September 15th, 2013
Module 1 - The Story of Psychology
Before 300 B.C.E., the Greek philosopherAristotle theorized about learning and memory,
motivation and emotion, perception and personality.
The "birth" of psychology was on a December day in 1879 at Germany's University of
Leipzig. Two young men helped a middle-age professor, Wilhelm Wundt, create an
experimental machine. The machine measured the time lag between people hearing a ball
hit a platform and their pressing a telegraph key. Wundt was seeking to measure "atoms
of the mind" - the fastest and simplest mental processes. This was the first psychological
Through time, the new science of psychology became organized into different branches
(or schools of thought)
Two early schools of thought were structuralism and functionalism
Psychology was defined as "the science of mental life", which continued into the 1920s
The first two provocativeAmerican psychologists came - John B. Watson and later, B. F.
Skinner dismissed introspection (the examination of one's own conscious thoughts and
feelings) and redefined psychology as "the scientific study of observable behaviour"
Behaviourists were one of the two major forces in psychology well into the 1960's.
Freudian Psychology was the other major force, emphasizing the ways our unconscious
thought processes and our emotional responses to childhood experiences affect our
Humanistic Psychologists, led by Carl Rogers andAbraham Maslow, found Freudian
psychology and behaviourism too limiting. They drew attention to ways that current
environmental influences can nurture or limit our growth potential, and to the importance
of having our needs for love and acceptance satisfied.
Cognitive Psychology scientifically explores the ways we perceive, process, and
Cognitive Neuroscience, an interdisciplinary study, has enriched our understanding of
the brain activity underlying mental activity.
Today we define psychology as the science of behaviour and mental processes. Behaviour is anything n organism does, any action that we can record.
Mental processes are the internal, subjective experiences we infer from behaviour -
sensations, perceptions, dreams, thoughts, beliefs and feelings.
Nature-Nurture is the longstanding controversy over the relative contributions that
genes and experience make to the development of psychological traits and behaviours.
Today's science sees traits and behaviours arising from the interaction of nature and
nurture. The argument first started withArtistotle, then with John Locke and Rene
Charles Darwin introduced the principle of natural selection - From among chance
variations, nature selects traits that best enable an organism to survive and reproduce in a
BiopsychosocialApproach is the different levels of analysis
Three Main Levels of Analysis: Biological Influences, Psychological Influences, and
Biological Influences - natural selection of adaptive traits, genetic predispositions
responding to environment, brain mechanisms, hormonal influences.
Psychological Influences - learned fears and other learn expectations, emotional
responses, cognitive processing and perceptual interpretations.
Social-cultural Influences - presence of others, cultural/societal and family expectations,
peer and other group influences, compelling models (media)
Subfields of psychology - scientist, researcher, therapist, teacher, travelor
Basic Research - aims to builds psychology's knowledge base.
Applied Research - aims to tackles practical problems.
Counseling Psychologists - a branch of psychology that helps people to cope with
challenge and crises.
Clinical Psychologists - asses and treat mental, emotional and behavioural disorders.
Psychiatry - provides medical treatment (drugs) as well as psychological therapy to deal
with psychological disorders.
Positive Psychology - scientifically explores the study of human functioning with the
goals of discovering and promoting strengths and virtues that will help the individuals
and community thrive. Community Psychology - work to create social and physical environments that are
healthy for all. Ex: in schools, to prevent bullying they may study how the school and
neighbourhood foster bullying.
Psychologists teach in medical schools, law schools, theological seminaries, and work in
hospitals, factories, and even corporate offices.
Module 2 - Thinking Critically With Psychological Science
Hindsight Bias is the tendency to believe, after learning an outcome, that one would
have foreseen it (Also known as "I knew it all along")
Psychological research has overturned popular ideas - familiarity breeds contempt, that
dreams predict the future, and that most of us use only 10% of our brain.
Overconfidence - We humans tend to think we know more than we do.Asked how sure
we are of our answers to factual questions, we tend to be more confident than correct.
Perceiving Order in Random Events - in our natural eagerness to make sense of our
world, we are prone to perceive patterns. Even in random data we often find order
because random sequences often don't look random. In actual random sequences, patterns
and streaks occur more often than people expect.
Hindsight bias, overconfidence, and our tendency to perceive patterns in random events
often lead us to overestimate our intuition.
The scientific attitude prepares us to think smarter.
Critical Thinking examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence,
and assesses conclusions.
Critical Thinking helps clear the coloured lenses of our biases.
Can laboratory experiments illuminate everyday life? - the experimenter intends the
lab environment to be simplified reality, one that simulates and controls important
features of everyday life.Alab experiment lets psychologists recreate psychological
forces under controlled conditions. Psychological science focuses less on particular
behaviour than on seeking general principles that help explain many behaviours.
Does behaviour depend on one's culture and gender? - Our culture shapes our
behaviour. It influences our standards of promptness and frankness, our attitudes toward
premarital sex and varying body shapes, our tendency to be casual or formal, our
willingness to make eye contact, our conversational distance, and many more.
Researchers report gender differences in what we dream, in how we express and detect
emotions, and in our r