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Chapter 1

PSYA01H3 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Statistical Hypothesis Testing, Scientific Method, Pseudoscience

Course Code
Steve Joordens

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Module 1.1: The Science of Psychology
Psychology: the scientific study of behaviour, thought, and experience, and how they
can be affected by physical, mental, social, and environmental factors
The scientific method: a way of learning about the world through collecting
observations, developing theories to explain them, and using the theories to make
Involves a dynamic interaction b/w hypothesis testing and the construction of
Hypothesis: a testable prediction about processes that can be observed and
Can be supported or rejected (not proven)
Scientific hypotheses must be testable
Pseudoscience: an idea that is presented as science but does not actually
utilize basic principles of scientific thinking or procedure (i.e.
Theory: an explanation for a broad range of observations that also generates
new hypotheses and integrates numerous findings into a coherent whole
Built from hypotheses that are repeatedly tested and confirmed
Any scientific theory must be falsifiable (can be challenged) in order to
ensure science is self-correcting
Common issues to be clarified:
1. Theory opinions/beliefs
2. Some theories are more plausible (good) than others
3. A good theory is not based on the # of people who believe it to be
Psychology examines the individual as a product of multiple influences (i.e. biological,
psychological, social factors, environmental factors, etc.)
The Biopsychological Model: a means of explaining behaviour as a product of biological,
psychological, and socio-cultural factors
1. Biological influences
Focus: genes, brain anatomy and function, chemicals, hormones, and
external substances
Examples: genetics of behaviour/psychological disorders, brain-behaviour
relationships, drug effect
2. Psychological influences
Focus: behaviour, perception, thought and experience
Examples: language, memory, decision making, personality
3. Social factors
Focus: interpersonal relationships, families, peers, societies, ethnicities,
Examples: attraction, attitudes and stereotypes, conformity
These influences are interconnected and can occur simultaneously

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Scientific literacy: the ability to understand, analyze, and apply scientific information
1. Knowledge Gathering: What do we know about this?
Ability to learn new information
Ability to read and interpret new terminology and concepts
2. Scientific Explanation: How can science explain it?
Examine whether the presented idea is scientifically tested properly
3. Critical Thinking: Can we critically evaluate the evidence?
Critical thinking: exercising curiosity and skepticism when evaluating the
claims of others and with our own assumptions and beliefs
Ask questions, examine nature/source of evidence given, view certain
information with caution
Avoid overly emotional thinking, examine biases
Tolerate ambiguity, consider alternative viewpoints
4. Application: Why is this relevant?
Apply results to different situations (“generalize”)
Module 1.2: How Psychology Became a Science
Ancient Egyptian doctors were the first to link a brain-based injury to a change in
behaviour marked the first step toward modern psychology
Empiricism: a philosophical tenet that knowledge comes through experience
Knowledge about the world is based on careful observation, NOT on common
Determinism: the belief that all events are governed by lawful, cause-and-effect
There are compelling reasons to believe some of our behaviours are determined
Behaviour is determined by both internal (e.g. genes, brain chemistry) and
external influences
Influences from the Ancients:
Ancient Greece:
Physician named Hippocrates developed world’s first personality
classification scheme
Four ‘humours’ or fluids flowed through body and influences both
health and personality
1. Blood
2. Yellow bile
3. Black bile
4. Phlegm
Diff. combinations of these humours = diff. moods and behaviours
Ancient Rome:
Physician named Galen of Pergamon suggested that the four humours
combined to create four ‘temperaments’ (emotional/personality
characteristics that remained stable throughout lifetime)
1. Sanguine (blood) impulsive, pleasure-seeking, charismatic
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