Psychology: Defined generally as the discipline concerned with
behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by
an organism’s physical state, mental state, and external
Why does psychobabble persist?
- Gives people a sense of control and predictability in a
- Confirms our existing beliefs and prejudices (where as
scientific psychologist challenges them)
Assumption: Assumptions are beliefs that are taken for granted.
When an assumption or beliefs keeps us from considering the
evidence fairly or causes us to ignore the evidence completely,
it becomes a bias.
Bias: When our decision is swayed a certain way or leans
towards one side. Often a bias remains hidden until our beliefs
are challenged and we get defensive and angry. It creates
Argument by anecdote: Generalizing to everyone fro a
personal experience or a few examples. Anecdotes are often
the source of stereotyping as well.
Example: One friend who hates her school means that
everybody hates it. One dishonest welfare mother means
they’re all dishonest.
A critical thinker thinks of several reasons and explaintaions of
the topic at hand as possible before settling on just one. Example: If a magazine reports that depessed pople are most
likely than other to develop cancer. A creative thinker would
think of other thinks on why, lie how depressed people are
more likely to drink and smoke excessively. Those unhealthy
habits could increase their risk of cancer. A critical thinker
would also prefer the second alternative because it requires
fewer assumptions and has the most supporting evidence.
Phrenology: The study of the mind. Phrenologists argue that
different brain areas accounted for specific character and
personality traits. For specific character and personality traits
example, stinginess and religiosity.
3 Early Psychologies
Structuralism: Wundt’s approach. Structuralists hoped to
analyze sensations, images, and feelings into basic elements.
Structuralism soon went to shits. Introspectors often produced
conflicting reports. During a study, when a group of people
were asking what came to mind when they heard the world
“triangle”, most respondents said they imagined an image of a
form with 3 sides and 3 corners. But another person imagined a
visual image of a red flashing form with equal angles, whereas
another reported person might report a revolving colourless
form with one angle larger than the other two.
Functionalism: Emphasized the function or purpose of behavior,
as opposed to it’s analysis and description. Leading
functionalist William James (1842-1910) noted that the brain
and mind were constantly changing. The structuralist asks what
happens when an organism does something the functionalist
asks how and why. The functionalist wanted to know how
specific behaviours and mental processes help a person or
animal adapt to the environment. Used many different
methods and broadened the field to children, animals, religious
experiences. The stream of consciousness is a term used
because it describes the way thoughts flow like a river, tumbling over eachother in waves, sometimes calm and peaceful,
sometimes disturbed. Functionalism lacked the precise theory
or program of research that wins recruits, and endorsed the
study of consciousness .
Psychoanalysis: Emphasized the influence of the unconscious
mind on beahviour. Freud believed that the human mind was
composed of 3 elements: the id, the ego, and the superego.
Lasted about from 1830 to 1900. “Mind cures” were efforts to
correct the false ideas that were said to make people anxious,
depressed and unhappy. The mind cure movement was the
forerunner of modern cognitive therapies. Freuds thoughts of
how his patients feelings of depression, nervousness, and
obsessive habits came from not physical causes but mental
ones. Those mental conflicts came from emotional traumas
that occurred in early childhood and that were too threatening
to be remembered consciously (such as sexual feelings for a
parent) Freud said that consciousness is the tip of a mental
iceberg. Beneath the visible tip is the unconscious part of the
mind containing unrevealed wishes, passions, guilty secrets,
unspeakable yearnings, and conflicts between desire and
duty. Many of these urges and thoughts are sexual or
aggressive in nature. They make themselves known in dreams,
slips of the tongue, apparent accidents, and even jokes.
The major psychological perspectives
The biological perspective: Focuses on how bodily events
affect behavior, feelings, and thoughts. Donald O. Hebb
argues that all behavioural and mental phenomena arise as
the result of physical activity within the brain. Biological
psychologists study how these physical events interact with
events in the external environment to produce perceptions,
memories, and behavior. Evolutionary psychology: Follows in the tradition of
functionalism by focusing on how genetically influenced
Neuropsychologists/Neuroscientists: Study the brain and
nervous system to get a better understanding of behavior
The Functions of the Nervous System:
- Gather and process information
- Produce responses to stimuli
- Coordinate the workings of different cells
- Two main parts: The central nervous system and the
peripheral (outlying) nervous system
The Functions of the Central Nervous System:
- Receives, processes, interprets, and stores incoming
sensory information (information on tastes, sounds, smells,
colour, pressure on skin, and state of internal organs, etc)
- Sends out messages to the muscles, glands, and internal
- Has 2 components: the brain and the spinal chord which
is an extension of the brain
- Spinal reflexes: automatic reflexes that require no
Spinal Chord: A collection of neurons and supportive tissue
running from the base of the brain down to the centre of the
back, protected by a column of bones (the spinal column)
Peripheral Nervous System: All portions of the nervous system
outside the brain and spinal chord; it includes sensory and
Somatic Nervous System: The subdivision of the peripheral
nervous system that connects to sensory receptors and to skeletal muscles; sometimes called the skeletal nervous system.
