Chapter 1: The Science of Psychology
Definition: the scientific study of behaviour and the mind (mental processes)
Behaviour is observable and can be measured - eg actions and responses
Mind is the internal states that cannot be seen directly and must be inferred from observable responses - eg thoughts and feelings
Critical thinking is the ability and willingness to asses claims and make objective judgements on the basis of well-supported reasons and evidence
rather than emotion or anecdote.
Critical thinking involves taking an active role in understanding the world, rather than merely receiving information. It also means evaluating the
validity of something presented to you as fact.
1. Wonder: Be willing to ask questions
2. Define: Clearly define the terms that are being used
3. Investigate: Examine the evidence being presented
4. Analyze: Analyze any possible assumptions and biases
5. Be objective: Avoid emotional thinking and reasoning
6. Don’t oversimplify: Be careful not to draw simple conclusions about complex issues
7. Be open minded: Consider the possibility of other explanations
8. Tolerate Uncertainty: Be okay with the fact that sometimes, there just isn’t enough evidence to make a conclusion.
Psychological Research (p.3)
1. Basic Research: reflects the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake (fundamental research on how the brain operates)
- eg neuroscience
Examples: Robber’s Cave
Eagles and Rattlers p.3
This is Basic Research because its goal was to discover general principles of intergroup conflict, not to solve some pre-existing
problems. They didn’t know about this knowledge before.
2. Applied Research: designed to solve specific, practical problems. (done with goal of applying existing knowledge to real
word problems) - eg counselling
Example: Jigsaw Classroom p.4
Multiethnic groups of children learn parts of project and come together to fit the information together and teach each other
Basic research like Robber’s Cave provide a foundation to help solve real world problems
Goals of Psychology as Science (p.4)
Five central goals:
1. Describe: to describe how people and other species behave
2. Understand: to understand the causes of these behaviours
3. Predict: to predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions
4. Influence: to influence behavior through the control of its causes
5. Apply: to apply psychological knowledge in ways that enhance human welfare
Level of Analysis (p.4)
Biological (eg brain processes, genetic influences)
Psychological (eg thoughts, feelings, motives)
Environmental (eg past/present physical environmental, social environment)
Eg grade 2 kid at school
Psychological: how he feels about interaction with peers? Does he have shyness? Self esteem?
Biological: health issue? Glasses? Breakfast/nutrition?
Environmental: parent interaction? Troubles at home? Interaction with teachers? History of Psychology
Roots in Philosophy (p.6)
Dualism: the belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subjected to physical laws that govern the
Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Proposed that the mind and body interact through the tiny pineal gland in the brain.
Although he placed the mind within the brain, he still believed that the mind was separate from the body.
Monism: holds that mind and body are one and that the mind is not a separate spiritual entity.
Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)
Believe that mental events are simply a product of physical events in the brain, which means that the mind could be studied by
measuring physical process within the brain.
Believed in materialism: nothing exist other than matter and energy, so the concept of soul/spiritual entity is useless.
British empiricism: which held that all ideas and knowledge are gained empirically–that is, through
John Locke (1632-1704)
Believed observation is a more valid approach to knowledge than is reason, so all information should be observed and gained through
Roots in Physiology (p.7)
1870, researchers were electrically stimulating brains of animals and mapping controlled body movements. At the same time, medical
reports linked damage in areas of brains with various behaviour/mental impairments Eg, damaged left brain impaired ability to speak
Mounting evidence of relation between brain and behaviour
Mid 1800s, established psychophysics, the study of relations between the physical characteristics of stimuli and the sensory experiences
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) (lec02)
Theory of evolution: Implied that the mind was not a spiritual entity but rather the product of a biological continuity between humans
and other species.
Also believed that scientists might gain insight about human behaviour by studying other species
Focused on adaptation and evolving through natural selection
Structuralism and Functionalism (p.7)
Structuralism: the analysis of the mind in terms of its basic elements
Their experiments used methods of Introspection, “looking within”, to study sensations. They exposed participants
to all sorts of sensory stimuli—lights, sound, tastes—and trained them to describe their inner experiences. Asking the
question “What is there?”
Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920)
Established 1 psychology research laboratory in Germany
Believed the mind could be studied by breaking it down into its basic components. (To study the basic elements of consciousness, not
mental issues, personality, etc.)
Edward Titchener (1967-1927)
Student of Wundt, established first laboratory in USA, also attempted to identify the basic building blocks, or structures of the mind
Functionalism: study the functions of consciousness rather than its structure
Asking the question “Why/How”. Eg Consider arms. St: study muscles, tendons, bones. Func: “Why do we have arms?
How do they help us adapt?”
William James (184-1910)
Leader of functionalism Six Theoretical Perspective
1. Psychodynamic Perspective (p.8)
Definition: a psychological perspective that focuses on how personality processes—including
unconscious impulses, defenses, and conflicts—influence behaviour.
Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
‘obscure’ neurologist (deals with disorder of nervous system)
Psychoanalysis: analysis of internal and primarily unconscious psychological forces
Worked with patients with mental issues, anxiety, phobias (intense unrealistic fears), but there was no bodily cause
Realized that patients were producing symptoms unconsciously; many described painful/forgotten childhood experiences
Became convinced that an unconscious part of mind can influence behaviour and developed psychoanalysis
Defense Mechanisms: psychological techniques that help us cope with anxiety and the pain of
Eg: Repression: protect us by keeping unacceptable impulses, feelings, and memories in the unconscious depths of the mind
Too much emphasis on childhood sexuality
Impossible to test scientifically
Modern Psychodynamic Theory
Focuses on how early family relationships, other social factors, and sense of ‘self’ shape our personality
Object Relations Theories: focus on how early experiences with caregivers shape the views that
people form of themselves and others
These views about themselves will influence a person’s relationships with other people throughout life. Eg shyness may be developed
from his parents being rejecting and disapproving, the view now unconsciously shape his expectations of how relationships with others
2. Behavioural Perspective (p.9)
Definition: focuses on the role of the external environment in governing our actions
Human mind is a tablula rasa (a blank tablet) upon birth and experiences are written, so behaviour is purely by the environment
Learning is key to understanding how experience molds behaviour
Behaviorism: a school of thought that emphasizes environmental control of behavior through
Led byJohn B. Watson in 1913