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PSYB57H3 (369)
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Chapter 1

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University of Toronto Scarborough
Dwayne Pare

Chapter 1: The Science of the Mind When cognitive psychology was first launched, it was understood as the scientific study of knowledge Amnesia – a condition in which someone, because of brain damage, loses the ability to remember  A well-studied amnesia patient was H.M.  His memory loss was the unanticipated by-product of brain surgery intended to control his epilepsy  He had memory of the events prior to the surgery but seemed completely unable to recall any event that occurred after his operation  He didn’t know who he was anymore Cognitive psychology – the scientific study of the acquisition, retention, and use of knowledge Cognitive psychology can help us understand capacities relevant virtually every moment of our lives A Brief History Cognitive psychology is roughly 50 years old The Years of Introspection Wundt and Titchener launched research psychology, which was considered separate from philosophy or biology  They believed that psychology needed to be concerned largely with the study of conscious mental events (feelings, thoughts, perceptions, recollections)  They concluded that the only way to study thoughts is for each of us to Introspect – look within – to observe the content of our own mental lives and sequence of experiences  Introspection died down gradually because some thoughts are unconscious which showed that introspection could not be used.  NO objective testability  Introspection abandoned. The Years of Behaviorism An organism’s behaviors must be observable in the right way Stimuli in the world must be in the same objective category (measurable, recordable & comprise of physical events) Learning history should also be objectively recorded and scientifically studied This led to the Behaviorist – successful movement that uncovered principles about how behaviour changes in response to various stimuli (including rewards and punishments) – which dominated th psychology until the 20 century The ways people act and feel are guided by how they understand or interpret the situation and not by the objective situation itself. Thus if we follow the behaviorists’ instructions, we will misunderstand the actions of people and make wrong predictions about their future behavior. Behaviorists believe that mental entities (beliefs, memories) cannot be studied directly and therefore not scientifically but since these play a pivotal role in guiding behavior, we MUST consider them to understand behavior. Stimuli that are physically DIFFERENT from each other have similar effects and stimuli that are physically SIMILAR to each other have different effects (Eg. pass the salt vs sass the palt) The Roots of the Cognitive Revolution Kant: Transcendental Method – began with the observable facts and then worked backward from the observations  Visible effects from invisible cause  AKA Inference to Best Observation We must study the mental processes (limitations of behaviourism) and we know that mental processes cannot be observed directly (downfall of introspection). We have to study mental problems indirectly, relying on the fact that the processes which themselves are invisible have visible consequences: measureable delays in producing a response, performances that can be assessed for accuracy and errors that can be scrutinized and categorized.  We can develop and test hypotheses. Research in Cognitive Psychology: An Example Working Memory: Some Initial Observations Working Memory – the memory one uses for information that one is actively working on  Holds info in an easily accessible form so the info is instantly available when needed  This instant availability is promoted by factors such as… o Working Memory Size – hypothesized to have a small capacity and with only a few items on store you will never have a problem locating the item you want  This can be tested via a Span Test – test where people are asked to repeat back letters from their memory, each time increasing the number of letters  Generally people start making errors with 7-8 letters (observable) Working Memory: A Proposal When people make mistakes in the span test, they generally substitute one letter for another with a similar sound (replace “V” with “B”) Baddeley and Hitch:
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