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Chapter 1

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Wilfrid Laurier University
Kathy Foxall

PS 101: What is Psychology  Psychology o The discipline concerned with behaviour and mental processes and how they are affected by an organisms physical state, mental state, and external environment  Empirical o Relying on or derived from observation, experimentation, or measurement  Psychology, pseudoscience, and popular opinion  Psychobabble o Pseudoscience and quackery covered by a veneer of psychological and scientific sounding language o Pseudoscience promises easy fix to life challenges  Annette Taylor, Patricia Kowalski o Conducted questionnaire on first day of class o All questions false, accuracy only 38.5%, more confidence in wrong answers than right o Conducted at the end of period, students got 66 percent o Uncertainty about untested assumptions can be good  Belief in unscientific approaches widespread, even in advanced countries o 1/3 and ½ Canadians and Americans believe in astrology o Often meaningless  Psychobabble persists as it gives people a sense of control and predictability  Confirms existing beliefs and prejudices, scientific psychology challenges them Thinking Critically and Creatively about psychology  Critical thinking o Ability and willingness to assess claims and make objective judgements on the basis of well supported reasons and evidence, rather than emotion or anecdote o Look for flaws in arguments, resist claims that have no support o Creative and constructive, come up with alternative explanations for events o Clear thinking requires effort and practice o Open mindedness doesn’t mean all opinions are created equal and that everybody’s beliefs are good  Eight guidelines  Ask questions/willing to wonder o Be curious, to wonder, to inquire  Define your terms o Definition makes all the difference o Bullying being mistreated once, or physically attacked and threatened  Examine the evidence o Accepting conclusions without evidence, or expecting others to, sure sign of laziness o Sometimes checking reliability not reasonable, o Reliable authorities exercise critical thinking, share evidence, don’t pressure others  Analyze assumptions and bias o Assumptions beliefs taken for granted o Bias when keeps us from considering evidence fairly, or causes us to ignore evidence o E.g. Judith Harris  Questioned assumption about parents influence, genes and peers more important she argued  Avoid Emotional Reasoning o Passionate commitment motivates people to think boldly, defend unpopular ideas, and seek evidence o When gut feeling replaces thinking, results dangerous o Whenever cherished beliefs challenged we mad, because they offer explanations for something puzzling or frightening  Don’t oversimplify o Sometimes best to have sense of control, or go with flow o Argument by anecdote  generalizing to everyone from personal experience  Consider other interpretations o Occam’s Razor  Choosing the solution that accounts for the most evidence and least assumptions  Tolerate Uncertainty o Accept uncertainty, the more important the question, the less simple the answer Psychology’s Past: From the Armchair to the Laboratory  Scholars of the past did not rely on empirical evidence  John Locke o Associating ideas arising from experience  Phrenology o The now discredited theory that different brain areas account for specific character and personality traits o Argued different brain areas accounted for specific character and personality traits o Traits could be read from skull bumps o Schools, careers, businesses, study programs  The Birth of Modern Psychology o Wilhelm Wundt  First psychological laboratory, intended to make psychology a science  Favorite research methods train volunteers to observe, analyze, and describe their own sensations, time consuming o Mar Baldwin  Helped found modern psychology  Three Early Psychologies  Structuralism o E.B Tichener o An early psychological approach that emphasized the analysis of immediate experience into basic elements o Disregarded because of introspection  The examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes: "quiet introspection can be extremely valuable".  Functionalism o Emphasized function or behaviours and consciousness rather than analysis o Causes and consequence of behaviour o Functionalism exerted long lasting influence on psychology o Fell out of favour o Behaviours helps organism adapt to environment o William James  Brain and mind constantly changing, waste of time searching for blocks o Structuralists ask what, functionalists ask how and why o Inspired by Darwin  Figure out how animals attributes enhance survival o Stream of consciousness  Thoughts flow like a river, placid or turbulent  Psychoanalysis o A theory of personality and a method of psychotherapy, originally formulated by Sigmund Freud, emphasizes unconscious motives o Greatest form of impactful theory o Distress due to conflicts and emotional traumas o Freud  Obscure neurologist, argued conscious awareness tip of the iceberg  Unconscious part of the mind, contains unrevealed wishes, passions, guilty secrets, many thoughts sexual Psychology’s Present: Behaviours, Body, Mind, and Culture The Major Psychological Perspectives
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