Chapter 1: Research Strategies: How Psychologists Ask and
Limits of Intuition and Common Sense
Intuition can lead us astray: Imagine folding a sheet of paper on itself 100 times. How
thick is it? How big should a group be to have a 50% change of a birthday match?
Hindsight bias The tendency to think that you would have forseen an outcome after it
E.g. Separate people in two groups and tell them: 1) Separation weakens romance “Out of
sight, out of mind” 2) Separation strengthens romance “Absence makes the heart grow
Both groups will justify a result.
In police lineups, people might be uncertain, but if told they were correct, after they will
say “There was no maybe about it”.
Sometimes intuition is wrong too.
We tend to think we know more than we do.
e.g. People are given three anagrams with solutions, and asked how long they think it
would have taken to solve. They vastly overestimate the actual time it takes most people.
Even when our initial predictions our wrong, those who were wrong often still say “I was
almost right”. Overconfidence is hard to overcome.
The Scientific Attitude
Underlying all science is a passion to understand or explore. Scientific inquiry
sometimes proves crazy ideas. But more often it shows they are unbelievable.
Psychologists ask two questions over and over: What do you mean? How do you know?
Practicing scientific attitudes requires skepticism and humility because we might have to
reject our own ideas.
Critical thinking – examines assumptions, evaluates evidence, and gives conclusions
Psychology’s own critical inquiry has bee open to some surprising findings. E.g.
(massive losses of brain tissue early in life may have minimal longterm effects, diverse
groups have roughly comparable levels of happiness).
Psychologists use the scientific methods to observe, make theories, and then improve
A theory explains through a set of principles that predicts observable behavior.
A good theory of depression will help organize many observations into a shorter list of
A good theory needs testable predictions called hypotheses. Operation definition – statement of the operations used to define research variables
A theory is useful if it: 1) effectively organizes a range of observations, and 2) gives clear
predictions that anyone can use to check
The Case Study
Psychologists study some individuals hoping to find broad general principles. Individual
cases can suggest fruitful ideas, but they can sometimes be misleading.
Commonly used in descriptive and correlational studies looks at many cases in less depth.
Wording: Asking questions is tricky; even small changes can have a major impact. We
have to phrase questions carefully
Sampling: We tend to overestimate others’ agreement with us (the false consensus
effect). The challenge is to pick a representative sample. Don’t generalize from a few
vivid but unrepresentative cases.
Random sampling works in national surveys. A larger sample, if not random, merely
gives better estimates of a misleading number.
Naturalistic observation is recording the behavior of organisms in their natural
environment. It doesn’t explain behavior but describes it.It can also be used with
correlational and experimental research.
Correlation effect: a statistical measure of how things are related, and how one factor can
predict the other. It tells us nothing about cause and effect, but it can help us see things
more clearly by telling us the extent two things are related.
Correlation and Causation
Correlation doesn’t prove causation!! If watching TV violence positively correlates with
aggressiveness, does that mean TV violence influences aggression? Or the other way
around? Or both?
Same thing with negative correlation between selfesteem and depression. Does low self
esteem cause depression?
Correlation indicates a possibility of a causeeffect relationship, but it doesn’t prove
A perceived correlation that doesn’t exist is an illusory correlation. When we believe
something, we will more likely remember things that prove our belief. E.g. we believe
infertile couples are more likely to conceive after adopting. But this is due to
overreliance on the top lefthand corner in the table below:
Conceive Do not conceive Adopt Confirming evidence Disconfirming evidence
Disconfirming evidence Confirming evidence
Do not adopt
We need data from all four cells. This is why people believe myths like sugar makes
children hyperactive, getting cold and wet catches a cold.
When we notice random coincidences, we may forget they are random and see them as
Perceiving Order in Random Events
Illusory correlations come out of our eagerness to make sense of our world. We look for
patterns even among random patterns. E.g. people think HHHHHH is less likely than
HTTHTH in coin flips, when they are actually equally likely. Also in lotteries, people
are less likely to pick repeated numbers because they look less random.
By not recognizing random occurrences, people may seek extraordinary explanations for
ordinary events. “With a large enough sample, any outrageous thing is likely to happen”.
(e.g. people winning lotteries twice)
An event that happens to one in 1 billion people every day happens six times a day, 2000
times a year.
The best way to isolate cause and effect is thorugh experiments. They manipulate the
factors of interest while holding constant other factors. They are different than
correlational studies, which try to uncover naturally occurring relationships. Experiments
manipulate a factor to find out its effect.
We have a tendency to seek new remedies when we’re sick, and it can produce
misleading effects. We’ll think that our healing came as a result of some new thing we
tried. We need to experiment to determine if something is really working. One way to
do this is through “blind” testing groups by giving them a placebo. This helps
researchers check a treatment’s actual effects.
Placebo effect – just thinking one is getting a treatment can cause relaxation and
Doubleblind procedure – An experiment where both the research participants and
research staff are blind about whether someone received a placebo.
The “doubleblind” procedure creates an experimental condition of people getting a
treatment, and a control condition without it. After random assignment, this can be pretty
accurate. The experimental factor is the independent variable, because we can vary it.
Then we look at the effect of an independent variable on a dependent variable, because it
varies depending on the other variables.
To sum up: An experiment has at least 2 conditions: a control condition, and an
experimental condition. Can Subliminal Tapes Improve your life?
Students received tapes with labels on it that claimed to 1) improve selfesteem, and 2)
improve memory. This was a double]blind procedure, because the labels were wrong in
some of the cases. There were no noticeable effects, but students thought they worked,
even students who got the wrong tape!
A control group is critical in experiments.
How can statistics help us organize and analyze our data?
When researchers organize their data, review the graphs carefully – read the scale labels
and the range.
Measures of Central Tendency
Mode – most frequent score
Mean – arithmetic average
Median – middle score
The wrong measure could skew presentation of results
Measures of Variation
Range – gap between lowest and highest scores. Provides a crude estimate
Standard deviation – how much individual scores differ from the mean.
When is a difference reliable?
3 principles to decide if we can generalize from a sample:
1. Representative samples are better than biased ones
2. Lessvariable observations are more reliable that those that are more variable
3. More cases are better than fewer
When is a difference significant?
When sample averages are reliable and the difference between them is relatively large,
we say the difference has statistical significance. This means that the differences are
probably not due to chance.
Note that something can be statistically significant but have no practical significance.
E.g. Firstborns have a highly significant tendency to have higher IQ scores than later
born siblings, but only by about 12 points > no practical importance.
Statistical significance indicates the likelihood that a result is by chance, but doesn’t
indicate the importance of the result. Reflections on FAQs about Psychology
Can experiments Illuminate Real Life?
The experiment simulates real life, and doesn’t recreate circumstances exactly but teseet
theoretical principles. Psychologists are more concerned with theoretical principles than
Does behavior Vary with Gender?
They do, although psychologically we are overwhelmingly similar.
Why do Psychologists Study Animals?
To learn about people, and because we’re so similar.
Is it Ethical to Experiment on Animals?
Compassion for animals vs. compassion for humans. Animals have also benefited from
Is it Ethical to Experiment on People?
Some research does temporarily stress or deceive people, but only when it’s a justifiable
Is Psychology Free of Value Judgements?
No, even the words people use for observations color facts.
Is Psychology Potentially Dangerous?
Knowledge can be used for good and evil. It has power to deceive, but psychology’s
purpose is to enlighten.
Intro: Psychology’s Roots
How did it develop?
William Wundt performed the first experiment, measuring the time lag between people
hearing a ball and pushing a key (1879)
Evolved from more established fields of philosophy and biology.
What is psychology? Science of the mental life (until the 1920s).
From 1920s to 1960s, led by Watson, dismissed introspection and redefined it “the
science of observable behavior”.
In 1960s, went back to interest in mental processes.
Psychology is now the science of behavior and mental processes.
Behavior – anything an organism does
Mental Processes – internal subjective experiences
Stability versus change
Rationality versus irrationality Biggest issue: Relative contributions of biology and experience (naturenurture debate).
Nurture works on what nature endows.
We can view any psychological event from different perspectives (neuroscience,
evolutionary, behavior, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, socialcultural).
They complement each other
Some do basic research (biological, developmental, cognitive, personality). It is pure
science that attempts to increase the scientific knowledge base.
Others do applied research tacking practical problems. (organizational psychology)
Clinical psychologists study, assess, and treat troubled people
Psychiatrists who often provide psychotherapy, are MDs licensed to prescribe drugs.
To master information, must actively process it.
PRTR: Preview, Read, Think critically, and Review
Spacing our study time is better than cramming in one big session.
Overlearning improves retention! Spend extra time to “rereading”, testing yourself, and
Chapter 2: Neural and Hormonal Systems
Everything psychological is simultaneously biological.
Phrenology – a theory that claims bumps on our skulls reveals our mental abilities in
It did, though, tell us that various brain regions have different functions.
Biological psychology – a branch of psychology that studies the connection between
biology and behavior
Neurons and Neural Impulses
Neurons or nerve cells are building blocks of our nervous system. Every neuron has a
cell body and branching fibers. There are two types of fibers: busy dendrites that receive
info, and axons that pass it along.
The myelin sheath insulates axons and helps speed their impulses.
When it receive signals, a neuron fires an impulse, called the action potential. When it
fires, the first bit of axon opens its gates, and Na+ ions flood thorugh the channel. This
depolarizes that part of the axon, causing the axon’s next channel to open, and so on.
