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Chapter 1

Psychology 1000 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Pseudoscience, Sociobiology, Cognitive Neuroscience

Course Code
PSYCH 1000

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Sept 10, 2012
Psych 1000-Chapter 1 Note
Jumbled words/paragraph/scrambled letters
o Assumption: If the first and last letters of a word remain intact, the
rest can be a total mess and you can still read it without a problem.
The Nature of Psychology
o Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and the mind.
o Behavior refers to actions and responds to what we directly observe
o Mind refers to internal states and processes.
o Clinical Psychology: the study and treatment of mental disorders
o Cognitive psychology: specializes in the study of mental processes,
especially from a model that views the mind as an information
processor: topics such as consciousness, attention, memory, decision
making, and problem solving
o Biopsychology: focuses on the biological underpinnings of behavior:
how brain processes, genes and hormones influence our actions,
thoughts, and feelings
o Developmental psychology: examines human physical,
psychological, and social development across the lifespan: how our
mental abilities change during adolescence and adulthood or how
different parenting styles psychologically affect children.
o Experimental psychology: focuses on such basic processes as
learning, sensory systems (vision, hearing), perception, and
motivational states
o Industrial-organizational psychology: examines people’s behavior in
the workplace
o Personality psychology: focuses on the study of human personality.
Identify core personality traits and how different traits relate to one
another and influence behavior
o Social psychology: examines people’s thoughts, feelings, and
behavior pertaining to the social world: the world of other people.
o Modern psychology stretches from the borders of medicine and the
biological sciences to those of the social sciences
Psychology’s scientific approach
o Science is a process that involves systematically gathering and
evaluation empirical evidence to answer questions and test beliefs
about the natural world
o Empirical evidence is evidence gained through experience and
o Understanding behavior: in everyday life there are many ways in
which these sources can end up promoting misconceptions-media
influence. Everyday observation usually is casual rather than
systematic. Our own experiences also may be atypical and not

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Sept 10, 2012
representative of what most people experience. We often take mental
shortcuts when forming judgments, shortcuts that sometimes serve us
o Using science to minimize everyday pitfalls: by adopting a scientific
approach, psychologists can take concrete steps to avoid and
minimize biases and problems that can lead to inaccurate conclusions.
Not relying on imprecise casual observations: using video recorders,
questionnaires, brain-imaging devices to objectively and precisely
record people’s responses.
Thinking Critically About Behavior
o Critical thinking involves taking an active role in understanding the
world around you rather than merely receiving information. It also
means evaluating the validity of something presented to you as fact.
o Ask:
What, exactly, is the claim or assertion?
Who is making the claim? Is the source credible and
What’s the evidence and how good is it?
Are other explanations possible? Can I evaluate them?
What is the most appropriate conclusion?
The jumbled word challenge:
o Claim:
People can read jumbled words without a problem as long as
the first and last letters stay in place
People have no problems because we read words as a whole
rather than as individual letters
This finding is based on research at Cambridge University
o No evidence. it only begins with an unsubstantiated claim that
research was conducted at Cambridge, no reference information
o Dramatic evidence of own experience: reading the jumbled paragraph
o The claim that it’s relatively easy to read words as long as the first and
last letters are intact appears to be too broad and absolute. It’s clearly
Of Astrology and Asstrology: Potential Costs of Uncritical Thinking
o People uncritically accept many misconceptions that do have concrete
harmful consequences.
o Pseudoscience: a field that incorporates astrology, graphology,
rumpology, and so on- is dressed up to look like science and it attracts
many believers despite its lack of credible scientific evidence.

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Sept 10, 2012
Psychology’s Goals
To describe how people and other animals behave
To explain and understand the causes of these behaviors
To predict how people and animals will behave under certain
To influence or control behavior through knowledge and
control of its causes to enhance human welfare.
o if we understand the causes of a behavior and know when the casual
factors are present or absent, then we should be able to successfully
predict when the behavior will occur.
o If we can control the causes, then we should be able to control the
Psychology as a Basic and Applied Science
o Basic research, the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake
o Applied research, designed to solve specific practical problems.
o Goals of basic research are to describe how people behave and to
identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of
o Applied research often uses principles discovered through basic
research to solve practical problems
Psychology’s broad scope: a simple framework
o Levels of analysis: behavior and its causes can be examined at the
biological level
Mind-body and nature-nurture interactions
o Mind-body interactions: the relations between mental processes in
the brain and the functioning of other bodily systems. It focuses our
attention on the fascinating interplay between the psychological and
biological levels of analysis.
o Is our behavior primarily shaped by nature (biological) or nurture
(environment and learning history)? They interact
o As the levels of analysis framework implies, nature, nurture, and
psychological factors must all be taken into account to gain the fullest
understanding of behavior.
Perspectives on Behavior
o Psychology’s intellectual roots
Mind-body dualism, the belief that the mind is a spiritual entity
not subject to physical laws that govern the body.
Monism: holds that mind and body are one and that the mind is
not a separate spiritual entity. Mind could be studied by
measuring physical processes within the brain
o Early school’s: structuralism and functionalism
Structuralism: the analysis of the mind in terms of its basic
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