What are the basic concepts of Psychological Science?
Psychology is an Empirical Science
The quality of the background matters, and anecdotal evidence is hardly compelling evidence
Empirical means that it is capable of being verified or disproved by observation or experiment.
Theory —> Prediction —> Experiment —> Observation.
Use a theory to make a prediction, design an experiment to test the prediction, preform the experience,
create or modify the theory.
By being put in a true scientific experiment, you will have better results. This is especially true with facilitated
communication and their clients. All the experiments failed.
Empirical science is based on rigorous scientific method
The only valid knowledge is knowledge gained using the senses.
The findings and data must be obvious to the senses of any in depended observer in order to be knowledge or fact.
They should be able to get the same results as somebody else.
Anything supernatural we don’t consider to be knowledge; magic, mythology, Santa, etc are things we can’t
understand. They can’t have empirical research preformed on them. We can’t refute them, because we can’t test the
validity of them.
By understanding how science is conducted makes it possible to tell which studies are credible, and which are not.
The Mozart Effect; if you listen to Mozart/Classical music in utero/early development, then you will be a
smarter child overall. This popular myth grew out of a well-conducted study. They found that by playing
Mozart to undergrads, their scores on a subset of an IQ test grows. These students were split into three group;
those who sat for ten minutes who listened for nothing, those who listened to a relaxation track, and a third
who listened to a Mozart sonata. The Mozart group preformed a little bit better at a task; folding and cutting
paper. The media jumped on it, warped it, etc. Baby Einstein and whatnot are a result of this.
Nature and Nurture are Entwined
What makes us who we are?
Nature vs Nurture. Is human development influenced by maturation (biological, genes, physical maturation) or
by experience (parenting, culture)? We now realize that they are intertwined.
Genes don’t determine your behaviour. They can be linked to vulnerability, like psychosis, but environmental
layering on top of those genes are also important; without that environmental trigger, you may never have
those genes triggered.
The study of how the environment influences genetic expression.
Genes (segments of DNA that contain instructions for creating proteins) can switch between
active (directing protein production) or silence (no protein produced) phases.
These patterns of activations and silencing, is known as the epigenome, which exists across all
genes in a cell. It is like the weather, constantly chaining in these patterns.
The study of these patterns is called epigenetics, like meteorology.
Changes in the epigenome alter a gene’s activity status (not in its structure)
The environment can alter the epigenmore, changing the activity level of genes, raising or
lowering the risks for developing diseases.
Some environmental facts, such as diet, not only change an individuals epigenome, but appear
to influence the epigenome of future generations.
As a human population in industrialized populations, we have been growing massively
obese. The current generation of individuals will not live as long as their parents,
Epigeneticists are looking at how to fix this, and looking at the “agouti” gene, which is
connected to obesity. It’s activation and silence patterns influence other genes down the
line, and in mice, with active agouti genes, you can see in psychically in their fur, which
lightens considerably, as well as the mouse becomes obese.
If the gene is off, then you have a healthy weight. When the gene is on, then you have a
mouse with an unhealthy weight and healthy problems.
The Brain and Mind are Inseparable
"The mind is what the brain does", "the physical brain enables the mind.”
Dualism and the Mind-Body Problem. Rene Decartes (1596-1650) proposed how the brain plays a role in behaviour.
He believed that behaviour is controlled by two things; the mind (a nonmaterial entity) controls rational behaviour
(reason, complex thought, volition, etc). The brain, (a material entity) controls mechanistic behaviour (sensation,
motion, digestion, breathing, sleeping, memory, etc). He believed that the mind directed the body and the brain. He
proposed that the point of interaction was in the pineal gland in the brain; he choose this areas because when he
dissected brains, this tiny structure sat right in the middle, it looked to him as if it was a singular hole without
hemispheres, and therefore, this was the meeting place. Secondly, he also dissected dog brains, and he couldn’t find
the pineal gland in these dogs. It was the first serious attempt at understanding how it controls behaviour.
The Mind-Body problem. How is it possible that something non-material interacts with something material?
This question became the mind-body problem.
Phineas Gage (1848) is a case study that is absolutely crazy. He was a 25 year old foreman working on a blasting crew
that were blasting rock to lay rail across the US. Dynamite went off by accident, and it shot up a 3-foot, 13 pound
spike through his skull. It went through his left cheek, and through his frontal lobe. He lived, but he was never the
same as the man he was before. His doctor reported that he used to be quite efficient, smart, etc, turned into a fitful,
swore like a sailor, impatient, impulsive, etc, that changed his personality entirely.
H.M (1953). He was a young boy who since he was seven suffered epileptic seizures, and were not controllable with
meds. At the age of 27, doctors decided to take out the part of the brain was where the seizures were happening.
The Amygala controls emotional negative memory. The Hippocampus controls everyday memories, and factual
memories. Medial temporal lobes, which they took out, meant that they rendered the amygala and the hippocampus
useless. He suffered severe amnesia; his ability to take short term memories and take them into long term memories
was destroyed. He also suffered retrograde amnesia, which meant he could not remember events in his past up to
eleven years before.
A New Biological Revolution is Energizing Research
A new biological revolution is energizing research
Within the past 20 years or so, there has been tremendous interest and growth in understanding mental activities’
Interest in biology permeates psychological science.
Three crucial developments in the past 20 years have pushed us forwards
The human genome
It started in 1990, and was completed in 2003. It set out to try and figure out how many genes we have,
what they do, and where they are. When it started, they placed bets on how many, where, etc, and in
2003 we found that we have 2500 genes, which is less than a carrot. The reason we can be so complex
with so few, is that they interact, and that our environment layers on it.
Scientists have mapped the basic genetic code for the human body. They have also developed various
techniques for discovering the links between genes and behaviour. We have also begun to understand
how situational contexts influence how genes are expressed
New understanding of the brain’s chemical processes has brought new insight and enabled the
development of disorders
Watching the working brain
Since the late 1980’s, researchers can peer into the brain, even in real time, as the participants preform
The brain shows both localization of function, and strong interconnection between many brain regions
to produce mental activity and behaviour
The Mind is Adaptive
We have adaptations that come hardwired into our brains
Darwin’s evolutionary theory
The Origin of Species (1859) in which he proposed natural selection and adaptation. These ideas greatly
influenced psychology. Evolutionary psychology is a field of rudy that focuses on the roles of evolutionary
processes in the development of adaptive psychological mechanisms and social/cultural behaviour in humans.
Solving adaptive problems.
Amazing adaptive behaviour that comes pre-wired
The capacity for language
The need to be part of the group and bond
The desire to eat and drink
The sense of justice and morality
eg. the “visual cliff”with babies and edges, which tests whether or not babies would go
onto an invisible edge.
Modern minds in Stone Age skulls
Need to be aware of the challenges of our ancestors in order to understand our current
eg. sweet and fatty foods
Psychological Science Crosses Levels of Analysis
We Are Often Unaware of the Multiple Influences On How We Think, Feel, and Act
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