PSYCH101 Study Guide - Axon Terminal, Motor Neuron, Cognitive Evaluation Theory

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7 Nov 2013
PSYCH 101 - Introduction to Psychology
Kevin James
Fall 2013
Psychology is the analytical study of the interactions within society and of the thoughts and behaviours
of every person, giving us a less naive understanding of those aspects of our culture. An understanding
of psychology helps one to gain a better understanding of oneself and of others.
ABCs of Psychology
The ABCs are the three most important aspects of psychology to which all topics can be brought back
to or described in terms of. They include:
Affect feelings, moods, and states, including the study of emotional interactions.
Behaviour actions and performances. This is slightly more overt than the study of emotions,
since actions are often, if not always, overt, whereas emotions can be hidden.
Cognition thoughts, decisions, attitudes. This deals with decision-making and analysis.
Basic Model of Psychology
We begin by looking at a person and his features, then his behaviours. We then look at the outcomes
”generated” by this person, as determined by his features and behaviours, and attempt to draw infer-
rences between them. We must also take into account the person’s environment – not only physically,
but socially, emotionally, and mentally.
In effect, the basic model is person behaviour outcome.
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Perspectives of Psychology
The psychodynamic approach was heralded by Sigmund Freud. This perspective deals with forces
at play within the subconscious psyche of a person: these forces are said to be constantly in flux and
determine one’s thoughts and behaviours.
Mostly led by John Watson, behaviourism was originally referred to as the environmental perspec-
tive. John Watson was very much in favor of the hard sciences, as opposed to Freud’s idea of psychology,
and thus focused on overt behaviours – ie. things which can be measured. Thus, behaviourism deals
with a person’s overt actions and behaviours. It also heavily features the ”reward model”, ie. that
people do things because they will be rewarded in some faction.
The cognitive model of psychology, whose most famous leader was Antonia Bandura, was a more
centrist view of psychology. The cognitive perspective deals primarily with thoughts and perceptions,
and thus the behaviours they cause. This is very different from the psychodynamic model mainly
because it deals with the conscious mind: we can actually ask ”why did you come to that decision?”
and find ourselves with a somewhat satisfactory answer. Students of the cognitive model tended to
study animals such as lab rats, and apply their behaviour upon humans.
The biological perspective has been around since the time of Freud and is somewhat related to the
psychodynamic approach. This approach was created by biologists studying the brain independantly
of psychological studies. This perspective can be characterized by the question: ”what are my neurons
doing when I do or think ?”.
Neuropsychology, Evolution, Genetics
Evolutionary psychology also comes from the study of biologiy, and deals with the question of
how human thoughts and behaviours have evolved and changed over history. This tends to be highly
speculative, as... well, thoughts do not fossilize.
The socio-cultural approach is a more modern approach which focuses on how the environment plays
a role in a person’s thoughts and behaviour. This deals heavily with the interactions between and within
groups, societies, and cultures, and is expanded on by the field of sociology.
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This approach also deals with the different perspectives of different cultures – for example, Eastern
psychology is completely different from the topcs this course will cover.
Science of Psychology
Psychology, as a discipline, is seen as somewhat inferior when compared to the hard sciences, in that
it tends not to be regarded as having as much rigour. Regardless, psychology follows the same process
as any hard science: ie. observing by watching. After all, Einstein said that ”the whole of Science is
nothing more than the refinement of everyday thinking”.
Goals: Understand, Explain, Predict, and Control
The goals of science, as layed out by Carl Poper, are to understand, explain, predict, and control a
certain area of interest. Studying some topic gives us a greater understanding of said topic, which
allows us to explain that topic, which can hopefully allow us to predict future events, and most ideally
to control those events.
Refinement: from Theory to Theory
Refinement of our theories tends to follow the following cycle: develop theory, form hypothesis, carry
out observation, analyze results, refine theory. Repeat ad nauseum.
Criteria: Empirical, Replicatible, and Falsifiable
We have certain criteria which we follow to ensure the science of psychology has any use:
Our observations must be empirical, ie. quantifiable and measurable. If all observations are
subjective, then we are forming opinions, or at best we are performing philosophy.
Our experiments must be replicable by other people under other circumstances. If we declare
something to be true, but that result can never be repeated, then it has no use whatsoever.
Again, we have simply formed a useless – and, anyway, inaccurate – opinion instead of following
the scientific method.
Falsifiability is important, though this is not readily apparant. For any theory to be accepted
as a scientific theory, it must be possible to prove that theory wrong. This doesn’t mean that
this theory must necessary be wrong, simply that there must be some potential observation which
could convince us of the invalidity of this theory.
”Truth is arrived at by the painstaking process of eliminating the untrue”
Associations: Correlation and Causation
We can have direct correlations, which imply that one variable increases as does an other, or negative
orrelations, which imply the opposite relationship. Correlation, though, does not imply causation, and
as such does not tell us which effect is causing the other.
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