September 10, 2013
Chapter 1- What is Psychology?
Psychology: The discipline concerned with behavior and mental processes and how
they are affected by an organism’s physical state, mental state, and external
Psyche= mind, spirit or soul
Logy= study of, discourse, to speak
The study of the mind
It is important to be able to separate useful information from false information or…
Real psychology (different from psychobabble or popular psychology (“pop psych”)
is more complex and is based on scientific research and empirical evidence.
Psychology is a science. It concludes foundations in research.
Psychology included in many TV shows and movies but are not a true reflection of
what Psychology is.
Main difference: Empiricism
Perspective on the DSM
-Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
-Glossary of descriptions of mental disorders
-Consists of a checklist of symptoms that can lead to diagnose someone
-Move towards classification similarly used in Biology. Helps diagnoses to become
-The guide evolves over time to become more objective and quantifiable (Removal
of homosexuality to add PTSD)
How To Think Critically and Creatively About Psychology
Critical Thinking is not merely negative thinking but a way to separate what is true
and what is false and what you should believe about psychology.
On matter of personal preference, all opinions are created equal.
Example: “I prefer the look of a Honda over a Ford”
However, if your opinion ignores reality it is not equal to any other.
Example: “Ford’s are the best and Honda’s do not exist; they are the conspiracy of
the Japanese government” 8 Guidelines for Evaluating Psychological Claims:
-Ask Questions: Be willing to wonder: Be on the lookout for questions that have
not yet been answered or asked yet. It is important and difficult to come up with a
-Define your Terms: Vague or poorly defined terms can lead to misleading or
Example: “ What makes people happy?” What do you define as ‘happy’?
-Examine the Evidence: Don’t accept a conclusion without evidence. Always check
the reliability of the source that the evidence has come from.
-Analyze Assumptions and Biases: Identify and evaluate the unspoken
assumptions on which claims and arguments are based on. When an assumption or
belief stops us from seeing the evidence clearly, it becomes a bias. A bias creates
intellectual blinders. In addition, prior assumptions concerning data are dangerous.
It is important to view a problem from more than one perspective
-Avoid Emotional Reasoning: Emotion takes place in critical thinking. Passionate
commitment to a view or belief motivates people to defend unpopular ideas and to
seek evidence for new theories. People become defensive when their most
cherished beliefs are questions because they are sometimes the explanation for
things that may be scary or confusing. Question why you disagree with a theory. Is it
because the evidence is unpersuasive or because it causes you to feel anxious or
-Don’t Oversimplify: Look beyond the obvious, resist easy generalizations and
reject either-or thinking. A common form of oversimplification is argument by
anecdote- generalizing to everyone from a personal experience or a few examples.
They are often the source of a stereotype.
Example: one friend who hates her school means that everyone there hates it and
that it’s a bad school.
-Consider other Interpretations: Consider as many reasonable explanations for a
topic at hand before settling on the most likely one.
Occam’s Razor: Choosing the solution that accounts for the most evidence while
making the fewest unverified assumptions. Keep in mind that most theories are
wrong…it is still important to have theories in order to generate questions that lead
-Tolerate Uncertainty: Be willing to accept that all the questions may not have
** Refer to page 15 for Review and examples in the text**
Until the 19 century, Psychology was not a formal discipline. However, great
thinkers in history wanted to describe, predict, and modify human behaviour in
order to add to human knowledge and happiness.
Although, like many thinkers of the past, they did not rely on empirical evidence to
come to conclusions, they were not always wrong. In the 17 century, philosopher John Locke stated that the mind works by
associating ideas that are arise from experiences, and this notion continues to
influence psychologists today.
Some provided insights that were verified later on… Hippocrates, a physician stated
that the brain was the ultimate source of pleasures, joys, laughter, etc. and it is.
Some were wrong.
The theory of phrenology inspired by Franz Gall which was believed by many with
great passion and lead people to make decisions about one another.
The Birth of Modern Psychology
Wilheim Wundt officially established the first psychological laboratory in 1879. He
was trained in medicine and philosophy. He was the first to announce that he
intended to make psychology a science.
Three Early Psychologies
Structuralism looked at sensations, images, and feelings into basic elements.
Example: If a group of people was asked to listen to a metronome and were to
describe what they heard, many would report what they heard (Click, clu