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Chapter 1

PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Kurt Lewin, Karl Lashley, Operant Conditioning Chamber


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYA01H3
Professor
Steve Joordens
Chapter
1

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Chapter One- Psychology: The Evolution of a Science
William James- troubled 18 year old who studied medicine at Harvard university. He travelled to
the Amazon to ease his pain but it worsened causing him to move to Europe to find himself.
- In Europe he learned about a new science called psychology ( Greek Psyche “soul, Logos “the
study of”)
- he discovered that this new science was answering age-old questions about human nature
with a modern scientific approach
- he returned to Harvard and finished his medical degree to become a Professor and devoted
the rest of his life to psychology
- He wrote the book The Principles of Psychology one of the most popular books in the field.
Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behaviour
Mind= our private inner experience, consciousness that is made up of perceptions, thoughts,
memories and experiences
Behaviour= observable actions of human beings
- our subjective experiences arise from the electrical and chemical activities of the brain, our
mental lives are nothing more than “how it feels to be a brain”
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) allows scientists to scan the brain and see
which parts are active when a person engages in certain activities (ex. reading, writing)
ex. a study on beginner and professional pianists revealed that the professional pianists had less
activity in the areas of the brain which guide movement of the fingers, due to practice these
areas performed more efficiently
- form follows function; if we want to understand how something works we must understand
what its working for
Antonio Damasi (psychologist) discovered a brain tumor in Elliot’s brain and surgically removed
it. Following the surgery Elliot made a series of poor decisions and when his mental health was
analyzed Damasi discovered he was unable to feel any emotion.
Sometimes our minds work on “autopilot” where we act upon well-learned habits that we
execute without thinking. When we are not entirely focused on what we are doing these habits
may be triggered
Structuralist: try to analyze the mind by breaking it down into its basic components
Functionalist: focus on how mental abilities allow people to adapt to their environments
Plato was in favour of nativism where certain kinds of knowledge are innate or inborn
Aristotle believed the child’s mind is a tabula rasa (blank state) and argued for philosophical
empiricism which holds that all knowledge is acquired through experience.
Renee Descartes (French Philosopher) argued that the mind and body are fundamentally 2
different things- that the body is made of a material substance and the mind or soul is made of
spiritual substance.
- Dualism: belief that the mind and body are two separate things -> however; if they are two
different things how do they interact
- Descartes believed that the mind influence the body through the pineal gland -> He was largely
alone on this view
Thomas Hobbes (British Philosopher) argued that the mind is what the brain does& that the
body and mind are not two different things at all

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Franz Joseph Gall (French Physician) believed that the body and brain were linked in size
- he examined the brain of dead people and concluded that mental ability increases with brain
size & decreases with damage to the brain -> this part still remains true
- Phrenology: a theory Gall developed that different areas of the brain are responsible for
specific psychological functions; this part of the theory remains true; however, phrenology takes
this idea to the extreme as it argues that dents and the shape of the skull can reveal
characteristics about an individual. -> the theory was quickly discredited
Pierre Fluorens (biologist) conducted experiments where he surgically removed parts of animal
brains and discovered that their actions and movements differed from the intact brain
Paul Broca (Surgeon) worked with a patient, Monsieur Leborgne, who had suffered damadge to
the left side of the brain (now known as the Broca’s area) and he couldn’t produce speech but
he could understand it.
- Fluorens and Broca helped to disprove Descartes theory that the mind and body are two
separate entities
Herman Von Helmholtz (physiologist) performed an experiment in which he applied stimulus to
different parts of the leg he discovered that when he applied a stimuli to the toe the
participants had a longer reaction time than when it was applied t their thigh and he used the
difference between the two numbers to measure how long nerve impulses take to travel to the
brain.
Wilhelm Wundt (Helmholtz research assistant) was credited the official emergence of
psychology
- he taught the first course of physiological psychology which led to the publication of his book
The Principles of Physiological Psychology
- he opened the first laboratory that was completely devoted to psychological studies -> marked
the birth of psychology
- he believed that scientific psychology should focus on consciousness: a persons subjective
experience of the world and the mind
- he and his students adopted an approach called structuralism analysis of the basic elements
that constitute the mind; it involved breaking consciousness down into elemental sensations
and feelings
- Wundt tried to analyze the several thoughts in our consciousness using the method of
introspection the subjective observation of one’s own experience
- he used introspection by analyzing the relationship between feelings and perceptual
sensations
- Many scientists refused this idea because you cannot measure the observations and can never
be sure if they are entirely true because participants can be filtering the truth
Edward Titchener studied with Wundt in Germany and brought the study of psychology and
concept of structuralism back to America and opened a laboratory
- Wundt focused on the relationship between elements of consciousness, whereas Titchener
focused on the basic elements themselves
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William James opened a laboratory at Harvard with Wundt for experimental psychology
He agreed with Wundt for most of his findings but he refused the idea that consciousness can
be broken down into separate elements he believed consciousness was a flowing stream
rather than separate elements
James developed an approach known as functionalism- the study of the purpose mental
processes serve in enabling people to adapt to their environment
-Structuralism examined the structure of mental processes whereas functionalism set out to
understand the functions those mental processes served
-James’ theory of functionalism was inspired by Darwin’s theory of evolution – James reasoned
that mental abilities must have evolved because they increase our chances of survival
- Wundt disagreed with the theory, however many other people agreed with it
G. Stanley Hall worked with both Wundt and James. He set up a psychology research laboratory
in John Hopkins Uni
- his work was influenced by evolution and focused mainly on development and education
- he believed that the mental capacities of young children was similar to that of our ancestors
and that over a life time children evolve like the human species did over aeons
- he founded the American Journal Of Psychology, the first psychology journal in America &
played a key-role in founding the American Psychological Association where he was the first
president
Development of Clinical Psychology:
Jean Martin Charcot & Pierre Janet when they interviewed patients that had developed a
condition, known then, as hysteria: a temporary loss of cognitive or motor functions, usually as
a result of emotionally upsetting experiences.
- hysterical patients lost certain mental or physical abilities, but when they were put into a
trancelike state through hypnosis ( an altered state of consciousness characterize by
suggestibility,) their symptoms disappear; however, when they are unhypnotized they lose their
ability once again
Wundt, Titchener and other laboratory scientists ignored hysteria but William James felt it was
important to study the defected mind to understand how the normal mind operates
The findings of Charcot and Janet revealed that usually we are only aware of one conscious
“self” however, the brain can create several conscious selves that are unaware of one another
These findings inspired young Sigmund Freud from Vienna, Austria who studied with Charcot
When Freud returned to Vienna after research with Charcot in Paris he continued research on
hysteric patients with Joseph Breuer
Freud theorized that the reason behind some of these strange behaviours could be traced back
to painful childhood memories that the person could not remember and he suggested this was
the influence of an unconscious mind
According to Freud, the unconscious is the part of the mind that operates outside of
conscious awareness but influences conscious thoughts, feelings, and actions
This idea led Freud to develop psychoanalytic theory, an approach that
emphasizes the importance of unconscious mental processes in shaping feelings,
thoughts, and behaviors
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