Exam Notes: Chapter One
Psychology: is the scientific study of behaviour and the mind. The term behaviour refers to actions and
responses we can directly observe, whereas the term mind refers to internal states and processes, such as
thoughts and feelings.
Clinical Psychologist: the study and treatment of mental disorders. Many clinical psychologists diagnose
and treat people with psychological problems in clinics, hospitals and private practices.
Some scientists conduct research on the causes of mental disorders and the effectiveness of
various treatments. Yet many psychologists have no connection with therapy and instead conduct
research in other sub fields.
Cognitive Therapy: specializes in the study of mental processes, especially from a model that views the
mind as an information processor. Examine topics such as: consciousness, attention, memory, decision-
making and problem solving.
Psycholinguistics: focuses on psychology of language (i.e. jumbled word exercise)
Biopsychology: focuses on the biological underpinnings of behaviour. Biopsychologists examine how
brain processes, genes and hormones influence our actions, thoughts and feelings. I.e. some
biopsychologists seek to explain how evolution has shaped our psychological capabilities.
Developmental psychologists: examines human physical, psychological and social development across
the lifespan. I.e. some explore the emotional world of infants, while others study how different parenting
styles psychologically affect children or how our mental abilities change during adolescence and
Experimental psychology: focuses on such basic processes as learning, sensory systems (e.g vision
hearing), perception and motivational states (e.g sexual motivation, hunger, thirst). Most research
involves laboratory experiments often with non- human animals.
Industrial- Organizational (i/o) psychology: examines people’s behaviour in the workplace. I/O
psychologists study leadership, teamwork, and factors that influence employee’s job satisfaction, work
motivation and performance.
Personality psychology: focuses on the study of human personality. Personality psychologists set to
identify core personality traits and how different traits relate to one another and influence behaviour.
They also develop tests to measure personality.
Social psychology: examines people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors pertaining to the social world, and
the world of other people. Study how people influence one another, behave in groups, and form
impressions, and attitudes. While they also study social relationships (attraction, love, prejudice, etc). Psychology’s Scientific Approach
Researchers share a common underlying scientific approach to studying behaviour. Science is a
process that involves systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions and
test beliefs about the natural world.
Empirical evidence is evidence gained through experience and observation, and this includes
from manipulating or tinkering around with things and then observing what happens (experimentation). In
science these observations need to be systematic (performed according to a system or rules or conditions)
so they will be as objective and precise as possible.
Understanding Behaviour: Some pitfalls of everyday approaches
Science is only one of the ways we learn about human behaviour, family, friends, literature,
Internet, etc. all provide us with messages about human nature. Mixed in with our intuitions (knowledge
we acquire) and “conventional” wisdom, we have ingredients that generate our personal beliefs.
In life however, there are sources that promote misconceptions. Other people- conservations may
provide us with information believed to be accurate but are really not. Although our experiences and
everyday observations provide us with empirical information, unlike scientific observations, everyday
observations are usually casual rather than systematic.
Using Science to Minimize Everyday Pitfalls
By adopting a scientific approach, psychologists can take concrete steps to avoid or at least
minimize biases and problems that can lead to inaccurate conclusions. Science is also a public affair as
psychologists publish their findings. It allows scientists to scrutinize and challenge each other’s findings
if they wish. This approach reduces the risk of confirmation bias. New studies conducted, makes the
original findings be put to the test and possibly contradicted, forcing scientists to modify their beliefs and
conduct further research to sort out contradictory results.
In principle, science ultimately is a self- connecting process.
Thinking Critically about Behaviour
As you become familiar with the kinds of evidence necessary to validate scientific conclusions,
you will become a better informed consumer of the many claims made in the name of psychology.
Critical thinking involves an active role in understanding the world around you rather than merely
receiving information. It’s important to reflect on what that information means, how it fits in with your
experiences and its implications for your life and society. Also evaluating the validity of something
presented to you as fact.
As a science, psychology has four central goals:
1. To describe how people and other animals behave
2. To explain and understand the causes of these behaviours 3. To predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions
4. To influence or control behaviour through knowledge and control of its causes to enhance human
If we understand the causes of a behaviour and know when the casual factors are present or
absent, then we should be able to successfully predict when the behaviour will occur.
Psychology as a Basic and Applied Science:
Basic research: the quest for knowledge purely for it’s own sake
Applied research: designed to solve specific practical problems
The goals of basic research are to describe how people behave and to identify the factors that
influence or cause a particular type of behaviour. Applied research often uses principles discovered
through basic research to solve practical problems.
Psychology’s Broad Scope: A Simple Framework
Because we are biological creatures, living in a complex social world, psychologists study an
array of factors to understand why people behave, think and feel as they do.
Levels of analysis: behaviour and its causes can be examined at the biological level (brain processes,
genetic influences), the psychological level (thoughts, feelings) and the environmental level (past and
current physical and social environments to which we are exposed).
Mind- Body and Nature- Nurture Interactions
Mind- body interactions: the relations between mental processes in the brain and the functioning of other
bodily systems. They focus our attention on the fascinating interplay between the psychological and
biological levels of analysis.
The level of analysis framework also addresses an issue that has been debated since antiquity: is
our behaviour primarily shaped by nature (our biological endowment) or nurture (our environment and
learning history) ?
As the levels- of - analysis framework implies, nature, nurture, and psychological factors must all
be taken into account to gain the fullest understanding of behaviour.
Perspectives on Behaviour
Different ways of viewing people called perspectives, became part of psychology’s intellectual
traditions. Perspectives serve as lenses through which psychologists examine and interpret behaviour.
Psychology’s Intellectual Roots Humans have long sought to understand themselves, and for ages the mind-body problem has
occupied the centre of this quest. Is the mind- the inner agent of consciousness and thought- a spiritual
entity separate from the body, or is it part of the body’s activities?
Mind- body dualism: the belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to physical laws t