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What is Psychology.docx

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PSY 101
Professor Berg

What is Psychology? Thursday, January 30, 2014 3:20 PM Psychology: •The scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes Scientific Method: •Set of procedures for gathering and interpreting objective info in a way that minimizes error and yields dependable generalizations •Orderly steps used to analyze and solve problems Behavior: •Actions by which an organism adjusts or responds to its environment o Observable: smiling, crying, running, etc. o Not directly observable: loving, desiring, contemplating, forgetting, etc. What is Psychology? •Psychologists examine (through observation) what the individual does, and how the individual goes about doing it o The individual may be any organism with observable behavior (e.g. human, rat, bird, etc.) o Examinations may take place in a lab (controlled experiments…) •Mental processes (workings of the mind) play a critical role in behavior o Thinking, planning, and reasoning are a few examples of mental processes that cannot be directly observed, but they're important for our understanding of behavior What happens •Behavioral Data: o Reports of observations about behavior, and conditions under which behavior occurs or changes •Explanations look to explain how behavior works o Most behavior is influenced by a combination of factors: • Internal factors (genetics, motivation, intelligence) • External factors (changes in environment, time constraints) Predicting what happens •Based on an understanding of the ways events relate to each other •Suggest what mechanisms link those events to certain predictors •Specific conditions- external and internal- in which we predict behaviors will change •Predictions should be worded such that they can be tested, and rejected if evidence does not support what has been predicted Historical Foundations •Hermann Ebbinghaus o "Psychology has a long past, but only a short history" o Known for his research on memory, learning, and illusory effects o Questions asked long ago are being answered today by innovative observational designs and advances in technology •Plato o Rooted in the nativist view that people begin life with mental structures that constrain experience o How does the mind work? o What is the nature of free will? •Aristotle o Rooted in the empiricist view that people begin life with their mind as a blank tablet o "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it" • John Locke o Extensively articulated the empiricist view (following Aristotle) o Believed that we begin with blank minds • Immanuel Kant o Extensively articulated the nativist view (following Plato) o Believed that the mind begins equipped with mental structures that provide experiences • Empiricist vs. Nativist o Nature vs Nurture o Early philosophers influenced the way we think about these concepts • Wilhelm Wundt o Founded the first formal experimental psych lab; applied scientific technique to philosophical inquiry o Interested in sensation and perception, as well as the time-course of mental processes • William James o Wrote The Principles of Psychology respected as one of the most influential texts ever written in the field • Concerned with issues such as brain function, consciousness, attention, memory, sensation and perception, reasoning • G.Stanley Hall o Studied under William James at Harvard • Issues arise when new fields emerge: o Which topics are properly classified as a matter for the fields o Which methods o What are the boundaries of objectivity? Perspectives of Psychology • A psychological perspective influences o What questions are asked o How questions are implemented o Which methods are used to investigate o Which conclusions are being drawn • Perspectives can be blended and molded to enhance the way psychologists approach the field • Psychodynamic perspective o Behavior is explained in terms of: • Inherited instincts • Biological drive • Attempts to resolve conflict o Focus is on the unconscious o
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