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Psych 2B03 Midterm 2 Notes

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Richard B Day

Chapter 13 – Experience, Existence, and the Meaning of Life - Classic humanistic psychologists believe that the mind should not resemble a type of science o Fundamentally different from molecules or atoms because it is aware o Includes willpower, reflective thinking, imagination, introspection, self-criticism, happiness, free will, etc. - Goal of humanistic psychologists is to the aspects of the mind that are uniquely human and give life meaning Phenomenology - Phenomenology: one’s conscious experience of the world is psychologically more important than the world itself - Proponents of phenomenological approaches assume that immediate, conscious experience is all that matters o Past, future, and everything true about you now can influence you only by affecting your thoughts and feelings at this moment o Broader reality may exist but only part of it that you perceive matters to you - Construal: your particular experience of the world o Different from everybody else’s o Form the basis of how you live your life (goals, obstacles, opportunities) o Choosing your construal of the world -> how to interpret experience -> achieve free will o Leaving this choice to other people/society, lose your autonomy and (in a sense) your soul - Introspection: task of observing one’s mental processes Existentialism - Focuses on phenomenology, free will, meaning of life, and questions of existence - Arose as a reaction against European rationalism -> gone too far to attempt to account for everything (science, etc.) - Three parts of existence (Ludwig Binswanger): o Umwelt – biological experience which consists of sensations you feel by virtue of being a biological organism o Mitwelt – social experience which consists of what you think and feel as a social being (emotions and thoughts about other people and emotions and thoughts directed at you) o Eigenwelt – psychological experience of experience itself (how you feel and think when you try to understand yourself, your mind/existence)  Includes introspection - Thrown-ness: time, place, and circumsstnces in which you happened to be born o Existence/thrown-ness in 21 century is difficult because seems to have no arching meaning o Religion plays a smaller role than the past - Angst: (or existential anxiety) failure to answer questions about existence leads to anxiety about meaning of life and whether you are spending yours the right way o Anguish – experienced by every conscious human because choices are never perfect o Forlorn – nothing and no one can guide your choices of let you off the hook for what you have decided (alone with your choices)\ o Despair – inability to change crucial aspects of the world (many outcomes are beyond control) - Optimistic toughness: existential responsibility, requiring existential courage, to face your own mortality and the apparent meaninglessness of life and to seek purpose for existence - Living in bad faith ->ignoring existential issues and do as you are told be society o Immoral to ignore facts of existence and amounts to selling your soul for comfort o Even if successfully ignore facts, you will not be happy o It is impossible to ignore facts, because choosing not to worry about meaning of life and surrendering your choices to external authorities is still a choice - Authentic existence: coming to terms with existence (being honest and morally correct) o Reveals the awful truth that every person is alone and doomed o Terror inspired by the prospect of death can cause people to distort reality in many different ways in order to feel better  “humans must balance a propensity for life with an awareness of the inevitability of death” - Jean-Paul Sartre ->only through existential analysis can people regain awareness of their freedom - Existentialism begins with the experience of the single individual at a single moment in time o Everything else is an illusion; past, future and experiences of other people are closed off - Annata:”nonself” the idea that the independent, singular self you sense inside your mind is merely an illusion o Your “self” is merely a temporary composite of many things (physiology, environment, social setting, society) that are constantly changing o No unchanging soul in the centre, only a momentary collection of these influences o Illusion of having an independent and dependent is harmful  Leads to feelings of isolation and an excessive concern with “me” when everything and everyone is actually interconnected  Time moves from present to present to present (one person’s existence is no more or less real or important than anyone else’s) o Implies that instead of being forever alone, you are an interconnected part of the universe - Anicca: nothing lasts forever and it is best to accept this fact instead of fighting it o Current moment is not important and the past and the future have equal status o The well-being of others matters just as much as your own o Achieving anicca -> enlightened (caring for others the same as for yourself)  Universal compassion, essence of wisdom, serene, selfless state -> nirvana Optimistic Humanism - Carl Rogers -> person can be understood only from the perspective of the “phenomenal field”, conscious experience o Unconscious conflicts, environmental influences, memories, hopes, etc. o Everyone has a basic need to actualize (maintain and enhance life) - Maslow -> person’s ultimate need or motive is to self-actualize o Becomes active only if the person’s more basic needs are first met  Basic physiological needs, food, water  Safety, security, comfort, sex  Belonging social activity  Status, esteem  Self-actualization o Hierarchy can explain how people in different cultures may have different bases of happiness  Financial status