PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Physiological Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Evolutionary Psychology

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Published on 12 Nov 2011
Chapter 1
what is psychology?
Psychology – scientific study of the discovery and explaining the causes of behavior;
application of the finding of psychological research to the solution of problems
Literally means the study of the mind
Incorporates the study of the brain bc it’s the organ that contains the mind and controls
Explaining behavior
Ultimate goal understand human behavior and explain why ppl do what they do
How do psychologists provide an explanation of behavior?
Describe it – become familiar with thing tht ppl do; learn how to categorize and
measure behavior so tht tests can be repeated with similar results
Discover the causes of the behavior observed – events responsible for its occurrence
Casual events – events tht cause other events (inc behav) to occur
Different “levels of explanation” result in diverse discipline
Look inside org, in a literal sense, seeking physiological causes
Look inside org, in a metaphorical sense, explaining behavior in terms of
hypothetical mental states (anger, fear, curiosity, love)
Look only for events in the env (inc things tht other ppl do) tht cause behaviors
to occur
The goals for psychological research
Intellectual curiosity
Holds the promise of showing us how to solve our most important and pressing problems
Human behavior is at the root of most of the world’s problems
Poverty, crime, overpopulation, drug addiction, bigotry, pollution, terrorism, and war
Fields of psychology
Research psychologist differ from one another in 2 principal ways
In the types of behavior they investigate
In the casual events they analyze
Ex: focus on physiological events vs. environmental effects
Physiological psychology – examine the physiology of behavior (esp of the nervous
Studying animals = good model
Study learning, memory, sensory processes, emotional behavior, motivation, sexual
behavior, and sleep
Comparative psychology – the study of the behavior of members of a variety of species
in an attempt to explain behavior in terms of evolutionary adaptation to the environment
Comparing how animals and humans both react to drugs
Behavior analysis – branch of psych that studies the effects of the env events on behavior
Effects of the consequences of behaviors on the behaviors themselves
primarily interested in learning and motivation
believe that an imp cause of a specific behavior is the relationship btwn the behavior
and some consequent event
Behavior genetics - branch of psych that studies the role of genetics in behavior
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Studies the role of genetics in behavior by examining similarities in physical and
behavioral characteristics of blood relatives, whose genes are more similar than those
of unrelated individuals.
Cognitive psychology – study of mental processes and complex behaviors
Ex: perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behavior, concept formation,
and problem solving
Events tht cause behavior consist of functions of the human brain tht occur in
response to env events
Explanations involve characteristics of inferred mental processes
Imagery, attention, and mechanisms of language
Cognitive neurosciencebranch of psych interested in same thing studied by cognitive
psycho’s but attempts to discover the particular brain mechanisms responsible for cognitive
closely allied w/ cognitive psych and physiological psych
study the behavior of ppl w/ brain damage
developmental psychology – study of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social
development (esp of children)
some study those of adolescences and adulthood (effects of aging)
development of behavior throughout the lifespan
social psychology – study of the effects of people on people
Ex: perception, cause-and-effect relations in human interactions, attitudes and
opinions, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, and emotional behaviors (inc
aggression and sexual behavior)
Personality psychology – study of individual differences in temperament and patterns of
Look for casual events in a person’s history, both genetic and environmental
Evolutionary psychology – seeks to explain cognitive, social, and personality aspects of
psychology by looking at their adaptive significance during the evolution of modern species
use the theory evolution my means of natural selection as guiding principle
cross-cultural psychology – the study of the impact of culture on behavior
clinical psychology – the study of mental disorders and problems of adjustment
mostly include practitioners who try to help ppl solve their problems, wtevr the causes
clinical neuropsychologists – specialize in the identification and treatment of the
behavioral consequences of nervous system disorders and injuries
health psychologists – user their skills to promote behaviors and lifestyles that maintain
health and prevent illness
consumer psychologists – helps organizations tht manufacture products or buy products
or services
community psychologists – concerned with the welfare of individuals in the social system
(usually disadvantaged ppl)
favors modifying and improving “the system” rather than treating the individual as a
organizational psychologists – deal with the workplace; works to increase efficiency and
effectiveness of organizations
engineering psychologists – studies the ways that ppl and machines work together and
helps design machines that are safer and easier to operate
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forensic psychologists – studies human behavior as it may relate to the legal system and
to matters involving criminal justice
the rise of psychology as a science
started in the late 19th century in Germany
philosophical roots of psychology
animism – belief tht all animals and moving objects possess spirits providing their motive
common to attribute a life-giving animus, spirit, to anything tht seemed to move or
grow independently
Bc believed own bodies controlled by their minds/spirits, applied same thing for sun,
moon, wind, and tides
Psych must be based on assumption that behavior is subject to physical laws, not just own
will – allowing us to discover these laws objectively using the scientific method
Rene Descartes
Rationalism (pursuit of truth through reason)
17th century French philosopher and mathematician
Father of modern physiological psychology
Advocated a sober, impersonal investigation of natural phenomena using sesory
experience and human reasoning
Assumed that the world was purely mechanical entity tht ran its course w/o divine
intervention after god did his part
Believed animal were creatures of natural world only, thus behaviors were controlled
by natural causes and could be understood through science
Viewed human body similarly machine affected by natural causes and producing
natural effects
Reflex – automatic response to a stimulus; doesn’t require participation of the mind
Our possession of a mind sets us apart from rest of the world
mind not part of natural world
believed in dualism – belief tht reality can be divided into 2 distinct entities: mind
and matter
others said he contradicted it bc he said there was a causal link btwn mind and
body; reasoning was mind controlled movements of the body, while body,
through its sense organs, gave mind info abt wt was happening in the env.
Hypothesized interaction took place in pineal body (sm organ on top of brain
stem) resulting in fluid to flow to specific nerves resulting in muscles to inflate
and move.
Muscles are like balloons, inflate when fluid passed thru nerves tht connected them to
the brain and spinal cord, inflation was the basis of the muscular contraction tht
causes us to move.
First to use a model – simple system tht works on known principles and able to at
least some of the thing a more complex system can do
John Locke
Empiricism – pursuit of truth through observation and experience
All knowledge is obtained through the senses/experience
Emperia = experience in greek
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