Psychology 1000, September 13, 2011- The Science of Behavior Notes
The brain structures involved in violence are also affected in empathy.
Research suggests that empathy may actually prevent aggression by actively inhibiting these circuits.
Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and the mind. The term behavior refers to actions and response that
we can directly observe, whereas the term mind refers to internal states and processes such as thoughts and
feelings, that cannot be seen directly and that must be inferred from observable measurable response.
Clinical Psychology- The study and treatment of mental disorders.
Cognitive Psychology- specializes in the study of mental processes. Cognitive psychologists examine such topics as:
consciousness, attention, memory, decision-making and problem solving.
Psycholinguistics- focuses on the psychology of language.
Biopsychology- focuses on biological. Biopsychologists examine how brain processes, genes, and hormones
influence our actions, thoughts and feelings.
Developmental Psychology- Examines human physical, psychological, and social development across the lifespan.
Experimental Psychology- focuses on such basic processes as learning, sensory systems, perception, and
motivational states. (Involves laboratory experiments, often with animals.)
Industrial Organizational (I/O) Psychology- Examines peoples behavior in the workplace.
Social Psychology- Examines peoples thoughts, feelings, and behavior pertaining to the social world: the world of
Psychology Scientific Study of behavior and mental illness
Biology Scientific study of life processes and biological structures
Anthropology Scientific study of cultural origins, evolution and variations
Economics Scientific study of production, distribution and consumption
of goods and services
Sociology Scientific study of human social relations and systems
Application of scientific principles to designing machines,
Engineering structures and systems.
Computer Science Scientific Study of information processing and manipulations
Scientific study of health and the causes and treatment of
Psychologys Scientific Approach
Science- is a process that involves systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions
and test beliefs about the natural world
Empirical Evidence- Evidence gained through experience and observation. This includes evidence from
manipulating or tinkering around with things and then observing what happens.
Observations need to be systematic- profound according to a system of rules or conditions. So that they will be as
objective and as precious as possible.
Primary goals of psychological sciences are to: describe, explain, predict and influence behavior and apply
psychological knowledge to enhance human welfare
Understanding Behavior: Some Pitfalls of Everyday Approaches
Our Personal experiences develop how we think.
Our experiences may be atypical
Misconceptions can result from faulty thinking:
o Mental shortcuts- we judge by appearance, rather than actually getting to know the person.
o We fail to consider alternative explanations for why a behavior has occurred and assume that one factor
has caused it.
o Once our beliefs are established, we fail to test them further, so we present a confirmation bias by paying
Using Science To Minimize Everyday Pitfalls
False starts= occur in which other researchers later are unable to duplicate the original researchers findings.
In principle science is a self- correcting process
Scientific Progress= Evolution of knowledge.
Thinking Critically About Behavior
Critical thinking= taking an active role understanding the world around you rather than merely receiving
information. It also means evaluating the validity of something presented to you as fact. Ask yourself the following
questions when someone makes a claim:
o What exactly is the claim or assertion?
o Who is making the claim? Is the source credible and trustworthy?
o Whats the evidence? And how good is it?
o Are other explanations possible? Can I evaluate them? o What is the most appropriate conclusion?
Of Astrology and Asstrology: Potential Costs of Uncritical Thinking
Dont believe things, unless they have scientific research, backing it up.
Four Central Goals:
o Describe how people and other animals behave
o To explain and understand the cause of these behaviors
o To predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions
o To influence or control behavior through knowledge and control of its causes to enhance human welfare.
The scientific goal understanding prediction and control are linked in the following manner: If we understand the
cause of a behavior and know when the casual factors are present or absent, then we should be able to successfully
predict when the behavior will occur. If we can control the cause then we should be able to control the behavior.
Psychology As A Basic And Applied Science
Basic research- the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake. The goal is to describe how people behaveand to
identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of behavior.
Applied research-, which is designed to solve specific practical problems. This often uses principles discovered
through basic research to solve practical problems.
Psychologys Broad Scope: A Simple Framework
Level of Analysis- Behavior and its causes can be examined at the biological level, psychological level and
Mind Body And Nature- Nurture Interactions
Think positive and good hormones get released
Think negative, bad energy get released, making you hungrier.
Mind Body Interactions- the relations between mental processes in the brain and the functioning of other bodily
systems. This focuses our attention the fascinating interplay between the psychological and biological level of
Big question= is our behavior shaped by nature or nurture?
Perspectives On Behavior
Perspectives- different ways of viewing people.
Psychologys Intellectual Roots
Mind- body dualism= the belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to physical laws that govern the body.
If the mind is not composed of physical matter, how could it become aware of bodily sensations? And how could its
thoughts exert control over bodily functions?
o Mind and body interact through the pineal gland
o Claimed the mind was a spiritual, nonmaterial entity
Dualism implies that no amount of research on the physical body couldever hope to unravel the mysteriesof the
non- physical mind.
Monism- a view that holds the mind and body are one and that the mind is not a separate spiritual entity.
Monists= mental events correspond to physical events in the brain
o Monist view point
o From the school of British Empiricism
o Held that all ideas and knowledge are gained empirically that is through the senses
According to empiricists, observation is more valid approach to knowledge than is pure reason, because reason is
can have potential errors.
Psychophysics- the study of how psychologically experienced sensations depend on the characteristics of physical
o Theory of evolution
Early Schools: Structuralism And Functionalism
Emerged in 1879
Wilhelm Wundt established the first experimental psychology laboratory- trained the first of psychologists. Structuralism- analysis of the mind in terms of its basic elements
Study used the method of introspection (looking within) to study sensation. This left a mark for studying cognitive
Functionalism- psychology should study the functions of consciousnessrather than its structure
o Leader in functionalist movement
o Trained psychologists
Two modern day mental fields:
o Cognitive psychology- studies mental processes
o Evolutionary psychology- emphasizes the adaptivness of behavior
The Psychodynamic Perspective:The Forces Within
Psychodynamic Perspective- searches for the cause of behavior within the inner workings of ou