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Psychology (9,699)
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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Notes PSYA01.docx

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Steve Joordens

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CHAPTER 1 The Science of Psychology What is Psychology? We consider psychology (the scientific study of the causes of behaviour; also, the application of the findings of psychological research to the solution of problems) as a science a science with a special focus on behaviour; the primary emphasis is on discovering and explaining the causes of behaviour The word psychology comes from two Greek words: psukhe, meaning breath or soul, and logos, meaning word or reason; the modern meaning of psycho- is mind and the modern meaning of logy is science; thus, the word psychology literally means the science of the mind However, the focus of psychology turned from the mind, which cannot be observed directly, to behaviour, which can Why Behaviour Is Studied How do we provide an explanation of behaviour? We must first learn how to categorize and measure behaviour; next, we must discover the causes of the behaviour we observe the events responsible for a behaviours occurrence; if we can discover the events that caused the behaviour, we have explained it; events that cause other events (including behaviour) to occur are called causal events or different levels of explanation The use of different levels of explanation refers to a common choice of causes to study and methods of research to use One reason for studying behaviour, in contrast to studying a non-observable mind, is that human behaviour is the root of many of the worlds problems: poverty, crime, over- population, drug addiction, bigotry, pollution, oppression, terrorism, and war Fields of Psychology Some psychologists are scientists, trying to discover the causes of behaviour; some of us are practitioners of applied psychology, applying what our scientific colleagues have learned to the solution of problems in the world outside the laboratory Areas of Psychological Research Research psychologists differ from one another in two principal ways: in the types of behaviour they investigate, and in the causal events they analyze; that is, they explain different types of behaviours, and they explain them in terms of different types of causes; for example, two psychologists might both be interested in memory, but they might attempt to explain memory in terms of different causal events one may focus on physiological events whereas the other may focus on environmental events Physiological psychology examines the physiology of behaviour; the organisms physiology, especially its nervous system, is considered to be the appropriate level of explanation; physiological psychologists study almost all behavioural phenomena that can be observed in non-human animals, including learning, memory, sensory processes, emotional behaviour, motivation, sexual behaviour, and sleep Comparative psychology is the study of the behaviour of members of a variety of species in an attempt to explain behaviour in terms of evolutionary adaptation to the environment; they are likely to study inherited behavioural patterns, such as courting and mating, predation and aggression, defensive behaviours, and parental behaviours Behaviour analysis is the branch of psychology that studies the effect of the environmental events on behaviour primarily, the effects of the consequences of behaviours on the behaviours themselves; behaviour analysts are primarily interested in learning and motivation Behaviour genetics is the branch of psychology that studies the role of genetics in behaviour; behaviour geneticists study the role of genetics in behaviour by examining similarities in physical and behavioural characteristics of blood relatives, whose genes are more similar than those of unrelated individuals Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes and complex behaviours such as perception, attention, learning and memory, verbal behaviour, concept formation, and problem solving; to cognitive psychologists, the events that cause behaviour consist of functions of the human brain that occur in response to environmental events; their explanations involve characteristics of inferred mental processes, such as imagery, attention, and mechanisms of language Cognitive neuroscience is closely allied with both cognitive psychology and physiological psychology; this branch of psychology is generally interested in the same phenomena studied by cognitive psychologists, but it attempts to discover the particular brain mechanisms responsible for cognitive processes; it 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, strokes, or tumours Developmental psychology is the study of physical, cognitive, emotional, and social development, especially of children; it studies the changes in behavioural, perceptual, and cognitive capacities of organisms as a function of age and experience in particular, the effects of aging; the causal events they study are as comprehensive as all of psychology: physiological processes, cognitive processes, and social influences Social psychology is the study of the effects of people on people; the study of the effects people have on each others behaviour Personality psychology is the study of individual differences in temperament and patterns of behaviour; it attempts to categorize and understand the causes of individual differences in patterns of behaviour; personality psychologists look for causal events in a persons history, both genetic and environmental Evolutionary psychology seeks to explain cognitive, social, and personality aspects of psychology by looking at their adaptive significance during the evolution of modern species; the discoveries of comparative psychologists and behavioural geneticists are of interest to evolutionary psychologists; however, evolutionary psychologists use the theory of evolution by means of natural selection as a guiding principle; the task of the evolutionary psychologist is to explore how humans adaptive advantages might explain the behaviours of modern humans Cross-cultural psychology is the study of the impact of culture on behaviour; because the ancestors of people of different racial and ethnic groups lived in different environments that presented different problems and opportunities, different cultures have developed different strategies for adapting to their environments Clinical psychology is the study of psychological disorders and problems of adjustment; it is devoted to the investigation and treatment of abnormal behaviour and psychological disorders; most clinical psychologists are practitioners who try to help people solve their problems, whatever the causes; others are scientists who look for a wide variety of causal events, including genetic and physiological factors, and environmental factors such as parental upbringing, interactions with siblings, and other social stimuli - Clinical psychologists
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