Chapter 1 Textbook Notes

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8 Nov 2010
Psychology: The Science of Behaviour
Areas of psychological research:
x Physiological psychology - studies physiological basis of behaviour
o Learning, memory, sensory process, emotional behaviour, motivation, sexual behaviour,
o All observed in non-human animals
x Comparative psychology - studies behaviour of a variety of organisms in an attempt to
understand adaptive and functional significance of behaviour and their relationship in
o Inherited behaviour patterns courting, mating, predation, aggression, defensive
behaviours, and parental behaviours
x Behaviour analysts studies effect of environment on behaviour effects of consequences
of behaviour on behaviour themselves
x Behaviour genetics studies role of genetics in behaviour
o Examine similarities in physical and behavioural characteristics of blood relatives
x Cognitive psychology studies complex behaviours and mental processes such as
perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and
problem solving
o Events that cause behaviour consist of functions of brain in response to environmental
o Explanations involve characteristics of inferred mental process such as imagery,
attention, and mechanisms of language
x Cognitive neuroscience attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by
studying brain mechanisms that are responsible for them (cognitive psychology +
physiological psychology)
o Study people whose brains have been damaged by natural causes disease, stroke,
x Developmental psychology studies changes in behavioural, perceptual, and cognitive
capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience
o Study causal events that are as comprehensive as all of psychology physiological
processes, cognitive processes, and social influences
x Social psychology study of effects people have on each others behaviour
o Explore perception, cause-and-effect relationships, group dynamics, and emotional
behaviours (aggressions, sexual behaviour)
x Personality psychology attempts to categorize and understand causes of individual
differences in patterns of behaviour
o Look for causal events in persons history genetic and environmental
x Evolutionary psychology explains behaviour in terms of adaptive advantages that specific
behaviours provided during evolution of a species (use natural selection as guiding principle)
o Interested in studies of behavioural genetics and comparative psychology
x Cross-cultural psychology studies effects of culture on behaviour
x Clinical psychology devoted to investigation and treatment of abnormal behaviour and
mental disorders
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Fields of applied psychology:
x Clinical neuropsychologists specializes in the identification and treatment of behavioural
consequences of nervous system disorders and injuries
x Health psychologists works to promote behaviours and lifestyles that improve and
maintain health and illness
x Engineering psychologists (ergonomists or human factors psychologists) focus on the
ways that people and machines work together
o Use knowledge of behaviour and its causes to help designers and engineers design
better machines
x Forensic psychologists advise members of legal and justice systems with respect to
psychological knowledge
Philosophical roots of psychology:
x Animism (animare to quicken, enliven, endow with breath or soul) belief that all animals
and all moving objects possess spirits providing their motive force
x Psychology as a science is based on assumption that behaviour is subject to physical laws
x Rene Descartes ( 17th century French philosopher and mathematician) - advocated sober,
impersonal investigation of natural phenomena using sensory experience and human
o World is mechanical entity set in motion by god but runs on its own
o To understand world one must understand how it was constructed opposes churchs
belief that purpose of philosophy was to reconcile human experience with truth of gods
o Living things were machines affected by natural causes and producing natural effects
o Reflexes - automatic response to stimulus not using mind
o Dualism belief that reality consists of mind and matter with a causal link between
mind and physical housing (unique)
Extended things physical bodies
Thinking things - minds
o Humans are set apart b/c they possess a mind which is not part of natural world and
therefore obeys different laws
o Mind controlled movements of body and body supplied mind with info about
environment (through organs)
Took place in pineal body small organ on top of brain stem buried beneath
large cerebral hemispheres
Pineal body tilted causing flow of fluid to proper set of nerves and initiated
muscles to inflate and move
x Moving statues in Royal Garden served as inspiration
First to use technological device as model of nervous system
x John Locke (17th century philosopher) replaced Descartes rationalism (pursuit of truth
through reason) with empiricism (pursuit of truth through observation and experience)
o Rejected belief that idea were innately present in infants mind and proposed that all
knowledge must come through experience
o Model of mind was tabula rasa (clean slate)
o Knowledge developed through linkages of simple, primary sensations combined to form
complex ones
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