PSYA01 Chapters 1-8 Exam & mTuner Notes
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Psychological Science – Chapter 1: Introducing Psychological Science
1.1 The Science of Psychology
•Psychology is the scientific study of behavior, thought, and experience.
oPsychology is a vast discipline. Better yet, a collection of disciplines composed of many overlapping fields of study.
oTwo unifying qualities allow us to group all these fields into the category of psychological science.
First, psychology involves the study of behavior. This can include perceptions, thoughts, and emotions.
Second, psychologists employ the scientific method in their work.
•The scientific method is a way of learning about the world through collecting observations, proposing explanations for the
observations, developing theories to explain them, and using the theories to make predictions.
oWhether a field of study is a science, or a specific type of research is scientific, is based not on the subject but on the
use of the scientific method.
oIt involves a dynamic interaction between hypothesis testing and the construction of theories.
oTheory > Hypothesis > Test hypothesis > Confirm or reject hypothesis
•A hypothesis (plural: hypotheses) is a testable prediction about processes that can be observed and measured.
oA testable hypothesis is one that can be confirmed or rejected (you do not prove a hypothesis), and a scientific
hypothesis must be testable.
•Pseudoscience refers to ideas that are present as science but do not actually utilize basic principles of scientific thinking or
oAstrology is a pseudoscience because unlike science, there is no scientific basis around it. Scientists are eager to
test hypotheses whereas astrologists would rather you just take their word for it.
•A theory is an explanation for a broad range of observations that also generates new hypotheses and integrates numerous
findings into a coherent whole.
oHypotheses are a major component of scientific theories.
oTheories are built from hypotheses that are repeatedly tested and confirmed; in turn, good theories eventually
become accepted explanations of behavior or other natural phenomena.
oSimilar to hypotheses, an essential quality of scientific theories is that they can be proved false with new evidence. In
fact, any scientific theory must be falsifiable. The process helps to ensure that science is self-correcting – bad ideas
typically do not last long in the sciences.
oTheories are not the same thing as opinions or beliefs.
oAll theories are not equally plausible. There are good theories, and there are not-so-good theories.
oA measure of a good theory is not the number of people who believe it to be true. For example, 39% of Americans
believe in the theory of evolution by natural selection, despite the fact that it is the most plausible, rigorously tested
theory of biological change and diversity.
•The biopsychosocial model is a means of explaining behavior as a product of biological, psychological, and sociocultural
oBiological influences on our behavior involve brain structures, chemicals, hormones, and drug effects. Your family,
peers, and immediate social situation also determine how you think, feel, and behave. Culture and gender can also
influence human behavior.
oBehavior can be fully explained only if multiple perspectives are incorporated.
•Scientific literacy is the ability to understand, analyze, and apply scientific information.
oScientific literacy has several key components, starting with the ability to learn new information.
oBeing scientifically literate is to be able to read and interpret new terminology, or know where to go to find out more.
Individuals should also be able to use their thinking skills to evaluate information and claims.
•Critical thinking involves exercising curiosity and skepticism when evaluating the claims of others, and with our own
assumptions and beliefs.
oFor psychologists, critical thinking means that we apply scientific methods carefully, examine our assumptions and
biases, and tolerate ambiguity when the evidence is inconclusive.
oCuriosity is essential to psychology because many of us think about the causes of behavior only when it affects us
negatively or when it strikes us as unusual. As psychologists, we are always curious and ask questions about all
kinds of behaviors – not just the unusual or problematic. Because we are curious, psychological theories should
provide meaningful explanations for all behaviors.
oSkepticism and curiosity is viewed as a means of raising important questions; both lead us to search for and evaluate
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oBe curious. Examine the nature and source of the evidence; not all research is of equal quality. Examine assumptions
and biases. Avoid overly emotional thinking. Tolerate ambiguity. Consider alternative viewpoints and alternative
interpretations of the evidence.
1.2 How Psychology Became a Science
•Psychology’s Philosophical and Scientific Origins
oScience is a philosophy of knowledge that stems from two fundamental beliefs: empiricism and determinism.
oEmpiricism is a philosophical tenet that knowledge comes through experience.
Knowledge about the world is based on careful observation, not common sense or speculation. Whatever
we see or measure should be observable by anyone else who follows the same methods.
oDeterminism is the belief that all events are governed by lawful, cause-and-effect relationships.
The philosophical debate regarding whether or not we have control over our own actions is often referred to
as free will versus determinism.
Psychologists recognize that behavior is determined by both internal and external influences.
oZeitgeist refers to a general set of beliefs of a particular culture at a specific time in history.
It can be used to understand why some ideas take off immediately, whereas other perfectly good ideas may
go unnoticed for years.
oMaterialism is the belief that humans, and other living beings, are composed exclusively of physical matter.
Accepting this idea would mean that we are nothing more than complex machines that lack a self-conscious,
self-controlling soul. The opposing belief, dualism, is the belief that there are properties of humans that are
not material (a mind or soul separate from the body).
•Psychophysics is the study of the relationship between the physical world and the mental representation of that world.
oAn example of psychophysical research is one done by Gustav Fechner. He tested how people detect changes in
physical stimuli. In a situation where a 5 lb. weight would be placed in one hand, and a 1 lb. weight would be placed
in the other, and if ¼ lb. weights were added to each, he wondered which one would be perceived as heavier. He
found that it felt heavier when the additional weight was added to the existing 1 lb. versus the 5 lb.
•Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection
oBased on his observations that the genetically inherited traits that contribute to survival and reproductive success are
more likely to flourish within the breeding population.
oThis theory explains why there is such a diversity of life on Earth.
oDarwin found that emotional expressions and other behaviors were influenced by natural selection as well.
oArtificial selection is when humans selectively breed animals to behave in certain ways.
•Clinical psychology is the field of psychology that concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders.
oAn interesting area of medical study was brain localization, the idea that certain parts of the brain control specific
mental abilities and personality characteristics.
oBroca’s area is the area of the brain where speech production is localized.
oWernicke’s area is the area of the brain where, when damaged, patients could speak in sentences that sounded
normal, but with unusual or made-up words.
oPsychosomatic medicine is used to refer to “cures” that work due to belief in the treatment. Franz Mesmer later
named the phenomenon hypnosis.
•Psychoanalysis is a psychological approach that attempts to explain how behavior and personality are influenced by
oSigmund Freud used hypnosis to treat his own patients and was particularly interested in how hypnosis seemed to
have cured several patients of hysterical paralysis – a condition in which an individual loses feeling and control in a
specific body part, despite the lack of any known neurological damage or disease. This led him to develop his famous
theory and technique, called psychoanalysis.
oFreud acknowledged that conscious experience includes perceptions, thoughts, a sense of self, and the sense that
we are in control of ourselves. He also believed in an unconscious mind that urges to fulfill self-serving sexual and
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aggressive impulses. He believed that when a person is hypnotized, the psychoanalyst could have more direct
access into the individual’s unconscious mind.
oThe medical model is an approach involving the use of medical ideas to treat disorders of emotions, thought, and
•Sir Francis Galton believed that heredity (genetics) explained psychological differences among people. It fit his beliefs about
social class. For example, he noticed that great achievement tended to run in families.
oTo support his beliefs, Galton developed ways of measuring what he called eminence, a combination of ability,
morality, and achievement.
oHe took on the question of nature and nurture relationships, the inquiry into how heredity (nature) and environment
(nurture) influence behavior and mental processes.
oGalton pursued scientific justification for eugenics, which literally means “good genes,” and promoted the belief that
only intelligent, talented individuals should have children.
oBiological psychology seeks to explain the underlying genetic, physiological, and brain basis for behavior.
•The Beginnings of Contemporary Psychology
oWilhelm Wundt’s primary research method was introspection, meaning, “to look within.” It required a trained volunteer
to experience a stimulus and then report each individual sensation he or she could identify through introspection. He
developed reaction time methods as a way of measuring mental effort. Wundt found that mental activity is not
instantaneous and requires a small amount of effort measured by the amount of time it takes to react.
•Structuralism was an attempt to analyze conscious experience by breaking it down into basic elements, and to understand
how these elements work together.
oEdward Titchener believed that mental experiences were made up of a limited number of sensations, which were
analogous to elements in physics and chemistry. According to Titchener, different sensations can form and create
complex compounds, just like hydrogen and water can combine to form water – H2O.
•Functionalism is the study of the purpose and function of behavior and conscious experience.
oThe incorporation of Darwin’s ideas can be found today in the modern field of evolutionary psychology, an approach
that interprets and explains human behavior in terms of forces acting upon our distant ancestors. According to this
approach, the physical and social environment that our ancestors encountered has shaped our brains and behaviors.
•Behaviorism is an approach that dominated the first half of the 20th century of American psychology and had a singular focus
on studying only observable behavior, with little to no reference to mental events or instincts as possible influences on
oThe credit for discovering classical conditioning went to Ivan Pavlov who showed dogs could learn to salivate to a
tone if the tone has a history of sounding just prior to the delivery of food.
oCredit for the rise of behaviorism in the United States went to John B. Watson.
oB.F. Skinner was a behaviorist who had considerable influence over American psychology for several decades, and
believed that psychology was the study of behavior and not of the unobservable mind.
•Humanistic psychology focuses on the unique aspects of each individual human, each person’s freedom to act, his or her
rational thought, and the belief that humans are fundamentally different from other animals.
oPsychologists Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow believed that humans strive to develop a sense of self and are
motivated to personally grow and fulfill their potential.
•The Cognitive Revolution
oHermann Ebbinghaus studied data on remembering and forgetting. The results of his studies produced “forgetting
curves,” which showed that most of what a person learns will be forgotten rapidly, but then forgetting slows to a crawl.
The forgetting curve is now a staple of modern psychology.
oFrederick Bartlett illustrated that memory is an interpretive process that involves cultural knowledge. He
demonstrated that, in a movie for example, we are more likely to remember the general storyline than details such as
exact words in the script or what the characters were wearing. Our cultural knowledge shapes what we find important
enough to remember.
oGestalt psychology is an approach emphasizing that psychologists need to focus on the whole of perception and
experience, rather than its parts. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
oCognitive psychology is a modern psychological perspective that focuses on processes such as memory, thinking,
oNorman Triplett investigated how other people influence individual behavior and observed that cyclists ride faster in
the presence of other people than when riding alone.
oThe field of social and personality psychology is the study of the influence of other people on our behavior along with
what makes each individual unique.
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