During the refractory period, the neuron pumps the Na+ ions back outside.
Some signals are excitatory, like pushing an accelerator, others are inhibitory, lie pushing
a break. Excitatory signals minus inhibitory signals must be greater than a minimum intensity called the threshold, for the impulse to be sent. It’s an “allornothing”
There are gaps between different nerve cells, and individual neurons are independent, not
fused to one another. The gap between the axon of one neuron to the next is called the
synaptic gap. The junction itself is called the synapse.
When the action potential reaches the axon’s end, it triggers chemical messenger called
neurotransmitters. They cross the synaptic gap and bind to receptors on the receiving
neuron, like a key to a lock. The neurontransmitter unlocks channels on the receiver,
allowing ions to enter it, exciting or inhibiting its readiness to fire.
Reuptake – excess neurotransmitters being reabsorbed by the sending neuron
Let’s talk about how neurontransmitters influence our motions and emotions. A neural
pathway in the brain may only use one or two neurotransmitters, and that particular one
may have particular effects:
Dopamine – influences movement, learning, attention, emotion
Serotonin – affects mood, hunger, sleep, arousal.
Norepinephrine – helps control alertness and arousal
Gammaaminobutyric acid (GABA) – Serves inhibitory functions (eating, sleep)
Acetylcholine – works on neurons involved in muscle action, learning, memory.
Acetylcholine is the messenger at every junction between a motor neuron and muscle.
When Ach is released to our muscles, they contract. If transmission is blocked, our
muscles can’t contract.
The brain has several types of neurotransmitter molecules similar to morphine. They are
called endorphins, natural opiates released through pain and vigorous exercise. They
produce good feelings, like a “runner’s high”, and may be natural painkillers.
How Drugs and Other Chemicals Alter Neurotransmission
Why not just flood the brain with artificial opiates? The brain might stop producing its
own, and when the artificial ones are gone, there’s deprivation.
Drugs affect communication at the synapse, either exciting or inhibitng neuron firing.
Agonists excite it by imitating a particular neurotransmitter. Antagonists inhibit by
blocking neurotransmitters. An antagonist that is similar enough to the natural
neurotransmitter can occupy the receptor site and block its effect.
Research is enabling creation of new drugs to alleviate depression and schizophrenia. A
“bloodbrain barrier” lets the brain filter out unwanted chemicals in the blood, but it’s
hard to design these drugs. The Nervous System
Neurons communicate with other neurons, forming our primary information system, the
nervous system. The Central Nervous System is the brain and spinal cord. The
Peripheral Nervous System links the CNS with the body’s sense receptors, muscles, and
Sensory neurons – send info from tissues and organs to brain and spinal cord.
Interneurons – Process the info, and enable CNS’ internal communication
Motor neurons – carries info to body’s tissues from CNS
Interneurons is where our complexity comes from. A few million sensory and motor, but
billions of interneurons.
Peripheral Nervous System
Two components: somatic and autonomic.
Somatic nervous system – controls muscle movement
Autonomic nervous system – controls the glands and muscles of organds. Can be
overridden. It is a dual system. The sympathetic nervous system arouses us for
defensive action (accelerate heart slow digestion, raise blood sugar). Parasympathetic
nervous system is opposite. It conserves energy (decrease heart, lower blood sugar).
They work together to keep us internally steady.
Central Nervous System
It enables our thinking, feeling, and acting.
Spinal Cord and Brain
Spinal cord is an info highway conneting peripheral nervous system to brain. Neural
pathways govern our reflexes, automatic responses to stimuli. A simple spinal reflex
pathway is a single sensory neuron and single motor neuron. They communicate through
Pain reflex: neural activity excited by heat travels>sensory neurons> interneurons in
spinal cord. Interneurons activate motor neurons to muscles, so hand “jerks” away, even
before brain receives info. If the top of spinal cord is severed, we wouldn’t feel anything,
although sensory and motor neurons might still work.
The brain receives info, interprets, and decides responses like a comopouter. Each
neuron connects with thousands of others, and cluster into neural networks. They
network with nearby ones to have short, fast connections. Learning happens as feedback
The Endocrine System
The endocrine system interconnects with the nervous system. Its glands secrete
hormones, which originate in tissues, travel through bloodstream, and affect other tissues,
including the brain. Some hormones are identical to neurotransmitters. Both endocrine and nervous systems
secrete molecules that activate receptors. Endocrine messages are much slower. Several
seconds or more compared to milliseconds. But endocrine messages last longer.
They influence growth, reproduction, metabolism, mood. In danger, the autonomic
nervous system tells adrenal glands to release epinephrine and norepinephrine to incrase
heart rate, blood pressure, sugar, so we have more energy.
Most influential is pituitary gland in the brain. It release hormones that influence
grotwht, kind of like a master gland, that is controlled by the hypothalamus.
Feedback system: brain > pituitary > other glands > hormones > brain
The nervous system directs the endocrine secretions, which then affect the nervous
system. The distinction between neurotransmitters and hormones is sometimes blurred.
It enables the mind: seeing, hearing, remembering…the mind is what the brain does.
Lesion – tissue destruction
Electroencephalogram (EEG) – amplified tracing of neuron sweeps in waves. Gives us
the gross activity of whole brain
Computed tomography (CT) scan – xrays that can reveal brain damage
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan – depicts chemical fuel, sugar glucose.
Shows areas that light up when people say name of animal different than when they say
name of tool
Magnetic Resonance imaging (MRI) – uses magenetic fields to produce images
distinguishing different structures within the brain
Show largerthan average left area for musicians with perfect pitch
Show second languages are in same area as first if learned early, and in different areas if
The oldest and innermost region. Begins where spinal cord enters skull, forming the
medulla. It controls heartbeat and breathing.
Inside, there is recticular formation, a network. Recticular formation helps control
Located on top of switchboard. It directs messages from sensory receiving areas in
cortex and transmits to cerebellum and medulla Cerebellum
“Little brain” extending from rear of brainstem. Enables one type of nonverbal learning
and meory. It also coordinates voluntary movement (athletic stuff). Our brainstem
manages lifesustaining functions.
Amygdala: influences aggression and fear. Can transform violent monkeys into mellow
Hypothalamus: below thalamus. Directs maintenance (eating, drinking, body
temperature) A general reward system that triggers the neurotransmitter dopamine with
pleasure in eating, drinking and sex.
Some speculate that addictive disorders (e.g. alcoholism, drugs), may stem from “reward
deficiency syndrome” a geneticallydisposed deficiency in brain stems for pleasure that
leads people to crave what provides them that missing pleasure.
Cerebral Cortex: intricate connection of neural cells. It is our ultimate control and
information processing center
80% of weight lies in ballooning left and righ hemispheres.
Glial cells – glue cells that guide neural connections, provide nutrients and insulating
myelin, mop up ions and neurotransmitters.
Frontal lobes – portion lying just behind forehead. Involved in speaking and muscle
movements, making plans and judgments
Parietal lobes – ie at top and toward rear
Occiptal lobes: lie at back. Includes visual areas, which receive visual info from opposite
Temporal lobes: Portion of cortex right above ears. Includes auditory areas, which
receives info primarily from opposite ear.
Functions of Cortex
It’s hard to localize brain functions and define things exactly. We can localize simple
brain functions though.
Motor cortex – Controls movement. At back of frontal lobe.
Sensory cortex – More sensitive a region is, the greater the area the sensory cortex is
devoted to it. Body parts can become more sensitive.
Association areas – neurons here integrate information. They associate sensory inputs
with stored memories. Electrically probing these areas doesn’t trigger a response.
Association areas in frontal lobes let us: judge, plan, process new memories. People with
damaged frontal lobes could have their memories, score high IQ, and bake a cake, but be
unable to plan ahead to begin baking the cake.
Frontal lobe damage can change personality, removing inhibitions.
Parietal lobes are involved in mathematical and spatial reasoning. AN area on underside
of righ temporal lobe > helps us recognize faces.
Platicity – brain’s capacity for modification Severed neurons won’t regenerate, but neural tissue can reorganize in response to
damage. Brain HW changes over time. It can rewire new synapses, or select new uses
for prewired circuits. Adult humans can also generate new brain cells.
Brains are most plastic as young children. They have a surplus of neurons.
Corpus callosum – wide band of axon fibers connecting two hemispheres
People with split brains surprisingly normal. But after operation, patients can’t identify
an unseen object placed in his left hand (info travels from left hand to right hemisphere,
which can’t pass it back to left hemisphere that controls speech).
When pic of spoon flashed to right hemisphere, they couldn’t say what they saw. But
when they are asked with their LHs feeling an assortment of objects hidden, they select
the spoon. If we tell them they are right, the patient might say “What? How can I pick
out the right one without seeing it?”
Left hemisphere is an “interpreter” that instantly contructs theories to explain our
What about ppl without divided brains?
When we do perceptual tasks, increased activity in right hemisphere. When we
speak/calculate, increased acitivity in left hemisphere. Most recognize pic faster and and
more accurate when flashed to left rather than right hemisphere. It takes longer – the
length of time it takes to send info through corpus callosum to more verbal left
hemisphere. Deaf ppl use left hemisphere to read signs.
We’re not sure if handedness is inherited. LHs more diverse, RHs primarily process
speech in left hemisphere. But observing how infants sleep (what side they turn), we
think it is inherited.LHs more common amongst those with reading disabilities,
musicians, mathies, professors.
With age, LHs disappear, but it’s not cuz they die earlier. We’re not sure why.
