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Chapter 1

Psych. Ch. 1

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Steve Joordens

Chapter 1 - The Science of Psychology The Philosophical Roots of Psychology The concept of “intelligence” is like the concept of “magic”. It only holds any validity when we don’t know how its done What about the will, the soul, or consciousness? Early in human history, humans would attribute souls or wills to almost anything … a behaviour termed “animism” In fact, we still fall into those habits today: > Zippy & Ralph > Thunder and Lightening However, once we “understand” the true causes of certain events … the attribution of a soul often disappears So what of human behaviour? If we ever completely understand the causes of human behaviour, will there be room left for a human soul? Rene Descartes (1596-1650). Believed that the human body, and many of its responses, could be thought of as a highly complex machine However, Descartes also believed that humans possess a soul and free will … a concept called dualism > what if we assume no soul? No free will? John Locke (1632-1704) went a step further then Rene in assuming that even the mind could be thought of as a machine He also strongly advocated the practice of empiricism, the pursuit of truth through observation and experience Contrary to the notion of innate ideas, Locke assumed that all knowledge was acquired through experience alone Basically, Locke and others (e.g., Berkeley, see text) were attempting to understand “learning”, and we are still trying to understand that today The notion that the mind can be thought of as a machine, and that humans are no different from animals, in one termed materialism (James Mill, 1773 - 1836) … and it remains the dominant scientific assumption to this date The Biological Roots of Psychology Although Descartes notion of the body as a hydraulic machine did not hold up, Luigi Galvani (1737-1798) and several unnamed frog matyrs) did support the notion of the body as an “electric” machine Johannes Muller (1801-1858) was the first to systematically study human anatomy and in his “Doctrine of Specific Nerve Energies” noted that the basic message sent along all nerves was the same: an electrical impulse What differentiates between impulses is where they arise, and where they go Leads to the implication of specialized brain regions The implications of Muller’s work were confirmed by ablation studies performed by Pierre Florens (1774-1867) … the result of removing part of the brain depends on which part is removed Paul Broca (1824-1880) was the first to apply this logic to humans when he performed an autopsy on a stroke victim and claimed to find the “speech center” of the brain Gustav Fritsch & Eduard Hitzig (1870) added further evidence using electrical stimulation studies … body appeared to be mapped on the surface of the brain > mention the Phrenology phenomenon Other “stage-setting” contributions: Hermann von Helmholtz (1821-1894) championed the notions of objective investigation and precise measurement > speed of nerve impulses Ernst Weber (1795-1878) showed that people’s ability to discriminate between similar weights (or flashes of light) followed a natural function of the difference between the weights (or lights) > thus, subjective states could be measured and seen to follow natural laws … psychophysics The Birth and Early Years of Psychology The first “Psychologist” was Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920). He believed that all things, including the mind, could be studied scientifically. His text book “Principles of Physiological Psychology” was the first ever Psychology textbook. Wundt believed that via introspection, one could come to understand the ideas and sensations that formed the building blocks of consciousness … this school of Psychology is called Structuralism His approach died out because of difficulti
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