Psychology Lecture 1 + Readings.docx

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School of Environment
Stephen Scharper

Psychology Lecture 1 Jan.7/14 Psychological science is the study of the brain, mind and behaviour Mind: mental activity • Perceptual experience interacting with the world • Biological processes – nerve cells, neurons • “mind is what the brain does” – brain enables the mind Behaviour: wide variety of actions Unifying Themes 1. Psychology evolves a socio-historical context! • Related to life and society at large • WWII – advertisements • “zeitgeist” – spirit of the age/time o Intellectual thinking of the day 2. Psychology is an empirical science • The scientific method o Use of objective, systematic procedures ▯ accurate understanding • Scepticism o “good science, bad science” – savvy consumers of research • Critical thinking 3. Multiple factors influence behavior • Behaviour processes are complex • Biological or through culture, society, experiences? Nature/nurture debate o Ex. Schizophrenia, bipolar disorder Believe from nature but also nurture – people’s experiences changes brain structure Ex. Post-traumatic stress Nurture activates nature – although from past experiences, some people also inherit genetic tendency to developing 4. People’s experience of the world is highly subjective • No one sees the world in objective state • Experiences shaped by beliefs, biases, history, culture etc. 5. The mind is adaptive • Evolutionary sense o Evolutionary theory – our brain has adapted from millions of years to solve problems in survival and reproduction o Adapted biologically and culturally o Adaptations: physical traits, skills to increase chances of survival and reproduction • Personal experience o Culture – important role in how people see and reason the world People from different cultures view life differently Ex. Westerners – logical thinking, personal strengths Vs. Easterners – holistic thinking, personal weaknesses 6. People are often unaware the influences acting upon them • Unaware of how events, memories, environment, other people, etc. can influence thoughts, feelings and behaviours • “automaticity of everyday life” – without effort or intent HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY Psyche + logos = psychology • Study of the soul/mind o Greeks believed the mind is separate from the body • Philosophical and physiological influences Structuralism Wilhem Wundt • Psych as the scientific study of conscious experience • Took him a while to convince himself/others that it could be studied • He formally founded experimental psych o Founded first psych lab and institute realized he couldn’t attend to the sound of the bell and the location of the pendulum at the same time • You could study reaction time or people’s conscious experience • Also introspection: inspect and report on content of thoughts Ex. Which one is more pleasant Found experimental discipline • Explaining Edward Titchener • Student of Wunt • Believed in study of consciousness – sum total of mental experience at any given moment • Unlike Wunt – interested in describing conscious experience than explaining “description of experiments” • Idea that conscious experiments can be broken down into different components Charles Darwin – theory of natural selection • Role in development of functionalism and behaviourism • Human mechanisms are adaptive – affect survival, reproduction • Behaviours and attitudes can adapt to human problems Ex. Humans have need to belong to a group thus discourage behaviours leadings to social exclusion Ex. Lie, cheat, steal drains resources – some believe humans have “cheater detectors” Ex. “visual cliff” – babies won’t walk onto plastic cliff because fear of heights is an adaptive mechanisms increasing survival • Need to understand what adv
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