- A behavior is any action that can be observed, recorded, and measured.
- Ancient greek philosophers examined questions like “do people have free
will” and “are people inherently good or evil”?
- Rationalism: the pursuit of truth through reason and logic.
- Socrates concluded that our perceptions are not always the same as reality
- Empiricism: the belief that people can describe the world through rules
generated by observation, quantification, and the principle of parsimony.
This approach was applied to questions about why people do the things they
- Socrates asked “can we accurately perceive reality”?
- Ernst Weber, and Gustav Fechner founded the discipline of psychology
known as psychophysics.
- Psychophysicist measured the relationship between changes in the
magnitude of the physical energy in a stimulus (light intensity) and our
sensation of the changes in stimulus magnitude (how we perceive its
brightness). They discovered that physical and sensory magnitudes were not
- Founding fathers of psychology are Wilhelm and William. Wilhelm focused
on smaller elements that made up human experience. William focused on
purposes associated with various human traits
- Wundt, von Helmholtz and Fechner are considered to follow the structuralist
viewpoint. Structuralist psychologists break complex phenomena down to
their smallest components and then study these components, assuming that
if they understand all the parts, they will understand everything.
Introspection was one of their tools.
- William James was a doctor, philosopher, and physiologist who studied many
aspects of psychology. Published a textbook in 1890 “the principles of
psychology”. He came up with the “tip of the tongue phenomenon”.
- Tip of the tongue: where you know a word, you just cant think of it.
"The state of our consciousness is peculiar. There is a gap therein; but no mere
gap. It is a gap that is intensely active. A sort of wraith of the name is in it,
beckoning us in a given direction, making us at moments tingle with the sense of
our closeness and then letting us sink back without the longed-for term. If wrong
names are proposed to us, this singularly definite gap acts immediately so as to
negate them. They do not fit the mould. And the gap of one word does not feel
like the gap of another, all empty of content as both might seem necessarily to be
when described as gaps."
- Henry James was influenced by Charles Darwin and his theory of natural
- Functionalism psychologists examine behaviours, traits, and perceptions by
asking “what are they for?” It emphasizes not the elemental structure for
processes, but their purpose.
- A scientific theory is an idea, or conceptual model that is designed to explain
existing facts and make predictions about new facts that might be discovered. - Structuralists would say that you didn’t perceive an apple- you perceived red,
and sweetness, and roundness and all these things are what make up
“perceiving an apple”. However, a functionalist might think about why we
- Carlson and Heth describe psychology as a science whose “primary emphasis
is on discovering and explaining the causes of behavior”. It is the science of
behavior and mental processes.
- Behavior is generated by the brain. Its based on what we attend to, and how
we process information using our senses and perceptions to create an
understanding of the information at hand.
- Newton said that science attempts to explain the causes of things. A cause is
the necessary and sufficient condition for something to occur. (eg. Oxygen is
a necessary but not sufficient condition for the occurrence of fire, therefore
oxygen doesn’t cause fire).
- Science identifies causes through systematic observation and experiment
(it’s empirical). It explains the results of observations with theories that are
then used to predict new things. The success is measured by the ability to
explain past results and predict the future.
- Science: 1. Seeks explanations for observed phenomena that rely solely on
natural causes. 2. Make testable predictions about natural phenomena. If
predictions don’t agree with observations, model must be revised or
abandoned. 3. Progresses through creation and testing of models of nature
that explain the observations as simply as possible.
- 2 questions asked about scientific problems: a. how does something work?
b. why is something the way it is?
- How= the mechanism that causes something to occur
- Why= can be answered from a functional or evolutionary point of view.
- Difference between science and technology: technology attempts to optimize
some relationship (ie. Can optimize mental health), while science seeks to
understand the causes of phenomena.
- Natural selection works this way:
a. characteristics vary among individual members of speices
b. characteristics are passed from parents to offspring
c. adaptive characteristics that cause greater reproductive or survival success
become more common over generations
- behavior is any action that can be observed, recorded or measured.
- Researcher concluded from the baby video that new or novel stimuli
produced more attention and interest. Behaviours are studied to determine
psychological processes (underlying cognitions, emotions, perceptions and
- Areas psychologists might investigate when studying:
1. motor and cognitive development of infants
2. maturation of brain structures and pathways
3. principles of development that apply similarly across different species
4. principles of development across different cultures
5. how language develops in children 6. how the principles of language development can be used to allow computers
to use language
7. decisions made by new parents to stay home or keep working and how that
affects the development of the child
8. whether different types of day care influence how well kids get along with
9. whether diff. types of day care influence academic achievement
- What is the scientific method?
- To describe behavior: Descriptive methods: naturalistic observation,
laboratory observation, case studies, surveys
- To determine relationships between 2 variables: Correlational designs-
correlations measure relationship between two variables
- To determine cause and effects: Experimental methods
- Peter gray defines a Theory: an idea or conceptual model that is designed to
explain existing facts and make predictions about new facts that might be
- Newton’s theory of gravity can explain the existence of the sun, earth, and
- We generate hypothesis to test theories- a statement designed to be tested
by an experiment that expresses a cause and effect relationship between 2 or
more events. A good hypothesis should be able to be disproved.
- The scientific method is a way to gain knowledge that focuses on verifiability
(a theory if verifiable if it can be tested by others) and objectivity (based on
observations and uninfluenced by emotions). Can be referred to as
empiricism (gaining of knowledge through observable facts/experiences).
Consistency in getting the same results from an experiment is called
reliability (consistent, and not due to chance).
- Some psychologists used introspection to describe the fundamental
structure of the human mind by asking people for detailed descriptions of
things. (ie. What are the fundamental aspects of the perception of the
apples colour? What type of red is it?)
- the problem with this is that there is the concept of objectivity and everyone
will have different points of view.
- The empirical world: describes things that are experienced by most
individuals in a similar manner. Some approaches stress evolutionary
theory, learning, personality and cultural factors.
- Scientific method used at all levels of analysis has a series of steps:
1. a research question is refined into a hypothesis or statement that suggests a
relationship between events.
2. A study is designed and conducted to test this hypothesis.
3. Data is collected
4. Analyze the data and obtain results
5. Draw conclusions from these results, use them to develop new hypothesis
- (more info on pg.11)