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exam review.docx

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McMaster University
Joe Kim

EXAM REVIEW What is Psychology?  Modern study of psychology extends to a wide range of disciplines including: neurobiology, sociology, physics, genetics, medicine, economics, chemistry, and anthropology  Psychology is the study of mind and behavior  By mind it is referring to all mental processes and subjective experiences that make up your sensations, perceptions, memories, thoughts, motives, and emotions  By behavior it is referring to all your observable actions  Psychology uses scientific method to answer questions through the systematic collection and analysis of data.  Psychologists conducting basic research have four major goals : 1) to accurately and objectively describe the processes of mind and behavior, 2) to explain the mechanisms of these processes and their causes, 3) to predict how these processes are affected by different conditions, 4) to control and influence these processes through application of psychology principles Part 1: Intellectual Roots of Psychology  The Greek root words “psyche”, meaning the soul, and “logos”, which refers to the study of a field, form the base of the term psychology  Hermann Ebbinghaus (early researcher in field of psychology), who in 1908 succinctly summarized psychology’s development thusly “Psychology has a long past, but only a short history”  Historians of psychology point to the classic works of Greek philosophers such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, and Hippocrates as a starting point for formally exploring issues in psychological thought  French philosopher Rene Descartes – suggested that the mind and body are separate and distinct entities that are casually linked – he believed that the mind controlled the movements of the mechanical body, receiving information about the outside world through the sense organs – although he was wrong about some of his specific ideas about the mechanism he proposed, his description of the body in mechanical terms would become very influential on the work of physiologists  Johannes Muller – discovered that the messages transmitted by nerves were coded as electrical impulses travelling along different channels – proposed that nerve connection to specific areas of the brain resulted in different sensory experiences – for example, activity of one brain region might lead to the experience of hearing, and so on.  Pierre Flourens, (supported Muller’s idea of localized function in the brain) learned which brain region controls heart rate, breathing, and visual and auditory reflexes by damaging different regions of an animal’s brain and recording the resulting deficits  Helmholtz – discovered that neural transmission was not nearly instantaneous – which suggested that neural communication involved processes that are much more complex than just an electrical signal traveling along a wire  all of these developments meant that physiologists could now ask serious scientific questions about the mind Structuralism vs. Functionalism  Edward Titchener – goal of structuralism – to understand the structure of consciousness in its basic elements and how they are related - goal of structuralists was to reduce consciousness into its core components such as sensations, feelings, and images – data collected through a method called introspection in which experimenters trained subjects to carefully observe and report theory own experiences  Critical flaw of introspection which lead to the fall of structuralism – although structuralists trained subjects to be unbiased and objective in recording their experiences, the fact remained that subjects were recording private data – a personal interpretation of what they experienced with no independent verification of the claim  Psychologists criticized the strategy of reducing complex human experience to simple sensations, rather than studying the whole directly – argued that this approach would oversimplify the study of the process to the point of rendering it inaccurate – the reductionist strategy used by the structuralists was missing the point entirely by trying to dissect consciousness into individual elements  William James (book “Principles of Psychology” – one of the most influential books in psychology) – core of functionalism – was that consciousness was an important human typical characteristic that must have an adaptive purpose – in this view the question of the function of consciousness, rather than its structure – more accurately viewed as the continuous flow of thoughts (“termed stream of consciousness”), rather than a series of static points – room for emotions, values, and recognition of individual uniqueness, which could not necessarily be captured by test results – explanation was emphasized more than experimental control Part 2: Multiple Perspectives and Levels of Analysis Behaviourism  Ivan Pavlov –reported experiments which demonstrated “involuntary” learning in dogs – in his experiment Pavlov showed that dogs would learn to salivate to a previous neutral stimulus (such as a tone), if that stimulus was paired with the presentation of food – this provided a learning mechanism by which experience with the environment could alter behavior  John B. Watson – focus exclusively on behavior – he argues that in a behaviourist’s pursuit of understanding consciousness, both structuralists and functionalists were diverging from objective science – Watson’s radical departure from Wundt’s psychology took consciousness out of the picture altogether and refocused the field to be concerned exclusively with observable actions  to Watson it the essence of scientific method was public data that could be directly observed and verified – basically observers could agree about what actions a person did, but not observe the mental processes that led to a person to produce that behaviour  B.F Skinner – leading modern figure in behaviourism – he extended the behaviourists argument to address criticisms of the strict adherence to be observed actions that seemed to deny that the mind existed – he argued that we could learn everything about an organism by studying its behaviour without a