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Chapter 1

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McGill University
PSYC 100
Jens Pruessner

Chapter 1 Psychological science is the study of the mind, the brain and behaviour. Mind refers to mental activity, the perceptual experiences we have while interacting with the world are examples of the mind in action. The mind is also responsible for thoughts, memories, feelings. Mental activity results from biological processes within the brain, the physical brain enables the mind or the mind is what the mind does. Behaviour encompasses observable actions. They can be subtle or complex. Scientists would focus on behaviours rather than mental states because they’re more easily detectable. Unconscious influences are the automaticity of everyday life (2). Ideas regarding intelligence in accordance to specific social groups may be completely opposite to what is actually thought. The example of the warm cup of coffee, where the person regard another as being warmer and less selfish as opposed to people holding a cup of cold coffee. Amiable scepticism which combines openness and wariness. Critical thinking: correlation between children and sweets, what is really making your child hyperactive, the sugar or the environment in which it was given? “Mozart effect” – non-reproducible experiment Chinese philosopher, Confucius, emphasized human development, education, and interpersonal relations (all of which are topics in psychology). 19 century: psychology developed into a discipline. Nature versus nurture Are psychological processes biologically innate or are they acquired through education, experience, and culture (the beliefs, values, rules, norms, and customs existing within a group of people who share a common language and environment)? Mind/body - are they separate and distinct? - Is the mind simply the brain’s subjective experience? - In history the mind has been viewed to reside in many organs (liver, heart) - Scholars continues to believe that the mind is separate from, and in control of the body (because of religion) - 1500 Leonardo Da Vinci challenged the latter when he dissected organisms, including humans. He theorized that all sensory messages arrived at one location of the brain – sensus communis and its name may be the root of the modern word common sense - 1600s Rene Descartes promoted his influential theory of Dualism, where the mind and body are separate but intertwined. Experimental psychology began with introspection. - mid-1800s, psychology rose as a field - A System of Logic (1843) by John Stuart Mill declared that psychology should leave the realms of philosophy - Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychology laboratory and institute. He realized that psychological processes, the products of physiological actions in the brain, take time to occur. He studied reaction times. He also developed a method of introspection which is a systematic examination of subjective mental experiences that requires people to inspect and report on the content of their thoughts. Introspection led to Structuralism. - Developed by Edward Titchener - Idea that conscious experience can be broken down into its basic underlying components - If you study these basic components, you can understand the mind - Problem with introspection: subjective; hard to tell if subjects are experiencing things similarly, the reporting of the experience changes the experience; generally not reliable Functionalism addressed the purpose of behaviour. - William James - Argued that the mind was more complex than its elements and therefore could not be broken down - Mind consisted of ever-changing continuous series of thoughts, termed the stream of consciousness which could not be frozen in time - The whole functioning of the brain was important and not just the pieces or parts of it - Mind came into existence over the course of evolution; helps humans adapt to environmental demands Evolution, adaptation and behaviour - Charles Darwin was an influence of functionalism - He’s a naturalist Gestalt psychology emphasized patterns and context in learning. - also opposed structuralism - Max Wertheimer in 1912 - Whole personal experience is not simply the sum of its constituent elements. - The whole is different than the sum of its parts - Example of three lines on a paper versus seeing a triangle - Two people can look at the same object and see different things Mary Whiton Calkins Greek instructor (temporary) Studied with William James Met all the requirements for a PhD but couldn’t get it because she’s a girl Margaret Floy Washburn First woman to receive PhD in psychology at Cornell Nancy Bayley and Eleanor Gibson both received the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award – both making great contributions to the study of perceptual learning. Women’s contribution to psychology rapidly expanded in the 1970s. Many of the researchers’ projects were off because they only had male participants, and when males wanted to join the field, studies between male and female relationships and such started being studied. Freud emphasizeththe power of the unconsciousness. - 20 century psychology influenced by Freud - Trained in medicine and treated neurological disorders - Noticed that his patients had few medical reasons for their paralysis and believed their conditions were caused by psychological factors. - Unconscious mental forces, often sexual and in conflict, produced
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