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Chapter 1

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Dan Dolderman

Seven Themes of Psychological Science May 13, 2013 9:57 AM • Empirical science • Nature and nurture are intertwined • The brain and mind are inseparable entities • Biological revolution • The mind is adaptive • Crosses levels of analysis • Unaware of the multiple influences on thoughts, feelings, and behaviour Psychology is an Empirical Science: (6) • Use the scientific method to develop and test theories • Despite a lack of scientific training the average citizen is a consumer of scientific information; informed citizens should be aware of the differences between good science and bad science Nature and Nurture are Inextricably Entwined: (7) • Premise of debate: Whether psychological characteristics are biologically innate or acquired from the environment through learning, experience, and culture. • Despite the on-going debate that originated with the ancient Greeks, psychologists have generally come to the conclusion that the two elements are both important to psychological development. ○ Psychologists now study the ways in which the two elements interact with each other in brain development • Schizophrenia and Bipolar Disorder were both originally believed to result from poor parenting/environmental factors; in the late 1950s, drugs were developed that were seen to treat the symptoms, and recent research has demonstrated that there is some level of heritability with these two disorders • PTSD appears to come solely from the environment, as it is caused by a traumatic event or experience, but recent research has demonstrated that there may be a genetic predisposition to PTSD The Brain and Mind are Inseparable: (7) • Historically, the mind has been considered quite separate from the brain, resulting in the mind/body problem; many scholars believed that the mind was, indeed, separate and in control of the body ○ Leonardo da Vinci challenged this notion with his dissection of human cadavers; he drew conclusions regarding the brain's physiology and function  Sensus Communis - the area of the brain da Vinci believed to be the centre of sensory messages; gave way to the term "common sense" ○ Rene Descartes promoted the notion of dualism - body and mind are separate, but intertwined; the body merely had the ability to react/reflex, while the mind was dealt with mental states and cognitive thinking • Dualism, although discredited, provided insight into the otherwise complex nature of this problem A New Biological Revolution is Energizing Research: (9) • Most early scholars did not have the tools and resources to adequately investigate the workings of the brain, and therefore, were left with little more than philosophical speculation; recent technological developments, however, are making this research much more possible, resulting in a "biological revolution" • Brain Chemistry - the brain operates through neurotransmitters, which are chemicals that communicate between nerve cells; the past 30 years has made way for the identifying and understanding of these chemicals and their functions ○ Understanding of the brain chemistry provides insights into mental activity and ○ Understanding of the brain chemistry provides insights into mental activity and behaviour and allows for the development of treatment for various psychological disorders • Human Genome - the basic genetic code for the human body; mapping the human genome has provided the basis for developing new techniques for discovering links between genes and behaviour ○ Situational contexts influence how certain genes are expressed and affect behaviour; further illustrating how nature/nurture are combined • Watching the working brain - how the brain influences behaviour, psychologists are studying how the brain performs vital psychological functions; neuroscience allows for addressing major questions regarding human experience; finding consistent patterns of brain activation that are associated with specific mental tasks suggests interaction; localization of functions The Mind is Adaptive: (10) • From an evolutionary perspective, the modern brain has developed over years to solve survival and reproductive problems • The mind is adaptive in both biological and cultural terms; these adaptations allow for greater survival of certain individuals and provides an advantage to some over others, which are then passed on along further generations • Darwin was one of the leading scholars, whose work has influenced current evolutionary theorists • Solving adaptive problems - specialized circuits have evolved within the brain to solve adaptive problems; behaviours and attitudes can also be considered adaptive solutions to recurring human problems ○ Some evolutionary psychologists believe some individuals have "cheater detectors" that are attuned to detect antisocial or negative behaviours ○ Infants will naturally become aware of heights and will not willingly fall or crawl off a "cliff" or edge • Modern Minds in Stone Age Skulls - some elements of modern psychology (ex. Food preferences) are related to the needs of our ancestors and is further evidence for the evolution of the human brain; • Culture provides adaptive solutions - cultural aspects and adaptations are transmitted through learning; some cultural rules demonstrate adaptations from past generations ○ Unlike biological evolution, cultural adaptation occurs much faster; globalization also increases the speed with which culture is adapting and growing ○ Those from different cultures hold different world views and have different "minds"; Westerners are much more analytic while Easterners are more holistic ○ It is increasingly important to understand behaviour in a cultural context Psychological Science Crosses Levels of Analysis: (13) • Psychology has become much more interdisciplinary, sharing a goal of understanding behaviour • Four levels of analysis: Biological, individual, social, and cultural ○ Biological - physical body's contribution to mind/behaviour; neurochemical and genetic processes ○ Individual - individual differences in personality and mental processes affecting world perception ○ Social - group contexts affect interaction and interpersonal influence ○ Cultural - thoughts, feelings, and actions differ across cultures; similarities among cultures also suggest some universal phenomena Level Focus Areas of Study Biologic Brain Systems Neuroanatomy, animal research, al Neurochemistry brain imaging Genetics Neurotransmitters and hormones, animal studies, drug studies Gene mechanisms, heritability, twin Gene mechanisms, heritability, twin and adoption studies Individu Individual differences Personality, gender, developmental al Perception and cognition age groups, self-concept Behaviour Thinking, decision making, language, memory, seeing, hearing Observable actions, responses, physical movements Social Interpersonal behaviour Groups, relationships, persuasion, Social cognition influence, workplace Attitudes, stereotypes, perceptions Cultural Thoughts, actions, behaviours - in Norms, beliefs, values, symbols, different societies and cultural groups ethnicity • Musical preferences vary among individuals and cultures; music can affects emotional states and thought processes, and the brain processes music differently than noise; this is both cultural and biological ○ A cross-cultural study of music has developed into its own separate field - ethnomusicology Unawareness of the Multiple Influences on How We Think, Feel, and Act: (14) • The brain can interpret and be influenced by environmental factors that one is not cognitively aware of; often associated with Freud; automaticity of everyday life - influences that occur without effort or intent • Example: Once stereotypes have been primed (activated), thoughts and behaviours are automatically influenced without conscious effort • Affects recall abilities How Did the Scientific Foundations of Psychology Develop? (16) May 13, 2013 3:47 PM • Psychological questions were first posed in a philosophical realm; physicians also contributed to notions of brain function • Cognitive Therapy was first theorised and used by early Muslim scholars Experimental Psychology Begins with Structuralism: (17) • Wilhelm Wundt (1879) - first psychological laboratory; trained many of the first/great early psychologists ○ Psychological processes take time to occur; Wundt performed some of the first experiments te
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