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Chapter 1

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School
Western University
Department
Psychology
Course
Psychology 1000
Professor
Dr.Mike
Semester
Fall

Description
Psychology 1000 Chapter 1 Notes September 6, 2012 Psychology: The Science of Behaviour The Nature of Psychology  Psychology: the scientific study of behaviour and the mind  Behaviour: actions & responses that we can directly observe  Mind: internal states and processes, such as thoughts and feelings, that cannot be seen directly and that must be inferred from observable, measurable responses  Clinical Psychology: study and treatment of mental disorders  Cognitive Psychology: specializes in the study of mental processes, especially from a model that views the mind as an information processor  Psycholinguistics: focuses on the psychology of language  Biopsychology: focuses on the biological underpinnings of behaviour. I.e. brain processes, genes, hormones  Developmental Psychology: examines human physical, psychological, and social development across the lifespan  Experimental Psychology: focuses on basic processes like learning, sensory systems like vision and hearing, perception, and motivational state  Industrial-Organizational Psychology: examines people’s behaviour in the workplace; study leadership teamwork and factors that influence employees’ job satisfaction, work motivation and performance  Personality psychology: focuses on the study of human personality  Social Psychology: examines people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviour pertaining to the social world; study how people influence one another, behave in groups and form impressions and attitudes, as well as relationships involving attraction & love, prejudice & discrimination, helping, and aggression  Note: topics studied in different subfields often overlap  Science: process that involves systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions and test beliefs about the natural world  Empirical Evidence: evidence gained through experience and observation, including evidence from manipulating things and then observing what happens o i.e. exposing people to intellectual tasks and observing how they perform  Observations need to be systematic, or performed according to a system of rules or conditions, so that they will be as objective and precise as possible  Causes of misconception: o People often take mental shortcuts: e.g. judging people’s personalities based on stereotypes about their physical appearance o People may fail to consider alternative explanations for why a behaviour has occurred and assume that one factor has caused it, even though many factors may operate simultaneously to influence behaviour Psychology 1000 Chapter 1 Notes September 6, 2012 o People may fail to test beliefs further once they have been established; people tend to display a confirmation bias by selectively paying attention to info that is consistent with the beliefs and downplaying/ignoring information that is inconsistent with them  To minimize drawing errors in their conclusions about what has caused what, psychologists usually use highly controlled experimental conditions in which they intentionally manipulate one factor, try to keep other factors constant, and see how the manipulated factor influences behaviour  Psychology has 4 central goals: o To describe how people and other animals behave o To explain & understand the causes of these behaviours o To predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions o To influence or control behaviour through knowledge and control of its causes to enhance human welfare  “If we understand the causes of a behaviour and know when the causal factors are present or absent, then we should be able to successfully predict when the behaviour will occur  If we can control the causes, then we should be able to control the behaviour  Successful prediction and control = best ways to know whether we truly understand the causes of behaviour  Basic research: the quest for knowledge purely for its own sake o Goals: describe how people behave and to identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of behaviour  Applied research: designed to solve specific practical problems o Uses principals discovered through basic research to solve practical problems  Levels of Analysis o Biological level o Psychological level o Environmental level  Body-Mind Interactions: The relations between mental processes in the brain and the functioning of other bodily systems o Focus our attention on the interplay between the psychological and biological levels of analysis  Nature vs. nurture: biological endowment vs. our environment learning history  Not so much one or the other: nature, nurture and psychological factors must all be taken into account to gain the fullest understanding of behaviour Perspectives on Behaviour  Many early philosophers believed in mind-body dualism: the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to physical laws that govern the body o However: if the mind is not composed of physical matter, how could it become aware of bodily sensations and how could its thoughts exert control over bodily functions?  