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University of Toronto St. George
Michael Inzlicht

PSY100- Ch.1- Introduction to Psychological Science Psychological science is the study of mind, brain, and behaviour o Mind- mental activity such as thoughts and feelings. Perceptual experiences that you have while interacting with the world (sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch). Memories etc. o Brain- mental activity such as biological processes (action of nerve cells associated with chemical reactions) It is the physical brain that enables the mind o Behaviour- wide variety of actions that occur in organisms First theme is that research on mind, brain, and behaviour has accumulated overtime to produce the principles of psychological science. Second theme: a new biological revolution of profound significance is in progress at the dawn of the 21 century: bringing with it a deeper understanding of the human mind and behaviour: o Understanding brain chemistry: the brain works through the actions of chemicals known as neurotransmitters, which communicate message between nerve cells. o Progress in understanding the influence of genetic processes: scientists have been able to map out the human genome (basic genetic code for human body), and have developed various techniques that allow them to discover the link between genes and behaviour Mapping out the human study how specific genes affect thoughts, actions, feelings and various disorders. o Study the working brain: can study the brain as it performs its vital psychological functions. How the cells operate in the brain to influence behaviour has been studied with increased effectiveness. Can now address some central questions of human experience: how different brain regions interact to produce perceptual experience Third theme: mind has been shaped by evolution o Evolutionary theory- the brain has evolved over million of years to solve problems related to survival and reproduction o Natural selection- Darwins theory, those who inherit characteristics that help them adapt to their particular environment have a selective advantage over those who do now o Adaptations- (evolution) physical characteristics, skills, abilities that increase the chances of reproduction or survival and are therefore likely to be passed along to future generations o Built- in mechanisms assist in solving recurring problems that faced out ancestors over the course of human evolution. o Our evolutionary heritage encourages us to eat foods that had survival value when food was relative scarce (high calorie) Rather than being adaptations, such behaviours can be considered by-products of adaptive solutions to earlier adaptive problems. o Humans are dependent on group-living. culture which refers to the beliefs, values, rules, norms, and customs that exist within a group of people who share a common language and environment various aspects of culture are transmitted from one generation to the next. Many of these cultural rules reflect adaptive solutions that have been worked out by previous generations. Relationship between culture and behaviour important to consider behavioural phenomena in their cultural context. Human mind is adaptive in both biological and cultural terms, providing solutions to survival and reproductive challenges as well as a strong framework for a shared social understanding of how the world works Fourth Theme: mind and behaviour can be studied on many levels of analysis: o Social- examination of how cultural and social contexts affect the ways people interact and influence each other o Individual- individual differences in personality and mental processes that concern how we perceive and know our worlds o Biological- how the physical body contributes to mind and behaviour, such as neurochemical and genetic processes that occur with the body and brain Nature-nurture debate- whether r not psychological characteristics are biologically innate or acquired through education, experience and culture. Mind-body problem- whether the mind and body are separate and distinct, or whether the mind is simply the subjective experience of the physical brain. o Dualism- mind and body were separate yet intertwined (Rene Descartes) Rational mind, controlled volitional action, divine and separate from the body Mental functions such as memory and imagination were result of bodily functions o Natural Selection- the process by which random mutations in organism that are adaptive are passed along and mutations that hinder reproduction are not. (Darwin )----Survival of the fittest Introspection- systematic examination of subjective mental experiences that required people to inspect and report on the content of their thoughts o Wanted to measure the speed at which the brain functioned how long mental processes took (WilhelmWundt) Structuralism- conscious experience can be studied when it is broken down into its underlying components or elements. o Understanding basic elements of consciousness would provide the scientific basis for understanding the mind William James - mind could not be broken down into elements, because it is much more complex o Mind consisted of a continuous series of thoughts that are ever changing (stream of consciousness) o Functionalism- concerned with adaptive purpose, or function of mind and behaviour Gestalt theory- the whole personal experience is different from simply the sum of its constituent elements. (the whole is different from the sum of its parts) o The mind perceives the world in an organized fashion that cannot be broken down into its constituent elements Sigmund Freud- unconscious is mental processes that operate below the level of conscious awareness. o Believed unconscious mental forces were often in conflict which produced psychological discomfort o Psychoanalysis- trying to bring the contents of unconsciousness into conscious awareness Behaviourism- role of environmental forces in producing behaviour. PSY100- Ch. 2- Research Methods
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