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Lecture 4

Psychology 1000 Lecture Notes - Lecture 4: Twin, Neuroimaging, Cognitive Neuroscience


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYCH 1000
Professor
Derek Quinlan
Lecture
4

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Chapter 1 Psych 1000 Week 1
The Nature of Psychology
Psychology: scientific study of behavior and the mind
Behavior = actions + responses that are directly observable
Mind = internal states and processes (e.g., thoughts, feelings) that cannot
be seen and must be inferred via observable measurable responses
o e.g., can’t see someone’s love for someone; however, we can
see/hear someone say “I love you”
Clinical psychology: study of treatment of mental disorders
Therapy stereotype
Private practice, clinics, hospitals
Some are scientists
Many subfields that are not directly connected to therapy...
(1) Cognitive psychology
o Study of mental processes
o Views mind as an “information processor”
o Topics: consciousness, memory, attention, decision making
o Associated area: psycholinguistics, i.e., psychology of language
o Jumbled words = example of psycholinguistics
(2) Biopsychology/neuroscience
o Biological underpinnings of behavior
o Brain processes, genes, hormones affect actions, thoughts, feelings
o Evolution effect on psychological capabilities and tendencies
(3) Developmental psychology
o Physical, psychological, an social development across life span
(4) Experimental psychology
o Basic processes, i.e., sensory systems, perception, motivation
o Sensory = vision, hearing
o Motivation = sexual motivation, hunger, thirst
(5) Industrial-organizational psychology
o Examines people’s behavior in the workplace
o Leadership, teamwork
o Job satisfaction, work motivation, performance
o Develop tests to help employers identify best job applicants
(6) Personality psychology
o Study of human personality
o Seek to identify core personality traits
o How differing traits influence behavior
o Develop tests to measure personality
(7) Social psychology
o Thoughts, feelings, and behavior pertaining to the social world
o “The world of other people”
o How people influence one another, behave in groups
o Form impressions, attitudes
Many psychologists have interests that bridge different subfields
e.g., using decision making tasks and brain-imaging techniques
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Chapter 1 Psych 1000 Week 1
Psychology’s Scientific Approach
Science: 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
Includes evidence from manipulating variables and observing responses
Observations in science need to be systematic (i.e., performed according to a
system of rules/conditions) so that they will be as objective/precise as possible
Understanding Behavior: Some Pitfalls of Everyday Approaches
Science not the only avenue we can learn about human behavior
Also: family/friends, literature, religion, internet, and media
Problem with intuition: everyday observation usually is causal, not systematic
Misconceptions of human behavior can result from our own faulty thinking:
We take mental shortcuts when forming judgments
o e.g., judging someone solely on physical appearance
We fail to consider alternative explanations for behavior
o Assume one factor has caused it (which is false)
Once beliefs are established, fail to test them further (confirmation bias)
Using Science to Minimize Everyday Pitfalls
Psychologists take concrete steps to minimize biases/inaccurate conclusions
Use instruments to objectively record people’s responses
Science is a public affair, i.e., results are published
Publication enables scientists to scrutinize and challenge each other’s findings
Collective approach that reduces risk of confirmation bias
“False starts” = researchers unable to duplicate original researcher’s findings
In principle, science ultimately is a self-correcting process
Changes in previous information can be frustrating
e.g., breast cancer screening guidelines (regular at age 50, not 40)
e.g., weight loss: two large meals > multiple small meals
These changes = scientific progress
Thinking Critically About Behavior
Critical thinking: active role in understanding the world around you, rather than
merely receiving information
Also means evaluating the validity of something presented to you as fact
View T or F (p. 6)
The Jumbled Word Challenge
What’s the claim?
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Chapter 1 Psych 1000 Week 1
(1) People can read jumbled words without a problem as long as the first
and last letters stay in place
(2) People have no problems because we read words as a whole rather
than individual letters
(3) This finding is based on research at Cambridge University
Who is making the claim?
Author of paragraph is anonymous (caution flag 1)
What’s the evidence, and how good is it?
No reference information indicative of Cambridge (caution flag 2)
Transposition of letters is minimal (caution flag 3)
Are other explanations possible?
83% of words are either unjumbled or have minor transpositions
What is the most appropriate conclusion?
“Under some conditions” reading is easy when first and last letters intact
Minor transpositions of interior letters slowed reading speed by 11%
Other languages: interior transpositions make some words very difficult or
impossible to read
Of Astrology & Asstrology: Potential Costs of Uncritical Thinking
What’s the harm in holding false beliefs?
Immediate personal consequences = minimal
But, misconceptions can add up and lead to continuously misguided views
of how the world works
Cannot uncritically accept
e.g., Disney dropping “educational” title for Baby Einstein videos
Uncritically accepting info can lead to loss of $
Astrologers, graphologists, tea-leaf readers, rumpologists
All examples of pseudoscience, i.e., dressed up as science to attract
believers, despite lack of scientific evidence
Psychology’s Goals
1. To describe how people and other animals behave
2. To explain and understand the causes of these behaviors
3. To predict how people and animals behave under certain conditions
4. To influence or control behavior through knowledge and control of its causes to
enhance human welfare
Prediction can have important practical uses that do not require complete
understanding of why some behavior occurs
e.g., scores on a personality test dependably predict school drop-out rates,
without fully understanding the psychological processes involves
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