Functionalism: considers the evolved functions of our thoughts and feelings.
Encouraged explorations of down-to-earth emotions, memories, willpower,
habits, and moment-to-moment streams of consciousness. (James)
Behaviorism: the view that psychology (1) should be an objective science that (2)
studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most research
psychologists today agree with (1) but not with (2). (Skinner)
Cognitive: the interdisciplinary study of the brain activity linked with cognition
(including perception, thinking, memory, and language)
Humanistic psychology: historically significant perspective that emphasized the
growth potential of healthy people. (Maslow)
Nature Nurture Issue: the longstanding controversy over the relative contributions
that genes and experience make to development of psychological traits and
behaviors arising from the interaction of nature and nurture.
Descartes: some ideas are innate.
Plato: Ideas such as “the good” and beauty are inborn.
Charles Darwin: Some traits, behaviors, and instincts are part of the nature of the
Levels Of Analysis: the differing complementary views for analyzing any given
Biopsychosocial Approach: an integrated approach that incorporates biological,
psychological, and social cultural levels of analysis.
The deep level, Biology: genes, brain, neuro-transmitters, survival,
reflexes, and sensation.
In the middle, Psychology: thoughts, emotions, moods, choices,
behaviors, traits, motivations, knowledge, and perceptions.
The outer level, Environment: social influences, culture, education, and
relationships. Perspective Focus Sample Question Subfields using
Neuroscience How the body and How do pain Biological,
brain enable messages travel cognitive, clinical
emotions, from the hand to
memories and brain?
Evolutionary How the natural How does Biological,
selection of traits evolution influence developmental,
has promoted the behavior social
survival of genes tendencies?
Behavior Genetics How our genes To what extent are Personality,
and our psychological developmental
environment traits products of
influence our our genes?
Psychodynamic How behavior How can Clinical,
springs from someone’s counseling,
unconscious disorders be personality
drives and explained by
conflicts childhood trauma
Behavioral How we learn How do we learn Clinical,
observable to fear particular counseling,
responses objects or industrial-
Cognitive How we encode, How do we use Cognitive, clinical,
process, store, information in counseling,
and retrieve remembering? industrial-
Social-cultural How behavior and How do we differ Developmental,
thinking vary as products of the social, clinical,
across situations environment counseling
Hindsight bias: the tendency to believe, after learning an outcome, that one
would have foreseen it.
Overconfidence: as humans we tend to think we know more that we do. Perceiving Order in Random Events: in our eagerness to make sense of our
world we are prone to perceive patterns. Random sequences don’t often look
random and are often over interpreted.
Science VS Intuition: The layperson has years of experience observing others’
behavior and own mental states which gives him/her an intuition about things.
Scientific study is necessary because intuition is usually wrong.
Critical Thinking: thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and
conclusions. Rather, it examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates
evidence, and assesses conclusions. Example: Harvard President says fewer
females have “innate ability” in science, engineering and mathematics.
Research Basic Purpose How What is Weakness
Method Conducted Manipulated
Descriptive To observe Do case Nothing No control of
and record studies, variables;
naturalistic single cases
observation, may be
or surveys misleading.
Correlational To detect Collect data Nothing Does not
naturally on two or specify cause
occurring more and effect
relationships; variables; no
to assess how manipulation
Experimental To explore Manipulate The Sometimes
cause and one or more independent not feasible;
effect factors; use variable(s) results may
random not generalize
assignment to other
Neuron: a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system
Dendrites: a neuron’s bushy, branching extensions that receive messages and
conduct the impulses toward the cell body Axon: the neuron extension that passes messages through its branches to other
neurons or to muscles or glands
Myelin sheath: covers the axon of some neurons and helps speed neural
Action potential: a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an
Threshold: the level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse
Synapse: the junction between the axon top of the sending neuron and the
dendrite or cell body of the receiving neuron. The tiny gap at this junction is
called the synaptic gap.
Neurotransmitter: chemical messengers that cross the synaptic gaps between
neurons. When released by the sending neuron, neurotransmitter travel across
the synapse and bind to receptor sites on the receiving neuron, thereby
influencing whether that neuron will generate a neural impulse.
Reuptake: a neurotransmitter’s reabsorption by the sending neuron
Nervous system: the body’s speedy electrochemical communication network,
consisting of all the nerve cells of the peripheral (the sensory and motor neurons,
connects the CNS to the rest of the body) and central nervous systems (brain
Electroencephalogram (EEG): reads residual electricity activity in the brain, used
to study sleep, epilepsy.
