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Chapter 1

PSY270 textbook notes chapter 1

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Christine Burton

PSY270 Textbook Notes Chapter 1 Introduction to cognitive psychology Cognitive Psychology: Studying the Mind (5) I. Cognitive psychology: the branch of psychology concerned with the scientific study of the mind What is the Mind? I. The mind a. creates and controls mental functions such as perception, attention, memory, emotions, language, deciding, thinking, and reasoning b. a system that creates representations of the world so that we can act within it to achieve our goals II. cognition: the mental processes such as perception, attention, memory, language, problem solving, reasoning, and making decisions Studying the Mind: Early Work in Cognitive Psychology I. 1800s – believed that the mind could not be studied a. ‘it’s not possible for the mind to study itself’ b. ‘properties of the mind can’t be measured’ Donders’ Pioneering Experiment: How Long Does It Take to Make a Decision? I. Dutch physiologist Franciscus Donders a. Conducted first ‘cognitive psychology’ experiment II. Interested in how long it takes to make a decision III. Measured reaction time (how long it takes to respond to presentation of a stimulus) IV. Experiment a. Asked participants to press a button when a light showed up (simple reaction time task) b. Presented two lights and asked participants to push one button when the left light was on and another when the right was on (choice reaction time task) V. Presenting the stimulus (light) causes a mental response (perceiving the light) which leads to a behavioural response (pushing button) a. Donders – choice reaction time would be longer than simple reaction time b/c of the additional time it takes to make a decision b. CRT took 1/10 of a second longer i. Donders concluded it took 1/10 of a second to make a decision VI. Mental responses can’t be measured directly; must be inferred a. When measuring reaction time, measured relationship b/w presentation of stimulus and participant’s response i. inferred how long mental response took from the reaction time Ebbinghaus’s Memory Experiment: What is the Time-Course of Forgetting? I. Wanted to know how information is lost over time II. Presented nonsense syllables to himself one at a time a. Ex. DAX, QUEH, LUH III. Tried to learn it in order IV. Repeated until he made no errors V. Waited (delays ranging from immediately to 31 days) and then repeated experiment VI. Used savings method to analyze results a. Calculated savings by subtracting number of trials it took to learn the list after the delay from the number of trials it took the first time, and then used a formula to calculate a savings score b. Found that savings were greater for short intervals (takes less time to relearn) VII. Savings curve a. Memory drops rapidly after first 2 days and then levels off b. Demonstrated that memory could be quantified c. like Donders’ experiment, measured behaviour to determine a property of the mind (ability to retain information) Wundt’s Psychology Laboratory: Structuralism and Analytic Introspection I. Wilhelm Wundt; “first psychologist” - founded first laboratory of scientific psychology a. Developed some of the first ideas about: i. Experimentation, Perception, Attention, Memory, Language II. Approach called structuralism (first psychological approach ever): a. Our overall experience is determined by combining basic elements of experience called sensations III. Wanted to create a ‘periodic table of the mind’ which would include every sensation IV. Thought this was possible using analytic introspection: a. Technique in which trained participants described their experiences and thought processes in response to stimuli b. Ex. asking participants to describe their experiences of hearing a 5 note chord on the piano – interested in whether they heard it as a single unit or individual notes William James: Principles of Psychology I. One of the early American psychologists (father of American psychology) II. Observations based on not experiments but introspections about the operation of his own mind III. Wrote Principles of Psychology in which he covers topics such as consciousness, attention, and memory IV. Functionalism: a. Interested in studying the purpose of thought rather than its elements b. Concerned with prediction and control through direct observation Abandoning the Study of the Mind (9) I. Analytic introspection was the tradition until John Watson and behaviourism Watson Founds Behaviorism I. Dissatisfied with analytic introspection a. It produced extremely different results from person to person b. Results were difficult to verify because they were interpreted in terms of invisible mental processes c. Brain processes are unimportant (“mystery box” with nothing going on inside) d. Animals can be a good substitute to study human behaviour e. Thought behaviour could be explained entirely as a series of stimuli and responses i. Emotions are reactions to bodily functions ii. No importance to personality iii. Language is subvocal spe
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