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Chapter 1

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Western University
Psychology 1000

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 observation. 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 Sept 10, 2012 representative of what most people experience. We often take mental shortcuts when forming judgments, shortcuts that sometimes serve us poorly. 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 trustworthy?  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 easily. 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 wrong.  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. 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 conditions.  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 behavior.  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 behavior 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 elements. Sept 10, 2012  Functionalism: psychology should study the functions of consciousness rather than its structure.  Difference between structuralism and functionalism: eg; how muscles, tendons and bones operate. In contrast, a functionalist would ask, “why do we have hands?” “How do they help us adapt to our environment?”  The psychodynamic perspective: the forces within o The psychodynamic perspective searches for the causes of behavior within the inner workings of our personality o Psychoanalysis: the analysis of the internal and primarily unconscious psychological forces.  The Humanistic perspective: self-actualization and positive psychology o Humanistic perspective emphasized free will, personal growth, and the attempt to find meaning in one’s existence. o Each of us has an inborn force toward self-actualization, the reaching of one’s individual potential o When humans develop in a supportive environment, the positive inner nature of a person emerges. In contrast, misery and pathology occur when environments frustrate our innate tendency toward self- actualization.  The cognitive perspective: the thinking human o Cognitive perspective examines the nature of the mind and how mental processes influence behavior. o Gestalt Psychology: examines how the mind organizes elements of experience into a unified or whole perception.  Renewed Interest in the Mind o How children acquire language. The behaviorists claimed that language is acquired through basic principles of learning. The linguists, argued that humans are biologically preprogrammed to acquire language and that children come to understand language as a set of mental rules.  The Modern Cognitive Perspective o Cognitive psychology, focuses on the study of mental processes, embodies the cognitive perspective. o Cognitive neuroscience: uses sophisticated electrical recording and brain-imaging techniques to examine brain activity while people engage in cognitive tasks. It determines how the brain goes about its business of learning language, acquiring knowledge, forming memories, and performing other cognitive activities.  The Sociocultural Perspective: The Embedded Human o It examines how the social environment and cultural learning influence our behavior, thoughts, and feelings. Sept 10, 2012 o The Social Psychological Component: pays special attention to how the environment influences our behavior, but its emphasis is narrowed to the social environment: how people form impressions of one another, how attitudes form and can be changed,
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