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Chapter 1

Chapter 1

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Psychology 2035A/B
Doug Hazlewood

CHAPTER 1: ADJUSTING TO MODERN LIFE - The technological advances of the past century, impressive as they are, have not led to perceptible improvement in our collective health and happiness. Many social critics argue that the quality of our lives and sense of personal fulfillment have declined rather than increased- this is the paradox of progress. Many reasons for this paradox exist but the agreement is that the basic challenge of modern life has become the search for meaning, a sense of direction, and a personal philosophy. Major points: o Advances provide us with time saving devices- nonetheless most people complain about not having enough time o Range of life choices have increased exponentially- having too many options means making more frequent errors in decisions that could translate to important choices o Control over the world- but has had a devastating effect on the world around us The Search for Direction - The kaleidoscope of change that we see is said to create feelings of anxiety and uncertainty, which we try to alleviate by searching for a sense of direction. Examples are: o The enormous success of self-realization programs and self-help gurus (Dr. Phil, Tony Robbins) o Cults- 2 million mostly normal young people are involved- join because cults provide simple solutions to complex problems. Alienation, confusion, and weak community ties make people vulnerable o Self-help books- simple recipes that guarantee readers happiness; clearly have not worked. There are some that have been tested with favourable results. The rest of the garbage has 4 problems: 1. Psychobabble; the vague and obscure language used, e.g. “you have to be up front” 2. Place more emphasis on sales then scientific soundness- most don’t have scientifically valid advice but author’s “intuitive analyses”. Even the proven advice is generally a lot less effective than if it were done in a controlled environment supervised by a professional. 3. Don’t provide explicit directions as to how to change your behaviour 4. Promote a remarkably self-centered approach to life The Psychology of Adjustment - Psychology is the science that studies behaviour and the physiological and mental processes that underlie it - Since it is the science of relating biological processes to behaviour, research is often done on animals because the researcher can have more control over the factors influencing the animals’ behaviour - Clinical psychology only emerged during WWII when academic psychologists were pressed into service as clinicians to screen military recruits and treat soldiers suffering from trauma. - “Adjustment refers to the psychological processes through which people manage or cope with the demands or challenges of everyday life” The Scientific Approach to Behaviour - Empiricism is the premise that knowledge should be acquired through observation o Thus we say scientific psychology is empirical meaning studies are formal, systematic, and objective - The scientific approach has 2 major advantages: o Clarity and precision; common sense notions tend to be vague and ambiguous o Had relative intolerance to error; they use objective data and try to rationalize contradictory findings Experimental Research: Looking for Causes - Use of an experiments where the investigator manipulates one (independent) variable under carefully controlled conditions and observes whether any changes occur in a second (dependant) variable as a result - Independent variable: the condition/event that is varied to see the impact on another variable - Dependant variable: the variable that is thought to be affected by changes to the independent variable - E.g. Stanley Schachter was interested to see if misery does love company so he set up an experiment. Brought in people who were told they were going to be shocked; he manipulated their level of anxiety (independent variable) by having a high anxiety group (painful shocks) and a low anxiety group (painless shocks) and asked the participants if they wanted to wait alone or on a group (dependant variable) which tested their need for affiliation under different anxiety conditions - Experimental group: receive special treatment - Control group: don’t receive the same treatment given to the experimental group - It’s important that the groups are in the same conditions EXCEPT for the one treatment given to the control group that is the independent variable that you’re trying to measure - Advantage: allows scientists to isolate the relationships between the in/dependant variables to be able to draw conclusions about cause/effect relationships - Disadvantage: there is often interest in the effects of variables that can’t be manipulated Correlational Research: Looking for Links - Used when there cannot be experimental control over variables thus experimenters make systemic observations to look for correlation between the variables without manipulating them - Correlation coefficient: numerical index of the degree of relationship that exists between two variables- indicates the strength and direction of the relationship between 2 variables - Positive correlation: 2 variables co-vary in the same direction e.g. High School grades and GPA - Negative correlation: variables co-vary in opposite directions. E.g. the higher the absences the lower the grade - Kinds of correlational research: o Naturalistic Observation: observing without intervening directly with the subjects e.g. Proved that “the first hunch is the best hunch” is NOT true- changing answers has a +ive correlation with higher marks o Case Studies: in depth investigation of an individual participant e.g. Compiled patients files to prove that the more attractive the patient the easier their readjustment into the community o Surveys: commonly used to gather data on people’s attitudes that are hard to observe - Advantage: correlational research broadens the scope of phenomena that psychologists can study because they are not only limited to experiments that they can design and control - Disadvantage: since events cannot be controlled, this research cannot demonstrate causational relationships The Roots of Happine
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