First Test: Chapter 1-4.doc

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Psychology 1000
Laura Fazakas- De Hoog

Chapter 1 The Science of Psychology 08102013 205200Important Points Psychology as a ScienceApproaches to BehaviourContemporary FieldsThe historian EG Boring once observed that psychology has a long past but a short history The long past indicates that psychology has roots extending back to the ancient Greek philosophers Many were interested in the causes of human behaviour and wrote extensively on the topicBreakthroughs in anatomy and medicine increased our understanding of the human condition and contributed to the study of psychology But the study of psychology as a distinct discipline only began in 1879 when Wundt pronounced vunt established the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig Germany So as an independent field of study weve only been around for just over 100 years As you go through chapter 1 there are 3 important topics to consider 1 Psychology is a science As a science the field psychology follows particular methods of investigation What we know about behaviour is based on observation theory and research methodology Note that theory is much more useful than common sense and that to be a scientific theory it must be testable This criterion more than any other distinguishes scientific theory from other types of explanations regarding human behaviour Whenever you are presented with a theory or claim about behaviour ask yourself how would I test thatIf you can not come up with a reasonable answer then the theory is not likely to be based on scientific principles 2 Psychology takes many different approaches to the study of behaviour A brief history of psychology is outlined in chapter 1The important material here lies in the approaches taken to the study of behaviour For example James was a functionalisthe stressed the uses of behaviour or mental processes particularly as they related to evolution and natural selection A functionalist will ask what purpose a behaviour serveshow does it help an organism to survive James believed that it was possible to study the mind and saw consciousness as a continuous stream of activity unlike the structuralists By contrast the behaviourists eg Watson Pavlov Skinner rejected the concept of the mind They believed that the study of behaviour must be limited to only those things that are observable If you could not see a concept or process it was useless to discuss it Note that this does not discuss the study of thinking or memoryit just limits the area of research to observable aspects eg number of words recalled As you read through this section note the various approaches to psychology Think about the ways in which they are similar and then the ways in which they differFor example which approaches are focused primarily on internal causes of behaviour Which are focused on external causesWho would most disagree with the position taken by Freud 3 Contemporary Fields of Study In any psychology department you will find individuals who look at behaviour in a wide variety of waysSome of these areas come directly from the major approaches listed above others are subspecialties and still others represent a completely different view The American Psychological Association lists over 50 separate divisions or affiliations for psychologists Nonetheless the major areas of study are presented in this chapter As you read through these think about the orientation taken by someone in this area What would a cognitive psychologist study Who is most likely to be interested in the abilities of a newborn Which group is most likely to run experiments
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