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Chapter 1

Chapter 1- The Science of Psychology.doc

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Chapter 1- The Science of Psychology What is Psychology? Psychology- the scientific study of the causes of behaviour • The application of the findings of psychological research to the solution of problems • Psychology is the science of behaviour o “psycho””mind” o “logy””science” Why Behaviour is Studied • The ultimate goal of research in psychology is to understand human behaviour: to explain why people do what they do • How behaviour is studied o Describe it- must learn how to categorize and measure behaviour o Discover the causes of the behaviour we observe- events responsible for a behaviour’s occurrence Causal event- an event that causes another event to occur Fields of Psychology • Psychological psychology- examines the physiology basis of behaviour o Including learning, memory, sensory processes, emotional behaviour, motivation, sexual behaviour, and sleep • Comparative psychology- studies the behaviours if a variety of organisms in an attempt to understand the adaptive and functional significance of the behaviours and their relation to evolution o Including inherited behavioural patterns (courting and mating), predation and aggression, defensive behaviours, and parental behaviours • Behaviour analysis- studies the effect of the environmental events on behaviour o Interested in learning and motivation o The effects of the consequences of behaviours on the behaviours themselves  The relationship between the behaviour and some consequent event • Behaviour genetics- studies the role of genetics in behaviour • Cognitive psychology- studies complex behaviours and mental processes o Including perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and problem solving • Cognitive neuroscience- the attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by studying the brain mechanisms that are responsible for them 1 o Study the behaviour of people whose brain have been damaged by natural causes, such as diseases, strokes, or tumours • Developmental psychology- studies the changes in behavioural, perceptual, and cognitive capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience • Social psychology- studies the effects people have on each other’s behaviour o Study perception (of oneself as well as of others), cause-and-effect relations in human interactions, attitudes and opinions, interpersonal relationships, group dynamics, and emotional behaviours, including aggression and sexual behaviour • Personality psychology- studies individual differences in temperament and patterns of behaviour • Evolutionary psychology- studies behaviour in terms of adaptive advantages that specific behaviours provided during the evolution of a species • Cross-cultural psychology- studies the effects of culture on behaviour • Clinical psychology- studies psychological disorders and problems of adjustment • Most psychologists work outside the lab, applying the findings of research psychologists to problems related to people’s behaviour, instead of being involved in research The Growth of Psychology as a Science • The science of psychology is rooted philosophy, biology, education, and medicine • We generally have the impression that our conscious mind controls our behaviour • Since we experience only our own consciousness directly, we assume that our fellow human beings are also conscious, and we attribute conscious to other animals Philosophical Roots of Psychology Animism- the belief that all animals and all moving objects possess sprits providing their motive force • From the Latin animare: “to quicken, enliven, endow and breath or soul” • When we try to explain why people do what they do, we tend to say that at least some of their behaviour to the action of a motivating spirit (a will), which cannot be observed or measured on a scientific measure • A 17 century French philosopher, Rene Descartes, assumed that the world was a purely mechanical entity that, having once been set in motion by God, ran its course without divine interference 2 Reflex- an automatic response to a stimulus, such as the blink reflex to the sudden unexpected approach of an object toward the eye • This was Rene Descartes’ view of the human body: it was a machine affected by natural causes and producing natural effects Dualism- the philosophical belief that reality consists of mind and matter, human process a soul and free will • “Extended things” (physical bodies) do not think, and “thinking things: (mind) are not made of ordinary things • Descartes believed there a causal link existed between the mind and physical body • Descartes reasoned that the mind controlled the body, while the body, through its sense organs, supplied the mind with info about what was happening in the environment o This interaction between mind and body took place in the pineal body and when the mind decided to perform an action, it tilted the pineal body in a certain direction, causing fluid to flow from the brain into the proper set of nerves, which caused the appropriate muscles to inflate and move Model- a relatively simple system that works on known principles and is able to do at least some of the things that a more complex system can do Empiricism- pursuit of truth through observation and experience • John Locke proposed that all knowledge must come from experience o Implied that our minds were empty at birth, and ready to accept the writings of experience o Believe that knowledge developed through linkages of simple, primary sensations: simple ideas combined to form complex ones • George Berkeley suggested that our knowledge of events in the world also requires conclusions based on the increase of past experiences (learning) o Must learn how to perceive Materialism- the belief that reality can be known only through an understanding of