Chapter 1 Notes:
Psychology: The science of Behaviour
• What are the issues here?
• What do we need to know?
• Where can you find the information necesarry to answer the questions?
The Nature of Psychology
Psychology is the scientific study of behaviour and the factors that influence it.
Behaviour is very broadly defined to refer to actions which are visible and inner processes such
as thoughts, feelings, images and psychological reactions
(How do we operationalize what we view as behaviour? I.e. for alertness are your eyes open,
slouched, enjoyment, etc.)
Three factors are commonly taken into account when interpreting behaviour (these are not
independant categories, they intereact):
• Individual (psychological: cognitive, psychodynamic/ humanistoc
• Environmental – physical (i.e. heat) but primarily social (relationships/ society/ culture)
Three things to keep in mind when reading about theories:
• “what exactly are you asking me to believe?”
• “How do you know? What is the evidence?”
• “Are there other possible explanations?”
Basic Research is the quest for knowledge for its own sake
Applied Research is the quests for knowledge for the purpose of solving an problem
Robbers Cave Study
Competition breeds hostility
Cooperation creates harmony Spawned the jigsaw techniques, children of different ethnic groups working on projects each
having only a fraction of the knowledge the whole group needs to complete the project,
encouraging results from testing in hundreds of classrooms
Psychologists have 4 basic goals as Scientists
1. To describe how people and other animals behave
2. To explain and understand the causes of these behavious
3. To predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions
4. To influence or control behaviou through knowledge and control of its causes to enhance
Functional acronym DEPIC
(describe, explain, predict, influence and control) to enhance human welfare
Perspective on Behaviour: Guides to Understanding and Discovery
The importance of Perspectives
They influence the direction in which psychological study and research is conducted and
There are six major perspectives to characterize contemporary psychological thought (e.g. why
did the chicken cross the road?):
1. Biological: the neurons in her motor strip fired
2. Cognitive: she wanted to cross the road
3. Psychodynamic: she has a death eish (inferring an unconscious process)
4. Behavioural: she has been reinforced in the past for the crossing the road
5. Humanistic: doesn’t matter, chickens aren’t humans
6. Socio-cultural: it all depends; is it an Asian, European or South American chicken?
B ehind H igh
Controversy amongst these perspectives is what truly breeds to greatest knowledge
Biological Perspective: Brains, Genes, and Behaviour:
Is the mind a spiritual entity seperate form the body or is it an integral part to our body and its
Monism states that mind and body are one and mental events are the product of physical ones,
electrical and chemical processes occuring in the brain.
Thus Biologicasl perspectives place heavy consideration on the physiology of thought, studying
the chemicals which affect our brain as it relates to the mind.
Discovery of Brain Behavious Relations:
Galvani’s experiments with severed frog legs disproved Dualist perspectives by getting a motion
without any spiritual energy from the frog to consent to it. This was supported by other scientists
using electricity to stimulate certain regions of the brain to get certain reactions, this, coupled
with damaging certain regions fo the brain and viewing the effects on the animals essentially led
to mapping of the brain.
1929 Electroencephalogram (EEG) allowed electrical signals to be monitored in the brain from
placing electrodes on the scalp. This allows for studies of brain waves
New inventions of this type include tiny microelectrodes which can monitor the electrical
activities of individual brain cells. The electron microscope has made it possible to study
formerly invisible brain structures. Computer programs let us view electrical activities in real time
as the correlate to emotion, thought and behaviour.There are neurotransmitters which control
the actions of the brain which are chemical subsatances.
Evolution and Behavious: From Darwin to Evolutionary Psychology
Structuralism the analysis of the mind in terms of its basic elements.
Structuralists believed that sensations are the basic elements of consciousness. They studied
by having people describe their inners thoughts based on reactions to chosen external stimuli.
This practice has died out for the most part however.
Functionalism: psychology sahould study the functions –the whys- of consciousness in lieu of
the structures. It stressed adaptive behaviour. This practice no longer exists truly today but it
lives on in its messages of studying the biological processesa as they relate to the mind. Gestalt Psychology: hoe elements of experience are organized into wholes. Oppossite to
structuralism they argued that our perceptions and other mental processes are organized so
that the whole is not only greater than but different from the sum of its parts.
Piaget: Cognitive development in children
Carefully observed children as they tried to solve problems and imagined how they must have
experienced to the situation to respond as they did. He concluded that specific stages of
cognitive development occur naturally as children mature and these abilities cannot be
explained as a product of past experiences. They naturally unfold and present different ways of
learning about and understanding the world.
Beck and Ellis: people evolve to think in a less self-harming way
Artificial Intelligence: studies computer models which can mirror complex human thought,
reasoning and emotions and learn. They hope that by developing models and programs which
can mirror the processes of humans that we can better understand how they occur within
Psychodynamic Perspective searches for causes of behaviour within our personality,
emphasizing the roles of unconscious processes and unresolved conflicts from the past.
Psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud’s Great Challenge: Freud worked with pers