associated more with life satisfaction in poorer countries and home life more important in richer nations - Kenrick -> evolutionary psychologist proposed a revised hierarchy of human motives o Immediate physiological needs o Self-protection o Affiliation o Status/esteem o Mate acquisition o Mate retention o Parenting - Maslow and Rogers believed you could become a fully-functioning person if you become more clearly aware of reality and of yourself, perceiving the world accurately and without neurotic distortion, and taking responsibility for your choices o Only possible if you have experienced unconditional positive regard from important people in your life (Rogers)  If you feel other people value you only if you are smart, successful, etc., develop conditions of worth  Limits your freedom to act and think b/c perception of reality is distorted  Experiencing unconditional positive regard -> life free from existential anxiety b/c confident of value o Anybody from any background could become a fully functioning person (Maslow) - In psychotherapy, help client become fully functioning person o Therapist develops caring relationships and provides unconditional positive regard o Help client perceive own thoughts and feelings w/out therapist trying to change them o Make the client feel appreciated no matter what he thinks/says/does o Allows insight and the removal of conditions of worth -> fully functioning person Personal Constructs - George Kelly -> one’s cognitive system assembles ones various construals of the world into individually held theories called personal constructs o Personal construct theory: how personal constructs help determine how new experiences are construed o Viewed constructs as bipolar dimensions, ranging between one concept and its opposite o Each person’s cognitive system is made of a unique set of constructs - Role Construct Repertory Test -> identify three important people and describe how 2 are different from the third o The way you discriminate among these people reveal the constructs which you view the world - Chronically accessible constructs: particular constructs that are more readily brought to mind in certain individuals o E.g. construct of failure -> everything ends in catastrophe - Believed that constructs come from (but are not determined by) past experiences o Data you use to develop an interpretation of what the world is like comes from sum of experiences and perceptions - Sociality corollary: understanding another person means understanding their personal construct system (look at the world through the person’s eyes) - Constructive alternativism: any pattern of experience can lead to numerous construals; you choose the construals you use Flow - Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi -> your moment-to-moment experience is what really matters in life o Optimal experience – making the most of every moment - Best way for a person to spend time is in autotelic activities (those that are enjoyable for their own sake) - Flow: subjective experience of an autotelic activity o Characterized by tremendous concentration, total lack of distractibility, thoughts concerning only the activity o Mood is slightly elevated and time seems to pass by very quickly o Arises when the challenges an activity presents are well matched with your skills  Too hard -> anxiety, frustration, worry  Too easy -> boredom, anxiety - Only people high in “locus of control” benefit from activities meant to promote flow (believe they can control their own life) Hardiness - Salvatore Maddi -> without stress, life would be boring and meaningless o Many people avoid stress by living a conformist lifestyle driven by expectations of other people and society o Leads to the development of a false self - Most severe kind of existential pathology is vegetativeness ->person feels nothing has meaning -> listless, aimless - More common is nihilism -> experience is dominated by anger, disgust and cynicism - Another side effect of the conformist lifestyle is to take on “adventure” -> promiscuity, drug use, etc. - Hardiness: lifestyle that embraces rather than avoids potential sources of stress o Properly approached and challenging experiences can bring learning, growth, and wisdom o Hardy people are generally healthier and better adjusted psychologically Self-Determination Theory - Hedonia: first route to happiness -> maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain - Eudaimonia: second route to happiness ->seeking a deeper meaning to life by pursuing important goal, building relationships and being aware of taking responsibility for one’s choices in life - Self-determination theory -> hedonia is dangerous b/c it excludes other goals o Eudaimonia entails finding and seeking goals that are valuable in their own right (intrinsic goals) rather than being means to an end (extrinsic goals – money) - Three types of intrinsic goals: o Autonomy -> finding your own way in life and making your own decisions o Competence -> finding something you are good at and becoming better o Relatedness -> establishing meaningful and satisfying ties to other people - Richard Ryan & Edward Deci -> people who follow intrinsic goals are better off than people who organize their lives around extrinsic goals o Higher in positive emotionality and lower in depression, negative emotions, anxiety, and signs of physical illness Positive Psychology - Positive psychology movement -> focuses on phenomena such as “positive subjective experience, positive individual trains, and positive institutions” in order to “improve quality of life and prevent the pathologies that arise when life is meaningless” o Rebirth of humanistic psychology o Satisfying and meaningful life involves happiness and true happiness comes from overcoming important challenges - Also investigates the traits, processes, and social institutions that