Chapter 3: Nature and Nurture
What makes you you?
Nature and nurture are crucially important
Genes: Biological blueprint
Chromosomes composed of DNA
Small parts of big DNA molecules are called genes
Genes make the “words” of chromosome “books”
Genes are made up of nucleotides (A,T,C,G)
Natural selection – the variations that contribute to survival will be passed on
Mutations – random mistakes in gene replication
Evolutionary Psychology – study of evolution of behavior and the mind using natural
selection They study questions like:
Why do infants start to fear strangers from when they become mobile?
Why are parents passionately devoted to children?
Who do we have greater helpfulness nad empathy to those who look, think, and act as we
Males initate sex
Casual sex most frequent among males with traditional attitudes
Men have lower threshold for perceiving warm responses as a sexual comeon
Evolutionary explanation: Sperm “cheaper” than eggs. Women pair wisely, men pair
Men find women with a youthful experience attractive – better chance of preserving
Women attracted to healthy, mature, dominant, affluent men. They prefer mates with
longterm mating potential.
Critiques: chimps have females sleep with several males
Marriage can spare chronic harassment
Behavior genetics – study of relative power/limits of genetic/environmental influences
Environment – every nongenetic influence
If you have fraternal twin divorced, your odds go up 1.6 times. If you have ID twin
divorced, odds go up 5.5 times.
Parental perceptions re: fraternal vs. ID don’t matter
Seperation shortly after birth vs. later doesn’t amplify personality differences
People who grow up together, whether related or not, don’t resemble each other in
personality. Adoptees’ traits are more like biological parents.
Parents do influence faith, manners, values, politics. Typically adoptees are less abused,
higher intelligence than parents (their adoptive parents are carefully screened). They are
more selfgiving and altuisitc than average (cuz their adoptive parents are).
A person’s characteristic emotional reactivity
Reactive and impulsive 3 year olds developed into reactive/aggressive/conflictprone 21
Try putting “uptight”/”easygoing” chimps with foster mothers who were also
“uptight”/”easygoing”: heredity overrode rearing
Portion of variation among individuals we can attribute to genes. As environment
becomes more similar, heredity as source of differences becomes more important Geneenvironment interaction
Hard to separate what % due to what. Children experience different parents, depending
on their own qualities.
Subfield of biology that studies molecular structure and gene function
“Two children in same family are as different from each other as pairs of random
Parents should be given less credit/blame for children
Nurture begins in womb
ID twins can share same placenta or different ones. One placenta might be more
advantageous. Sameplacenta twins are more similar
Experience and Brain development
Rats in an enriched environment had heavier and thicker brain cortexes
Repeated experiences modify neural tissue
Gender identity – one’s sense of being male/female
Social learning thory – theory that we learn social behavior by observing, imitating and
Gender schema theory – theory that children learn from cultures how to act
Genes are allpervasive but not allpowerful. So is culture.
Chapter 4: The Developing Person
Developmental psychologists study physical, mental, and social changes. Research
1) Nature/nurture: How does genetics and experience influence development?
2) Contiunuity/stages: Is development gradual, or does it go through distinct stages?
3) Stability/change: Do early personality traits persist?
Prenatal Development and the Newborn
200 million sperm deposited in intercourse
More than 1000 sperm produced per second
Only 1 in 5000 eggs ever mature and are released
Egg is 85,000 times the size of sperm
Zygote – a fertilized egg
Differentiate – specialize in structure and function Embryo developing human organism from about 2 weeks after fertilization through
Fetus – after 9 weeks
Placenta carries nutrients and oxygen from mother to fetus, screening out harmful
Teratogens – harmful agents that reach fetus
If she is herion addict, baby will be born one too. There is no known safe amount of
alcohol for pregnant woman – moderate drinking affects brain. 1 in 750 infants have
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) – mental retardation.
Rooting reflex – When something hits cheek, babies open mouth and “root” for a nipple.
Then they close and suck on it.
Babies prefer sights and sounds that help social responsiveness. They turn in direction of
voices, look longer at facelike images. Prefer to look at objects 8 to 12 inches away –
approx distance between nursing infant’s eyes and its mother’s.
Neural networks stamped with smell of mother’s body. Infant recognizes smell and
sound of mother. Can respond to its forehead being stroked.
Habituation – decrease in responding with repeated stimulation
Infancy and Childhood
Maturation – biological growth processes that enable orderly changes in behavior. It sets
the basic course of development, and experience adjusts it.
We don’t remember stuff before third birthday becaseu we lack neural connections. We
organize memories differently after age 5. Acessing these memories is like reading a
document formatted by an earlier OS.
Some memories still exist before 3:
With reminders, 3 month olds learn that moving their leg propels a mobile for at least a
11 month olds who observe someone making a rattle by putting a button in a box will
imitate up to three months later
Show pics of former classmates, 10 year olds only recognize 1 in 5 of their preschooler
classmates. But they physiological responding is greater to former ones, (skin
perspiration), so they must unconsciously know them.
They roll over before sitting, they crawl before walking. Blind children do as well.
There are individual differences: 25% walk by 11 months, 50% within a week of first
birthday, 90% by 15 months.
Piaget: child’s mind is not miniature of an adult’s. Most people thought kids simply
knew less, not differently. He also thought mind developed through states until
Core idea: “children are active thinkers, constantly trying to construct more advanced
understandings of the world”. Schemas – concept or framework that organizes and interprets information. We pour
experience into them, and adults have countless schemas (typing a knot, what love is)
Assimilation – interpreting new experience in terms of our existing schemas
Accommodate – adapting our current understanding (shcmeas) to incorporate new
Piaget’s Theory and Current Thinking
Cognition – mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, communicating
Sensorimotor stage – They take in world through sensory and motor interactions with
objects. What is out of sight is out of mind – they lack object permanence – awareness
that objects exist even when not perceived.
Researchers now think development is “continuous” – object permanence unfolds
Researchers think Piaget underestimated children’s competence. He thought before age
2, infants can’t think, and have no abstract concepts or ideas.
1 month old babies could recognize an unseen pacifier later
Infants look longer at scene of a car passing through a solid object, or a ball stopping in
Preoperational Stage – Up to age 6/7, in this stage, too young to perform mental
operations. Lack concept of conservation, that quantity remains the same despite
differences in shape (water jars). Piaget didn’t think stage transitions were abrupt.
When shown things hidden in a model, they can find it in the actual room.
Kids are also egocentric. They can’t see things from others’ views.
Theory of mind
Ideas about their own and others’ mental states – feelings, perceptions, thoughts, and
behavior they might predict. (Anticipating false belief of a bandaid box full of pencils)
Autism – disorder with deficient communication and social interaction. Impaired theory
of mind. When shown a doll Sally, leaving her cup in a red box, and Anne moving it to
another one, they think that Sally will somehow know it is not in the original one. But
Sally shouldn’t know it isn’t there. They are less likely to use personal pronouns “me” or
Our ability to think symbolically and take other perspectives develops graduate. At age
7, they become good at verbal thinking, rely on inner speech. Muttering causes to do
math better the next year
Conrete Operational Stage
Cognitive development where kids gain mental operations to think logically
Formal Operational Stage
“If J in school, M in school.” John is in school. Is mary? Formal operational thinkers get
Piaget gets high marks somewhere, controversial elsewhere.
Stranger anxiety – fear of strangers, beginning by about 8 months They have schemas for familiar faces, and become distressed when they can’t assimilate
new faces into remembered schemas.
Attachment – emotional tie with another person. They shower parents with smiles and
hugs when reunited. It’s a powerful survival impulse.
Origins of Attachment
A study bred monkeys, and separated monkeys from mothers shortly after birth. Infants
became attached to their blankets > they don’t get attached to those who provide
To test this, they created a nourishing wire mother, and a nonnourishing cloth mother,
but monkeys still preferred the cloth one. Infants like soft and warm parents, who rock,
feed, and pat.s It’s a safe havevn effect.
Nature opens windows of opportunity for learning vision/language, then closes them.
Attachments also have this sort of critical period – optimal period shortly after birth
when exposure to stimuli produces proper development.
Imprinting – a process by which certain animals form attachments very early in life. A
researcher was the first moving creature they saw, and they followed him everywhere.
Once formed, attachment is hard to reverse
Human attachment develops gradually, and touch right after childbirth isn’t essential.
Children, unlike ducklings, don’t imprint, but do become attached to what they’ve
known. Prefer familiar foods, neighborhood, school, friends, books.
Placed in strange situation, 60% of infants display secure attachment – when mother is
there, they play comfortably, but when she leaves, they’re distressed. Others show
insecure attachment – less likely to explore surroundings, cling to their mom. When she
leaves, they become crybabys. Why?
Fefmale rats reared by relaxed, attentive mothers become more relaxed and attentive to
their offspring than stressprone ones. Do human infants pick up on mothers’ tendencies?
Sensitive, responsive moms had infants who were securely attached. Insensitive,
unresponsive mothers. Insensitive, unresponsive mothers had infants who became
insecurely attached. Researchers study mother care more than father care.
Anxiety over separation from parents peaks at about 13 months, then gradually declines.
Effects of Attachment
Basic trust – a sense that the world is predictable and reliable. Securely attached children
approach life with this sense. Romantic love exhibits secure, trusting attachemtns,
insecure, anxious attachment, or avoidance of attachment. Researchers believe early
attachment experiences lay foundation for adult relationships.
