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PSYC 101
Barbara Cox

Psych 101, 007 Jan. 3 Chpt. 1 The Science of Psychology What is Psychology?  Psychology- the scientific study of the causes of behaviour; also the application of the findings of psychological research to the solution of problems  A broad discipline composed of researchers who study the causes of behaviour & practitioners who apply the findings of research psychologists to problems related to people’s behaviour  Mind described as a characteristic of a functioning brain whose ultimate function was to control behaviour Why is Behaviour Studied  Ultimate goal of research in psychology is to understand human behaviour- explain why people do what they do  Explaining behaviour:  first identify & describe behaviour  learn how to categorize & measure behaviour so that different psychologists in different places are observing the same phenomena  identify the causes of behaviour: know what caused the behaviour, then we have “explained” it  causal events- events that cause another event (including behaviour) to occur  though looking at the same behaviour, psychologists may study different categories of causal events or “levels of explanation”  levels of explanation refers to the different types of causes that are used to explain behaviour  physiological  mental states (anger, fear, curiosity, love, etc.)  environmental factors  Behaviour is the root of most problems in the world i.e. heavy smoking create health-related issues, inefficient distribution of food create problem of hunger & starvation  A better understanding of behaviour will permit us to prevent problems or manage them more effectively Fields of Psychology  Science: researchers trying to discover causes of behaviour  Practice: practitioners applying what researchers have discovered to solve problems outside of lab  Many psychologists are both  Research psychologists differ in 2 ways:  in the types of behaviour they investigate  in the cause events that they analyze  Fields of Research Psychology:  Each explores & contributes to the behavioural problem of drug abuse differently Physiological psychology – studies the physiological basis of psychology  Organism’s physiology (nervous system) is level of explanation  Study almost all behavioural phenomena that can be observed in non-human animals  Learning, memory, sensory processes, emotional behaviour, motivation, sexual behaviour & sleep  Each phenomenon in non-human animals is considered a model that can help us understand the causal events in human behaviour  Discovered that all drugs have potential for addition on a particular system in the brain that is involved in our reactions to pleasurable events  Understanding how drugs affect brain may help us develop medications to treat addiction Comparative psychology- studies the behaviours of a variety of organisms in an attempt to understand the adaptive and functional significance of the behaviours and their relation to evolution  Study similar behavioural phenomena as physiological psychologists  Inherited behavioural patterns, such as courting, mating , predation, aggression, defensive & parental behaviours  Shown that all species of mammals tested so far react like humans to addictive drugs Behavioural analysis- studies the effect of the environment on behaviour; effects of the consequences of behaviours on the behaviours themselves  Primarily interested in learning & motivation  Behaviours that produce pleasant outcomes tend to be repeated  Behaviours that produce unpleasant or undesired consequences are less likely to be repeated  Research done in lab or in applied settings like schools, homes, businesses  Findings have been applied to teaching, business management & psychotherapy  Discovered that that some of the negative effects of drug use are learned  Developed methods that can indicate abuse potential of new drugs before they are tried on people Behavioural genetics- studies the role of genetics in behaviour  The genes we inherit from parents are blueprint for construction of the human brain  Each blueprint is different so no two brains are identical & therefore, no two people will act exactly alike even in same situations  Examine similarities in physical & behavioural characteristics of blood relatives  Perform breeding experiments with lab animals to see what aspects of behaviour can be passed on to an animal’s offspring  Use new techniques of molecular genetics to alter parts of a gene & determine how differences in the genetic code relate to behaviour differences among animals  Development of strains of lab animals that are more susceptible to effects of drugs Cognitive psychology- study of mental processes & complex behaviours such as perception, attention, learning & memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation & problem solving  Events that cause behaviour consist of function of the brain that occur in response to environmental events  Explanations involve characteristics of inferred mental processes, such as imaging, attention & language mechanisms  Study of biology of cognition aided by braining scanning technology permitting us to measure activity of various parts of the brain  Development of therapeutic methods for drug addiction  Discovered the importance of teaching people coping strategies that enable them to resist temptations of addictive drugs better Cognitive neuroscience- attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions/ processes by studying brain mechanisms that are responsible for them  Sort of a combination between cognitive psychology & physiological psychology  Study the behaviour of people whose brains have been damaged by natural causes  Developed many tests useful for assessing behavioural & cognitive deficits caused by abnormal brain functions  ex. tests that show effects that intake of alcohol, nicotine, & other drugs by pregnant women have on development of their babies Developmental psychology- studies the changes in behavioural, perceptual & cognitive capacities of organisms as a function of age & experience  physical, cognitive, emotional & social development, especially of children  study phenomena of adolescent or adulthood i.e. effects of aging  causal events include physiological processes, cognitive processes & social influences  understand how drug-taking behaviour can change over the course of a person’s life  research on infant development has made it possible to describe the time at which specific cognitive abilities are normally present Social psychology- study of the effects people have on each other’s behaviour  explore phenomena such as perception, cause-and-effect relations in human interactions, attitudes & opinions, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics & emotional behaviours  understand social influences of behaviour  people continue to smoke not b/c their first time was pleasant but b/c their peers do & smoking is portrayed attractively in media Personality psychology- attempts
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