the physical world, of which the mind is a part • James Mill agreed with Descartes’ approach to understanding the human body, but disagreed the concept of an immaterial mind, in which the mind, no less than the body, is a machine and humans are no difficult from animals Biological Roots of Psychology 3 • Luigi Galvani disagreed with Descartes’ theory, who discovered that muscles could be made to contract by applying an electrical current directly to them or to the nerves attached to them Doctrine of specific nerve energies- different nerve fibres convey specific info from one part of the body to the brain or from the brain to one part of the body • Johannes Muller contributed this observation which became the science of psychology • He noted that the basic message sent along all the nerves are the same (electrical impulse) and the impulse was the same, regardless of whether the message concerned • If different nerves convey messages about different kinds of info, then the regions of the brain that receive these messages must have different functions Experimental ablation- the removal or destruction of a portion of the brain of an experimental animal for the purpose of studying the functions of that region • Pierre Flourens provided experimental evidence for the implications of Muller’s doctrine of specific nerve energies • He operated on animals, by removing various parts of the nervous system, and found that the resulting effects depended on which parts were removed • Paul Broca applied Muller’s logic to humans o Performed an autopsy on the brain of a man who had a stroke several years ago, which made the man lose the ability to speak o Broca discovered that the stroke had damaged part of the cerebral cortex on the left side on the man’s brain, which he suggested that this region is the centre for speech • Gustav Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig introduced the use of electrical stimulation as a tool for mapping the functions of the brain • Hermann von Helmholtz believed that human organs were endowed with a vital immaterial force that coordinated physiological behaviour • Before Helmholtz’s work, the transmission of impulses through nerves was thought to be as fast as the speed of electricity in wires; under this assumption, transmission would be virtually instantaneous, considering the small distances that impulses need to travel within the human body, which Helmholtz successfully measured • Helmholtz’s next sought to measure the speed of a person’s reaction to a physical stimulus o But discovered that here was too much variability from person to person to make the kind of scientific laws that are common in physics 4 • Ernst Weber began work that led to the development of a method for measuring the magnitude of human sensations o People’s ability to distinguish between 2 similar stimuli followed orderly laws Psychophysics- measures the quantitative relation between physical stimuli and perceptual experience Applications in Education and Therapy • Descartes believed that the mind had the ability to make decisions for which it was morally responsible (and individual’s soul had to choose between good and evil) o Individual decisions were determined by outside forces Determinism- the principles that behaviour is the result of prior events • Sigmund Freud believed in a strong vision of determinism based on internal psychological events • Some assume some form of determinism, in part because of the philosophical and biological developments • Education was recognized as an important means of improvement, suggesting a role for the public in an area that had previously been provided by individuals, churches, or charities o Medical advances arising from the knowledge of biology promised cures for many diseases, including diseases of the mind • The notion of change became the topic of study for educators and physicians • In January 1800, a boy around 12 years old was found living alone in the forest around Aveyron, France o He seemed completely divorced from human contact and unable to speak or understand language o He had been living without human support for 2-3 years, getting food from village vegetable patches and wearing only a tattered shirt o Interested in food and a place a sleep, and seemed not to care about human company or any kind of social interaction o Some assumed that he grown up in the wild and saw him as an untainted example of the “noble savage”, while others claimed that he suffered from a psychological disorder o Jean- Marc Gaspard Itard worked with the boy (Victor) for 5 years to see what the boy can learn, by teaching him words and then recorded his progress • Reformers centralized school administration, organized classes according to age, and sought the best curriculum for a given age 5 • Booker T. Washington and John Dewey advocated reforms based on the needs and faculties of children o Dewey argued that education must match the way in which children’s abilities develop o He argued that children learn activities that are organized around goals, and that instruction should match this natural way of learning o He believed that one aim of education should be to establish habits that integrate the child into the community Law of effect- Edward Thorndike’s observation that stimuli that occur as a consequence of a response can increase or decrease the likelihood of making that response again • A universal principle by which habits could be learned o Goals were satisfiers that caused the action to recur more frequently • Maria Montessori decided to go to medical school and become a doctor o It used to be improper for a female student to see a naked body in the presence of a man, so she was banished from the classroom during dissections and had to do them herself, alone at night, by corpses o She became the first women in Italy to earn a medic
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