Deprivation of Attachment
Babies reared without stimulation of regular caregiver, or locked away under abuse or
neglect, are often withdrawn, frightened, or speechless. If institutionalized more than 8
months, they often bore lasting scars.
Adult monkeys often cower or lash out in aggression, and most were incapable of mating.
Females were often neglectful, abusive, or murderous toward firstborn. With humans,
the unloved often become unloving too. But most abused don’t become violent criminals
or abusive parents. Some have matured after adoption into good homes into normal adults with careers and families. But others aren’t so resilient, especially if they’re still
abused. About 30% of children abused abuse their children.
Hamsters that are threatened and attacked repeatedly when young grow up to be cowards
when placed with samesize hamsters or bullies when caged with weaker ones. These
animals have changes in brain chemical serotonin.
Disruption of Attachment
Infants become upset, withdrawn, and despairing when separated from families.
Adults also suffer; detaching is a process, not an event.
Does Day Care affect Attachment?
No major impact of maternal employment on children’s development.High quality day
care has warm, supportive interactions in safe, stimulating environment. Poor care is
boring and unresponsive to children’s needs. Children growing up in families using more
than 20h per week of nonparental care are at heightened risk of seeming insecure, and
being disobedient and aggressive at older ages. Some think that quality infant day care
doesn’t hinder secure attachment. In some cultures, there are multiple caregivers: “it
takes a village to raise a child.”
A sense of one’s identity and personal worth. Darwin proposed that selfawareness
begins when we recognize ourselves in the mirror.s This happens gradually over about a
year, starting at 6 months.
Researchers put a red spot on their noses, and at 1518 months, children will touch their
own noses when they see the red spot in the mirror.
By 8 or 10, their selfimages are quit stable.
Three parenting styles:
1. Authoritarian parents impose rules and expect obedience
2. Permissive parents submit to children’s desires, make few demands
3. Authoritative parents are both demanding and responsive. Exert control, and
encourage open discussion and allow exceptions when making rules
Children with highest selfesteem, selfreliance, and social competence have warm,
concerned, authoritative parents. Children who sense enough control to attribute
behaviors to their choices internalize their behaviors, whereas coerced children don’t.
Authoritative parents provide children with greatest sense of control. But correlation is
not causation. It could be children’s traits influence parenting styles, and certain
childhood outcomes is correlational. Or children’s traits influence parenting more. Also,
authoritative parents are often better educated and less stressed by poverty or recent
divorce, which affect children’s competence.
Transition period between childhood and adulthood. Roughly corresponds to teen years
in Western world. Sexual maturity begins earlier in countries with improved nutrition.
Because of compulsory schooling, adult independence began happening later. Lots of mood swings, a time of vitality, heightened idealism, and growing sense of exciting
Puberty – period of sexual maturation. Surge of hormones, can intensify moods.
Primary sex characteristics (reproductive organs and external genitalia) develop
dramatically. Secondary sex characteristics – nonreproductive traits like breatst/hips, or
facial hair/deepened voice evelop.
Menarche – the first menstrual period
Sequence of physical changes in puberty is more predictable than timing. Boys with
early maturation are stronger and more athletic, and tend to be more popular, self
assured. For girls, it can be stressful.
Become preoccupied about what other people are thinking about them.
Developing Reasoning Power
Formal operations – teens develop this intellectual summit: If this, then that. Abstract
logic. They can now reason and detect hypocrisy
Piaget believed children’s morality built on their cognitive development. Kohlberg
argued that we develop intellectually through six stages of moral thinking, moving from
simplistic and concrete toward abstract and principled. Three basic levels:
1) Preconventional morality – they obey either to avoid punishment or gain concrete
2) Conventional morality – cares for others and upholds laws and social rules
3) Postconventional morality – Some who develop abstract reasoning of formal
operational thought come to this level. Follows what one believes are basic
Research confirms this progression in different cultures. The postconventional level
is more controversial. Appears in Europe and NA which prizes individualism, and
biased against moral reasoning of those in communal societies like China and India.
Erikson propsed each life stage has its own psychosocial task, a crisis that needs
resolution. Yound children wrestle with trust, then autonomy, then initiative. Schoolage
children strive for competence.
Forming an Identity
Identity – one’s sense of self
Some forge identity early, others may adopt a negative identity that defines itself in
opposition to parents and society. Many college students have achieved a clearer identity
than as firstyear students. 75% of seventh graders characterized a clone as having the
same social network. 75% of ninthgraders chose a clone with their individual thoughts
Ability to form emotionally close relationships. Boys usually play in large groups with
activity focus and little intimate discussion. Girls usually play in smaller groups, often
with one friend. Less competitive than boys, more imitative of social relationships. Women are more interdependent and use conversation to explore relationships, men use
it to communicate solutions.
Male answer syndrome – men are more likely to hazard answers than admit they don’t
know than women are
Women are more caring and provide most of the care to the very young and very old.
Men emphasize freedom and selfreliance. At all ages, they assign less importance to
religion and pray less often than females. Teenage girls become progressively less
assertive and more flirtatious, boys become more domineering and unexpressive. But by
age 50, these differences have diminished. Biological wisdom: social expectations lead
both sexes to downplay traits that interfere with roles during courting. Later they are
freer to develop and express inhibited tendencies.
Separating from Parents
Most adolescents like their parents, disagreement at level of bickering is not destructive.
More than 80% rate family relationships as important. 97% of American teens said they
get along fairly or very well with parents. Most get along better with Mom than Dad.
Adolescence is time of diminishing parental influence and growing peer influence. Teens
are herd animals – talk dress, and act more like peers than parents. As they go into
adulthood, emotional ties between parents and children loosen (from early twenties to
Muscular strength, reaction time, sensory keenness, cardiac output, all peak at mid
twenties. Many physically fit 50year olds run 4 miles with ease, while sedentary 25year
olds huff and puff up two flights of stairs.
Menopause – ending of menstrual cycle, usually beginning with age 50. Reduction in
estrogen. Includes occasional hot flashes. It does not create psychological problems for
Most women express “only relief” when periods stopped, only 2 percent felt “only
regret”. Men have no equivalent, and gradually testosterone declines.
When people over 60 were surveyed, 39% expressed satisfaction with amount of sex they
were having, and 39% wished for sex more frequently.
Worldwide life expectancy increased from 49 in 1950 to 67 in 1995. Women outlive
men by 4 years worldwide, and by almost 7 years in NA. Few live to 100.
Hearing, distance perception, sense of smell also declines. Pupil shrinks, lens becomes
less transparent. 65year old retina receives only about onethird as much light as 20
year old counterpart.
Immune system weakens, but older people suffer less often fom shortterm ailments
becomes of accumulation of antibodies. Most elderly people believe that majority of
peers suffer serious health problems, but fewer than one in four reported they have such a
Neural processing slows down. Brain regions important to memory begin to atrophy.
Small, gradual net loss of brain cells begins. Birth of new cells and proliferation of neural connections, especially amongst active people compensates for cell loss. Adults
who remain active physically, sexuallym mentally, retain more of their capacity in later
years. “Use it or lose it”.
Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease
Alzheimer’s – progressive an irreversible brain disorder: deterioration of memory,
reasoning, language, and physical functioning.
Not the same as normal aging. Destroys even brightest of minds.Patient becomes
emotionally flat, then disoriented, then incontinent. Deterioration of neurons that
produce acetylcholine, so memory and thinking suffer.
Aging and Memory
People vividly recall experiences in life’s second two decades. Tend to name events
from teens or twenties as most important events.
Younger adults consistently surpass older ones in name recall.
Younger adults have better recall, but older adults perform same on recognition (MC
Recognition memory better for older adults early rather than later in the day. Older
people’s capacity to learn and remember skills and meaningful material shows less
decline. 70 year olds diverge in abilities more than 20 year olds. Most older students do
better than 18 year olds, because they have clearer goals.
Aging and Intelligence
Crosssectional studies – compare people of different ages
When giving intelligence tests, older adults give fewer correct answers than younger
Longitudinal study – research in which same people are restudied and retested over a long
When they did longitudinal study, intelligence remains stable after age 30. So cross
sectional study compares people of two different eras, and lesseducated people with
bettereducated people. Abilities can remain intact well into the 80s.
Longitudinal studies have flaws too – those who survive to the end may be bright, healthy
people least likely to decline.
Older adults hold their own on “wisdom” tests that assess “expert knowledge about life in
Crystallized intelligence – one’s accumulated knowledge in vocabulary and analogies
tests. Increases up to old age
Fluid intelligence – ability to reason speedily and abstractly, as when solving novel logic
problems. Decreases steadily up to age 75, then rapidly. Mathematicians and scientists
produce most creative work during late twenties or early thirties, while literature, history,
and philosophy works tend to produce best in forties, fifties, and beyond.
Adulthood Ages and Stages
Midlife transition isn’t supported by that much evidence.
Social clock – cultural prescription of right time to leave home, get a job, marry, have
children, etc. It varies from culture, and from eras. Only half of identically twins recall really liking their twin’s selection, and only 5 percent
said “I could have fallen for my twin’s fiancée”. Romantic love is like ducklings’
imprinting: you can form a bond with almost any available person with roughly similar
background and level of attractiveness who reciprocates affection.
Intimacy – forming close relationships
Generativity – being productive and supporting future generations
Human societies almost always have a monogamous bond between men and women.
Most satisfying and enduring when marked by similar interests and values, sharing of
emotional/material support, and intimate selfdisclosure.
