WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY
- Psychology is based on scientific research and empirical evidence.
o Evidence gathered by careful observation, experimentation, and
- Psychology can be defined generally as the discipline concerned with behaviour
and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical state,
mental state, and external environment.
PSYCHOLOGY, PSEUDOSCIENCE AND POPULAR OPINION
- Psychobabble is the pseudoscience and quackery covered by a veneer of
psychological and scientific-sounding language.
- Pseudoscience promises easy fixes to life’s problems and challenges.
THINKING CRITICALLY AND CREATIVELY ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY
- Critical thinking is the ability and willingness to assess claims and make
objective judgements on the basis of well-supported reasons and evidence, rather
than emotion or anecdote.
o Includes the ability to be creative and constructive.
o With this you’ll be able to distinguish serious psychology from the
o Required logical skills
o Ask questions; be willing to wonder
o Define your terms
o Examine the evidence
o Analyze assumptions and biases
o Avoid emotional reasoning
o Don’t oversimplify
o Consider other interpretations
Occam’s Razor – once several explanations of a phenomenon
have been generated, a critical thinker chooses the one that
accounts for the most evidence while making the fewest unverified
o Tolerate uncertainty
PSYCHOLOGY’S PAST: FROM THE ARMCHAIR TO THE LABORATORY
- Most of the great thinkers of the history from Aristotle to Zoroaster wondered
about the elusive nature of emotion, and whether it controls us or is something we
- Scholars of the past did not rely heavily on empirical evidence. Their observations
were often based on anecdotes or descriptions of individual cases.
- Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the founder of modern medicine,
observed patients with head injuries and inferred that the brain must be the
ultimate source of “our pleasures, joys, laugher, and jests as well as our sorrows,
pains, griefs, tears.” - The Stoic philosophers observed that people do not become angry or sad or
anxious because of actual events, but because of their explanations of those
- John Locke argued that the mind works by associating ideas arising from
experience, and this notion continues to influence many psychologists today.
- Phrenologists argued that different brain areas accounted for specific character
and personality traits could be “read” from bumps on the skull. (phrenology)
o Phrenology was a classic pseudoscience – sheer nonsense.
The Birth of Modern Psychology
- The first psychological laboratory was officially established in Germany by
- Wundt is revered by psychologists because he was the first person to announce
that he intended to make psychology a science and because his laboratory was the
first to have its results published in a scholarly journal.
- Researchers in Wundt’s laboratory concentrated on sensation, perception, reaction
times, imagery, and attention, and avoided learning, personality, and abnormal
Three Early Psychologies
o An early psychological approach that emphasized the analysis of
immediate experience into basic elements.
o E.B. Titchener
o Structuralists hoped to analyze sensations, images, and feelings into basic
o Emphasizes the function or purpose of behaviour, as opposed to its
analysis and description.
o William James, a functionalism’s leader, argued that searching for
building blocks of experience, as Wundt and Tritchener tried to do, was a
waste of time.
o Whereas the structuralists asked what happens when an organism does
something, the functionalists asked how and why.
o The functionalists wanted to know how specific behaviors and mental
processes help a person or animal adapt to the environment, so they
looked for underlying causes and practical consequences of these
behaviors and processes.
o Functionalism, like structuralism, was short-lived.
o It lacked the kind of precise theory or program of research that wins
recruits, and it endorsed the study of consciousness just as that concept
was about to fall out of favour.
o “Mind cures” were efforts to correct the “false ideas” that were said to
make people anxious, depressed, and unhappy. o Freud was convinced that many of his patients’ symptoms had mental, not
o Their distress, he concluded, was due to conflicts and emotional traumas
that had occurred in early childhood and that were too threatening to be
o Psychoanalysis is a theory of personality and a method of psychotherapy,
originally formulated by Sigmund Freud, that emphasizes unconscious
motives and conflicts.
PSYCHOLOGY’S PRESENT: BEHAVIOUS, BODY, MIND, AND CULTURE
The Major Psychological Perspectives
- The five lenses that predominate in psychology today are the biological, learning,
cognitive, sociocultural, and psychodynamic perspectives.
Focuses on how bodily events affect behaviour, feelings, and
Researchers in this perspective study how biology affects learning