Psychological science is the study of mind, brain and behavior.
Mind refers to mental activity. Mental activity results from biological processes – the
actions of neurons and their associated chemicals.
The 7 themes of Psychological Science:
1) Psychology is an empirical science
2) Nature and nurture are inextricably entwined
3) The brain and mind are inseparable
4) A new biological revolution is energizing research
5) The mind is adaptive
6) Psychological science crosses levels of analysis
7) We often are unaware of the multiple influences on how we think, feel and
Scientific method is the use of objective, systematic procedures that lead to an
accurate understanding of what is being studied.
Dualism= the mind and body are separate yet intertwined
There is some localization of function (some areas are important for specific
feelings, thoughts and actions) but that many brain regions participate to produce
behavior and mental activity.
4 Levels of analysis:
1) The biological level of analysis – how the physical body contributes to mind
and behavior; the neurochemical and genetic processes
2) The individual level of analysis – the individual differences in personality and
the mental processes that affect perception
3) The social level of analysis - how group context affects people’s ways of
interacting and influencing each other.
4) The cultural level of analysis – how people’s thoughts, feelings and actions
are similar or different across cultures.
Introspection = a systematic examination of subjective mental experiences that
requires people to inspect and report on the content of their thoughts.
Wilhelm Wunt (Germany 1879) believed it necessary to reduce mental processes
into their constituent, “structural parts”, by using an approach known as
Structuralism = An approach to psychology based on the idea that conscious
experience can be broken down into its basic underlying components or elements. Functionalism = An approach to psychology concerned with the adaptive purpose,
or function, of mind and behavior.
Gestalt theory = A theory based on the idea that the whole of personal experience
is different from simply the sum of its constituent elements. The perception of
objects is subjective and dependent on context.
Phenomenological approach = the totality of subjective conscious experience.
Sigmund Freud deduced that much of the human behavior is determined by mental
processes operating below the level on conscious awareness, at the level of
unconscious. He believed that these unconscious mental forces, often sexual and in
conflict, produced physiological discomfort and in some cases even apparent
Unconscious = the mental processes that operate below the level of conscious
Psychoanalysis = A method developed by Sigmund Freud that attempts to bring the
contents of the unconscious into conscious awareness so that conflicts can be
Free association = a technique where a patient would talk about whatever they
wanted to for however long they wanted to.
John B. Watson believed that if psychology was to be considered a science, it had to
stop trying to study mental events that could not be observed directly. He developed
behaviorism, which dominated well into the early 1960’s. The nature-nurture
argument was central to his studies; he argued that nurture was all. He believed that
animals acquired, or learned, all behaviors through environmental factors: