Psychology Lectures (chapter 1)
Physics is the study and science of how things work in the external, material work. Psychology, unlike
Physics, is a more recent study.
Intelligence= magic; ex. When you first see a magician, it’s amazing. However, once the Illusionist
explains the process, the trick loses its magic and the nonphysical aspects.
Is a supercomputer intelligent? No if you consider that all the process require algorithmic processes.
But what about us? Aren’t we going through processes?
We sometimes give objects a ‘soul’ by personifying it. Ex: Oh, it was my car that drove too fast, I just
tried to slow him down!
- Nowadays, society would not believe that to be true, since we view it as a physical act, not
Around late 1700s:
It wasn’t until Rene Descartes that human started being interested in studying humans. Descartes
moved to France due to some psychological issues, where he took interest in statues in the garden. He
was fascinated when he noticed that the statues moved (science of hydraulics, where a pressure plate
set rails to move once it was stepped on). He implied the hydraulic dynamics were also present in
humans. Rene said that parts of us are machine, and are directed by the spiritual world. People believed
humans are the only ones with soul. Dualism: state of having two distinct parts or aspects (the body
Brutal experiments were done on animals, since they were considered machines.
Philosophy and Biology were seen as the predecessors of Psychology. The difference between
philosophy and psychology is that philosophy conducts thoughts and creates ideas, while psychology
applies these thoughts and tests these theories.
Locke introduced empiricism (method of research using the scientific process to learn more instead of
theorizing). He also declared that all behavior and skill were created by the interaction with the
environment learning. In psychology, the process of learning is studied (ex. Is a prejudice something
you are born with, or is it something you develop?)
James Mills- ‘materialism’; humans are not spiritual; theirs is nothing spiritual about humans, because
they do not go around physical laws. In other words, scientists can be considered materialists, since
they study using physical aspects.
Around 1800s: Biology was added to philosophy, which started applying the philosophic thoughts, starting with the
Luigi was able to use static electricity to contract the muscles of a frog leg. Even though you wouldn’t
consider the leg having a soul, the leg moved, like the moving statue. This led to the idea that there are
physical processes happening. The bodies have wires, which, when connected properly, will lead to the
body to function properly (nerve fibres which conduct electricity)specialized brain region
Pierre Florenz trained animals to do certain acts. He studies and observes their behavior, then
disconnects parts of the brain to see what it results on the animal (ex. Cutting off back of brain led to the
animal becoming blind). Brain is localized, machine-like to all these compartments.
Broca observed similar patterns among many of his patients, where they were incapable of speak
coherently. After obtaining their consent, he studied their brains after they passed away. He noticed all
of them had damage in one section of the brain (brocaceria) which controlled speech.
Around 1870, the public started growing an interest in the scientific aspects. Like fortunetelling, people
predicted the visitor’s personality and behavior from reading their skull.
Fritsch and Hitzig added electrical wires into animals to see reactions. Example, they added a stimuli to
the back of the brain, and the animal reacted as if they saw something. Each part of the brain controls
a specific part of the body. Ex. Part of brain can lead to pleasure if stimulated. Animals could be trained
by stimulating those pleasure centres. However, what was noted was, when they had access to
stimulating the pleasure themselves, they would stay on the spot and continue to stimulate themselves,
disregarding that they need to feed, urinate, or defecate, until they collapsed.
Slide 7: These were the ‘stage setter’ to psychology.
Some people had doubts though on studying a human- how do you study what’s inside? Depends on
how smartly you design an experiment. Ex: see how fast an action takes to be instructed by the brain by
timing the person doing the task, like timing how long it takes for you to lift an arm.
Note: Our brain does not transfer information faster than a computer.
Ernst studied psychophysics: attempt of applying the study of physics to study the ‘inside’- the mind.
Experiment: He got subjects to close their eyes and hold out their hand. He placed weights of equal
weight on each hand and asked them which one was heavier. He then started placing different weights
and noted how much of a difference was needed until they could notice. They ended up using relations
(this is heavier than this side) and fractions (ex. one hand is lighter by 1/10) to perceive differences,
instead of stating actual weight Weber’s fraction
The internal sensation, not the external reality, was studied in this experiment psychophysics. This
one was the first on to use this technique to study the mind and start off psychology Note: many of the scientists originate from Germany (around late 1800s), because they were
economically powerful. The country invested in science and pushed researchers to move into their field.
Wundt was interested in conscious experience. Used introspection (studying self in terms of feelings,
thoughts, and motives), but the problem was how he was able to study the inside, like the thoughts and
mind. What he did was he trained students on paying attention and saying what they have in mind (ex.
What they see in a colour and describe it). This focus on their description became structuralism: the
structure of an object (ex. What a bulldozer looked like structurally).
During that time, introspection was frowned upon because it’s hard to describe everything that is on the
mind. The conscious experience is edited, and you don’t describe everything.
Darwin started changing up biology: What used to be just picking up species and naming them, he
added more in-depth thoughts to biology (why does this animal look like this? What were those beaks
used for?). Process and evolution were developed, and emphasized on the purpose and structure. These
ideas changed up other sciences as well by taking the new approaches. functionalism: The function of
the object, what it does (ex. The bulldozer flattens the ground).
William James wondered about the consciousness, the different thoughts among people. He wasn’t an
imperialist, but more of a thinker. He helped creating functionalism.
Ebbinghaus studied memory (what you experience in the mind is stored and retrieved later). His
experiment: He created nonsense syllables (ex. FIP) that had no meaning behind it, and checked how
easily they could be remembered. He looked at 20 words for a limited time, then wrote down all he
could remember. He repeated that until he got them all right twice in a row (then he has learned the
words). He then didn’t use those words, for 1 hour, a day, a week, then tried to write them down again.
Within a day or two, the material in the memory disappeared forgetting function
He went and relearned the words, and this time it took him less time. This meant that the memories did
not decay or disappear; they were just not consciously available. Memory is a process that is encoded
and is strengthened the more you work with these memories, but fade away the more you neglect it.
He checked how much was changed after you revisited the memory as well.
Freud diverted the psychology from science to the other path (the therapy kind). He observed patients
that suffered from (often extreme) diseases with extreme conditions (ex. Considered blind even though
the eye seems to be fully functional). Female were the majority because the tight corsets worn that time
reduced the amount of oxygen flowing to the brain (that’s why they tend to faint easily from
shock/trauma). He assumed that could be the result of a traumatic event, as in seeing something they
did not want to see, and an unconscious device turns off the part that the person does not want to use
(ex. Man does not want to see that event, so he turns blind so he can’t see it at all).
Slide 11: Freud made an impact on psychology by not focusing on the science models. He was a doctor
and used a medical model- they use symptoms to understand the cause of a medical problem, so that the doctor can attack the core of the problem. The same goes for medical doctors. Freud says there are
internal drive that pushes you to do something, but they can be quickly satisfied (ex being cold, you put
on a jacket). There are some though that cannot be satisfied in the public (ex, when you want to hurt
someone, if you want to have sex), so you try to be the appropriate person who avoids sex and
aggression. We deny our primitive instincts and hide them in our mind to keep ourselves ‘pure’ and
come out in disgui