Marriage bonds are more likely to last when couples marry after age 20 and are well
educated. Compared with 40 years earlier, people are better educated and marrying later.
However, divorce rate is now twice as likely. There is a positive correlation between
living together before marriage and getting divorced after marriage.
More than 9 in 10 heterosexual adults marry. Stable marriages provide five times more
instances of smiling, touching, compliments, and laughing than of sarcasm, criticism, and
insults. Put downs, unchecked, can take over a relationship.
Empty nest is for most people a happy place.
Freud said a healthy adult had to love and work. Most will change careers.
WellBeing across the Life Span
Regrets focus less on mistakes than on things we failed to do. Older people report as
much happiness and satisfaction with life as younger people do. Highs become less high,
lows less low. The average feeling may be the same, but with age we are less often
feeling excited, intensely proud, but also less often depressed. Compliments provoke less
elation and criticisms less despair.
Teenagers typically come down from elation or up from gloom in less than an hour.
Adult moods are less extreme but more enduring. For most people, old age has less
intense joy, but greater contentment.
Death and Dying
Most difficult separation is from one’s spouse. Normal range of reactions to loved one’s
death is wider than we suppose. Some hide grief, other cultures encourage public
weeping. Contrary to misconception, those who express strongest grief immediately after
don’t purge it more briefly.
Reflections on Two Major Developmental Issues
Continuity and Stages
Researchers who emphasize experience and learning see development as a slow,
continuous shaping process. Those who emphasize biological maturation see it as a
sequence of genetically predetermined stages or steps. Research casts doubt on idea that
life proceeds through neatly defined, agelinked stages. However, concept of stages
remains useful. Stability and Change
Evidence for both stability and change.
1. First 2 years are a poor basis for predicting a person’s eventual traits.
2. Temperament more stable than social attitudes. Attitudes become more stable
3. We all change in some ways.
Perception: Chapter 6
Plato: we perceive objects through senses. We select and interpret our sensations
(perception), creating meaning.
At any moment we focus our awareness on only limited aspects.
Cocktail party effect – ability to attend selectively to one voice among many
Stimuli that we don’t notice can still affect us. Even unattended stimuli has subtle effects
Vision is preeminent among our senses. When it conflicts with other sensations, vision
dominates: visual capture.
Gestalt – an organized whole. Psychologists emphasize our tendency to integrate info
into meaningful wholes
These psychologists fond of saying that in perception the whole may exceed sum of its
Bottomup processing starts with senses
Topdown processing uses our experiences to interpret sensations.
The more we learn about ourselves, the fuzzier distinction between sensation and
Our brains do more than merely register info. We constantly filter sensory info and infer
perceptions in ways that make sense.
Figure and Ground
We need to perceive the object or figure as distinct from the background or gournd.
Grouping uses rules to and groups stimuli together Proximity – we group nearby figures together
Similarity – We group similar figures together
Continuity – WE perceive smooth, continuous patterns rather than discontinued ones
Connectedness – We perceive spots, lines, areas as a single unit
Closure – We fill in gaps to complete a whole object
Seeing objects in 3D helps us estimate their distance from us.
Visual cliff – a lab device to test depth perception
Each species is born with depth perception.
Binocular cues – require both eyes
Retinal disparity provides an important cue to relative distance of objects.
Creators of 3d movies exaggerate retinal disparity by manipulating photography.
Perception is not merely projecting the world into our brains. Our brain constructs our
Convergence – a neuromuscular cue caused by eyes’ greater inward turn when they view
a near object.
Monocular cues – available to each eye separately.
Interposition – If one object partially blocks another, we see it as closer
Relative size – If we assume two objects similar in size, we perceive the smaller image
Relative clarity – We perceive hazy objects as farther away than sharp clear objects
Texture gradient – A gradual change from a coarse, distinct texture into fine, indistinct
Relative height – We perceive objects higher in field of vision as farther
Relative motion – We move objects that are stable may appear to move
Linear perspective – Parallel lines appear to converge with distance
Light and shadow – Nearby objects reflect more light to our eyes
Phi phenomenon – an illusion of movement when two or more adjacent lights blink on
and off in succession
Perceives an object as unchanging even though the stimuli we receive from it change.
Shape constancy – we perceive the form of familiar objects as constants even when our
retiaml images of them changes.
Size constancy – we perceive objects as having a constant size, even when our distance
Sizedistance relationship – Given perceived distance of object and size of its image on
our retinas, we infer the object’s size.
Puzzle where we interpreted one line segment as longer: our experience with corners of
rooms causes us to interpret vertical line in figure as close and thus shorter.
Anthropologists and crosscultural psychologists report that people who have never seen
photos before find them confusing. Lightness Constancy
White paper reflects 90% of the light, black paper only 10%. In sunlight black might
reflect 100x more than white indoors, but it still looks black. We perceive an object as
having a constant lightness even while illumination varies.
Sensory Deprivation and Restored Vision
Formerly blind patients can’t recognize by sight objects that are familiar by touch.
Infancy is a critical period where experience activates brain’s visual mechanisms
The ability to adjust to an artificially displaced or even inverted visual field. We can
adapt to an inverted world (visually) Do we perceptually reinvert their upsidedown
world. No, we just adapt to context.
Our experiences, assumptions, and expectations give us a perceptual set that influences
what we perceive.
A mental predisposition to perceive one thing and not another.
A given stimulus may trigger radically different perceptions. “attacks” or “a tax”? “Cults
and sex” or “Cults and sects”?
ESP – that perception can happen apart from sensory input
Parapsychology – study of paranormal phenomena
A lot of people are skeptical.
Telepathy – mind to mind communication
Clairvoyance – perceiving remote events
Precognition – perceiving future events
Premonitions or pretensions?
They aren’t very accurate. A reproducible ESP phenomenon has never been discovered
Chapter 7: States of Consciousness
Behaviorism – direct observations of behavior
Advances made it possible to relate brain activity to mental states (waking, sleeping,
Consciousness – awareness of ourselves and our environment
Enables us to exert voluntary control and communicate our mental states to others, but
it’s the tip of the infoprocessing iceberg. Brain events are to consciousness what guitar’s individual notes are to a chord. A chord
comes from different notes’ interactions; consciousness comes from interaction of
different brain events.
Subconscious information is processed in parallel, conscious info in serial.
Conscious is relatively slow, has limited capacity, but skilled at solving novel problems.
Novel tasks require conscious attention, can only do one thing at once (tap a steady 3
with LH vs. tap a steady 4 with RH)
Daydreams and Fantasies
Almost everyone has fantasies
Young adults have more daydreams and sexual fantasies
Not all daydreaming is escapist
About 4% of population have fantasyprone personalities. They spend more than half
their time fantasizing, have trouble sorting out remembered fantasies from memories of
actual events. Study of 26 women: 75% could have orgasm just by sexual fantasy
Daydreams can also be adaptive: help us prepare for future by keeping us aware of
unfinished business and giving us a chance to mentally rehearse
Playful fantasies enhance creativity
Daydreaming in form of imaginative play nourishes social, cognitive development >
watching TV can be bad for development
Daydreams can also substitute impulsive behavior. People prone to violence, artificial
highs have fewer fantasies.
Sleep and Dreams
False: Limbs move with our dreams, older ppl sleep more, sleepwalkers are acting out
their dreams, insomniacs should use sleeping pills, some ppl dream every night, others
Annual cycles – seasonal variations in appetite, sleep length, moods
e.g. seasonal affective disorder: depressed during winter
Twentyeightday cycles – female menstrual cycle
Twentyfourhour cycles – varying alertness, body temp, growth hormone secretion
Ninetyminute cycles – sleep cycles
Rhythm of Sleep
A biological clock; regular bodily rhythms ( temperature, wakefulness) occurring on a
Body temp rises as morning nears, peaks during day, dips in early afternoon, and drops
Thinking and memory is sharpest when people are at daily peak in circadian arousal.
Bright light helps reset biological clocks. To get rid of jet lag: spend the first day
outdoors. Bright light in the morning helps people wake and protects against depression,
bright light at night helps delay sleep.
Light tweaks circadian clock as lightsensitive retian proteins trigger signals to a brain
region that controls circadian clock. Our circadian clock can be manipulated by light to
the b ack of the knees. The skin contains some light sensitive proteins that actuate the retina’s messages to the
brain’s circadian clock.
Ancestors body clocks were 24 hours, young adults isolated without clocks are daylight
typically adopt 25 hour day. Being bathed in light is like traveling one zone west, it
nudges 24hour biological clock back.
Artificial light delays sleep.
About every 90100 mins we pass through a cycle of distinct sleep.
REM – rapid eye movement
Yawning stretches neck muscles, increases heart rate, bloodflow to brain
Alpha waves – awake but relaxed state
Sleep is a state we don’t know till we’re in it
Stage 1 sleep – slowed breathing, irregular brain waves. Up to five minutes, you can
experience fantastic images, hallucinations. Your body could “jerk” suddenly.
Stage 2 – about 20 minutes, characterized by sleep spindles – bursts of rapid, rhythmic
brain activity. You are clearly asleep
Stage 3 – Stage 4 – Brain increasingly emits large, slow delta waves. These stages last
for about 30 minutes, when yo’ure hard to wake. Children wet the bed at end of stage 4.
Even in deep sleep, brain can process external stimuli: can move around on bed without
falling, noise from road won’t wake us but babie’s cry will.
