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Lecture 1

PSY2012 Lecture Notes - Lecture 1: Wilhelm Wundt, Empiricism

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Aaron Leedy

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Chapter 1-What is Psychology?
Key Terms:
● Psychology- formally defined as the study of human behavior and mental processes
● Empiricism- knowledge that is gained through the senses by observation
● Behavior- human actions that we can observe
Mental processes- the thoughts, feelings, and motives of humans
Important Figures in Modern Psychology
Despite popular belief, Sigmund Freud is NOT the Father of Modern Psychology
The Father of Modern Psychology is Willhelm Wundt
3 important individuals and their philosophies:
Willhelm Wundt- structuralism, “asks the question ‘what?’’
William James- functionalism, “asks the question ‘why?’”
Charles Darwin- natural selection, evolution, “asks the question ‘how?’”
Structuralism uses the method of introspection to understand mental processes
Functionalism is the study of how we interact and adapt to our surroundings; how the
mind interacts with the external world
Natural selection is the process of evolution in which species with advantageous
heritable traits produce more offspring slowly changing the species over time
Contemporary Approaches to Psychology
1. Biological- this is a physical approach that studies the brain and its components;
2. Behavioral- this approach only considers observable actions
3. Psychodynamic- this approach is usually associated with Freud, it focuses on how the
unconscious thought influences behavior
4. Humanistic- focuses on the individual’s motives, drives, intentions
5. Cognitive- how humans receive, process, and store information
6. Evolutionary- looks to evolution to explain human behavior
7. Sociocultural- looks to culture and ethnicity to explain human behavior
a. Individualistic cultures- for example; western civilizations, emphasis is put on
individual rather than the whole society
b. Collectivistic cultures- for example; eastern civilizations, emphasis is on the
social group rather than the individual
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