Psychology 1000 Study Guide - Final Guide: Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Wundt, Evolutionary Psychology

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Published on 16 Nov 2012
Chapter 1
Psychology can be defined as the discipline concerned with behaviour and mental processes and how they
are affect by an organism‟s physical state, mental state and external environment.
Thinking CRITICALLY about psychology
Ask Questions- be willing to wonder
Define your terms
Examine the evidence
Analyze assumptions and biases
Don‟t over simplify
Avoid emotional reasoning
Tolerate uncertainty
Consider other interpretations
Beginnings of Psychology
Psychology wasn‟t even a formal discipline until the 1800s. However, philosophers throughout history have
been raising questions about psychology, or would be considered psychology by today standards.
Hippocrates, the Greek physician known as the founder of modern medicine observed that patients with
head injuries and inferred that the brain must be the ultimate source of “our pleasures, joys and laughter and
jests, sorrows, pains, grief and tears.” In first century AD the stoic philosophers observed that people do not
become angry or sad or anxious because of actual events, but because of their explanations of those
events. In the 17th century, John Locke, an English philosopher argued that the mind works by associating
ideas arising from experience, and this notion continues to influence many psychologists today.
The Birth of Modern Psychology
The first official psychological lab was established in 1879 by Wilhelm Wundt who studied in philosophy
and wrote many volumes on psychology, physiology, natural, history, ethics and logic. He was the first
person to announce in 1873 that he intended to make psychology a science and his lab was the first to have
results published in a scholarly journal. The Leipzig lab soon became the place to go for anyone who wanted
to become psychologists. One of Wundt‟s students, Mark Baldwin helped to found “modern” psychology in
Wundt and his team concentrated on sensation, perception, reaction times, imagery and attention, avoided
learning, personality and abnormal behaviour. One of Wundt‟s main techniques was to train volunteers to
carefully observe, analyze and describe their own sensations, mental images and emotional reactions. Once
trained it might take as long as 20 minutes to report inner experience from a 1.5 second experiment. The
goal was to break down behaviour into its most basic elements, much as a chemist might break down a
chemical. Wundt hoped that this introspective method would produce reliable, verifiable results, but most
psychologists eventually rejected it as too subjective. Wundt is credited with formally initiating the movement
to make psychology a science.
3 Early Psychologies
Structuralism: Wundt‟s ideas were popularized in somewhat modified form by one of his students E.B.
Titchener, who gave Wundt‟s approach the name of structuralism. Like Wundt, structuralists hope to analyze
sensations, images and feelings to basic elements. Despite an intensive program of research, structuralism
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became unpopular; the structuralism‟s reliance on introspection by volunteers got them into trouble.
Introspectors often produced conflicting themes.
Functionalism: Another early approach to scientific psychology which emphasized the function or purpose
of behaviour, as opposed to its analysis and description. William James an American philosopher, physician
and psychologists who argued that searching for building blocks of experience, as structuralism tries to do,
was a waste of time. The brain and mind are constantly changing, he noted. Permanent ideas do not appear
periodically before “the footlights of consciousness”. Attempting to grasp the nature of the mind through
introspection is like “seizing a spinning top to catch its motion”. Structuralists asked what happens when an
organism does something, the functionalists ask why and how. They were inspired in part by the theories of
Charles Darwin. Darwin argued that a biologist‟s job was not merely to describe but to also figure out why
and how. Similarly, the functionalists wanted to know how specific behaviour and mental processes. Unlike
structuralists, they felt free to pick and choose among many methods, they broadened the field of
psychology to include children, animals, religious experiences, and what James called “the stream of
consciousness”- a term still used today. As a school of psychology functionalism was short lived, lacking
precise theory or program research. However, functionalist‟s emphasis on the causes and consequences of
behaviour was to set the course of psychological science
Psychoanalysis: The 19th century also saw the development of various psychological therapies. In north
America the “Mind cure” craze lasted from 1830-1900. Efforts to correct “false ideas” that were said to make
people anxious, depressed, and unhappy. The form of therapy that would have the greatest impact
worldwide came from Austria. Sigmund Freud was an obscure neurologist, unlike his colleagues he wasn‟t in
a lab but listening to his patients reports of depression, nervousness and obsessive habits. Freud became
convinced that many of his patients symptoms had mental, not physical causes. Their distress, he
concluded, was due to conflicts and emotional traumas that had occurred early in childhood and that were
too threatening to be remember consciously, such as forbidden sexual feelings for a parent. Freud argued
that conscious awareness is merely the tip of the mental iceberg. Beneath the surface, lies the unconscious
part of the mind, containing unrevealed wishes, passions, guilty secrets, unspeakable yearnings and
conflicts between desire and duty. Many of these urges and thoughts are sexual or aggressive in nature, we
are not aware of them on a conscious level, yet they make themselves known, in jokes, dreams slips of the
tongue, apparent accidents. Freud wrote “no human can keep a secret, if the lips are silent, he chatters with
his fingertips, betrayal oozes out of him at every pore.” Eventually his ideas evolved into a broad theory of
personality and method of psychotherapy, which become known as psychoanalysis. Most Freudian
concepts were rejected by evidence, but they had a profound influence on psychology, art, literature and
