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What is Psychology

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PSYC 2510
Agnieszka Kopinska

WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY? see pg. 24 of text  study of behaviour, physiological and cognitive processes  the profession that applies this knowledge to practical problems  no full definition (very diverse field of study)  “soft science” – unlike biology, chemistry, physics  no definite answers  can’t be measured or calculated  not tangible, rooted in theory  young field, constantly evolving  main idea: nature vs. nurture THE BIRTH OF PSYCOLOGY  emerged from philosophy and physiology  philosophy = questions about the mind  physiology = questions about physical sensations/perceptions  before psychology, lots of questioning and theories, no research  Wilhelm Wundt – the father of psychology, interested in measuring consciousness  “the awareness of immediate experience”  1879 – founded the first psychology lab at U of Leipzig  wanted more than questioning  1881 – founded the first psychology journal (helped promote the scientific aspect of the field)  1883 to 1894 – Wundt’s students established labs in North America  Edward Titchener – structuralism  “identifying and examining the links between the basic elements that make up consciousness”  focus on introspection  the insight into ourselves  people were trained in introspection  ultimately unviable because it is almost impossibly to be truly objective  William James – functionalism  “if humans evolved to have consciousness, it must serve an important function”  consciousness is a result of natural selection  coined the term “stream of consciousness”  focus on function of consciousness rather than the structure/elements  John B. Watson – behaviourism  “forget about consciousness and focus on what we can physically measure and observe”  more scientific vigour in behaviour  easier to measure/verify  tangible, observable  nurture takes precedence over nature  behaviour = any observable response/activity by an organism  studying behaviour means you can shape or change it  behaviour is related to cues in environment  see Pavlov’s Dog  shift away from human to animal subjects  better control of variables in environment  humans are too complex to use as test subjects in behaviourist experiments  B F Skinner – radical behaviourism  “free will is an illusion”  behaviour is entirely a function of environmental influence  boiled down to very simplistic terms  pleasurable outcome = action will likely be repeated  neutral/negative outcome = action will not likely be repeated  worked well with animals  still applied today in schools, etc.  Sigmund Freud – psychoanalytic theory  “the unconscious affects our behaviour.”  the unconscious = thoughts, memories and desires of which one is unaware but which influence behaviour  based on introspection and observations from clinical work  tried to understand personality, motivation and mental illness by emphasizing the unconscious causes of behaviour (e.g. sexual urges)  completely new concept, predecessors
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