Chp 1 Notes
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Psychology: A science with a special focus on behaviour with the primary emphasis on
discovering and explaining the causes of behaviour.
xThe word psychology comes from two Greek words: psukhe (breathe or soul) and logos
(mind). Psycho (mind) -logy (science) therefore, the word psychology literally means "the
science of the mind"
xEarly in psychology ppl saw the mind as an independent, free-floating spirit.
xLater, described it as a characteristic of a functioning brain whole ultimate function was to
xFocus changed from mind (which cannot be observed) to behaviour
xHow to explain behaviour 1) describe it 2) find causes .
xPurpose of explanation: intellectual curiosity; showing us how to solve our most
important/pressing problems caused by human behaviour (poverty, crime, overpopulation,
drug addiction, bigotry, pollution, terrorism, war, unhealthy diet/lifestyles).
Causal events: Events that cause other events (including behaviour) to occur
xApplied psychology: applying what our scientific colleagues have learned to the solution of
problems in the world outside the lab. Some psychologists perform both roles.
xResearch psychologists differ in two ways: the types of behaviour they investigate and the
casual events they analyse (explain different behaviour in terms of different causes)
Physiological psychology: Studies the physiological basis of behaviour. Study almost all
behavioural phenomena that can be observed in non-human animals is considered a model
that can help us understand the causal events of human behaviour. (learning, memory,
sensory processes, emotional and sexual behaviour, motivation and sleep. )
Comparative psychology: Studies the behaviours of a variety of organisms in an attempt to
understand the adaptive and functional significance of the behaviours and their relation to
evolution Studies behavioural phenomena (courting and mating, predation and aggression,
defensive behaviours, parental behaviours).
Behaviour analysis: Studies the effects of the environment on behaviour, primarily, the
effects of the consequences of behaviours on the behaviours themselves. Behaviours with
positive outcomes are repeated, those that have bad or no consequence are not repeated.
Behaviour genetics: Studies the role of genetics on behaviour. No 2 brains are identical,
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therefore no 2 people will act exactly alike, even in identical situations. Examine similarities
in physical/behavioural characteristics of blood relatives. Perform breeding experiments
with lab animals--see what behaviour is passed to offspring.
Cognitive Psychology: Studies complex behaviours and mental processes such as
perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and
problem solving. Events that cause behaviour consists of functions of the human brain that
occur in response to environmental events.
Cognitive neuroscience: Attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by
studying the brain mechanisms that are responsible for them. Study people whose brains
have been damaged by natural causes (disease, strokes, tumours). Developed many tests
useful in assessing behavioural and cognitive deficits caused by abnormal brain functions.
Developmental Psychology: Studies the changes in behavioural, perceptual, and cognitive
capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience. As well of physical, social,
emotional development, esp in children. Some study adolescence or adulthood (effects of
Social Psychology: Devoted to the study of the effects people have on each others
behaviour. Explore perception (of oneself and others), cause-and-effect relations in human
interactions, attitudes and opinions, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, emotional
behaviour (aggression, sexual)
Personality Psychology: Attempts to categorize and understand the causes of individual
differences in patterns of behaviour. Look for causal events in a person's history, both
genetic and environmental.
Evolutionary Psychology: Explains behaviour in terms of adaptive advantages that specific
behaviours provided during the evolution of species. Use natural selection as a guiding
principle. Our species presumably evolved because certain traits (such as the ability to walk
upright) gave us a competitive advantage over species without those traits. They try to
trace the development of such differences and to explore how their adaptive advantages
might explain the behaviours of modern humans.
Cross-cultural psychology: Studies effects of culture on behaviour. Because the ancestors of
different ethnic/racial groups lived in different environments that presented different
problems/opportunities, different cultures have developed different strategies for adapting
to their environment. These strategies show themselves in laws, customs, myths, religious
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