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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 The Science of Psychology

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Steve Joordens

Chapter 1 The Science of Psychology Psychology- science with a special focus on behavior, discovering and explaining the causes of behavior First describe the behavior, and then discover the events that caused the behavior Causal events: events that cause other events (behavior) to occur The use of different levels of explanation is one reason why psychology is such a diverse discipline Human behavior is the root of many of the world’s problems: poverty, crime, overpopulation….. ------fields of psychology Research psychologists: different in the types of behavior they investigate, and in the causal events they analyze  Physiological psychology: studies the physiology basis of behavior, studies almost all behavioral phenomena that can be observed in non-human animals, including learning, memory, sensory processes, emotional behavior, motivation, sexual behavior and sleep Drugs have the potential for addiction act on a particular system in the brain  Comparative psychology: studies the behaviors of a variety of organisms in an attempt to understand the adaptive and functional significance of the behaviors and their relation to evolution  Behavior analysis: studies the effect of the environment on behavior-primarily, the effects of the consequences of behaviors on the behaviors themselves (pleasant outcomes tend to be repeated whereas those unpleasant consequences are less likely to be repeated)  Behavior genetics: studies the role of genetics in behavior (examining similarities in physical and behavioral characteristics of blood relatives)  Cognitive psychology: studies complex behaviors and mental processes such as perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behavior, concept formation, and problem solving  Cognitive neuroscience: attempts to understand cognitive psychological functions by studying the brain mechanisms that are responsible for them (one of the principal research techniques is to study the behavior of people whose brains have been damaged by natural causes, such as diseases, stokes, or tumours  Developmental psychology: studies the changes in behavioral, perceptual, and cognitive capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience (the causal events they study: physiology processes, cognitive processes, and social influences)  Social psychology: study of the effects people have on each other’s behavior  Personality psychology: attempts to categorize and understand the causes of individual differences in patterns of behavior  Evolutionary psychology: explains behavior in terms of adaptive advantages that specific behaviors provided during the evolution of a species, natural selection as a guiding principle  Cross-cultural psychology: studies the effects of culture on behavior  Clinical psychology: investigation and treatment of abnormal behavior and psychological disorders ---------The growth of psychology as a science ***philosophical roots of psychology Animism: the belief that all animals and all moving objects possess spirits providing their force Rene Descarte—father of modern philosophy and of a biological tradition that led to modern physiological psychology, he advocated a sober, impersonal investigation of natural phenomena using sensory experience and human reasoning, to understand how it was constructed to understand the world Human body was a machine affected by natural causes and producing natural effects Reflex: an automatic response to a stimulus, such as the blink reflex to the sudden unexpected approach of an object toward the eyes Dualism: the philosophical belief that reality consists of mind and matter, he suggested that a causal link existed between the mind and its physical housing He was one of the first to use a technological device as a model of the nervous system 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 John Locke--- Descartes’s rationalism (pursuit of truth through reason) was replaced by empiricism Empiricism: the philosophical view that all knowledge is obtained through the senses Materialism: a philosophical belief that reality can be known only through an understanding of the physical world, of which the mind is a part (by James Mill) ***Biological roots of psychology Rene Descartes and his model of muscular physiology provide a good beginning for a discussion of the biological roots of psychology. Descartes’s concept was based on an actual working model-the moving statue whose movements seemed similar to those of human beings. His hydraulic model of muscular movement was shown to be incorrect by Luigi Galvani. Luigi discovered that muscles could be made to contract by applying an electrical current directly to them or to the nerves attached to them. Johannes Muller was a forceful advocate of applying experimental procedures to the study of physiology. His most contribution was his doctrine of specific nerve energies (his observation that different nerve fibers convey specific information from one part of the body to the brain or from the brain to one part of the body) Pierre Flourens: 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 Gustav Fritsch and Eduard Hitzig introduced the use of electrical stimulation as a tool for mapping the functions of the brain. Hermann von Helmholt
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