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Psychology 1000

Chapter 1: Psychology: The Science of Behaviour - Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and the factors that influence it - To understand diverse forms of behavior, psychologists take into account biological, individual, and environmental factors - Psychologists are concerned with enormous range of questions: “how do we remember, think, and reason? Or, what makes us fall in love?” - Good scientists ask these questions when told about a new fact: “what are you asking me to believe? Or, how do you know?” Subfields of Psychology - Clinical: study and treatment of mental disorders - Cognitive: study of mental processes, especially from model viewing mind as info processor - Biopsychology: biological underpinnings of behavior - brain processes, genes, hormones influence our actions, thoughts and feelings - Developmental: human physical, psychological, social development through life - emotions of infants, how parenting styles affect children - Experimental: basic processes as learning, sensory systems, perception, motivational states - lab experiments with animals - Industrial-organizational: people’s behavior in workplace - leadership, teamwork, factors influencing worker’s satisfaction, work motivation, performance - Personality: study of human personality - core personality traits, how traits relate to one another/influence behavior - Social: people’s thoughts, feelings, behavior pertaining to social world - influencing other people, behave in groups, form impressions, attitudes Psychology’s Scientific Approach - Science: process involves systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions - Empirical evidence: evidence gained through experience and observation - We often take mental shortcuts when making decisions (stereotypes) - May fail to consider alternative explanations for why a behavior occurs - Bias: take in information confirming our beliefs - Taking scientific approach minimizes bias Research Methods - Psychologists employ a variety of research methods for developing and testing theories about behavior and its causes - Basic Research: quest for knowledge purely for its own sake; describe how people behave and identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of behavior - Applied Research: designed to solve specific practical problems; uses principles discovered through basic research Robbers Cave (Sherif et al., 1961) - Basic research conducted at a summer camp - Boys were divided into two groups (Eagles and Rattlers) - Hostility developed when two groups engaged in competitive activities; there were even signs of discrimination - Hostility reduced when two groups were forced to cooperate with each other to accomplish goals (repairing water supply system, towing a truck, etc) - The study shows that conflict between groups can be reduced by making the groups dependent upon one another Jigsaw Program (Aronson et al., 1978) - Application of Robbers Cave techniques (form of applied research) - Requires children to cooperate with one another rather than compete against each other - Involves many multi-ethnic groups that are required to prepare for an upcoming test - Only one child has access to certain information - In order to do well on the test, children are forced to work together and piece every information - As a result, prejudice decreases, self-esteem increases, etc - This is an example of how knowledge acquired from basic research can be applied to solve practical problems Goals of Psychology 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 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 a 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 - Ultimate goal is to get the facts that are general for all humans Psychological Perspectives - Charles Whitman, seemingly intelligent and happy young man, shot and killed 16 people - Some stated that tumor on his brain caused him to kill those people (biological) - Some argued that his ‘overwhelmingly violent impulses’ led him to kill (psychological) - Some argued that he was already violent because his father was very abusive (environmental) - Therefore, to understand psychology, it is important to view a concept from multiple perspectives - Perspectives are vantage points for analyzing behavior and its biological, psychological, and environmental causes - Understanding things from different perspectives can enrich our thinking - There are six perspectives:  Biological  Cognitive  Psychodynamic  Behavioral  Humanistic  Socio-cultural The Biological Perspective: Brain, Genes, and Behavior - Examines how brain processes and other bodily functions regulate behavior - Behavioural neuroscience (physiological psychology) examines brain processes and other physiological functions that underlie our behavior, sensory experiences, emotions and thoughts - Many greek philosophers including Pythagoras, Plato, and Hippocrates held a position of mind- body dualism (belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to the physical laws that govern the body; brain is the seat of mind and intellect) - Mind-body dualism states that no amount of research on the body could ever hope to unravel the mysteries of the mind - Monism, on the other hand, holds that the mind is not a separate spiritual entity; mental events are a product of physical events - Richard Thompson and Daniel Robinson stated that “… answers to the great questions of psychology will ultimately be found in physiology” - Thus, biological perspective focuses on physical side of human nature; for example, brain, biochemical processes, emotion, action, and genetic factors o In 1700s, Luigi Galvani discovered that the severed leg of a frog would move if an electrical current were applied to it (supports monism) o Karl Lashley created lesions on the brain and examined their effects on learning and memory o James Olds and Peter Milner discovered that some areas of the brain were specialized for providing animals with pleasurable sensations o Electroencephalogram (EEG) allowed researchers to measure the electrical activity of large areas of the brain  The current research has shown that brain’s electrical activity is controlled by chemical substances released by nerve cells - Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory was revolutionary o He proposed that species evolve over time in response to environmental conditions (natural selection) o Natural selection is a process in which any inheritable characteristics that increase the likelihood of survival are