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Chapter 1

PSY100H1 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Psychological Science, René Descartes

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Chapter 1: Introduction to Psychological Science
Case1: Robert Dzikanski in airport
Emotion, memory, decision making, social interaction, cultural differences, prejudice, group
behavior, mental trauma
Officers were acted like “responding to a barroom brawl”
Not justified in using teasers
What we want to study about the case:
oEmotion state decision making
oFrustration with not being understood aggressive outbursts
oAccuracy of defendants & eyewitnesses
oPrejudice group behavior/ beliefs
Case2: Amadou DIallo in font of house
Racial attitudes (stereotypes)
Brain imaging: assessing changes in metabolic activity in the brain, i.e. noting where blood flows as
people process info
Amygdala: detecting threats, activation indicates a fear response using functional magnetic resonance
imaging (FMRI)
Implicit Attitudes Test (IAT): measures reaction time, indirectly assesses how people associate positive
and negative words with certain groups of people
*Increasing familiarity reduces fear response reduce prejudice, discrimination
The goal for psychology today is to understand people by considering both:
-Individual factors: how a person’s brain processes information about others
-Contextual factors: how societal beliefs shape how we behave toward other ppl
Fundamental aspects of behaviour: biological, individual, social
Psychological science:
-Mind- Mental activities, perceptual experiences a person has while interacting with the world (senses)
-Memory, thoughts, feelings = mind in action
-Biological process of actions of nerve cells (neurons)~chemical reactions
-Brain- Mind is what the brain does, physical brain enables mind
-Behavior-wide variety of actions in all organisms
-Observing mind in action -> study mental states (consciousness)
Psychological scientists: try to figure out “how people tick”, how people think, feel and act
What are the 7 THEMES of Psychological science?
1. Psychology is an empirical science
Scientific method- use objective, systematic procedure -> accurate understanding of what is being
Careful observations of natural world
Good science (well-conducted research) V.S. bad science (flawed research)
2. Nature & nurture are inextricably entwined
Are psychological characteristics 1biological innate or 2acquired through education, experience,
Scheizophrenia (cause person to have unusual thoughts, believing self is God or hearing voices)
Bipolar disorder (cause person to have dramatic mood swings)
Bad parenting heriatable
Post-traumatic stress disorder/ PTSD (generally believed as result from traumatic events, inherit
gene can cause nurture to activate nature, eg sean McTeague + Mike)
3. Brain & mind are inseparable
1506:Da Vinci-> various sensory images arrived in the middle region of the brain = sensus
communis (home of thought & judgement
Mind/ body problem = fundamental psychological issue -> separate/distinct
1600s: Rene Descartes ->dualism
Many mental functions, such as memory and imagination, were the result of bodily functions
oSo linking SOME mental states with the body was a fundamental departure from earlier
dualism views, where they were completely separate
Subscribed to religious views and said that the rational mind (which controlled volitional action) was
divine and separate from the body
Thus his view of dualism kept the distinction between mind and body, but he assigned
to the body many of the mental functions previously considered the sovereign domain of the
Descartes most radical idea: although mind can affect body, body can also affect mind
“body was nothing more than an organic machine governed by “reflex”, mental functions resulted
from bodily functions.
4. New biological revolution -> energizing research
Locating the neural/ brain correlates of how identify ppl, discovering disorders.
Brain Chemistry: an understanding of brain chemistry
a. Brain works through chemicals/actions (of) called neurotransmitters, which communicate
messages between NERVE cells
b. Have better memories for events that happened when they are aroused rather than clam
c. Hundreds of different substances play critical roles in mental activity
The Human Genome: enormous progress in understanding the influence of genetic processes
d. Scientist can map out human genome, the basic genetic code or blueprint for the human
body, but also developed various techniques that allow them to discover the link between
genes and behavior.
e. Almost all psychological and biological activity is affected by the actions of multiple genes.
f. There is no specific gene solely responsible for memory, or racist attitudes or shyness