About 1 hour after sleep, we ascend from initial sleep dive. Returning thourhg stage 3
and stage 2, you enter REM. For about 10 mins. Brain waves become rapid, sawtoothed,
like Stage 1. However, your heart rate rises, breathing becomes rapid/irregular.
During REM, genitals become aroused, have erection/vaginal lubrication. Except during
scary dreams, genital arousal always happens, regardless if dream is sexual. Many men
with erectile disorder have morning erections.
Brain’s motor cortex active during REM, but brainstem blocks its messages, leaving
muscles relaxed, so yo’ure almost paralyzed, and can’t b e easily awakened.
Rapid eye movements announce beginning of a dream. People recall a dream 80% of
time if they were awakened during REM sleep. People remember dreams sometimes
from other stages, but usually vague. Sleep cycle repeats avery 90 minutes. As night
goes on, deep Stage 4 sleep gets briefer and then disappears.
By morning, 2025 % has been REM.
Why do we Sleep?
Newborns sleep about 16 hours, most adults no more than 8. Unhindered, most sleep 9
10h. Succession of 5 hour nights though, we accumulate sleep debt. Accurate sleep debt
of at least 2 weeks.
Less sleep: not only sleepiness, but a general malaise. Teenagers sleep about 2h less than
80 years ago.
Accidents increase in “spring forward” DST because of lack of sleep.
Diseasefighting immune system sufferes
When infections set in, we sleep more, boosting immune cells
Why do we sleep? It suits our ecological niche. Darkness is dangerous.
Sleep also helps us recuperate, restoring body tissues.
1015% adults have insomnia – persistent problems falling/staying asleep. Sleeping pills and alcohol aggravate the problem. They both reduce REM sleep. When
drug discontinued, insomnia can worsen.
Narcolepsy – disorder characterized by uncontrollable sleep attacks. Goes directly into
REM sleep, often at inopportune times (less than 5 minutes).
Sleep apnea – disorder characterized by stopping breathing while sleeping, and then
snorting and awakening.
Night terrors – Might sit up/walk around. Double heart rates, seldom wakes up fully,
and doesn’t recall much the next day. Occurs in the first few hours of stage 4.
Sleepwalking, sleeptalking runs in families.
What do we dream?
Dream – sequence of images, emotions, thoughts. Only 1 in 10 dreams among men and
1 in 30 among women are sexual. 65% of characters in male dreams are male, whereas
50% in female.
Manifest content – “storyline” of our dreams.
Anything that happens in the 5 minutes before sleep is typically lost from memory
Why do we dream?
Latent content – the underlying meaning of a dream. Unconscious drives and wishes.
Freud may have failed in his dream interpretation theory.
Dreams may also serve a physiological function. They might give the brain periodic
stimulation, which helps preserve brain’s neural pathways. Other physiological theories:
dreams erupt from neural activity that spreads upward from brainstem.
Activationsynthesis theory – This neuroactivity is random, and dreams are the brain’s
attempt to make sense of it.s
Secondslong bursts of rapid eye movement during REM coincide with bursts of activity
in visual cortex. Given these visual scenes, our cognitive machinery imposes meaning on
meaningless stimuli. The emotionrelated limbic system becomes active during REM,
while “rational” brain regions idle.s
Activationsynthesis theory: dreams spring from mind’s relentless effort to make sense of
unrelated visual bursts, and are given an emotional tone by our limbic system. Dreams
are brain’s interpretation of its own activity.
Some people dispute both Freud, activation synthesis theory, and see them as part of
In any case, we NEED REM sleep. If you wake someone up repeatedly, they’ll fall into
REM more quickly > REM Rebound.
Most mammals have REM sleep and REM Rebound. Biological and psychological
explanations are partners.
A social interaction where someone suggests to you that perceptions, feelings, thoughts,
will spontaneously occur.
Posthypnotic amnesia – temporary memory loss if you are told to forget what happened
during sleep. Are people really unable to remember? Or are they distracting themselves?
Facts and Falsehoods
Power is not in hypnotist, but in subject’s openness to suggestion. People who respond to
suggestion without hypnosis are people who respond with hypnosis. Highly hypnotizable people are likely to be the same 25 years later. They frequently get
deep into imaginative activities.
Most people believe that our experiences are all “in there” (the brain). This is wrong.
Sometimes police uses hypnosis for witnesses, but “hypnotically refreshed” memories
mix fact and fiction.
Hypnosis can’t change the rules we form, store, and retrieve memories. Studies show
that most reports of UFOs come from people predisposed to believe in aliens, are fantasy
Can Hypnosis force people to act against their will?
Yes. Asked people to throw acid in their face. But the unhypnotized control group did
Hypnosis can relieve pain. (Ice bath experiment)
Dissociation – split between different levels of consciousness.
Theory: Hypnosis dissociates sensation of pain stimulus from the emotional suffering that
defines our experience of pain.
Theory: Hypnotic pain relief comes from selective attention (athletes).
Hypnosis does not block sensory input.
Is Hypnosis an Altered State of Consciousness?
People aren’t faking hypnosis, just doing what’s expected. The more they like/trust the
hypnostist, the more they do hypnotic behavior.
Social influence theory – hypnotic phenomena not unique to hypnosis.
Hypnotized subjects sometimes carry out suggested behavior even when they think no
one is watching. Some think that hypnosis is not only social influence, but a special case
of divided consciousness. With practice, we can read a short story while copying dictated
words, or talk to an audience while playing piano). Much of our behavior occurs on
In some experiments, people would be deaf, but respond when asked “Raise your finger
if some part of you can hear something”.
Hidden observer – Describes a subject’s awareness of experiences that go unreported
Drugs and Consciousness
Psychoactive drugs – chemicals that change perceptions and moods
Dependence and addiction
Tolerance – diminishing effect with regular use of the same does of a drug.
Withdrawal – Distress following discontinuing the use of a drug
3 myths about addiction that are false:
1. Addictive drugs quickly corrupt.
Only about 10% of people get hooked on morphine from medical use
2. Addictions can’t be overcome voluntarily
People can quit on their own
3. We can extend addiction to other repetitive, pleasureseeking behaviors. Psychoactive Drugs
Depressants – calm neural activity, slow body functions
Stimulants – temporarily excite neural activity, arouse body functions
Hallucinogens – distort perceptions, evoke sensory images in absence of sensory input
Alcohol: The urges you feel when sober are the ones you more likely will act upon when
intoxicated. It affects judgment and also memory. It impairs the processing of recent
experiences into longterm memories. Hard to transfer memories from intoxicated to
Alcohol also reduces selfawareness. When people believe that alcohol affects social
behavior, and believe they’ve been drinking, they’ll act accordingly. (e.g. people more
responsive to sexual stimuli if they believe alcohol promotes arousal, and believe they’ve
Principle: A drug’s psychological effects influenced by user’s expectations
Also tranquilizers. They mimic the effects of alcohol, depress activity of sympathetic
nervous system, CNS, reduce anxiety, but impair memory and judgment.
Morphine heroin, also depress neural function. Pupils constrict, breathing slows, user
becomes lethargic. When flooded with artificial opiates, brain stops producing its own,
the endorphins. When drug is withdrawn, brain lacks normal elvel of its own painkilling
Amphetamines: caffeine, nicotine. They speed up body functions, heart/breathing rates.
Cocaine: rush of euphoria, but depletes brain’s supply of dopamine, seotoni,
norepinephirne> “Crash” whn drugs wears off. Cocaine raises dopamine concentrations
by binding to mopup site, blocking its reuptake of dopamine.
They distort perceptions, and evoke vivid images in absence of sensory input.
LSD – Emotions from an LSD trip go from euphoria to detachment to panic.
Marijuana – Relaxes, disinhibits, and produces euphoric high. Amplifies sensitivity to
colors, sounds, tastes. Impairs motor coordination, perceptual skills. Disrupts memory
formation. Lingers in body for a month or more.
Principle: Negative aftereffects offset immediate positive effects. As opposing, negative
aftereffects gets stronger, it takes larger doses to produce highs (tolerance), causing
aftereffects to worsen when you stop (withdrawal).
Influences on Drug Use
“Glamorized” in media.
Biological: some biological vulnerable to alcohol
Psychological and Cultural: When people are depressed, they take it. Peer influence
Pretty common, altered state of consciousness similar to hallucinations. They often
report accompanying mystical experience. Oxygen deprivation can produce hallucinations. As oxygen deprivation turns off
inhibitory cells, neural activity increases in visual cortex.
Dualists – Believe mind and body interacting as distinct entities.
Monists – mind and body are different aspects of same thing.
Chapter 8: Learning
A relatively permanent change in organism’s behavior due to experience. It breeds hope.
What is learnable, we can potentially teach. Experience is key to learning. We learn by
Learning – a relatively permanent change in behavior due to experience
Associative learning – Linking two events that occur close together.
Successful adaptation requires both nature and nurture
Conditioning – process of learning associations.
Classical conditioning –we associate two stimulate and anticipate events. (e.g. see
lighting, anticipate thunder)
Operant conditioning – learn to associate a response and its consequence. Avoid acts
followed by punishment, repeat acts followed by rewards. (e.g. Pushing a vending
machine button and expect food).
Example: Japanese rancher herds cattle by outfitting with pagers. After one week, they
associated the beep on pager and arrival of food (classical conditioning). They also
learned to associate their hurrying to the food trough with pleasure of eating (operant
Behaviorism – the view that psychology should be an objective science that stidues
behavior without reference to mental processes.