Rene Descartes proposed that the mind and body interact through the brain’s tiny pineal gland, and thus he maintained that the mind was a spiritual, nonmaterial entity Psychology 1000 Chapter 1 Notes September 6, 2012  Dualism: implies that no amount of research on the physical body could ever hope to unravel the mysteries of the nonphysical mind  Monism: the mind and body are one and 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 within the brain  John Locke & philosophers from the school of British empiricism: all ideas and knowledge are gained empirically – through the senses  Empiricists believed that observation is a more valid approach to knowledge than is pure reason, because reason has the potential for error  Psychophysics: the study of how psychologically experienced sensations depend on the characteristics of physical stimuli  Charles Darwin came up with the theory of evolution, which implied that the mind was not a spiritual entity, but rather the product of biological continuity between humans and other species  Wundt and Titchener believed that the mind could be studied by breaking it down into its basic components, and their approach became known as structuralism: the analysis of the mind in terms of its basic elements  Structuralists used introspection or “looking within” to study sensations, which they considered the basic elements of consciousness o Exposed participants to different types of sensory stimuli and trained them to describe their experiences, however the method of studying was criticized as being too subjective and died out, though structuralists still left an important mark by establishing a scientific tradition for studying cognitive processes  Structuralism gave way to functionalism: psychology should study the functions of consciousness rather than its structure  Structuralism vs. functionalism: a structuralist would try to explain a hand’s movement by studying muscles, tendons and bones, while a functionalist would ask why hands exist and how they help us adapt to our environment  Functionalism no longer exists as a school of thought within psychology, but its tradition still endures in two modern day fields: cognitive psychology (studies mental processes), and evolutionary psychology (emphasizes the adaptiveness of behaviour The Psychodynamic Perspective: The Forces Within  Psychodynamic perspective: searches for the causes of behaviour within the inner workings of our personality (our unique pattern of traits, emotions and motives), emphasizing the role of unconscious processes  Freud treated his patients using a technique called free association: the patient expressed any thoughts that came to mind o Patients eventually described painful and forgotten childhood experiences, and after doing so, their symptoms often improved  Psychoanalysis: the analysis of internal and primarily unco nscious psychological forces Psychology 1000 Chapter 1 Notes September 6, 2012  Freud proposed that humans have powerful inborn sexual and aggressive drives and that because these desires are punished in childhood, we learn to fear them and become anxious when we are aware of their presence o The anxiety leads us to develop defense mechanisms, which are psychological techniques that help us cope with anxiety and the pain of traumatic experiences o All behaviour reflects a largely unconscious and inevitable conflict between the defenses and internal impulses o The ongoing psychological struggle between conflicting forces is dynamic, hence the term psychodynamic  The psychodynamic perspective dominated thinking about personality, mental disorders & th psychotherapy for the first half of the 20 century  Though most contemporary psychological scientists reject Freud’s theory, modern psychological research has identified brain mechanisms that produce unconscious emotional reactions and has shown that many aspects of information processing occur outside of awareness The Behavioural Perspective: The Power of the Environment  The Behavioural Perspective focuses on the role of the external environment in governing our actions o Behaviour is jointly determined by habits learned from previous life experiences and by stimuli in our immediate environment  John Locke: people are born with a “blank slate” and experiences are written upon the slate; human nature is shaped purely by the environment  Edward Thorndike: examined how organisms learn through the consequences of their actions o Law of Effects responses followed by satisfying consequences became more likely to recur, and those followed by unsatisfying consequences become less likely to recur  Behaviourism: a school of thought that emphasizes environmental control of behaviour through learning  Movement founded by John B Watson, who strongly opposed the beliefs of structuralists, functionalists and psychoanalysts; argue that proper subject matter of psychology was observable behaviour, not unobservable inner consciousness o Humans are products of their learning experiences; said that if he was given 12 healthy infants, he could mould them to become whatever he wanted them to be  Behaviourists believed that the same basic principles of learning applied to all organisms  Skinner: “No account of what is happening inside the human body, no matter how complete, will explain the origins of human behaviour” “A person does not act upon the world, the world acts up on him” o Studied rats & pigeons under controlled lab conditions and examined how behaviour is influenced by rewarding & punishing consequences o Believed that through social engineering, society could harness the power of the environment to change behaviour in beneficial ways: “radical behaviourism”  Behaviour Modification: techniques that aimed at decreasing problem behaviours and increasing positive behaviours by manipulating environmental factors Psychology 1000 Chapter 1 Notes September 6, 2012  Behaviourism dominated North American research on learning into the 1960s  Albert Bandura: promotes the view that the environment exerts its effects on behaviour not by automatically stamping in or stamping out behaviours, but rather by affecting our thoughts o Cognitive Behaviourism: learning experiences & the environment affect our behaviour by giving us the information we need to behave effectively The Humanistic Perspective: Self-Actualization & Positive Psychology th  New viewpoint called humanism arose during the mid-20 century  Humanistic Perspective emphasized free will, personal growth, and the attempt to find meaning in one’s existence  Humanists rejected psychodynamic concepts of humans as being controlled by unconscious forces and rejected behaviourism’s view of humans as mere reactors to the environment  Abraham Maslow: proposed that each of us has an inborn force toward self-actualization, or the reaching of one’s individual potential  When humans develop in a supportive environment, the positive inner nature of a person emerges; but in contrast, misery & path
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