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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 - Foundations of Psychology Textbook Notes Psych 1X03

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McMaster University
Joe Kim

Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 Chapter 1: Foundations of Psychology Introduction  Psychology – the science of the mind and behaviour o Mind – all the mental processes and subjective experiences that make up your sensations, perceptions, memories, thoughts, motives and emotions o Behaviour – all observable actions  Four Main Goals of Psychology 1. To accurately and objectively describe the processes of mind and behaviour 2. To explain the mechanisms of these processes and their causes 3. To predict how these processes will be affected by different conditions 4. To control and influence these processes in practical application Section 1: The History of Psychology Philosophical Foundations  Psychology began with a philosophical question about behaviour and the mind and developed into objective tests of these very questions  “Psychology” stems from Greek words o Psyche – soul o Logos – word  Psychology as a formal discipline only emerged 100+ years ago  “Psychology has a long past, but a short history” Hermann Ebbinghaus  History stretches back to intellectual roots in philosophy and physiology  Historians such as Socrates, Plato, Aristotle and Hippocrates explored issues of human thought and behaviour, nature of free will, the source of knowledge and the mind-body relationship  Rene Descartes (1596-1650) – suggested that the mind and body are separate and distinct entities that are casually linked o The mind controlled the movements of the mechanical body, receiving information about the outside world through the sense organs  Experimental Psychology (1800’s) – empirical tests were developed for the claims and assumptions held on human psychology leading to a modern understanding of the brain and nervous system through physiological tests of sensory mechanisms  Johannes Muller (1801-1858) – discovered that the messages transmitted by nerves were coded as electrical impulses traveling along different channels o Proposed that nerve connections to specific areas of the brain resulted in different sensory experiences o Activity of one brain region might lead to the experience of vision, while activity in another area leads to hearing o Pierre Flourins (1794-1867) – experimental work supported Muller; damaged different regions of animals brains  Learned which brain region controlled heart rate, breathing visual and auditory reflexes The Science of Psychology Emerges: Wundt and Structuralism  Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) – established first formal psychology laboratory at the University of Leipzig o Was trained in sensory physiology under Helmholtz o Approach to psychology reflects the same rigorous experimental approach to understanding the mind and consciousness o 1881 0 Wundt has launched the first academic journal devoted to psychology  G. Stanley Hall – brought psychology to North America o Was a student of Wundt o 1883 – started own psychology laboratory at John Hopkins University o 1887 –established the first psychological journal in the US Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 o 182 – founded the American Psychological Association (APA)  APA is the largest psychological organization, over 150 000 members  Led to the development of other organizations (Association for Psychological Science, the Canadian Psychological Association, Canadian Society for Brain, Behaviour and Cognitive Science)  Edward Titchener (1867-1927) – developed structuralism; psychology should focus on the elements of conscious thought and perception, the structure of our mental experiences o Structuralist Goal – reduce conscious experience to its core components such as sensations, feelings and images o Primarily collected data through introspection o Introspection – experimenters trained subjects to carefully observe and report their own experiences  Accounts were then analyzed in an effort to break down experience into basic component parts and determine the order in which they occurred an dhow they related to one another o Most of the research inspired by structuralist view focused on visual, auditory and touch sensations and perceptions Section 2: Modern Developments Adaptive Nature of Consciousness: James and Functionalism  Functionalism – the structure of conscious thought, focused on “what conscious thought were for” rather than of what they made o William James (1842–1910) – US, published the highly influential Principles of Psychology in 1890 o Greatly influenced by Charles Darwin – proposed the theory of Natural Selection; certain traits would or would not be retained in a species based on adaptive value of the trait  Any evolved characteristic had to be something that helped the species adapt to its environment in some way; if it was there it has to have a purpose o What was important about conscious thought was what it allowed us to do – rather than observing consciousness in a laboratory, observe consciousness in environments and situations for which it had presumably evolved to navigate  Less interested in rigorous methods promoted by Wundt  There was room for emotions, values and recognition of individual uniqueness  Explanation was emphasized more than experimental control  Used tests and questionnaires to collect data on topics of interest  Criticism of Structuralism o Used objective data that could be observed and verified – rather than structuralist introspective reports  James argued that structuralists were using unscientific methods by relying on introspection – there was no way for anyone to verify the accuracy of this subjective data o Structuralists were missing the point entirely by trying to reduce consciousness to its individual elements  Reductionism –breaking a problem into successively smaller and smaller pieces, and losing sight of the big questions and losing the ability to answer them in a meaningful way Perception and Reality: Wertheimer and Gestalt  Gestalt School of Psychology –developed in Germany centered on the work of Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), Kurt Koffka (1886-1941) and others  Psychology should study the perception and problem solving  Principle of Totality – the study of any conscious experience must simultaneously take into account all of the mental and physical aspects of the individual  Principle of Psychophysical Isomorphism – there was a systematic relation between any conscious experience and physical events occurring in the brain and central nervous system o Eg/ Subjective Contours in Visual Perception  It was general accepted that there was little point in introspectively examining the structure of or perceptions when it was so easily demonstrated that these perceptions were not necessarily an accurate reflection of the