These cells enable you to sense the world (like feeling a bug on
Automatic Nervous System: The subdivision of the peripheral
nervous system that regulates the internal organs and glands.
Organs like your bladder, stomach and heart. When your heart
pounds, hands get sweaty, and cheeks feel hot when you see
your crush, it is because of the automatic nervous system.
Automatic Nervous System has 2 parts.
1. Sympathetic Nervous System: Like a car accelerator.
Mobilizes the body for action and an output of energy.
Makes you blush, sweat, and breathe more deeply.
2. Parasympathetic System: Like a brake. Slows things down
and keeps things running smoothly. Enables the body to
conserve and store energy.
Example of both: If you’re jumping out of a way of a
speeding car, sympathetic nervous system increases your
heart rate while parasympathetic system slows it down again
and keeps rhythm regular.
Check page 113 for quiz
Neurons are nerve cells that are the brain’s communication
specialists. Transmitting information to, from, and within the
central nervous system. Neurons are held in place by glia or
glial cells that make up 90% of the brain cells. Glial cells
provide neurons nutrition, insulation, and protection from
Dendrites: A neuron’s branches that receive information
from other neurons and transmit it toward the cell body.
Cell Body: The part of the neuron that keeps it alive and
determines whether or not it will fire Axon: A neuron’s extending fibre that conducts impulses
away from the cell body and transmits them to other
Structure of a neuron: A neuron has 3 main parts: dendrites, a
cell body, and an axon. The dendrites look like branches of a
tree. They act as antennas, receiving messages from as
many as 10,000 nerve cells and transmitting these messages
to the cell body. Also processes them. Cell bodies contains
the biochemical machinery for keeping the neuron alive.
Also tells the neuron to transmit a message to other neurons
or not (to fire). The axle transmits messages away from the
cell body to other neurons, muscles, or gland cells. They
divide at the end into branches called axon terminals.
Myelin Sheath: A fatty insulin that surrounds the axon of a
neuron. Located in the central nervous system, made up of
glial cells. Looks like sausage links. One purpose of the myelin
sheath is to prevent signals in adjacent cells from interfering
with each other.
Nerve: A bundle of nerve fibres (axons and sometimes
dendrites) in the peripheral nervous system.
Neurogenesis: The production of new neurons from
immature stem cells
Stem Cells: Immature cells that renew themselves and have
potential to develop into mature cells; given encouraging
environments, stem cells from early embryos can develop
into any cell type.
Fertilized ovum > Cluster of cells > Stem cell > Nerve cell,
pancreatic cells, or liver cells. Action potential: A brief change in electrical voltage that
occurs between the inside and the outside of an axon when
a neuron is stimulated
Neurotransmitter: A chemical substance that is released by a
transmitting neuron at the synapse and that alters the activity
of a receiving neuron
Excitatory: A voltage shift in a positive direction
Inhibitory: A voltage shift in a negative direction
Plasticity: When the brain retains flexibility in adapting to new
Serotonin: Affects neurons involved in sleep, appetite, sensory
perception, temperature regulation, pain suppression, and
Dopamine: Affects neurons involved in voluntary movement,
learning, memory, emotion, pleasure or reward.
Acetylcholine: Affects neurons involved in muscle action,
cognitive functioning, memory, and emotion.
Norepinephrine: Affects neurons involved in increased heart
rate and the slowing of intestinal activity during stress, neurons
involved in learning, memory, dreaming, wake from sleeping,
GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid): The major inhibitory
neurotransmitter in the brain
Glutamate: The major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain.
Released by 90% of the brain’s neurons. Endorphins: Reduces pain and promotes pleasure. Plays a role
in appetite, sexual activity, blood pressure, mood, learning, and
memory. Endorphin levels shoot up when a person or animal is
stressed or afraid.
Endocrine Glands: Internal organs that produce hormones and
release them into the bloodstream.
Hormones: Chemical substances secreted by organs called
glands that affect the functioning of other organs. Hormones
promote bodily growth, aids digestion, and regulates
Melatonin: Secreted by the pineal gland deep within the brain.
Helps regulate daily biological rhythms and promotes sleep.
Oxytonin: Secreted by another small gland within the brain, the
pituitary gland. Enhances uterine contractions during childbirth
and also ejects the milk during nursing. Oxytonin and
vasopressin contributes to relationships in both genders,
promoting attachment and trust.
Adrenal Hormones: Hormones that are produced by the
adrenal glands that are involved in emotion and stress.
Sex Hormones: Hormones that regulate the development and
functioning of reproductive organs and that stimulate the
development of mal