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Chapter 1

Ch. 1 - What is Psychology.doc

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University of Waterloo
Barry Mc Clinchey

Chapter 1—What is Psychology? Psychology: how our physical, mental states and external environment affects our thoughts, feelings and behaviours Psychology vs. Pseudoscience - pseudoscience = unsupported popular opinion, scientific sounding words (psychobabble); ex. midlife crisis, empty nest syndrome - promises quick fixes to life's problems and challenges Empirical - observation, experimentation, measurements - ex. People over age of 60 report more well-being than earlier in life; midlife crisis is proven as pseudoscience How to do Psychology with Critical Thinking I. Ask questions and examine evidence - who is the source? Ii. Define your terms - key to defining experiment Ex. Midlife crisis: What is the midlife? What is the crisis? (meltdown, psychosis) Iii. Analyze assumptions/biases Iv. Don't oversimplify - "i know someone who..." - personal experiences, generalizations V. Avoid intense emotional reasoning - bias, focus on facts Vi. Tolerate uncertainty - no mathematical right or wrong; evidence on both sides Vii. Consider alternative interpretations - there may be more than one reason for something Ex. Old man buys sports car; may not be midlife crisis but because he has more free money now that kids are gone. History of Psychology Pre-modern - phrenology: bumps in skull tells about personality; pseudoscience Modern • Structuralism (Wilhelm Wundt) - analyze experience into basic elements o Introspection (methodology) - to look within oneself and break their experience down o Criticism? - too subjective; everybody is different; impossible to document general knowledge • Functionalism (William James) - emphasis on function and behaviour instead of analysis and description - did not believe that conscious experience was static; instead, it varied across time and situation o Criticism? - no set theory or met
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