maintained in a species o Natural selection does not always favor positive traits (e.g. sickle cell anemia) Evolutionary Psychology - An emerging discipline that focuses on the role of evolution in the development of behavior and mental mechanisms - Scientists in this field believe that an organism’s biology determines its behavioral capabilities - Sociobiology: complex social behaviors are also built into human species as products of evolution; natural selection favors behaviors that increase the ability to pass on one’s genes to the next generation o In males, aggression, competition, and dominance o In females, cooperative nurturing tendencies  Martin Daly and Margo Wilson found out that females make greater investment in the reproductive process - However, many critics believe that sociobiology overemphasizes innate biological factors at the expense of cultural and social learning factors in explaining complex behaviors - Evolutionary theorists (with cultural orientation) suggest that the evolved brain structures that underlie psychological mechanisms (ability to use language) developed to enhance adaptation to the demands of social and group living Behavior Genetics - Study of how behavioral tendencies are influenced by genetic factors - Scientists wholeheartedly believe that behavior is affected by the genetic blueprint with which humans are born - Identical twins who have exactly the same genetic makeup, are more similar than fraternal twins (even when reared in different homes); Bouchard, Plomin, and Caspi et al. - Genetic factors are also implicated in certain brain dysfunctions that produce disturbed behavior (Gottesman, Papolos, and Lachman et al.) The Cognitive Perspective: The Thinking Human - Humans are information processors and problem solvers whose actions are governed by thought and planning - Structuralism: the analysis of mind in terms of its basic elements o Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener devised this approach o The structuralists believe that sensations are the basic elements of consciousness o These sensations are studied through the method of introspection  Introspection is a process in which a participant observes and reports conscious inner thoughts, desires, and sensations o Structuralism left an important mark on the infant science of psychology - Functionalism: psychology should study the functions of consciousness rather than its structure o William James was the leader of functionalism movement o This approach is said to be somewhat influenced by Darwin’s evolutionary theory, which stressed the importance of adaptive behavior in helping organisms to respond successfully to their environment and survive o Broad functionalist approach helped widen the scope of psychology to include biological processes, mental processes, and behavior - Gestalt Psychology: concerned with how elements of experience are organized into wholes o This approach was the opposite of that taken by the structuralists o Argues that our perceptions and other mental processes are organized so that the whole is greater (and quite different from) the sum of its parts o Gestalt psychologists believed that tendency to perceive wholes is built into our nervous system o Wolfgang Kohler was one of the leaders of Gestalt psychology  He defined insight as the sudden perception of a useful relationship or solution to a problem (e.g. eureka moment)  He demonstrated insight in Sultan the chimpanzee by placing a banana out of its reach; Sultan used what was given to obtain the banana (i.e. placing a box to reach higher grounds) Piaget: Cognitive development in children - Jean Piaget spent more than 50 years studying how children think, reason, and solve problems - Like the functionalists, Piaget was concerned with how the mind and its development contribute to our ability to adapt to our environment - He concluded that new and specific stages of cognitive development unfold naturally as children mature, and that these abilities cannot be explained by the accumulation of past experiences o Infant perception; depth perception appears innate o Children do not pass over a visual cliff even though they can feel the glass and see the difference in depth (cannot be explained by the accumulation of past experiences) Cognitive approaches to psychological disorders - Albert Ellis and Aaron Beck led early attempts to understand how mental distortions and irrational thought patterns create emotional problems - They emphasized that distress and maladaptive behavior are caused not by external situations, but by the ways we think about those situations Modern Cognitive Science - Today’s cognitive science has links with computer science, linguistics, biology, and mathematics - Artificial Intelligence: computer models and expert systems of complex human thought, reasoning, and problem solving o Donald Hebb is one of the most significant figures in the artificial intelligence field; he was an expert on memory and reasoning o He hypothesized that brain cells are strengthened with repeated usage (e.g. practicing of musical piece leads to better performance) o He applied this concept to the computer models - Cognitive Neuroscience: electrical recording and brain imaging techniques to eavesdrop on the brain as people engage in mental activities - Social Constructivism: reality is our own mental creation; emphasizes the importance of culture and context in understanding what occurs in society and constructing knowledge based on this understanding Uncertainty - Many researchers in different areas of psychology are interested in uncertainty or ambiguity in human behavior - For example, what is the meaning of the statement, “the mayor ordered the police to stop drinking” o Sentence 1: most of the town police were reported to have been seen drinking while on duty o Sentence 2: the constant partying by youth at the beach was getting out of control - If one had read these two sentences first, the ambiguity may have been avoided - Ambiguity can exist in verbal level, “and in this corner, wearing red trunks, sporting a gray trunk, and sitting on an old trunk…” - It also exists in optical illusions - Ambiguity reveals complexity in human information processing - Shows how an immediately preceding event can affect interpretation Automated Behavior - Prior experiences affect our behavior - Example is reading (so over learned that exposure to written material leads to reading) - This phenomena is called the STROOP effect (increase in response due to auto
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