world and that we had no control over our tendency to perceive things that were not really there Textbook Notes Psych 1X03  Knowing why these illusions happen doesn’t make them any less powerful The Black Box: Watson and Behaviorism  John B. Watson (1878-1958) – focused exclusively on behaviour o Argued that in the pursuit of understanding consciousness, psychology as diverging from objective science o Psychology should be the study of behaviour which is objectively observable; internal mental events were not objectively observable o Eg/ Can count the number of alcoholic drinks someone had and reach the same conclusion; cannot verify why someone had the drinks  Depending on the testimony of the individual may not be accurate because  Reluctance to state the real reason and therefore provide some more socially acceptable explanation instead  May be unaware of the true motivating factors o The mind was a black box into which we could not see – any description of events taking place were was not objectively verifiable or useful o “Given a dozen healthy infants… [I could] train [them] to become any type of specialist I might select” Watson, 1924  Nurture over Nature  Behaviorism o B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) o Acknowledged that internal mental events must exist and it is impossible to make measurements of them in a scientific way o We can learn everything we need to know about an organism by studying its behaviour without a need to appeal to internal mental events o Any behaviour or “response” could be explained entirely as a result of some observable input, or stimulus, from the environment o Criticism – to ignore the mind and mental processes was to ignore much of what was central to human experience Unconscious Motives: Freud and Psychoanalysis  Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) o Psychoanalysis o A large portion of our internal mental world was inaccessible to our conscious awareness o Repression – certain thoughts, memories and desires are pushed down into the unconscious realm where the conscious mind does not have to confront them  Way for the unconscious mind to defend itself against trauma and conflict  Traumatic material that has been confined to the unconscious can still influence conscious thinking and behaviour  The best treatment was to seek out the underlying unconscious material at the root o Criticism – negative view of women and other cultural influences  Carl Jung (1875-1961), Alfred Adler (1870-1937) and Karen Horney (1885-1952) –Freud’s students took psychoanalysis in new directions  Modern Psychodynamic Theory – emphasizes the role of relationships and self0image along with unconscious motivations in the assessment and treatment of psychological disorders Section 3: Recent Revolutions Opening the Black Box: the cognitive Revolution  Behaviorist approach assumed that memory was a process of retrieving a static, unchanging and complete record of some event in response to an environmental cue  But – memory was a reconstructive process that resulted in the retrieved information being changed to better fit with our preconceived ideas and/or current circumstances  Cognitive Psychology – focus on mental tasks such as memory, attention, categorization and decision-making Textbook Notes Psych 1X03  Cognitive Revolution – introduced the rejection of the behaviorist idea that unobservable mental events should not be consider; their importance was seen as undeniable o September 11, 1956 o George Miller, Donald Broadbent and Noam Chomsky – showed that making inferences about internal mental states and events was necessary in order to fully explain much of human behaviour  Neuroimaging (and other technological advances) made it possible to make more connections between the mind and the brain Human Exceptionalism: Rogers and Humanism  In behaviorism and psychoanalysis – the important determinants of behaviour were things that were out of our conscious control o Result of past experience with environmental stimuli or unconscious desires and conflicts  Humanist Psychology o Carl Rogers (1902-1987) – believed in the human self-concept, or internal self-representation, was central to understanding human behaviour o Rather than unresolved conflict in the unconscious mind, what motivated human beings was the conscious desire to maximize their potential o Goal of therapy should be providing a relaxed, accepting environment in which the client would direct the course of the interaction; provide client with the sense of value regardless of their problems or circumstances  Compared to psychoanalysis – therapist knows more than the client and how “wrong” the client is Section 4: Contemporary Perspectives in Psychology Levels of Analysis  Psychological Analysis o Look for answers in terms of mental events taking place in our subjects o The only way we can truly be objective is by examining public behaviour o Development of models, along with the collection of large amounts of data to back them up allow us to make reasonable inferences about the mental events that produce the behaviour measured  Biological Analysis o Try to understand human behaviour and thinking by examining the underlying physiological activity o The structure and function of the brain and nervous system, the genome and gene expression, the molecular mechanisms by which various drugs produce their effects and the diagnosis and treatment of neuropsychological diseases are among many issues relevant to psychologists that have been addressed at this level of analysis o Advantage – can study animal brains (such as rats or monkeys) because of similarities o Developments that enhanced our ability to understand the biological roots of thought and behaviour  MRI – magnetic resonance imaging  EEG - electroencephalography  Electron microscopy  DNA sequencing  Environmental Analysis o Emphasis on the identification and control of environmental stimuli that can influence behaviour o Does not reply on our ability to infer anything about internal mental states (unlike biological analysis) Target Study; EEG Evidence for Mirror Neuron Dysfunction in Autism Spectrum Disorders  Introduction o Individuals with autism exhibit deficits in social skills, communication and other cognitive abilities (language, imitation, empathy and theory of mind – the ability to understand the actions and intentions of others) o Behaviour and deficits are well documents – neurological basis of behaviour and cognitive deficits is not Textbook Notes Psych 1X03 o Mirror neurons are thought to play a large role in understanding the actions and intentions of others and are believed to be responsible for aspects of language comprehension, imitation, empathy and theory of mind  Individuals with autism show impairments in basically everything that mirror neurons are responsible for o Researchers used electroencephalography measurements of mu wave rhythm, a repres
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