Psych Bible

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21 Nov 2012
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Chapter 1 Psychology: The Science of Behaviour
Psychology = The scientific study of behaviour and the factors that influence it.
Taking into account Biological, Individual and Environmental factors.
Basic and Applied Science
Two types of research:
o Basic research: Knowledge gained purely for its own sake. The goals are to describe how
people behave and to identify factors that influence it. Research maybe carried out in lab
or real world
E.g. Robert Cave Jigsaw case study - showed how competition leads to
hostility but could be reduced by making them dependent on each other.
o Applied research: Knowledge gained to solve specific practical problems. Uses principles
discovered via basic research to solve practical problems.
Goals of Psychology
Four basic goals:
o Describe how people and animals behave
o Explain and understand the causes of the behaviour
o Predict how people and animals behave under certain conditions
o Influence or control the behaviour through knowledge and control of causes
Importance of Perspectives
Diverse viewpoints allows for enriched understanding of behaviour and its causes
Six different perspectives: biological, cognitive, psychodynamic, behavioural, humanistic, and
o Biological - physical side of human nature, brain and genes
o Cognitive - thought process
o Psychodynamic - unconscious forces motivating behaviour
o Behavioral - role of external environment on out action
o Humanistic - self actualization and free will
o Sociocultural - culture and behaviour relate
The Biological Perspective
Focuses on the physical side of human nature
o Emphasizes role of brain, including biochemical processes
Mind-body dualism: The belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to the physical laws
that govern the body
o No amount of research on the body could ever explain the mind
o Ancient widely-held view, especially by Greeks
Monism: The belief that the mind and body are one, and mental events are a product of physical
o Modern view by most scientists
Discovery of Brain-Behaviour Relations
Late 1700s, Luigi Galvani discovered severed leg of frog moved with electrical current
applied to it
o Defied prior belief that bodily movements were caused by soul
By 1870, researchers applied electrical stimulation directly to brains of animals
o Stimulation of specific areas on brain resulted in movements of particular
Karl Lashley damaged specific regions of brain and studied effects on learning and
memory abilities in animals trained to run through mazes
In 1929, invention of electroencephalogram (EEG) allowed researchers to measure
electrical activity of large areas of brain
Evolution and Behaviour
Darwin’s theory of natural selection demonstrated that inheritable characteristics that
increase likelihood of survival will be maintained. Proposed that humans and apes arose
from the same ancestor.
Evolutionary psychology focuses on role of evolution in development of human
o Psychologists stress organism’s biology determine its behavioural capabilities
and behaviour
Sociobiology holds that complex social behaviours are built into human species as
products of evolution
o Natural selection favors behaviours that increase ability to pass on genes
(aggression, competition, dominance in males, cooperation and nurturing in
females, etc.)
o Sociobiologists believe that one’s genetic survival is more important than one’s
own physical survival (altruism)
o Criticized for overemphasizing innate biological factors at expense of cultural
and social learning factors in explaining complex human social behaviour
Behaviour Genetics
Study of how behavioural tendencies are influenced by genetic factors
Animals can be bred not only for physical, but also behavioural traits (aggression,
intelligence, etc.)
Identical twins, with identical genetic makeup, are very similar in behaviour compared to
fraternal twins
o Found even when identical twins reared in different homes
The Cognitive Perspective
Views humans as information processors and problem solvers whose actions are governed by
thought and planning. What sets humans apart is that we have mental capabilities.
o Studies how mental processes influence our motives, emotions, and behaviour
Several schools and individuals contributed to modern cognitive perspective:
o Structuralism
Analysis of mind in terms of its basic elements
Studied sensations through introspection (“looking within”) Patients were
exposed to stimuli and asked to explain their experiences.
Wilhelm Wundt wanted to model study of the mind after physical and biological
sciences. Believed mind could be studied via breaking it down to its basic parts,
this was called structuralism. Believed sensations were basic elements of
Founded first laboratory of experimental psychology in 1879
o Functionalism
Psychology should study the functions of consciousness rather than its structure-
the Whats
Influenced partly by Darwin’s evolutionary theory (adaption to succeed)
William James broad functionalist approach helped widen the scope of
psychology to include biological/mental processes and behaviour
o Gestalt Psychology
Concerned with how elements of experience are organized into wholes
Opposite of structuralism
Wolfgang Kohler concluded that ability to perceive relationships is the essence
of intelligence
Defined “insight” as sudden perception of a useful relationship or
solution to a problem
Demonstrated insight by observing chimpanzee use various items in a
cage to reach a banana at the top
o Jean Piaget
Studied how children think, reason, and solve problems
Concerned with how the mind and its development contribute to our ability to
adapt to our environment
o Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck
Attempted to understand how mental distortions and irrational thought patterns
create emotional problems
Emphasized that distress and maladaptive behaviour are caused by the ways
situations are thought about, not by external situations
Modern Cognitive Science
Artificial intelligence develops computer models of complex human thought, reasoning,
and problem solving
Interested in how people produce and recognize speech and how creative solutions to
problems are produced
Social constructivism: What we consider reality is in large part our own mental creation
o Little shared reality exists apart from what groups of people socially construct
through subjective meaning they give to their experiences
o Believe male and female sex roles created not by nature, but by shared world
view that exists within social groups
The Psychodynamic Perspective
Searches for causes of behaviour within workings of personality, emphasizing role of unconscious
processes and unresolved conflicts from past
Sigmund Freud emphasized role of complex psychological forces in controlling human behaviour
o Focused on hysteria, condition where physical symptoms develop without organic cause
o Found improvement in patients after they reported and relived painful childhood sexual
o Led Freud to believe that most of human behaviour is influenced by unconscious forces
o Believed repression was a defense mechanism to keep anxiety-arousing impulses,
feelings, and memories in unconscious depth of mind
o All behaviour is a reflection of unconscious internal struggle between conflicting
psychological forces of impulse and defenses
Freud opposed laboratory research, and depended on clinical observations and personal self-
The Behavioural Perspective
Focuses on the role of the external environment in shaping and governing our actions
o Behaviour influenced by learned habits and by stimuli in the environment
History rooted in school of philosophy known as British Empiricism
o All ideas and knowledge are gained empirically
o John Locke: The human mind is initially a white paper, to be furnished by experience
o Observation overrules reasoning, since “seeing is believing” while reasoning has
potential for error
o Pavlov found involuntary learning in dogs from external stimulus
John Watson lead movement of behaviourism in 1920s
o Proper subject matter of psychology is observable behaviour, not unobservable inner
o Devoted efforts to discovering laws that govern learning and performance
B. F. Skinner believed mental events, images, and feelings from within are behaviours and not
Behaviour modification techniques alter problem behaviours and increase positive behaviours
through alterations in environmental factors
Cognitive behaviourism is an attempt to bridge gap between behavioural and cognitive