Dog’s salivate at stimuli associated with food: sight of food, food dish, presence of
person who regularly brought food.
Pavlov conditioned dogs to salivate to neutral, external stimuli: buzzer, light, touch, a
Unconditioned response (UCR) – the unlearned, naturally occurring response to UCS
(salivation due to food in the mouth)
Unconditioned stimulus (UCS) – A stimulus that unconditionally triggers a response
Conditioned response (CR) – Learned response to previously neutral conditioned
stimulus (salivation due to the associated tone)
Conditioned stimulus (CS) – Originally irrelevant stimulus that after associated with a
UCS, triggers a conditioned response.
Acquisition – intial stage in classical conditioning. The phase associating a neutral
stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus.
This doesn’t work if food (UCS) arrives before the tone (CS). Classical conditioning is
biologically adaptive, helps prepare for good and bad events.
Tone (CS) signals an important biological event – arrival of food (UCS). TO a deer, a
snapping twig (CS) can signal a predator (UCS). Extinction and Spontaneous Recovery
Extinction – When the CS (tone) occurs repeatedly without the UCS (food), dogs salivate
less and less. This is extinction – dimished responding that occurs when CS no longer
signals an impending UCS.
Spontaenous recovery – reappearance of a weakened CR after a rest phase. This suggests
extinction is suppressing a CR rather than eliminating it.
A dog conditioned to the sound of one tone also responds to a sound of a different tone
never paired with food.
Adaptive: toddlers fear moving cars> fear other vehicles.s
Stimuli that are similar to naturally disgusting or appealing objects will by association
Learned ability to distinguish between a conditioned stimulus and other irrelevant stimuli.
(skinheads vs. bald gentleman, golden retriever vs. pit bull)
Updating Pavlov’s Understanding
When two significant events occur close together, animal learns the predictability of the
Expectancy – awareness of how likely the UCS will occur.
People given alcohol spiked with nauseating drug won’t stop drinking
It’s not just the simple CSUCS association
Genetic predispositions of species help it to learn associations that enhance survival.
Example: rats avoid drinking water from plastic bottles in radiation chambers. Did the
rats link plastictasting water (CS) to sickness (UCR) triggered by the internal state
Two startling findings:
1) even if sickened several hours later, the rats avoided that flavor. UCS doesn’t
have to follow CS immediately!
2) Rats developed aversion to tastes, but not sight or sounds. Not any stimulus can
be a CS!
Humans too: if you get sick after mussels, you’ll avoid mussels, but not sight of the
restaurant or people you were around. Natural selection favors traits that aid survival.
Learning enables animals to adapt to their environments.
Classical conditioning is a basic form of learnings. We’ve since added our understanding
of cognition and biological predispositions.
What is important?
Classical conditioning is a way almost all organisms learn to adapt to their environment.
He showed us how a process like learning can be studied objectively
Applications of Classical Conditioning
Crack users should avoid settings where they got high Counselors provide alcohol abusers with experiences to reverse these positive
Infant Albert feared loud sounds but not white rats. They would sound a loud noise
whenever a white rat appeared. After 7 times, Albert would burst into tears every time
the white rat came. He generalized this onto other animals, but not things like toys.
The unconditioned stimulus (UCS) is: loud noise
The unconditioned response (UCR) is: fear response (crying)
The conditioned stimulus (CS) is: the white rat
The conditioned response (CR) is: fear of white rat
A type of learning where behavior is strengthened if reinforced, or diminished if
punished. Both classical and operant conditioning have acquisition, extinction,
spontaneous recovery, generalization, and discrimination. Classical conditioning forms
associations between stimuli (a CS and the UCS). It also has respondent behavior –
behavior that occurs automatically in response to stimulus.
Operant conditioning involves operant behavior: the act operates on the environment to
produce rewarding or punishing stimuli.
Distinguishing question: Is the organism learning association between events it doesn’t
control (classical conditioning)? Is it learning associations between behavior and
resulting events (operat conditioning)?
Law of effect – Rewarded behavior is likely to recur.
Operant chamber (Skinner’s box) – Soundproof, with a bar/key that an animal presses to
release reward of food.
A procedure in which reinforcers guide an animal’s behavior to a desired behavior. You
can use “successive approximations”: reward responses that are evercloser to final
Principles of Reinforcement
Reinforcement is any event that increases the frequency of a preceding response.
Reinforcer – any event that strengthens the behavior that it follows
Primary reinforcer – an innately reinforcing stimulus
Conditioned reinforcer – a stimulus that gains reinforcing power through association with
Positive reinforcement: add a positive stimulus
Negative reinforcement: remove an aversive stimulus
Reinforcement is any consequence that strengthens behavior
Primary and Conditioned Reinforcers
Primary reinforcers – innately satisfying
Conditioned reinforcers – learned. (e.g. the light that signals food is coming) Immediate and Delayed Reinforcers
Humans are better at waiting for delayed reinforcers (grades at end of term, trophy at end
Smokers, alcoholics, drug users succumb to immediate pleasure, even though they know
longterm effects are worse.
Continuous reinforcement – desired response is reinforced every time it occurs. But
extinction happens rapidly when reinforcement stops.
Partial (intermittent) reinforcement – Responses sometimes reinforced, sometimes not.
Initial learning is slower, but it produces greater resistance to extinction than with
continuous. “hope springs eternal” (e.g. slot machines)
Fixedratio schedules – reinforce after a set number of responses. (e.g. employees payed
piecework, say, every 30 pieces)
Variableratio schedules – provides reinforcers after unpredictable number of responses.
(e.g. gamblers, fishing)
Fixedinterval schedules – reinforce the first response after a fixed time period. (e.g.
people checking more frequently for mail when delivery time nears, checking if cookies
are done, pigeons peck a key more freuqnetly when anticipated time for reward is nearer)
Variableinterval schedules – Reinforce the first response after varying time intervals.
(e.g. unpredictable pop quiz, or the “Hello” after redialing a busy number). This
produces slow, steady responding.
Doortodoor salespeople: variable ratio
Cookie baking: fixedinterval
Airline frequentflyer: fixedratio
Opposite of reinforcement. A punisher is any consequence that decreases frequency of a
preceding behavior. Spanked children are at increased risk for aggression, depression,
and low selfesteem (but so are people who get radiation treatments more likely to die of
cancer). If you combine with positive parenting, it can be effective.
Some say punished behavior not forgotten but suppressed. It may reappear in other
settings (swearing when parent is not around). It might also increase aggressiveness
because we demonstrate it’s a way to deal with problems. Also, punishment can create
fear for the person who administers it.
Conclusion: Swift punishment can be effective, but might reappear if threatened
punishment can be avoided. Undesirable side effects: creating fear, teaching aggression,
and fails to teach how to act positively.
Updating Skinner’s Understanding
Criticized for discounting predispositions.
He resisted the belief that cognitive processes have a place in psychology. But cognitive
processes are at work in operant learning.
Cognitive map – mental representation of layout of one’s environment (raps have map of
Latent learning – learning that is apparent only when there is incentive to demonstrate it.
Learning can happen without reinforcement Overjustification
Unnecessary rewards sometimes have hidden costs. Promising children reward for a task
can backfire: children might see the reward as the motive and lose intrinsic interest in it.
Overjustification effect – an already justifiable activity becomes overjustified by promise
of an added reward (e.g. children promised a payoff for playing with interesting puzzles)
Natural predispositions constrains operant conditioning.
Argued that external influences, not internal thoughts/feelings, shape behavior. He
encouraged use of operant principles to influence behavior at school, work, home.
Applications of Operant Conditioning
Teaching machines and textbook that shapes learning in small steps, providing immediate
reinforcement for correct responses. Also in athletic things: golf students start with short
putts, batters begin with half swings.
At work: Reinforcement for jobs well done is effective when desired performance is
welldefined and achievable. Also immediate.
Compare Classical vs. Operant Conditioning
Classical Conditioning Operant Conditioning
Response Involuntary, automatic Voluntary, operates on
Acquisition Associating events; CS Associating response with
announces UCS consequence (reinforcer or
Extinction CR decreases when CS Responding decreases when
presented alone reinforcement stops
Cognitive processes Subjects develop Subjects develop
expectation that CS signals expectation that response
arrival of UCS will be reinforced or
punished. They also exhibit
latent learning without
Biological predispositions Natural predispositions Organisms best learn
constrain what stimuli and behaviors similar to natural
responses can easily be behavior.
Learning by Observation
Observational learning – learning by observing others
Modeling – process of observing and imitating a specific behavior
Memes – transmitted cultural elements (fashios, habits, ideas)
Children who saw adults being violent imitated behavior.
Applications of Observational Learning
Prosocial (positive, helpful) models have prosocial effects. Chapter 9: Memory
The Phenomenon of Memory
Memory is any indication that learning has persisted over time
Flashbulb memories – Clarity of our memories for significant events (e.g. 9/11)
Encoding – getting info into our brain
Storage – retaining that info
Retrieval – getting it back out
Sensory memory – immediate, initial recording of sensory info
Shortterm memory – Activated memory holds a few items briefly (e.g. phone numbers)
Longterm memory – relatively permanent and limitless
We record info first as fleeting sensory memory, then into shortterm memory, then
encoded to longterm memory. Working memory is like computer RAM, and has
separate visual and verbal components
Automatic processing – unconscious encoding of incidental information. Hard to shut off
(e.g. when you hear a word in English, it’s almost impossible not to register its meaning
Effortful processing – encoding that requires attention and conscious effort (e.g. reading
something from right to left)
Rehearsal – conscious repetition of information
The amount remembered depends on the time spent learning. Overlearning increases
Nextinline effect – When people go around a circle reading words, poorest memories are
for what was said just before. We focus on our own performance when next in line
Information presented just before sleep is not remembered.
