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Western University
Psychology 1000

CHAPTER 1: THE NATURE OF PSYCHOLOGY - Psychology: the scientific study of behaviour and the factors that influence it. - Psychologists use the term behaviour very broadly to refer both to actions that we can observe directly and to inner processes - Psychologists take into account biological, individual, and environmental factors Psychology as a Basic and Applied Science - Basic research: the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake. Used to describe how people behave and to identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of behaviour. - Applied research: designed to solve specific practical problems. Uses principles discovered through basic research to solve practical problems. - Goals of Psychology: 1. to describe how people and other animals live 2. to explain and understand the causes of these behaviours 3. to predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions 4. to influence or control behaviour through knowledge and control of its causes to enhance human welfare - Successful prediction and control are the best ways for us to know whether we truly understand the causes of behaviour PERSPECTIVES ON BEHAVIOUR - psychologists consider potential causes for behaviour at three different levels of analysis: biological, psychological, and environmental - these diverse viewpoints, or perspectives, serve as lenses through which the world of behaviour is viewed, and they reflect and shape our conception of human nature - six major perspectives characterize modern psychological thought. They are the biological, cognitive, psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, and sociocultural perspectives The Biological Perspective: - Many ancient Greek philosophers believed in mind-body dualism, the belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to the physical laws that govern the body - Monism: belief that the mind is not separate, and the mind and body are one, and mental events are simply a product of physical events - The biological perspective focuses on the physical side of human nature - Emphasizes the role of our highly developed brain; the biochemical processes that underlie our every thought, emotion, and action; and the manner in which genetic factors influence the development and behaviour of human organisms - Late 1700s Luigi Galvani made discovery of nervous energy - Early 1900s Karl Lashley created lesions (damage) in specific brain regions and studied their effects on the learning and memory abilities 1 - 1929, the invention of the electroencephalogram (EEG) allowed researchers to measure the electricity activity of large areas of the brain through electrodes attached to the scalp - biochemical research has shown that the brains electrical activity is controlled by chemical substances released by nerve cells. the role of these neurotransmitters substances in both normal and abnormal behaviour is one of the most important areas of current research Evolution and Behaviour: - Darwin was struck by many differences between seemingly similar species that lived in different environments. He began to view these differences in ways in which the species had adapted to these environments - In his theory of evolution Darwin proposed that species evolve over time in response to environmental conditions through a process called natural selection, or survival of the fittest - Natural selection: any inheritable characteristic that increases the likely hood of survival will be maintained in a species, because individuals having the characteristic will be more likely to survive and reproduce - Evolutionary psychology: emerging discipline that focuses on the role of evolution and the development and human behaviour. Psychologists int his field stress that an organism biology determines its behavioral capabilities, and its behaviour (including its mental abilities) determines whether or not it will survive - Sociobiology: holds that complex social behaviours are also built into the human species as products of evolution. These social behaviours include: aggression, competition and dominance in males, and cooperative and nutritive qualities in females - The major point is that, in the eyes of sociobiologists, ones genetic survival, (ie the transmission of ones genes) is more important than ones own physical survival. This principal can explain certain humane behaviours including giving up ones life to save children or relatives Behaviour Genetics: - our development and behaviour are effected by the genetic blueprint with which we are born - Behaviour genetics: the study of how behavioural tendencies are influenced by genetic factors - Animals can be bread selectively not only for physical traits, but also for behavioural traits such as aggression or intelligence. This is done by allowing highly aggressive or very bright males and females to mate with one another over a number of generations - Identical twins who result from the splitting of a fertilized egg and therefore have exactly the same genetic makeup are far more similar to one another on many behavioural traits than are fraternal twins The Cognitive Perspective: - Cognitive perspective: views humans as information processors and problem solvers whose actions are governed by thought and planning 2 - The cognitive perspective causes us to ask how mental processes influence our motives, emotions and behaviour Structuralism: - Wilhelem Wundt German scientist who wanted to model thte study of the mind after the physical and biological sciences - He believed that the mind could be studied by breaking it down into its basic components or structures, therefore known as structuralism - Structuralism: the analysis of the mind in terms of its basic elements - The structuralist believe that sensations are the basic elements of consciousness and study sensations through method of introspection: looking within Functionalism: - holds that psychology should study the functions, the whys, of conciousness, rather than its structure, the whats - functionalism was influenced by darwins evolutionary theory - functionalism endures in modern day society as an emphasis on how the mind processes information and directs our behaviour - it is seen also in evolutionary psychologys focus on the origins of adaptive behaviour. Gestalt Psychology: - can be translated as whole or organization - Gestalt psychology was concerned with how elements of experience are organized into wholes - This was the opposite of the view taken by structuralists - Gestalt psychologists argued that our perceptions and other mental processes are organized so that the whole is not greater than, but also quite different from, the sum of its parts - Believed that this tendency to perceive wholes is like other forms or perceptual organization built into our own nervous system - Woolfgang Kohler one of the leaders of Gestalt psych, concluded that the ability to perceive relationships is the essence of what we call intelligence - Defined insight as the sudden perception of a useful relationship or solution to a problem, a kind of Aha! experience - Gestalt psychs demonstration of insight learning in both animals and humans stimulated new interest in cognative topics such as perception, problem solving and intelligence Piaget: Cognitive development in children - Piaget was concerned with how the mind and its development contribution to our ability to adapt to our environment - Piagets primary technique was to carefully observe children as they tried to solve problems. He then tried to imagine how they must have experienced the situation, in order to respond as they did - Piaget concluded that new and specific stages of cognitive development unfolded naturally as children mature 3 - The stages that naturally unfold represent fundamentally different ways of learning about and understanding the world Cognitive approaches to psychological disorders: - by emphasizing the fact that distress and maladaptive behaviour are caused by external situations, but by the ways we think about those situations and developing ways of helping people to change self-defeating thought habits. Modern Cognitive Science: - todays cognitive science has link with computer science, linguistics, biology, and mathematics. - one area of cognitive science, artificial intelligence, develops computer models of complex human thought, problem solving, and reasoning - cognitive scientists are interested in how people produce and recognize speech and how creative solutions are produced. - An important melding of the biological and cognitive perspectives has resulted in a new area called cognitive neuroscience, in which scientists use sophisticated electrical recording and brain imagining techniques to eavesdrop on the brain as people engage in mental activities Social Constructivism: - a highly influe
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