promote a happy and meaningful life o Optimistic individuals are less fearful and more willing to take risks -> relatively happy  But can take foolish risks or fail to anticipate problems - Focuses on human strengths instead of faults o Promotes good outcomes, such as optimal achievement and health by promoting character strengths o Courage -> emotional strengths that involve the exercise of will to accomplish goals in the face of opposition o Justice -> strengths that underlie healthy community life o Humanity -> strengths that involve protecting and taking care of others o Temperance -> strengths that protect against excess (forgiveness, humility) o Wisdom -> strengths that entail the acquisition and use of knowledge (creativity, curiosity) o Transcendence -> strengths that give meaning to life by connecting to the larger universe (hope, spirituality) - Universality of these virtues suggest that they are evolutionary based o Counteracts a tendency that could threaten the survival of individuals and cultures (not everybody has them) o Identifies ways in which people could make themselves better The Implications of Phenomenology - The conscious experience is an obvious fact but cannot be explained or described o Some psychologists treat conscious awareness as a form of info processing or higher-order cognitive process - Can only comprehend someone’s mind to the extent that you can manage life from his or her perspective o Discourages judgmental attitudes o Would be able to realize their actions and attitudes are the natural consequences of their understanding of reality o Cannot judge the actions and beliefs of someone using your own moral code -> no objective reality Chapter 15 – Learning to Be a Person: Behaviourism and Social Learning Theories Behaviourism - Your personality is the sum of everything you do -> doesn’t include traits, unconscious conflicts, psychodynamic, etc. - Causes of behaviour can be observed as directly as behaviour itself o Are not hidden in the mind, so found in the individual’s environment (rewards/punishments in the social world) Empiricism - Idea that all knowledge comes from experience (the direct product of reality itself) o Structure of reality determines personality, the structure of the mind and our behaviour - Opposing view: rationalism -> structure of our mind determines our experience of reality - Implies that at birth, the mind is essentially empty (tabula rasa -> a blank slate) Associationism - Any two things, including ideas, become mentally associated as one if they are repeatedly experienced closely in time o Closeness often occurs as the result of a cause-and-effect relationship - Thought of one thing conjures up another and a person’s reaction to one tends to become his/her reaction to the other Hedonism and Utilitarianism - Hedonism -> people learn for 2 reasons: to seek pleasure and avoid pain o Explains why reward and punishments shape behaviour o Forms the basis of a value system that guides the technology of behavioural change - Epicurus -> the purpose of life is to be free of pain and to pursue “gentle pleasure” (aesthetic enjoyment, peace of mind) - Utilitarianism -> the best society is one that creates the most happiness for the largest number of people o Puts the goal of the most happiness for the most people about all other goals (e.g. truth, freedom, dignity) Habituation - The decrease in response to a stimulus on repeated applications (simplest kind of learning) - A response nearly as strong as the original can be maintained, only if the stimulus changes or increase w/ every rep - Effect of seeing images of suffering and violence is to be habituated to the pain of others o Can also change someone to be more aggressive or less empathic Classical Conditioning - Involves teaching an animal that one stimulus is warning or signal of the other -> proves associationism slightly wrong o Meaning of one event has changed the meaning of another - Affects emotional response and low-level behavioural responses o Unintentional classical conditioning can also change effects of drugs -> require larger doses over time - Learned helplessness: when one stimulus is not associated with another o Fear is felt when one knows what the danger is o Anxiety is felt when the source of danger is unclear or has no idea when it might arrive o Receiving random rewards and punishments can lead to the belief that nothing done really matters -> depression Social Learning Theory Dollard and Miller - Concept of habit hierarchy: behaviour you are most likely to perform at a given moment resides at the top and the behaviour least likely to perform is at the bottom o The effects of rewards, punishments, and learning is to rearrange the habit hierarchy o Individual’s history of learning produces a distinctive arrangement of behaviours that are more/less likely to be performed - Drive: state of psychological tension that feels good when the tension is reduced o Primary drives -> food, water, physical comfort, avoidance of physical pain, sexual gratification o Secondary drives -> positive drives for love, prestige, money, power, avoidance of fear and humiliation - Drive reduction theory -> for a reward to have the power to encourage target behaviour, the reward must satisfy a need o Implies that in the ideal state of existence, all needs have been satisfied -> leads to an inert human being o People constantly created new needs -> seeking of new challenges - Frustration-aggression hypothesis -> the natural, biological reaction of any person to being blocked from a goal, is to be frustrated, with the resulting urge to lash out and injure o The more important the goal, the greater the frustration and aggression impulse - Approach-avoidance conflict -> the conflict induced by a stimulus that is attractive and aversive
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