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Psychology 1000

Psychology Chapter 1: Psychology: the Science of Behavior THE NATURE OF PSYCHOLOGY Psychology: the scientific study of behavior and the mind Behavior refers to actions and responses that we can directly observe Mind refers to internal states and processes that cannot be seen directly and that must be inferred from observable, measureable responses Subfields of Psychology i. Clinical psychology: the study and treatment of mental disorders ii. Cognitive psychology: the study of mental processes, especially from a model that views the mind as an information processor. Examine consciousness, attention, memory, decision making and problem solving iii. Biopsychology: focuses on the biological underpinnings of behavior. Examine how the brain processes, genes and hormones influence our actions, thoughts and feelings. iv. Developmental psychology: examines human physical, psychological, and social development across the lifespan. Some explore the emotional world of infants while others study how different parenting styles affect children v. Experimental psychology: focuses on such basic processes as learning, sensory systems, perception, and motivational states. Most of this subfield involves laboratory experiments, often with nonhuman animals vi. Industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology: examines people’s behavior in the workplace. They study leadership, work motivation, and performance vii. Personality psychology: focuses on the study of human personality viii. Social psychology: examines people’s thoughts, feelings, and behavior pertaining to the social world: the world of other people Science is a process that involves systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions and test beliefs about the natural world Empirical evidence is evidence gained through experience and observation, and this involves manipulating and playing around with things and then observing what happens Understanding Behavior: Some Pitfalls of Everyday Approaches  We often take mental shortcuts (example: judging a person based on stereotypes)  We may fail to consider alternative explanations for why a behavior has occurred and assume one factor caused it, when really it was another  We tend to display a confirmation bias by only paying attention to information that is consistent with our beliefs and ignoring information that is inconsistent with them Psychology  By adopting a scientific approach, psychologists can take concrete steps to avoid, or at least minimize, biases and problems that can lead to inaccurate conclusions  To avoid seeing correlations that don’t exists, psychologists use statistics to analyze their data  They also examine behavior under highly controlled experimental conditions where they intentionally manipulate one factor, try to keep other factors constant, and see how the manipulated factor influences behavior  They also publish their findings so they may be scrutinized and retested by others  In principle, science ultimately is a self-correcting process Critical Thinking  Involves taking an active role in understanding the world around you rather than merely receiving information  Ask these questions when trying to see if something is “fact”: o What, exactly, is the claim or assertion o Who is making the claim? Is the source credible or trustworthy? o What’s the evidence and how good is it? o Are other explanations possible? Can I evaluate them? o What is the most appropriate conclusion?  Pseudoscience is a field that is dressed up to look like science and it attracts many believers despite its lack of credible scientific evidence Psychology’s Goals 1. to describe how people and other animals behave 2. to explain and understand the causes of these behaviors 3. to predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions 4. to influence or control behavior through knowledge and control of its causes to enhance human welfare If we understand the causes of behavior and know when the causal factors are present or absent, then we should be able to successfully predict when the behavior will occur. Moreover, if we can control the causes, then we should be able to control the behavior Psychology as a Basic and Applied Science Basic research  The quest for knowledge purely for its own sake  Goals: to describe how people behave and to identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of behavior Applied research Psychology  Designed to solve specific practical problems  Uses principles discovered through basic research to solve practical problems Psychology’s Broad Scope: A Simple Framework Levels of analysis  Behavior and its causes can be examined at the biological level, the psychological level, and the environmental level  Addresses an issue that has been debated since antiquity: o Is our behavior shaped by nature (our biological endowment) or nurture (our environment and learning history)? o Both nature AND nurture AND psychological factors must be taken into account to gain the fullest understanding of behavior Mind-body interactions—the relations between mental processes in the brain and the functioning of other bodily systems; focuses our attention on the fascinating interplay between psychological and biological analysis PERSPECTIVES ON BEHAVIOUR Mind-body dualism: the belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to physical laws that govern the body René Descartes (1596-1650)  French philosopher and scientist  Proposed that the mind and body interact through the brain’s tiny pineal gland  Placed the mind within the brain but maintained that the mind was a spiritual, nonmaterial entity Dualism implies that no amount of research on the physical body (including the brain) could ever hope to unravel the mysteries of the nonphysical mind Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679)  English philosopher  Monist  Advocated that mental events correspond to physical events in the brain Monism holds that mind and body are one and that the mind is not a separate spiritual entity Monism helped set the stage for psychology because it implied that the mind could be studied by measuring physical processes in the brain John Locke (1632-1704)  Empiricist Psychology British empiricism held that all ideas and knowledge are gained empirically- through the senses  According to empiricists, observation is a more valid approach to knowledge than pure reason, because reason is fraught the potential for error  Developed modern science  Said: at birth the human mind is a tabula rasa—a “blank tablet” or “slate”—upon which experiences are written Psychophysics: the study of how psychologically experienced sensations depend on the characteristics of physical stimuli Charles Darwin (1809-1882)  Theory of evolution  Was attacked because his theories went against philosophical and religious beliefs  Evolution implied that the mind was not a spiritual entity, but rather the predict of biological continuity between humans and other species  Implied that scientists might gain insight about human behavior by studying other species Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920)  Established the 1 experimental psychology laboratory in Germany st  There he helped train the 1 generation of scientific psychologists  Believed that the mind could be studied by breaking it down into its basic components, their approach became structuralism Structuralism is there analysis of the mind in terms of its basic elements  Used the method of introspection (looking within) to study sensations, which they considered the basic elements of consciousness  Gave way to functionalism Functionalism, held that psychology should study the functions of consciousness rather than its structure William James (1842-1910)  A leader in the functionalist movement  Helped widen the scope of psychology to include the study of various biological and mental processes, and overt behavior Mary Whiton Calkins (1863-1930)  First female president of
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