PET (positron emission tomography) scan: introduces radioactive tracers into the
brain that are picked up on a visual display
MRI (magnetic resonance imaging): uses magnetic fields and radio waves to
produce computer-generated images of soft tissue.
fMRI (Functional MRI): reveals brain activity instead of structures.
Brainstem: the oldest part of the central core of the brain, beginning where the
spinal cord swells as it enters the skull; the brainstem is responsible for
automatic survival functions.
Medulla: the base of the brainstem; controls heartbeat and breathing. Thalamus: the brain’s sensory switchboard, located on top of the brainstem; it
directs messages to the sensory receiving areas in the cortex and transmits
replies to the cerebellum and medulla.
Reticular Formation: a nerve network that travels through the brainstem and
plays and important role in controlling arousal
Cerebellum: the “little brain” at the rear of the brainstem; functions include
processing sensory input and coordinating movement output and balance.
Limbic system: neural system and located below the cerebral hemispheres.
Coordinates emotions such as fear and aggression, basic drives such as hunger
Amygdala: consists of two lima bean-sized neural clusters, helps process
emotions, especially fear and aggression.
Hippocampus: processes conscious, episodic memories, works with the
amygdala to form emotionally charged memories.
Motor cortex: an area at the rear of the frontal lobes that controls voluntary
Sensory cortex: area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and
processes body touch and movement sensations.
Association cortex: areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary
motor or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in higher mental functions
such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking.
Brain Plasticity: the brain’s ability to change, especially during childhood by
reorganizing after damage or by building new pathways based on experience.
Split Brain: a condition resulting from surgery that isolates the brain’s two
hemispheres by cutting the fibers (mainly those of the corpus callosum)
Drive-Reduction Theory: the idea that a physiological need creates an aroused
tension state that motivates an organism to satisfy the need
Homeostasis: a tendency to maintain a balanced or constant internal state; the
regulation of any aspect of body chemistry, such as blood glucose, around a
Need (food, Drive reducing
water) thirst) (eating,
Glucose: the form of sugar that circulates in the blood and provides the major
source of energy for body tissues. When its level is low, we feel hunger.
Set point: the point at which an individual’s “weight thermostat” is supposedly set.
When the body falls below this weight, an increase in hunger and a lowered
metabolic rate may act to restore the lost weight.
The Appetite Hormones:
Insulin is secreted by the pancreas and controls blood glucose
Ghrelin is secreted by an empty stomach and sends “I’m hungry” signals
to the brain
Orexin is secreted by the hypothalamus, also triggers hunger
Leptin is secreted by fat cells, and PYY from the digestive tract both
Basal Metabolic Rate: the body’s resting rate of energy expenditure
Overeating: can be stimulated by factors such as food variety. When we are in
the presence of others, our natural tendencies are amplified (called social
facilitation, helps explain why after a celebration we tend to over eat)
Obesity: pretty much bad stuff happens, depression, and stuff
Consciousness: our awareness of our environment and ourselves
Dual Processing: the principle that information is often simultaneously processed
on separate conscious and unconscious tracks. Blindsight: a condition in which a person can respond to a visual stimulus without
consciously experiencing it
Selective Attention: the focusing of conscious awareness on a particular stimulus
Absolute Thresholds: the minimum stimulation needed to detect a
particular stimulus 50% of the time.
Difference Thresholds: the minimum difference between two stimuli
required for detection 50% of the times. We experience the difference
threshold as a just noticeable difference.
Subliminal: stimulus so weak or brief that, although received by senses, cannot
be perceived consciously
Subliminal messages are hidden in media to try and change attitude or
Top-down processing: information processing guided by higher-level mental
processes, as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experience and
Bottom-up processing: analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works
up to the brain’s integration of sensory
Perceptual Set: a set of mental tendencies and assumptions that greatly
affects what we perceive
Emotion and Motivation
The Eye (Figures 18.3 and 18.4):
Pupil: the adjustable opening in the center of the eye through which light
Iris: a ring of muscle tissue that forms the colored portion of the eye
around the pupil that changes shape to help focus images on the retina
Lens: the transparent structure behind the pupil and controls the size of
the pupil opening
Retina: the light-sensitive inner surface of the eye, containing the receptor
rods and cones plus layers of neurons that begin the processing of visual
Accommodation: the process by which the eye’s lens changes shape to
focus near or far objects on the retina
Rods: retinal receptors that detect black, white, and gray; necessary for