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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Lecture Notes along with Powerpoint Notes

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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 it’s 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 (cars that the prof. named) - 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; thought of the body as a science  However, Descartes also believed that humans possess a soul and free will … a concept called dualism (much of us is machine, but this machine is controlled by a soul) - What if we assume no soul? No free will? - He believed only the human being has a soul – animals do not have souls, they are totally machines  Psychology has parents – the father (philosophy) and a mother (biology)  John Locke (1632-1704) went a step further then Rene in assuming that even the mind could be thought of as a machine; we are all material (not spiritual)  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  James Mill rooted the word materialism; and to be a materialist is to assume that human behaviour arises totally from physical interactions 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; Florens performed lesion studies; the brain seemed to be compartmentalized (machine-like) according to Florens  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; found Broca’s area in the brain that was damaged by his patients - Check out “Broca’s Brain” by Sagan  Late 1800s is when people began to think that the brain might be compartmentalized, localized; this is the time when they began to think humans are like machines  Gustav Fritsch & Eduard Hitzig (1870) added further evidence using electrical stimulation studies … body appeared to be mapped on the surface of the brain; were the first to use stimulation studies - Steve, Fig 2.8 from CD - Mention the Phrenology phenomenon  As people began to experiment with stimulation studies, they became concerned with the “pleasure centre” of the brain (drug addicts)  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); he started studying psychophysics (physics is the study of the “outer- world”) - Thus, subjective states could be measured and seem to follow natural laws … psychophysics - Germany, at this time, was economically powerful; a lot of research occurred here - Ernst – Just Noticeable Difference (Weber’s Fraction) – he showed how people perceive differences between objects or such after a certain amount (psychophysics); the internal sensations not the external reality – this was literally the journey of the mind  During this time, we were able to measure speed of nerve impulses (Hermann and Helmholtz); and we were able to show that you can get at things that seem like they’re difficult to measure, but if you’re clever enough, you can find it out – this thinking began the journey of the center of the mind 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”; he was also interested in what we call conscious
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