need to appeal to internal mental events – for example if you put food in front of an animal and it starts to eat the food you do not need to know whether or not if the animal is hungry if it begins to eat the food  Relate behaviours (responses), to observable events in the environment (stimulus)  The environmental stimuli could be any detectable input ranging from light to language and social interaction – came to be known as stimulus-response (S-R) psychology Psychodynamic  According to this view, the human actions that behaviourists studied could be better understood by examining the biological drives and motives within a person that may be in conflict with the demands of social conventions  Sigmund Freud – pushed the theoretical development of these principles to become one of the most influential thinkers in western thought – the foundation of his theoretical work would emerge from his clinical experience in treating mentally disturbed patients suffering from hysteria (now known as conversion disorder) –the puzzle was to discover the underlying cause that could make sense of this bizarre range of symptoms (partial blindness or deafness, paralysis, pain, trembling, gaps in memory  he developed a theory that the symptoms of hysteria were a masked expression of emotionally charged memories – the compromise between directly expressing and hiding the troubling memory was the physical symptoms – Freud’s psychodynamic theory views a person as being in a constant struggle between inner and outer forces – his model recognized that human nature is not always rational, with actions that may sometimes be driven by motives outside of conscious awareness Cognitive  Cognitive psychology – which is the study of our thoughts, representations, and mental processes including memory, attention, language, problem solving, and forming categories and concepts – the so called cognitive revolution (Sept 11, 1956) was the day that the Massachusettes Institute of Technology hosted a conference on a new approach to studying mental processes –built of the methodology of behaviourism, but argues that we can use the information from overt behaviour to make inferences about the mind Contemporary Perspectives  Biological – psychologists try to understand organism functioning as a product of genes, the brain, nervous and endocrine systems – behaviours are typically explained as the product of underlying biochemical processes and communication between neurons – example, schizophrenia can be understood as a condition resulting from an imbalance in the production of various neurotransmitters, such as dopamine  Developmental – perspectives consider how behaviours and mental processes change across the lifespan as individuals mature, learn, grow, interact, age, and die – example, visual acuity may follow a programmed timeline of development that peaks in adulthood and slowly declines with age  Evolutionary – perspective considers the broader context of the history of a species – the gradual process of evolution is the central explanatory principle for the ultimate cause of adaptive behaviour and mental processes – example, evolutionary psychology may help us to understand the different sex roles and preferences assumed by men and women as products of evolution, rather than contemporary societal pressures  Socio-cultural – perspective considers how cross-cultural differences have consequences on behaviour and thought, importantly, this level of analysis addresses past criticisms that psychological research has been centered on a western conception of human nature, using a subject population base of white, middle-class North American Europeans – example, assumptions concerning appropriate behaviours and the role of community and the individual are very differently influenced by local customs Research Methods in Psychology Part 1: The Scientific Approach to Behaviour The Basic Rules of Scientific Inquiry  Parsimony -w hen presented with two equally valid explanations, scientists tend to prefer the simpler of the two  Natural Order – when we look at human behaviour, we often see the same kinds of behaviour occur in widely varied setting and cultures – following the principle of natural order, we assume that this behaviour (smiling for example) is a reflection of the same underlying mechanism in people all over the world  Generalizability – principle is closely related to the principle of natural order – generalizability dictates that we ascribe the same causes to the same effects when we observe phenomena occurring across different situation, we also need to operate on the principle of generalizability that the same causes that produce our effects in the lab also produce those effects in everyday life situations over which the scientist has no control  Conservatism – scientists are conservative in the sense that they tend to support the current theory until new facts accumulate to force the theory to be modified or abandoned  Empiricism and Objectivity –knowledge should be based on actual observation not just on reason alone Inductive and Deductive Reasoning in Science  Inductive Reasoning – to move from a collection of specific observations (facts) for form an idea of their relationship in a theory – example, because cats, dogs, and cows are all warm- blooded you formulate the Four Legs theory that all four –legged animals are warm blooded – by this you are assuming  Deductive Reasoning – to test the theory to make specific predictions – example, if all four- legged animals are warm-blooded then elephants should be warm blooded too, as they are also four-legged animals even though no elephants were observed when you formulated the theory Steps in Scientific Investigation  Step 1: Theory – scientists begin by studying the existing collection of information about the world, such as previous work published by other scientists – this information helps them to construct a theory – a general set of ideas of how the world works  Step 2: Hypothesis – makes a specific prediction about the relationship between variables involved in theory  Step 3: Research Method – must carefully select a research method that is appropriate for the test at hand, most
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