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Chapter 1

Psychology Chapter 1.docx

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Dan Dolderman

Introduction to Psychological Science - Psychologists are interested in how people perceive, think, and act in a wide range of situations - Brain imaging assesses changes in metabolic activity in brain - Eg: blood flow as people process information; changes in blood flow = changes in brain activity that indicate which parts of brain are involved in certain behaviours or mental activity - Implicit attitudes test (IAT): assesses how people associate positive and negative words with certain groups of people - Negative attitude = more likely to show activation of amygdala - Increasing familiarity reduces fear response; reducing likelihood of prejudice and discrimination - Psychology has formally existed as a discipline of study for just over 100 years - Personality: produced by how the environment shapes a person in a unique way - Goal of psychology today: understand people by considering individual factors and contextual factors - Individual: how brain processes information about others - Contextual: how societal beliefs influence how we behave toward others - Ultimate goal of psychologists: explain most important human behaviours in real life contexts - Fundamental aspects of studying behaviour: - Biological - Individual - Social - Major challenge: understanding how people are shaped by cultures in which they live - Psychological science: study of mind, brain, and behaviour - Mind: mental activity; thoughts and feelings - Brain: mental processes within brain result in mental activity - Behaviour: describes wide variety of actions Themes of psychological science: - Principles of psychological science are cumulative - Research on mind, brain, and behaviour has accumulated to produce principles of psychological science New biological revolution is energizing research - Brain chemistry (first major development): - Brain works through action of neurotransmitters which communicate messages between nerve cells - Human genome: - Scientists have mapped out the human genome and have developed techniques that allow them to discover the link between genes and behaviour - Almost all psychological and biological activity is affected by actions of multiple genes - Watching the working brain: - Use of neuroscience - Now know there is some localization of function Mind is adaptive: - Mind has been shaped by evolution - Evolutionary theory: brain has evolved over millions of years to solve problems related to survival and reproduction - Natural selection: Darwin’s theory that those who inherit characteristics that help them adapt to their particular environment have a selective advantage over those who do not - Adaptations: physical characteristics, skills, abilities that increase changes of reproduction or survival - Solving adaptive problems: - Evolutionary theory useful for thinking about adaptive problems that occur regularly and have potential to affect whether one survives and reproduces; evolution is particularly relevant to social behaviour - Humans have fundamental need to belong to their group - Behaviour leading to social exclusion discouraged in all societies - Liars, cheaters, and thieves drain group resources, possibly decrease survival and reproduction for other members in their group - Modern minds in stone age skulls: - Many of the adaptive problems faced by early humans no longer exist - Humans began evolving ~5 million years ago but Homo sapiens can only be traced back to Pleistocene era (100,000 years ago) - Preference for fatty-sweet foods is adaptive highly caloric foods provided substantial survival value in prehistoric times - Culture provides adaptive solutions: - Culture: beliefs, values, rules, and customs that exist in a group of people who share common language and environment transmitted through learning from one generation to the next - Musical and food preferences, methods of expressing emotion, tolerance of body odours heavily influenced by culture - Cultural evolution occurred over shorter period than biological evolution; most drastic changes from last few thousand years - Rise of global culture due to newest form of globalization - Globalization: flow of people, commodities, financial instruments - Westerners tend to focus on single elements in forefront; Easterners tend to overlook single elements focusing on entire picture in background - Westerners are more analytic, breaking complex ideas into simpler components, categorizing information, using logic and rules to explain behaviour - Easterners are more holistic, seeing everything in front of them as an inherently complicated whole with all elements affecting other elements - Ancient Chinese focused on harmonious relationships with family and other villagers - Ancient Greeks focussed on personal freedom, logic, debate - Westerners more likely to emphasize personal strengths whereas Easterners are more likely to emphasize need for self-improvement - Culture shapes many aspects of daily life - Increased participation of women in work force has changed nature of contemporary Western culture - View of women, changes in marriage, fast food, day care, etc. - Culture shapes beliefs and values such as extent to which people should emphasize their own interests vs. the interests of family/group - Cultural rules are learned as NORMS—specify how people should behave in different contexts - Material aspects of culture: media (mass), technology, health care, transportation - Human mind adaptive in both biological and cultural terms providing solutions to survival and reproductive challenges Psychological science crosses levels of analysis - Mind and behaviour can be studied on many levels of analysis - Social: how cultural and social contexts affect ways people interact and influence each other - Cultural—norms, beliefs, values, symbols, ethnicity - Interpersonal—groups, relationships, persuasion, influence, workplace - Individual: individual differences in personality and mental processes that concern how we perceive and know our worlds - Individual differences—gender, personality, developmental age groups, self-concept - Perception and cognition—thinking, decision making, language, memory, seeing, hearing - Behaviour—observable actions, physical movements, responses - Biological: how physical body contributes to mind and behaviour - Brain systems—neuroanatomy, animal research, brain imaging - Neurochemical—neurotransmitters, hormones, animal and drug studies - Genetic—gene mechanisms, heritability, adoption and twin studies - Mood of music can be affected by tempo and major/minor mode (cognitive analysis) - In Western music; major = positive mood, minor = sad moods - Processing musical information similar to general auditory processing but likely uses different brain mechanisms (Brain systems level of analysis) - Amusia: loss of ability to recognize familiar tunes - Cases of musical savants; extremely gifted at music but show gross intellectual impairments - Pleasant music associated with increased activation of serotonin, a chemical related to mood (neurochemical level of
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