1. When and how did psychological science begin?
- Aristotle began asking interesting questions
- Psychology’s first experiment was Wilhelm Wundt’s experiment measuring the time lag
between people’s hearing a ball hit a platform and pressing a telegraph key.
- Edward Bradford Titchener introduced structuralism (aimed to discover the structural
elements of the mind). He did this through introspection which is done through
experiences such as looking at a rose, smelling a scent, etc. However, introspection was
highly subjective and are often not good indication because people’s experiences of
- William James suggested that our senses are adaptive and were evolved in us for
- Mary Calkins was the first woman to join James’ class after which all men dropped out.
She then earned a PhD which Harvard denied her because she is a woman. Later,
Margaret Washburn was the first official woman to receive a PhD from Harvard
2. How did psychology continue to develop from the 1920s through today?
- 1920-1960 psychology was led by Watson and Skinner, who were behaviorists (science
of observing behaviour)
- Humanistic psychology (Rogers and Maslow) environmental influence on our growth
potential and importance of love and acceptance.
- Cognitive neuroscience is the study of the brain activity involved with perception,
thinking, memory, and language. This helped understand how to treat depression.
- Psychology is the science of behaviour (organism’s actions) and mental processes
(internal, subjective experiences we get from behaviour).
3. What is psychology’s historic big issue?
- Nature-nurture issue: do our human traits develop through experience or are we born
with them? Plato assumed we are born with traits, while Aristotle argued we develop
them. John Locke believed we develop them, while Rene Descartes believed some
ideas are inborn. - Charles Darwin began a journey around the world and concluded with the concept of
natural selection, which he believed also explained animal behaviour.
4. What are psychology’s levels of analysis and related perspectives?
- Levels of analysis: different levels of analyzing behaviour
- Biopsychosocial approach: influences of biological, psychological, and social-cultural
- The levels have to be integrated to actually help understand behaviour:
o Biological (natural selection, genetics, brain mechanism, homones)
o Psychological (learned fears, emotions, cognitive process, perceptions)
o Social-cultural (presence of others, cultural, peer influences, media)
5. What are psychology’s main subfields?
- Basic research: builds psychology’s knowledge base
- Applied research: tackles practical problems (such as in the industrial field)
- Counseling psychologists: help people cope with challenges
- Clinical psychologists: treat mental disorders through counselling as well
- Psychiatrist: provide psychotherapy and are medical doctors that are licensed to
1. Why are the answers that flow from the scientific approach more reliable than those
based on intuition and common sense?
- Our mind exists on two levels – conscioius and subconscious. We should challenge our
subconscious reasoning and look at it skeptically.
- Hindsight bias - tendency to believe, after learning an outcome, that one would have
- Overconfidence - we tend to think we know more than we do.
- Therefore, hindsight bias and overconfidence lead us to overestimate our intuition. But
scientific inquiry can help us sift reality from illusion. 2. What are three main components of the scientific attitude?
- Skeptical testing can reveal the correct idea about a phenomenon.
- To believe with certainty, we must begin by doubting.
- Critical thinking - thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions.
Rather, it examines assumptions, discerns and hidden values, evaluates evidence, and
3. How do theories advance psychological science?
- Theory – an explanation using an integrated set of principles that organizes observations
and predicts behaviour or events.
- Hypothesis – a testable prediction often implied by a theory.
- Operational Definition – a statement of the procedures (operations) used to define
research variables. For example, human intelligence may be operationally defined as
what an intelligence test measures.
- Replication – repeating the essence of a research study, usually with different
participants in different situations, to see whether the basic finding extends to other
participants and circumstances.
4. How do psychologists observe and describe behaviour?
- Case Study – an observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the
hope of revealing universal principles.
- Survey – a technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes or behaviours of a
particular group, usually by questioning a representative, random sample of the group.
o Wording effect – phrasing a question in different way has different effects.
o Random sampling – need a representative sample of everyone in a population.
- Naturalistic obsercations – observing and recording behaviour in naturally occurring
situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation. It describes behaviour
but does not explain it.
5. What are positive and negative correlations, and why do they enable prediction but not
- Correlation – a measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how
well either factor predicts the other.
- Correlation coefficient – a statistical index of the relationship between two things (from -1
to +1) - Scatterplots – graphed cluster of dots, each of which represents the values of two
variables. The slope = direction of relationship between the two variables. Amount of
scatter = strength of the correlation. Negative correlation = relate inversely.
- Correlation vs causation – just because things correlate does not mean that they also
6. What are illusory correlations?
- A perceived but non existant correlation
- We look for order even in random data.
7. How do experiments, powered by random assignment, clarify cause and effect?
- We can isolate cause and effect using an experiment.
- Experiment - a research method in which an investigator manipulates independent
variables to observe the effect on some behaviour or mental process (dependent
- Random assignment – assigning participants to experimental and control groups by
change, thus minimizing pre-existing differences between those assigned to the different
- Double-blind procedure – an experimental procedure in which both the research
participants and the researcher staff are blind about whether the research participants
have received the treatment or a placebo.
- Placebo effect- experimental results caused by expectations alone; any effect on
behaviour cause by the administration of an inert substance or condition, which the
recipient assumes is an active agent.
- Experimental group – in an experiment, the group that is exposed to the treatment.
- Control group – in an experiment, the group that is not exposed to the treatment. Serves
as a comparison for the experimental group.
- Independent variable – the variable whose effect is being studied
- Dependent variable – variable that may change in response to manipulations of the
8. How can we describe data with measures of central tendency and variation?
- Mode, mean, median. The mean is often distorted by atypical scores. Data can therefore
- Range – gap between lowest and highest scores - Standard deviation – how much scores vary around the mean score.
- Normal curve – bell-shaped curve that describes the distribution of many types of data.
9. What principles can guide our making generalizations from samples and deciding
whether differences are significant?
- Representative samples better than biased samples because they prevent fluctuation of
- Less-variable observations are more reliable
- More cases are better than fewer because they also prevent fluctuation.
- Statistical significance – a statistical statement of how likely it is that an obtained result
occurred by chance.
10. Can laboratory experiments illuminate everyday life?
- A lab is a simplified reality that has the power to simulate and control features of every
- Experiment’s purpose is not to replicate everyday life, it is to test theoretical principles.
11. Does behaviour depend on one’s culture and gender?
- Culture does matter and specific attitudes and behaviour vary by culture, but the
underlying processes are the same.
12. Why do psychologists study animals, and is it ethical to experiment on animals?
- Psychologists study animals to understand human behaviour from it.
- It is debatable whether experiments on animals are ethical. On one hand, us humans
are animals too so we should not be prioritizing our lives over other species’. However,
research on animals has provided benefits to our quality of life and even to the animals
themselves as a result.
13. Is it ethical to experiment on people?
- Experiments on people are done at his/her consent and are not cruel.
- Even advertising companies survey us/experiment on us with our buying habits much
like scientific experiments
14. Is psychology free of value judgements?
- It is not free of value judgement because values affect what we study, how we do it, and
how we interpret the results. Chapter 2
Everything psychological is simultaneously biological – your ideas, mood, urges, emotions.
- Franz Gall invented phrenology – a popular but ill-fated theory that claimed bumps on
the skull could reveal our mental abilities and our character traits
- Biological psychologists study the link between biological and psychological activity.
1. What are neurons, and how do they transmit information?
- Neuron : a nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system
- Sensory neurons: carry incoming info from the sensory receptors to the brain and spinal
- Motor neurons : neurons that carry outgoing info from the brain and spinal cord to the
muscles and glands
- Interneurons: neurons within the brain and spinal cord that communicate internally and
intervene between the sensory inputs and motor outputs
- Dendrite: the bushy, branching extensions of a neuron that receive messages and
conduct impulses toward the cell body.
- Axon: the extension of a neuron, ending in branching terminal fibers, through which
messages pass to other neurons or to muscles or glands.
- Myelin sheath: a layer of fatty tissue segmentally encasing the fibers of many neurons;
enables vastly greater transmission speed of neural impulses as the impulse hops from
one node to the next
- Action potential: a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon.
- Neurons generate electricity from chemical events. This involves ions that create resting
potential and action potential to move the signal. Axon’s surface is selectively permeable
which keeps the axon at resting potential and when a signal is fired the surface becomes
permeable and creates action potential.
- A threshold level exists for how much action potential is enough. It is calculated by
excitory signals – inhibitory signals. However, increasing the levels past the threshold
will not increase neural impulse’s intensity. It is an all-or-none response.
2. How do nerve cells communicate with other nerve cells?
- Sherrington discovered that there is a space between each neuron called a synapse. At
the end of an axon, the electric message is transformed into a chemical messanger called a neurotransmitter, which crosses the synaptic gap and binds to receptor sites on
the receiving neuron. The neurotransmitter causes channels at the receiving site to
unlock and this either excites or inhibits the receiving neuron’ readiness to fire. Then, the
sending neuron reabsorbs the excess neurotransmitters in a process called reuptake
3. How do neurotransmitters influence behavior, and how do drugs and other chemicals
- Acetylcholine (ACh) is a neurotransmitter involved in learning and memory. It is a
messenger at every junction between a motor neuron and skeletal muscle and causes
the muscle to contract.
- Endorphins are naturally produced neurotransmitters by our body that act like opiates
and relieve pain.
- When a drug is taken for a long time or if the brain is flooded with opiates, it causes the
brain to stop producing its own natural opiates. Therefore, when the drug is withdrawn
the brain may then be deprived of any form of opiate causing huge discomfort.
- Agonist is a molecule that is similar to the natural neurotransmitter and mimics its effects
but does not perfectly fit into the receptor
- Antagonist is a molecule that blocks the neurotransmitter by fitting into the receptor
without activating it.
4. What are the functions of the nervous system’s main divisions?
- Nervous system – body’s electrochemical communication network consisting of nerve
cells of the peripheral and central nervous systems
- Central nervous system – the brain and spinal cord
- Peripheral nervous system – sensory and motor neurons that connect the central
nervous system to the rest of the body
o 2 components – somatic and autonomic
o Somatic nervous system – controls the body’s skeletal muscles
o Autonomic nervous system – controls the glands and muscles of the internal
organs (such as the heart). Its sympathetic division arouses, while the
parasympathetic division calms. For example, sympathetic will dilate pupils, while
parasympathetic will contract them.
o Central nervo