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Chapter 1

PS260 Chapter 1 - Intro to Cognitive Psych.docx

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Anneke Olthof

Chapter 1: Science of the Mind Scope of Cognitive Psychology The field of cognitive psychology was first known as the scientific study of knowledge.  a huge range of our actions, thoughts, and feelings all depend on our knowledge.  in general, our understanding of stories or ordinary conversations depend on memorydepends on our drawing key bits of information from our storehouse of knowledge.  cognitive psychology is sometimes defined as the scientific study of acquisition, retention, and use of knowledge.  it helps us understand capacities that are relevant to virtually every waking moment of our lives Brief History Cognitive psych is roughly 50 years old; but had an enormous impact that changed the style of research and theorizing employed by most psychologists. Years of Introspection  Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920)  new enterprise of research, defining the field for the first time as an endeavor separate from philosophy or biology.  psychology needed to be concerned largely with the study of conscious mental events  mental events such as our feelings, thoughts, perceptions, and recollections  only person who can experience or observe your thoughts is yourself.  introspect: look within; to observe and record the content of our own mental lives and the sequence of our own experiences. o had to be meticulously trained  given a vocab to describe what they observed o they were trained to be as careful and as complete as possible o trained to report on their experiences with minimal interpretation  later these early investigators were soon forced to acknowledge that some thoughts are unconscious, and this meant that introspection was inevitably limited as a research tool.  introspection, by nature, is the study of conscious experiences (nothing about unconscious events).  if we rely on introspection as our means of studying mental events (e.g. remembering our cell number), we have no way of examining these processes.  there must be some way we of testing its claims, otherwise, there's no separation of correct assertions from false ones, accurate descriptions for the world from fictions.  test of claims is often unattainable o e.g. how do I test the claim if my headache is worse than yours? o it might reflect through verbal style, not the headaches itself. o our headaches might be identical, but you just might describe yours in more detail.  we need some means of directly comparing a feeling, which can be quite difficult or no way of doing it  no access to objective facts.  in science, we need objective observations that we can count on  we need observations that aren't dependent on a particular point of view or descriptive style  we want to consider the world as it objectively is Years of Behaviourism Psychology needed objective data; needed to focus on data that were out in the open, for all to observe.  organisms behaviour  are observable right away.  watching my actions  stimuli  the same objective category.  these are measurable, recordable, physical events.  learning history  you can record how patterns of behaviours changes with the passage of time and with the accumulation of experiences  beliefs, wishes, goals, and expectations  cannot be directly observed, and cannot be recorded.  ruled out because it is worthless as a scientific tool and need to avoid these invisible internal processes or events. Behaviourists This perspective dominated psychology in America for the first half of the 20th century.  concerns how our behaviour changes in response to different configurations of stimuli (including those stimuli we call "rewards" and "punishments").  by 1950, psychologists were convinced our behaviour couldn't be explained in ways that behaviourists claimed (couldn't explain only with reference to objective, overt events).  we can easily show the way people act, and the things that they say only by how they understand or interpret an event, not by the objective situation.  we will regularly misunderstand why people are acting and how we'll predict their behaviour if we constantly look at it from the behaviourists' perspective.  behaviourists argue that we shouldn't take into consideration mental entities (e.g. beliefs) as we have no way of measuring them directly, however, we must consider them in order to understand behaviour. Introspection and Behaviourism If we wanted to predict a person's responses, we need to refer to the stimulus (e.g. the event), and also the persons' knowledge and understanding of, and contribution to, this stimulus. Roots of Cognitive Revolution How people act is shaped by how they perceive the situation, how they understand the stimuli, and what their intentions are.  Immanuel Kant (1724-1804)  used transcendental method: one begins with the observable facts and then works backward from these observations.  what must the underlying causes be that led to these effects?  sometimes called "inference to best explanation"  e.g. physicists routinely use this method to study objects or events that cannot be observed directly  electrons. o no physicist has ever observed an electron o even if electrons are not observable, their presence often leads to observable results (visible effects from an invisible cause) o electrons cause observable tracks in cloud chambers o using these observations, they form hypotheses about what electrons must be like  e.g. police detecting clues (observation) to find out who the criminal is (understanding,
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