns of brain activation associated with specific mental tasks provides evidence that the two are connected. There is some localization of function, but that many different brain regions participate to produce behavior and mental activity. The use of brain imaging has allowed psychological scientists to make tremendous strides in understanding mental states. The 1990s were labeled the decade of the brain. The Mind isAdaptive The third theme of psychological science is that the mind has been shaped by evolution. Evolutionary theory: In psychological science, a theory that emphasizes the inherited, adaptive value of behavior and mental activity throughout the entire history of a species. Natural selection: Darwin's theory that those who inherit characteristics that help them adapt to their particular environment have a selective advantage over those who do not. Adaptations: In evolutionary theory, the physical characteristics, skills, or abilities that increase thechances of reproduction or survival and re therefore likely to be passed along to future generations. Three aspects of evolutionary theory are particularly helpful in this regard: Solving adaptive problems: The body contains specialized mechanisms that have evolved to solve problems that required adaptation. Now evidence is accumulating that many of social behaviors and attitudes can also be considered adaptive solutions to recurring human problems. People who lie, cheat, or steal drain group resources and thereby possibly decrease survival and reproduction for other group members. Some evolutionary psychologists believe that humans have cheater detectors that are on the lookout for this sort of behavior in others. Solutions to survival adaptive problems are built into the brain and therefor require no special training. Ex. infants develop a fear of heights. Modern minds in stone age skulls According to evolutionary theory, we must seek to understand the challenges that faced our early ancestors (Pleistocene-era humans) to understand much of our current behavior. Current behaviors that do not reflect our evolutionary heritage can be considered by- products of adaptive solutions to earlier adaptive problems. Culture provides adaptive solutions For humans, many of the most demanding adaptive challenges involve dealing with other humans. Ex. selecting mates, cooperating, competing and warring.
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