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Chapter 1

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PSY 102
Benjamin Dyson

th Chapter 1 – Psychology and Scientific Thinking (September 4 2013) What is Psychology? Science Versus Intuition Psychology and Levels of Analysis - Refer to psychology as the scientific study of the mind, brain and behavior - Another way of making this point is to describe psychology as a discipline that spans multiple levels of analysis - Levels of analysis – rungs on a ladder of analysis, with lower levels tied most closely to biological influences and higher levels tied most closely to social influences - Levels of analysis in psychology stretch all the way from molecules to brain structures on the low rungs to thoughts, feelings and emotions - Lower rungs associated with “the brain” and the higher rungs are associated with “the mind” What Makes Psychology Challenging – and Fascinating - Host of challenges make psychology complicated, and there are five of them: 1. Human behavior is difficult to predict, and is multiply determined: causes by many factors. 2. Psychological influences are rarely independent of each other, making it difficult to pin down which cause or causes are operating (Ex. Anorexia nervosa) 3. People differ from each other in thinking, emotion, personality and behavior. These individual differences help explain why we each respond in different ways to the same objective situation, such as an insulting comment. Individual differences make psychology challenging because they make it difficult to come up with explanations of behavior that apply to everyone. 4. People often influence each other, making psychology unimaginably more complicated than other disciplines (Ex. Extroverted people befriend outgoing people, who in turn make you more extroverted). Reciprocal determinism is the fact that we mutually influence each other’s behavior. 5. People’s behavior is often influenced and shaped by culture. Cultural differences, like individual differences, place limits on generalizations that psychologists can draw about human nature. - Social scientist sometimes distinguish between emic and etic approaches to cross-cultural psychology - In an emic approach, investigators study the behavior of a culture from the perspective of a “native” or insider, whereas an etic approach, they study the behavior of a culture from the perspective of an outsider Why We Can’t Always Trust Our Common Sense Naïve Realism: Is Seeing Believing? - Prone to naïve realism – the belief that we see the world precisely as it is (Ex. Assume that seeing is believing) - Research shows that just about everyone tend to evaluate political issues in a bias way When Our Common Sense Is Right - Must learn when and when not to trust our common sense as it will allow us to make better real world decisions Psychology as a Science - Science is an approach to evidence (Ex. Psychology is a science, not just: Bio, Chemistry, Physics, etc.) - Science begins with empiricism, the premise that you should get your knowledge from observations What is a Scientific Theory? - A scientific theory is an explanation for a large number of findings in the natural world, including the psychological world, and offers an account that ties multiple findings together into one package - Scientific theories make predications concerning data which has yet to be observed - Scientists call a testable predication a hypothesis - Theories are general explanations and hypotheses are specific predictions derived from explanations - Misconception 1 o A theory explains one specific event; a theory can explain more than one event - Misconception 2 o A theory is just an educated guess - All general thoughts on how the world works are theories Science as a Safeguard Against Bias: Protecting Us From Ourselves - Scientist do have their own bias, but attempt to compensate for those bias - Scientists are prone to self-deception - Confirmation bias – tendency to seek out evidence that supports our hypotheses and deny, dismiss, or distort evidence that contradicts them - Belief perseverance – tendency to stick to our initial beliefs even when evidence contradicts them Metaphysical Claims: The Boundaries of Science - Metaphysical claims – assertions about the world that we cannot test - Include assertions about religious views, which differ from scientific views and methods - Does not mean that they are always wrong or unimportant - Science cannot answer every question Recognizing That We Might Be Wrong - Good scientist are aware that they may be mistaken, and never claim to prove their theories, while avoiding providing a definite conclusion Psychological Pseudoscience: Imposters of Science The Amazing Growth of Popular Psychology - Remarkable growth of popular psychology has had positives and negatives (Ex. Negative – Explosion of misinformation, because there is scant quality control over what the industry produces)(Ex. Positive – Public has full access to Psychological findings and knowledge) What is Pseudoscience? - Pseudoscience – a set of claims that seem scientific, but are not - Difference between Pseudoscience and Metaphysical Claims Warning Signs of Pseudoscience (Pg. 15 Table 1.3) o Exaggerate claims o Overreliance on anecdotes o Absence of connectivity to other research o Lack of review by other scholars o Lack of self-correction o Meaningless psychobabble o Talk
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