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Chapter 1

PSY100 Psychological Science (3rd Ed.) Textbook Notes Chapter 1

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Alison Luby

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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION The Seven Themes of Psychological Science 1. Psychology is an empirical science  Scientists use the scientific method to understand ppl (objective, systematic procedures) 2. Nature and nurture are inextricably entwined  Before 1950’s, mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder were believed to be caused by nature but research shows the conditions are heritable … but more likely in certain environments  In PTSD, nurture activates nature – ppl have genetic predisposition to developing it 3. The brain and the mind are inseparable  Most of history, scholars thought that mind is separate from and in control of the body  In 1500, Leonardo da Vinci first tried to link brain’s anatomy to psychological functions: he dissected brains and concluded that all sensory messages arrived at one location in brain: the sensus communis, the home of thought and judgment (root of term “common sense”)  In 1600, Descartes promoted the theory of dualism – the idea that mind and body are separate but intertwined: “the body is an organic machine governed by reflex (said mental functions like memory and imagination resulted from bodily functions) but the rational mind (for volitional action) was divine/separate from body” 4. Biological Revolution is energizing research  Three important developments: brain chemistry (the brain works through actions of neurotransmitters), the human genome (mental traits are inherited to some degree), and watching the working brain (brain imagining revealed that there is localization of brain function) 5. The mind is adaptive  Evolutionary theory says that brain has evolved to solve survival and reproduction problems  Some behaviors and attitudes are adaptive solutions to human problems; e.g. humans have fundamental need to belong to a group, so societies discourage behavior that lead to social exclusion (lying, cheating etc). Some psychologist believe humans have “cheater detectors” for this behavior in others  Fear of heights is an adaptive mechanism: infants become wary of heights at the same age they began to crawl (even though they have no experience w/ heights) – in “visual cliff” experiment, infants will not crawl over a clear plastic surface that extends over a cliff  Humans began to evolve 5 million years ago but Homo sapiens (modern humans) can be traced 100,000 years ago in the Pleistocene era: highly caloric foods which are pleasing to the taste buds enhanced survival  Cultural evolution occurred faster, in the last few thousand years; Richard Nisbett (2001) psychologist showed that Europeans and North Americans are more analytic, use logic and rules to explain behavior but Easterners are more holistic and sees everything as a complicated whole  ancient Greek societies focused on personal freedom, logic and debate; Chinese societies focused on harmonious relationships with family & village  Steven Heine (2003) psychologist found that Westerners emphasize personal strengths; Easterners emphasize need for self-improvement 6. Psychological science crosses levels of analysis  Interdisciplinary efforts try to understand behavior is influenced by biological (brain systems, genetics), individual (individual differences, perception), social (interpersonal behavior, attitudes, stereotypes) and cultural factors (norms, beliefs, values in different cultural groups)  E.g. pleasant music increases activation of serotonin; for brain systems analysis, case study example shows brain damage led to lost ability to recognize familiar tunes (condition known as amusia) but memory and language system intact  E.g. “Russia under the Mongolian Yoke” from Prokofiev’s Field of the Dead played at half speeds puts ppl into negative moods; young children do not associate major and minor modes with happy/sad moods until 7 or 8 y/o (learned emotional response)  Ethnomusicology – the cross-cultural study of music preferences; showed than influences of major/minor modes hold only within certain cultures (like Western) 7. We are often unaware of the multiple influences on how we think, feel, and act  Psychologist John Bargh (2006) refers to unconscious influences as the “automaticity of everyday life” (occurring automatically w/o effort or intent)  E.g. Dutch study shows that ppl who were asked to consider stereotypes of professors scored better in Trivial Pursuit than ppl who thought of stereotypes of secretaries and soccer hooligans (ideas regarding intelligence was “primed” or activated)  E.g. research participants shown negative facial features very quickly (so they did not know they had seen them) reported worse moods than ppl shown neutral face  Research participants who held hot coffee rated a third person as “warmer”/less selfish than ppl who held iced coffee Development of Psychology’s Scientific Foundations - Physicians in ancient Greece and Rome, like Hippocrates (c. 460 – 377) and Galen (c. 129 – 199 CE) recognized that brain is important for mental activity; Confucius (551-479 CE) in China emphasized human development, education and interpersonal relations; during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644), multi-stage testing was used to select ppl for public office - For Muslim scholars, Al-Kindi (801-866 CE) used cognitive strategies to combat depression; At-Tabari (838-870 CE) wrote about child psychology and psychotherapy - in 1800’s Europe, psychologists studied mental activity with scientific observation: John Stuart Mill (1843) wrote in A System of Logic that psychology is “the science of the elementary laws of the mind” and said mind processes can only be understood with scientific observation Major Figures and Major Schools of Thought Structuralism -Wilhelm Wundt (1879) established first psychology laboratory and institute (founded modern experimental psychology) -Wundt inferred the time needed for mental event to occur by subtracting a time a participant took to complete simple task from time needed for complex task (measured “reaction times”) - Wundt developed the method of introspection: a systematic examination of subjective m
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