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psy100 Intro

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Dan Dolderman

CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION TO PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCE Lesson 1 Notes: What are the Themes of Psychological Science? The goal for psychology today is to understand people by considering both: - individual factors e.g. how a persons brain processes information about others - contextual factors e.g. how societal beliefs shape how we behave toward other ppl Ultimate ambition is to explain behavior in real-life contexts, from its most fundamental aspects: biological, individual, social. Psychological science is the study of mind, brain, and behavior: - Mind: refers to mental activity, such as thoughts and feelings o e.g. perceptual experiences (sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch) o memories o thinking about what to have for lunch Mental activity results from biological processes within the brain. For now, mind is what the brain does. It is the physical brain that enables the mind. - Behavior: a wide variety of actions, from subtle to complex, that occur in organisms from ants to humans For many years, focused on behavior rather than on mental states because had few objective techniques for assessing the mind (technology was bad). With technology, observe working in brain in action, study mental states such as consciousness, develop fuller understanding of behavior. What are the Themes of Psychological Science? Psychological scientists try to figure out how people tick - how people think, feel, and act. - Use scientific methoduse of an objective, systematic procedures - Typically conduct experiments to understand human behavior THEMES 1) Research on mind, brain, and behavior has accumulated over time to produce the principles of psychological science - typically, science progresses in smaller, incremental steps, builds on the foundation of knowledge - we focus on what is known in psychological science o example: modern understanding of memory builds on findings that have accumulated over the past century - one consequence of focusing on principles is that makes things seem simpler than they really are o complexity is inherent in science as ideas and theories are modified by new information that describes the conditions under which phenomena exist 2) A new biological revolution of profound significance is in progress at the dawn of the twenty-first century, bringing deeper understanding of the human mind and behavior. - THREE developments have set the state for a new biological revolution: brain chemistry, the human genome, watching the working brain 1) Brain Chemistry: an understanding of brain chemistry a. The brain works through chemicals called neurotransmitters, which communicated messages between NERVE cells. 2) The Human Genome: enormous progress in understanding the influence of genetic processes a. Scientist can map out human genome, the basic genetic code or blueprint for human body, but also developed various that allow them to discover the link between genes and behavior. b. Almost all psychological and biological activity is affected by the actions of multiple genes. 3) Watching the working brain a. How cells operate in brain has been know in past, but only since 1980s have been able to study the working brain as it performs vital psychological functions. b. BRAIN SCIENCE = NEUROSCIENCE c. Knowing location of something in brain doesnt tell you much BUT knowing that there are consistent patterns of brain activation associated with specific mental tasks provides evidence that the two are connected. d. We know there is some localization of function, but that many different brain regions participate to produce behavior and mental activity. 3) The mind is adaptive: the mind has been shaped by evolution Humans are products of both biological and cultural evolution. a. Evolutionary theory: the brain has evolved over millions of years to sovle problems related to survival and reproduction. Emphasizes the inherited, adaptive value of behavior and mental activity throughout the entire history of a species b. Natural selection: Darwins theory that those who inherit characteristics that help them adapt to their particular environment have a selective advantage over those who do notc. Adaptations: the physical characteristics, skills, or abilities that increase the chances of reproduction or survival and are therefore likely to be passed along to future generations. (from random gene mutations) i. IF ENVIRONMENT CHANGES, what was once ADAPTIVE can become MALADAPTIVE. 1. example: a. the ability to store fat in the body may have been adaptive when the food supply was scarce, but it is maladaptive when food is abundant. THREE ASPECTS of evolutionary theory: 1) solving adaptive problems a. the body contains specialized mechanisms that have evolved to solve problems that required adaptation i. example: 1. mechanism that produces calluses has evolved to protect the skin from hard work b. evolutionary theory useful for adaptive problems that occur regularly and have the potential to affect whether one survives and reproduces, such as mechanisms for eating, sex, language, communication, and aggression. c. Before know that situational and cultural context important in social behavior, now also think some are adaptive solutions
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