PS102 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Gustav Fechner, Wilhelm Wundt, Psychology Today

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Published on 20 Jan 2018
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Chapter 1 Overview
What is psychology?
Psychology’s Early Roots- Philosophy
The early days of Psychology
Twentieth Century approaches
Psychology today
Psychology definition: the scientific study of mental processes and behaviour
-Mental Processes= things happening in our minds that no one else would be able to observe
E.g. using language, accessing memory, problem solving, using language, etc.
-Behaviour= actions that can be observed by someone else
E.g. talking, singing, eating, sleeping, studying, etc.
What is Psychology?
FOUR goals of Psychology:
1. Description of what one observes
a. What is depression?
2. Explanation of these observations
a. What causes depressive symptoms?
3. Prediction of the circumstances that lead to the expression of a specific behaviour
a. When are we more likely to see depressive symptoms?
4. Controlling behaviour
a. How can we prevent depressive symptoms in the future?
LEVELS of Analysis
Mental processes and behaviour can be studied at multiple levels of analyses
The Brain- brain structure and function
How is the neurotransmitter serotonin related to depression?
The Person- individual thoughts and feelings
How do our thought patterns influence our feelings of depression?
The Group- family, friends, culture
How does having a social support system influence depression?
“How bright does a light have to be for us to see it?” “How much louder does tone B have to be
than tone A for there to be a noticeable difference?”
Psychology’s Early Roots
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Psychology’s early roots were in philosophy and psychophysics.
Philosophy= the study of knowledge and reality
Ancient Greek philosophers- approx. 400 B.C.E.
Socrates, Plato, Hippocrates, Aristotle
By the 1600’s, modern science began to thrive
Bacon, Descartes, Locke
Psychophysics= the study of the relationship between physical stimuli and their
psychological effects
Pioneered in the 1800’s
Herman von Helmholtz, Gustav Fechner
The Early Days of Psychology
Wilhelm Wundt
Opened the first psychology lab in 1879
Studied consciousness
G. Stanley Hall
Credited with many firsts
First psychology lab in North America (1883); launched the first
psychology journal (1887); helped establish the APA (1892)
James Mark Baldwin
First psychology lab in Canada (1890)
Battle of the ‘schools’ of traditional psychology- what should be the focus?
Structuralism- led by Edward Titchener
Sought to understand the basic elements of consciousness
Relied on introspection
Functionalism- led by William James
Sought to understand the function of the mind
Led to the many other schools of thought
Gestalt psychologists:
Said consciousness cannot be broken down into elements
We perceive things as whole perceptual units
“The whole is greater than the sum of its parts”
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