Definitions from Chapter 1&2

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11 Dec 2010
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Psychological Science: the study of the mind, brain and behaviour
Mind refers mental activity, e.g. thoughts and feelings
Behaviour is used to describe a wide variety of actions varying from subtle to complex
Psychological Scientists use the methods of science to understand how people think, feel and act. The
conduct experiments to better understand human behaviour and how social environment affect these
processes.
Psychological practitioners those who apply findings from psychological science in order to assist
people in their daily lives
Evolutionary theory in psychological science a theory that emphasizes the inherited, adaptive value of
behaviour and mental activity throughout the entire history of a species.
Adaptations in evolutionary theory, the physical characteristic, skills, or abilities that increases the
chances of reproduction or survival and are therefore likely to be passed along to future generations.
Culture the beliefs, values, rules, and customs that exist within a group of people who share a common
language and environment and that are transmitted through learning from one generation to the next.
Nature-nurture debate the arguments concerning whether psychological characteristics are biological
innate or acquired through education, experience, and culture.
Mind-body problem a fundamental psychological issue that considers whether mind and body are
separate and distinct or whether the mind is simply the subjective experience of the physical brain.
Introspection a systemic examination of subjective mental experiences that requires people to inspect and
report on the content of their thoughts.
Structuralism an approach to psychology based on the idea that conscious experience can be broken
down into basic underlying components or elements.
Stream of consciousness a phrase coined by William James to describe ones continuous series of ever-
changing thoughts.
Functionalism an approach to psychology concerned with the adaptive purpose, or function, of mind and
behaviour.
Gesalt theory a theory based on the idea that the whole of personal experience is different than simply
the sum of its constituent elements.
Unconscious a term that identifies mental processes that operate below the level of conscious awareness.
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