Taped info during sleep is registered but not remembered.
Spacing effect – tendency for distributed study to yield better retention than massed study
This makes adaptive sense: events that are spaced out are more likely to recur!
Serial position effect – our tendency to recall best the last and first items in a list
What We Encode
We don’t remember things exactly as they were, but what we encoded.
Semantic encoding – encoding of meaning, including meaning of words
Acoustic encoding – encoding of sound
Visual encoding – encoding of images
Semantic encoding gives us a better memory than “shallow processing”.
Students read a paragraph without meaningful context and forgot most of it. But when
told it was about washing clothes, they remembered way more. Learning meaningful
material requires 1/10 effort of nonsense material.
Selfreference effect – We have excellent recall for info we can relate to ourselves.
Imagery – mental pictures, a powerful aid to effortful processing. We remember words that have picture images better. Some experts believe memory for
concrete nouns is encoded both semantically and visually. Two is better than one!
Rosy retrospection – People recall events like camping holiday more positively than
evaluated at the time.
Mnemonics – memory aids, especially those that use vivid imagery and organizational
Mnemonics: Greeks imagined themselves as moving through a familiar series of
locations, associating each place with a visual representation of the toberemembered
topic. Then the orator would mentally visit each location and retrieve the associated
Organizing Information for Encoding
Chunking – organizing items into familiar, manageable units (e.g. remembering the line
segments as characters in English words)
Chunking also helps recall of unfamiliar material. We can organize it into more familiar
form by creating acronyms (e.g. HOMES for Great Lakes).
Hierarchies: Retrieving chunks of info by clustering in a hierarchy (“three groups of
four”). We can retrieve info more efficiently this way.
Storage: Retaining Information
Iconic memory – momentary sensory memory of visual stimuli
Echoic memory – momentary sensory memory of auditory stimuli
Experiment: people find it hard to remember 9 letters briefly flashed. But when they are
cued to do it top, medium, bottom, they are successful. S
Limited in duration, stores info in about chunks of seven. Shortterm recall slightly better
for random digits than random letters (random letters sometimes have similar sounds).
At any given moment, we can process only a limited amount of info.
Capacity almost limitless.
Storing Memories in Brain
People can remember musical pieces flawlessly. A study done where brain’s motor
cortex stimulated on wideawake patients. Patients would report memories, but they
might have been invented. We don’t remember exactly, but what we encode. Memories
also don’t reside in single, specific spots (e.g. Study where rats memorized a maze, and
they cut out a piece of the cortex. Rats would still retain partial memory of how to solve
Longterm potentiation (LTP) prolonged strengthening of potential neural firing. It is a
neural basis for learning and remembering associations.
Actual changes in sending neurons is observed. You can pinpoint changes by looking at
neural connections before and after conditioning. Increasing synaptic efficiency makes
more efficient neural circuits. Drugs that block neurotransmitters also disrupt information storage (e.g. alcohol impairs
memory by disrupting serotonin’s messenger activity).
Stress Hormones and Memory
A hormone surge will signal the brain that something important has happened, and make
more glucose available to fuel brain activity. We also remember dramatic experiences
because we relive and retell them. Stronger emotional experiences make for stronger,
more reliable memories.
But prolonged stress (abuse, combat) corrodes neural connections, and shrinks brain area.
Also, when stress hormones are forming, memories may get blocked (e.g. blanking out
while doing public speaking).
Storing Implicit and Explicit Memories
Amnesia – loss of memory
A memorytobe enters cortex through the senses, then goes into depths of brain.
Amnesic people can’t recall new facts, or anything they’ve done recently, but they can
learn. They can be classically conditioned, but do these things with no awareness of
having learned them.
When asked to solve a Tower of Hanoi puzzle, they’ll deny having seen it, and then solve
it like experts.
Implicit memory – retention without conscious recollection. Learning “how” to do
Explicit memory – memory of facts and experiences one can know and “declare”.
Amnesic people will read a story faster the second time (implicit memory). But they
don’t have explicit memory: they can’t recall seeing the story before.
Neural center in limbic system that helps process explicit memories for storage. Scans of
brain in action reveal that new explicit memories are laid down via hippocampus.
Damage to hippocampus disrupts some types of memory.
Hippocampus acts as convergence zone where brain registers and stores elements of an
episode: smells, feels, sounds, place.
People studied how a rabbit’s brain associates a tone with an impending air puff in the
eye (to see if they’ll blink).s They pinpointed implicit memory: in the cerebellum.
This explains infantile amnesia. The reactions we learned reach far into fugure, but as
adults we recall nothing explicitly. This is because hippocampus is one of the last brain
structures to mature.
Retrieval: Getting Information Out
Recall – a measure of memory in which the person must retrieve info learned earlier (e.g.
Recognition – a measure of memory in which the person need only identify previously
learned items (e.g. a MC test)
Relearning – a measure of memory that assesses amount of time saved when learning
material the second time. Retrieval Cues
We need the right cues to retrieve memory. Memory is held in storage by a web of
associations. To retrieve a specific memory, you need to identify one of the strands
leading to it. This is priming. (e.g. when we hear rabbit, we are more likely to spell
“hare” vs. “hair”).
Words heard underwater are better recalled underwater; words heard on land better
recalled on land.
Déjà vu – eerie sense we’ve already seen something before
Moods and Memories
A specific emotional state is a like a room in a library where we put records. We can
retrieve those records better by returning to that room
Statedependent memory – what we learn in one state is more easily recalled when we are
again in that state. (e.g. if you hide money when drunk, easier to find when you’re drunk
Moodcongruent – tendency to recall experiences consistent with one’s current good or
Being depressed sours memories by priming negative associations (vice versa). Moods
also influence how we interpret other people’s behavior.
They can be failures of encoding (info never gets in), storage (fading of memory record),
or retrieval (lack of cues, interfering effects of other learning)
Three sins of forgetting:
Absentmindedness: inattention to details produces encoding failure
Transience: storage decay over time (unused info fades)
Blocking: inaccessibility of stored info (may be on tip of our tongue, but we can’t
Three sins of disortion:
Misattribution: confusing source of information
Suggestibility: lingering effects of misinformation
Bias: beliefcolored recollections
One sin of intrusion:
Persistence: unwanted memories
Something might never enter longterm memory. (e.g. what letters are on the number “5”
on the phone? Can you remember what a penny looks like?)
“Forgetting curve”. The course of forgetting is initially rapid, then levels off with time.
People forget a Spanish list quickly in first 3 years. But what they remember then, they
will remember indefinitely. Retrieval Failure
We might have stored something, but be unable to look it up (e.g. tip of the tongue).
Learning some items may interfere with retrieving others, especially when similar.
Proactive interference – disruptive effect of prior learning on recall of new info (e.g. one
person gives you their number, then two more people do after)
Retroactive interference – disruptive effect of new learning on recall of old info (e.g.
learning new students’ names typically interferes with recall of previous students).
You can try to reduce this by reducing interfering events: going to sleep shortly after
learning new info. Despite interference, old info can facilitate new information>
People unknowingly revise histories. (e.g. not accounting for all the cookies eaten)
Repression – basic defense mechanism banishing anxietyarousing thoughts
We suppress painful memories.
Memory retrieval is partly memory construction, and sometimes involves “source
amnesia”. People can feel certain about false memories
Misinformation and Imagination Effects
People shown a traffic accident remembered it as more serious when asked “How fast
were the cars going when they smashed into each other?” vs. “Hit into each other?”.
Misinformation effect – incorporating misleading info into one’s memory of an event
When we recount an experience, we fill in memory gaps with plausible guesses. When
we retell them again, we recall the details as if they were real. Even imagining events
might make them real in our memory.
Attributing to the wrong source an event we’ve experienced, heard, or read. (e.g. Reagan
telling a story he saw in a movie as real).
Discerning True and False Memories
We can’t be sure if a memory is real by how persistent it is, or by how real it feels.
Hippocampus is equally active retrieving a true or false memory. But other brain parts
could. Only when correct remembering a word does the left temporal lobe area light up
(processes speech). False words have no sensory record to be activated. Confidence
gives little clues to accuracy. Memory construction explains why couples overestimate
first impressions if they are in love, or underestimate earlier liking if they broke up.
Police are trained to ask less suggestive questions.
Children’s Eyewitness Recall
Children are suggestible and may not produce accurate reports. To them, both feel real.
They can have vivid and false memories.
Repressed or Constructed Memories of Abuse?
Victims may not spontaneously recall incidents of their own abuse. Many patients who
are aided to recall memories fabricate false ones.
Memories recovered under hypnosis or drugs are unreliable. Memories of things before 3 are also reliable.
By having a trusted family member retell a story, someone can have it implanted in
memory as real.
Study repeatedly to boost longterm recall. Overlearn.
Spend more time rehearsing or actively thinking about the material. Skimming complex
material yields little retention. Study actively!
Make material personally meaningful. Put it in your own words
Use mnemonic devices for lists. Associate items with pegwords
Refresh memory by activating retrieval cues
Recall events while they are fresh, before possible misinformation. Write it down right
after it happened
Minimize interference. Study before sleeping