Major Psychological perspectives
1. The Biological Perspective: focuses on how bodily events affect behaviour, feelings and thoughts.
Researchers such as Donald O. Hebb argue that all behavioural and mental phenomena arise as the
result of the physical activity. Biological psychologists study the nervous system, hormone levels,
organ functions, ect and how they interact with events in the external environment to roduce
perceptions, memories and behaviour. Researchers study how biology affects learning and
performance, perceptions of reality, the experience of emotion, ect. The study of how the mind and
body interact in illness and health; they investigate the contribution of genes and other biological
factors in the development of abilities and personality traits. A popular study evolutionary
psychology follows the tradition of functionalism by focusing on how genetically influenced
behaviour that was functional or adaptive during our evolutionary past may be reflected in our
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present behaviours, mental processes and traits. The message of biological approach is that we
cannot really know ourselves if we do not known our bodies
2. The Learning Perspective: is concerned with how the environment and experience affect a
person‟s actions. Within this perspective, behaviourists focus on the environmental rewards and
punishers that maintain or discourage specific behaviours. Behaviourists do not invoke the mind or
mental states to explain behaviours. They prefer to stick to what they can observe and measure
directly. For example, if you have trouble sticking to a schedule, a behaviourists would analyze the
environment distractions that could help account for this common problem. Behaviourism was the
dominant school of scientific psychology in the 1960s. Social cognitive learning theorists on the other
hand, combine elements of behaviourism with research on thoughts, values, expectations and
intentions. They believe that people learn not only by adapting their behaviour to the environment but
also by imitating others and by thinking about the vents happening around them. The learning
perspective has many practical applications. Historically, the behaviourists insistence on precision
and objectivity has done much to advance psychology as science and learning research in general
has given psychology some of its most reliable findings.
3. The Cognitive Perspective: emphasizes what goes on in people‟s heads- how people reason,
remember, understand language, solve problems, explain experiences, acquire moral standards and
form beliefs. (The word cognitive means to know). A cognitive revolution in psychology during the
1970s brought this perspective to the forefront. One of its most important contributions has been to
show how people‟s thought‟s and explanations affect their actions, feelings and choices. Using
clever methods to infer mental processes from observable behaviour, cognitive researchers have
been able to study phenomena that were once only the stuff of speculation, such as emotions,
motivations and insight. They are creative computer programs to see what goes on in the mind of a
baby, that can model how humans perform complex tasks. The cognitive approach is one of the
strongest forces in psychology and it has inspired an explosion of research on the complex workings
of the human mind.
4. The Sociological Perspective: focuses on social and cultural forces outside the individual, forces
that shape every aspect of behaviour from how we kiss to what we eat. Most people underestimate
the impact of other people, the social context, cultural rules on nearly everything we do. Sociocultural
psychologists study the social and cultural environment that people live in everyday. Within this
perspective, social psychologists focus on social rules and roles, how groups affect attitudes and
behaviour, why people obey authority, and how each of us is affected by other people. Cultural
psychologists examine how cultural rules and values both explicit and unspoken, affect people‟s
development, behaviour, and feelings. They might study how culture influences peoples‟ willingness
to help a stranger in distress, because human beings are social animals who are profoundly affected
by their different cultural worlds, the Sociological perspective has made psychology a more
representative and rigorous discipline.
5. The Psychodynamic Perspective: deals with unconscious dynamics within the individual, such as
inner forces, conflicts or instinctual energy. Its origins are in Freud‟s theory of psychoanalysis, but
many other psychodynamic theories no exist. Psychodynamic psychologists try to dig below the
surface of a person‟s behaviour to get to its unconscious roots; they are archaeologists of the mind.
Psychodynamic psychology is the thumb on the hand of psychology, connected to the other fingers.
It sets apart for them because it differs radically from the other approaches in its language, methods
and standards of acceptable evidence. Some psychological scientists are doing empirical studies of
psychodynamic concepts, many others believe that psychodynamic approaches belong in
philosophy or literature rather than in academic psychology
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