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Chapter 1

PSY100 Chapter 1

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Dan Dolderman

Chapter 1: Introduction to Psychological Science • Important developments for studying the human mind and behaviour • Brain imaging: show parts of the brain involved in particular behaviours/mental activities • Implicit Association Test: assesses how people associate (+) and (-) words with certain people • Phelps, Banaji- used brain imaging to study racial attitudes • Unfamiliar black faces activated amygdala structure involved in detecting threat (familiar black faces no response) • Response occurred only when scores on IAT also showed (-) attitude towards blacks Psychological science refers to the study of the: 1. mind: mental activity- senses, thoughts, feelings, memories 2. brain: action of nerve cells and chemical reactions “Mind is what the brain does” 3. behaviour: wide variety of actions from the subtle to the complex 7 Themes of Psychological Science 1. Psychology is an empirical science • Psych scientists use the scientific method- objective, systematic procedures that lead to an accurate understanding of what is being studied 2. Nature and nurture are inextricably entwined (cannot be separated) • Nature and nurture influence each other in shaping our brain, mind, behaviour • Ex: mental disorders- schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder were originally thought to have resulted from bad parenting or enviro circumstances (nurture) • PTSD: result from traumatic event from environment • Now believed to have also a genetic component 3. The brain and the mind are inseparable • Mind first believed to have resided in liver, heart, etc. • Then, many scholars believed the mind is separate from and in control of body • Theological beliefs, divine/immortal soul is what separates us from animals Da Vinci • “sensus communis” region of brain that receives all sensory information, home of thought and judgement • not accurate but first to link brain’s anatomy to psychological function Descartes • dualism: mind and body are separate yet intertwined • mechanistic body that controlled some mental functions (memory, imagination) • rational mind, controlled volitional action, divine separate from body • psych scientists reject dualistic thinking: “mind is what brain does” 4. A new biological revolution is energizing research • new understanding of mental activities’ biological bases • Brain Chemistry • Brain works through actions of NT, chemicals that communicate messages b/t nerve cells • can now identify certain chemicals and their functions • ex: ppl remember events that happened when they were aroused vs. calm • chemicals in brain that respond to world influence neural mechanisms involved in memory • Human Genome • Found links between genes and our behaviour • However, no single gene causes specific behaviour, rather effect of multiple genes • Watching the Working Brain • Neuroscience, can find specific patterns of brain activation are associated with specific mental tasks (show that 2 are connected) • Some localization of function (specific areas of brain important for specific thoughts, feelings, actions) but largely, many regions that work together 5. Mind is adaptive • Brain has evolved to solve problems related to survival and reproduction • Solving adaptive problems • Many behaviours and attitudes can be considered adaptive solutions to recurring human problems • ex: humans have fundamental need to belong to group most societies discourage behavioural that lead to social exclusion • ex: people who cheat, steal are taking resources away from other members of group adapted to have “cheater detectors” • ex: visual cliff: kid won’t walk past edge of table, fear or heights adaptive mechanism that enhance chances of survival later on • Modern minds in stone age skulls • During Pleistocene era, scare food supply, advantageous to eat sweet foods that were high in fat (adaptive, for survival) • Nowadays, eat same foods even with an abundance of food maladaptive (obesity) Culture provides adaptive solutions • People from different cultures have different minds Nisbett- differences b/t Westerners and Easterners • Westerners- miss forest, focus on elements in forefront- more analytical (break complex ideas into smaller ones), more independent and autonomous & emphasize personal strengths • Easterners- focus on entire forest- more holistic in thinking, more interdependent, more likely to emphasize need for self-improvement 6. Psych Science Crosses Levels of Analysis • Problems in psych need to be solved using different levels of analysis Biological level of analysis: how physical body contributes to mind and behaviour, the neurochemical, genetic processes that occur in body and brain • Pleasant music ↑serotnin- associated with mood Individual level of analysis: individual differences in personality, mental processes that affect how ppl perceive and know the world (perception & cognition) • Music’s effect on m
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