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Chapter 1

PSY-2012 Chapter Notes - Chapter 1: Falsifiability, Empiricism, Human Behavior

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Timothy Kutta

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Chapter 1 - What is Psychology?
Psychology and Scientific Thinking
What is Psychology
Scientific study of mind, brain, and behavior
o Mind - abstract
o Brain - anatomic & concrete
William James - founder of American psychology
Levels of analysis - molecular to social
EEG - timing
FMRI - location/activation
o Measures blood flow
Not instantaneous
Theory - explanation for findings in world
Hypothesis - testable prediction from theory
Fear of spiders & snakes from ancestry
Can't study one aspect - elephant metaphor
Challenges for Psychology
Human behavior is difficult to predict
o Actions are multiply determined
Influences are rarely independent of each other
o Interrelated makes it difficult to find cause
Individual differences - variations among people
People influence one another
o Reciprocal determinism - hard to draw conclusions about causation
What is Psychology? Science vs. Intuition
Pages 2-9
1. Explain why psychology is more than just common sense
2. Explain the importance of science as a set of safeguards against biases
William James (1842-1910) - founder of American psychology
Psychology and Levels of Analysis
Scientific study of the mind, brain, and behavior
Spans multiple levels of analysis
o Lower rungs - close to biological influences
o Higher rungs - close to social influences
o Molecules & brain structures > thoughts, feelings & social/cultural influences
Mind is brain in action
What Makes Psychology Distinctive and Fascinating
1. Human behaviors are multiply determined - difficult to predict
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a. Skeptical of single-variable explanations
2. Psychological influences are not independent of each other
a. Anorexia is not just called by perfectionism
3. Individual differences in thinking, emotion, personality and behavior lead to different
responses to situations
4. People influence each other
a. Reciprocal determinism - mutual influence
5. Behavior is shaped by culture
a. Cultural differences place limits on generalizations
Wh We Ca’t Alwas Trust our Coo Sese
Gut intuitions about how the social world works
Well-known proverbs aren't always accurate and can contradict one another
o Ex. Better safe than sorry/nothing ventured, nothing gained
Birds of a feather flock together/opposites attract
Common sense can lead us to believe 2 things that cant both be true simultaneously
Naïve Realism - The belief that we see the world precisely as it is
o Assume seeing is believing
o Most of the time it serves us well
o Earth seems flat, sun seems to resolve around earth
Intuitions are wrong
When our common sense is right
o Instinctual judgement as to whether or not somebody is trustworthy
Usually right
o Happy employees are more productive
Psychology as a Science
Science - systematic approach to evidence
o Set of attitudes and skills designed to prevent us from fooling ourselves
o Empiricism - premise that knowledge should initially be acquired through
o People question psychology because it is familiar to all of us through emotion,
memory, love, etc.
What is a Scientific Theory?
o Explanation for large number of findings in natural world ;offers account that ties
multiple findings together
o Generate predictions regarding new data
Hypothesis - testable predictions
o Confirmation bias - tendency to seek out evidence that supports out hypotheses and
deny, dismiss, or distort evidence that contradicts them
Seek and ye shall find
o Scientists adopt procedural safeguards through scientific method to overcome
confirmation bias
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