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Chapter

PSYA01 - CH 1 TEXT NOTES


Department
Psychology
Course Code
PSYA01H3
Professor
Steve Joordens

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PSYA01H3 2010-10-17
CHAPTER 1: THE SCIENCE OF PSYCHOLOGY
What is Psychology?
Psychology: the scientific study of the causes of behaviour; also, the application o the findings of psychological
research to the solution of problems
The word psychology comes from the Greek words psukhe ~^Z_}^}µo_vlogos ~^Á}_}^}v_
The modern words psycho ~^u]v_vtlogy ~^]v_uv]vP^Z]v}(Zu]v_U]Z(
that psychology is actually a science of behaviour
d}^Æo]v_ZÀ]}µU}vuµ(]describe it:
x Become familiar with the things people (animals) do
x Categorize various behaviours and learn to measure them to be sure that others can also study the
same phenomena
Then, one must discover the causes of the behaviour being observed t if we can discover the events that
µZÀ]}µUZvÁZÀ^Æo]v_]
Causal events: an event that causes another event to occur
Psychologists are interested in different kinds of behaviour and in different levels of explanation t ^oÀo_}
level of analysis refer to a common choice of causes to study and methods of research to use
What is the purpose of this quest for explanation?
x Intellectual curiosity
x Shows us how to solve our most important and pressing problems
ZÀ]}µ]}v}(Z}}}(uvÇ}(ZÁ}o[}ou
There are strong relationships between behaviour and...:
x Health t knowing what these are can improve well-being
x Remembering
x Personal relationships
x Learning
Fields of Psychology
Applied psychologists: applying what their scientific colleagues have learned to the solution of problems in the
world outside of the laboratory
Research psychologists differ from each other in two key ways: in the types of behaviour they study and in the
causal events they analyze
Physiological psychology: studies the physiological basis of behaviour Æ all behaviours in nonhuman animals
x dZ}Pv]u[ZÇ]}o}PÇU]ooÇ]vÀ}µÇuU]Z}]oÀo}(Æov]}v
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PSYA01H3 2010-10-17
Comparative psychology: studies the behaviour of members of a variety of species in an attempt to explain
behaviour in terms of evolutionary adaptation to the environment
x Likely to study inherited behavioural patterns such as courting and mating, predation and aggression,
defensive behaviour, and parental behaviour
Behaviour genetics: studies the role of genetics in behaviour
x Examines similarities in psychical and behavioural traits in blood relatives
x Perform breeding experiments with laboratory animals to see what aspects of behaviour can be
transmitted to offspring
x Can even alter parts of the gene during experiments to determine how differences in genetic code
relate to behavioural differences among animals
Cognitive psychology: studies mental processes and complex behaviours such as perception, attention,
learning and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and problem solving
x Believe that the events that cause behaviour consist of functions of the human brain that occur in
response to environmental event/stimuli
x Explanations involve characteristics of inferred mental processes, such as imagery, attention, and
mechanisms of language
x Biology of cognition is still not mainstream, but is helped by brain scanning technology
Cognitive neuroscience: attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by studying the brain
mechanisms that are responsible for them
x One principal research technique is to study the behaviour of people whose brains have been damaged
by natural causes such as diseases, strokes, or tumours
Developmental psychology: studies the changes in behavioural, perceptual, cognitive, social, and emotional
capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience
x Some dev. psych. study phenomena of adolescence or adulthoodvin particular, the effects of aging
x Causal events studied = physiological processes, cognitive processes, and social influences
Social psychology: ZµÇ](Z((}oZÀ}v}vv}Z[ZÀ]}µ
x Explore phenomena such as perception (of oneself and of others), cause-and-effect relations in human
interactions, attitudes and opinions, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, and emotional
behaviour (including aggression and sexual behaviour)
Personality psychology: attempts to categorize and understand causes of individual differences in
temperament and patterns of behaviour
x >}}l(}µoÀv]v}v[Z]}Çvboth genetic and environmental
x Some pers. psych. are closely allied with social psych.
x Others work on problems related to adjustment to society and therefore help applied psych.
Evolutionary psychology: explains behaviour in terms of adaptive advantages that specific behaviours provided
during the evolution of a species t use natural selection as a guiding principle
x Their task is to trace the development of such differences and to explore how their adaptive
advantages might explain the behaviour of modern humans
Cross-cultural psychology: studies the impact of culture on behaviour
x Diff. cultures must adapt to diff. environments t study the interaction b/w biological & cultural factors
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PSYA01H3 2010-10-17
Clinical psychology: the investigation and treatment of abnormal behaviour and mental disorders
x Usually practitioners who try to help people solve their problems, no matter the cause
x Others research various causal events (incl. genetic, environmental, and physiological factors)
x Do research to evaluate and improve psychotherapy
The Philosophical Roots of Psychology
Perhaps the most notable part of our mental experience is that we are conscious of our own existence Æ we
are also aware of this consciousness and tend to relate it to our own behaviour
Consciousness is a private experience
Animism: the belief that all animals and all moving objects possess spirits controlling their movement and
thoughts
Psychology as a science must be based on the assumption that behaviour is strictly subject to physical laws
Rene Descartes t French philosopher t the father of philosophy
x Advocated a rationalistic approach: the sober, impersonal investigation of natural phenomena by
means of sensory experience and human reasoning
x Assumed the world was an entirely mechanical entity; God put it into motion and now it runs without
divine interference
x His view on the human body was that is a machine that is controlled by natural causes that produced
natural effects
x Hot object application Æ reflexes: an automatic response to a stimulus
x What set humans apart was their minds, which was not part of the natural world & had different laws
x Dualism: the philosophical belief that reality consists of mind and matter
x Suggested that a causal link existed between the mind and its physical housing
x Believed that actions were controlled by the pineal body (inside the cerebral hemispheres) which tilted
to cause fluid to run into the proper nerves (hydraulics)
x Muscles were like balloons that became inflated when a fluid passed through the nerves connected
x First to use a technical device as a model in science
x Model: in science, a relatively simple system that works on known principles and is able to do at least
some things that a more complex system can do
x Used rationalism (the pursuit of truth through reason)
John Locke t English philosopher
x Used empiricism (the pursuit of truth through observation and experience)
x Did not exempt the mind from the laws of the material universe
x ZiZ]o](Z]Á]vvoÇv]vv]v(v[u]vt proposed that all
knowledge must come through experience vZ]ov[u]vÁu}}(ovlo
x Believed that knowledge developed through linkages of primary sensations: simple ideas combined to
form complex ideas
George Berkeley t Irish bishop, philosopher, and mathematician
x Suggested that our knowledge of events in the world also required inferences based on the
accumulation of past experiences Æ Our perceptions also involved the integration of multiple senses
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