The Science of Psychology



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Chapter 1

The Science of Psychology



  1. Learning Objectives: These objectives are expanded from the Focus Question found in the margins of your textbook. When you have mastered the material in this chapter, you will be able to:

    1. Define psychology, and indicate what types of behaviors it incorporates.

    2. Define critical thinking, and describe the types of questions involved in critical thinking.

    3. Differentiate between basic and applied research, and describe studies illustrating the relationship between them.

    4. List and describe the five central goals of psychology.

    5. Describe the levels-of-analysis framework, and give an example of how it can be applied.

    6. Describe how mind-body interactions help explain behavioral phenomena like voodoo death.

    7. Contrast the positions of dualism and monism as they apply to the mind-body problem.

    8. Describe how British empiricism, early work in physiology and psychophysics, and Darwin’s theory of evolution paved the way for the field of psychology.

    9. Describe the goals of structuralism and functionalism, and identify researchers from each school.

    10. Describe the method of introspection.

    11. Describe the psychodynamic perspective, highlighting Freud’s Psychoanalytic theory.

    12. Contrast Freud’s psychoanalytic theory with modern psychodynamic theories.

    13. Describe the behavioral perspective, highlighting the work of Pavlov, Thorndike, Watson, and Skinner.

    14. Describe the humanistic perspective, highlighting the work of Maslow and Rogers.

    15. Describe the cognitive perspective, including Gestalt psychology, cognitive neuroscience, artificial intelligence, and social constructivism.

    16. Describe the sociocultural perspective, and define culture, norms, and socialization

    17. Differentiate between individualist and collectivist societies.

    18. Describe the purpose, methods, and results of research on love and marriage across cultures by Levine et al.

    19. Describe the biological perspective, highlighting research in behavioral neurosciences, behavioral genetics, and evolutionary psychology.

    20. Contrast evolutionary and sociocutural perspectives in explaining behavioral phenomena.

Ch.1 Introduction to Psychology Outline/ General & Advanced

  1. Why Study Psychology

  1. Physiological-body and physical processes, cognitive-thinking and mental processes.

  2. Gain Insight into behavior- why someone behaves the way they do.

  3. Acquire practical information-how to change or shape behavior by using consequences, increasing memory with mnemonics, etc.

  4. Goals of Psychology

    1. Describe behavior and gather information

    2. Explain behavior using hypothesis/educated guess or theories based on a large number of experimental studies.

    3. Predict behavior

    4. Influence behavior using

        1. Basic Science- research

        2. Applied Science- ways of using research in daily life

  5. Scientific basis of Psychology

    1. Scientific method- data obtained through experiments, surveys, interviews and case studies

    2. Question/Problem, hypothesis, experiment/test, conclusion and theory.

    3. Wundt- first Psychology lab

  1. Brief History of Psychology

  1. Origins of Psychology

    1. Greek Philosophers/Socrates- the mind is in the heart, tabula rasa/ the mind is a blank slate at birth, and the first theories of personality

    2. Copernicus and Galileo- used experimentation through observation

    3. Rene Descartes- refuted dualism stating the interaction between the mind and body.

  1. Historical approaches

  1. 1879 Wilhelm Wundt- experimented on sensations and perception using (introspection) where participants reported their own thoughts and feelings

  2. Functionalism- William James, who is considered the father of American Psychology. He focused on the functions and purposes of the conscious mind, and how thinking helps and organism adapt to the environment. Mary Calkins was the first female PhD in psychology and APA president.

  3. Galton- stated the idea that heredity is the most important factor over the environment.

  4. Gestalt Psychology- (Wertheimer, Kohler and Koffa). Perception is more than the sum of its parts. Look at the whole first.

  5. Contemporary (modern) approaches

      1. Psychoanalytic- Freud and unconscious influences on motivation and conflicts

        1. Technique of free association- say whatever is on your mind, no editing, random thoughts revel the unconscious.

        2. Dream Analysis

      2. Psychology as observable behavior/Behavioral Psychology

        1. Pavlov and conditioned reflex, associate sound (neutral stimulus) to food (unconditioned stimulus)

        2. Watson- only observable behaviors are important, operant conditioning using consequences of rewards or punishment to influence behavior.

        3. Skinner- anima al mazes and studies. He wrote “Walden II”, which talked about a utopian society created by operant conditioning.

      3. Humanistic psychology- Maslow, Rogers, May. Human behavior is active and evolving rather than reacting. It is self directed, limitless in potential and not controlled by the unconscious or past events.

      4. Cognitive Psychology- Piaget, Chomsky and Festinger. How we store and use information for thinking, language and problem solving. Ebbinghaus/memory- it is better to study evade that to cram it all in at the last moment.

      5. Biological Psychology- how the brain, nervous system, hormones genetics and drugs affect behavior.

      6. Sociocultural Psychology- Doob, how ethnicity, gender, and cultural influences on behavior.

  1. Psychology as a profession

      1. Psychologist- studies the mind and behavior of organisms

      2. Specialty fields

        1. Clinical and counseling- most popular, deal with emotions and problems. ½ of all psychologists working in offices, hospitals, clinics and prisons

        2. Psychiatry- MD, working with disturbed behavior.

        3. Development Psychology- study physical, emotional, cognitive and social changes throughout life.

        4. Educational Psychology- teaching, intelligence, memory, learning and motivation.

        5. Community psychology- mental health and social welfare.

        6. Industrial Psychology- business and government agencies to boost production, work conditions, placement and accidents.

        7. Environmental Psychology- environmental effects at home, work, inside and outside.

        8. Psychobiologists- electrical, chemical and pharmacological effects on the nervous system.

        9. Forensic psychology- legal, court and correctional facilities.

        10. Health Psychology- interactions of the physical and psychological.

        11. Experimental Psychology- supply research, testing and information (basic science)

      3. APA founded in 1892.

Ch. 1 AP

Intro to Psychology

I.The Nature of Psychology

Psychology- the scientific study of mind and behavior

Behavior- actions and responses that can be directly observed

Critical thinking- What facts/how do you know/what is the evidence/ other possibilities/ most likely conclusion.



  1. Psychology as a basic and applied science

    1. Basic research- quest for knowledge

    2. Applied science- for specific practical problems

    3. Robbers Cave (Sherif et al., 1961)- competition bred hostility between groups, cooperation the opposite/ basic research. Desegregation programs, jigsaw and other cooperative programs/ applied research

  2. Goals of Psychology: Describe, understand, predict, influence and apply

  3. Levels of analysis- biological, psychological, environmental

    1. Cannon(1942) voodoo deaths- belief and stress produced shock/death- mind/body interactions/ nature and nurture

II. Perspectives on behavior- different ways of viewing

  1. Psychology’s intellectual roots

    1. Dualism- the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to the physical body

    2. Descartes- mind and body interact through the pineal gland

    3. Monism- the mind and body are one

    4. British Empiricism/ Locke- observation through the senses is more valid than reason

    5. Psychophysics- how psychologically sensations depend on the characteristics of the stimuli.

    6. Darwin contradicted the exalted nature of humans/ evolution- we change over time and the mind was a product of the interaction of man and the environment around him/her

  2. Early schools

    1. Structuralism- Wundt/ 1879 and Tichener- the mind could be studied by breaking down its basic elements, sensation, images and feelings using introspection

    2. Functionalism in the USA/ William James- study the functions of consciousness, how people adapt to their environment and why and how do we think. They used introspection, but also questionnaires and mental tests. G. Stanley Hall the first APA president and Mary Calkins- first female president of APA

    3. Gestalt Psychology/ max Wertheimer studied immediate experience as it related to the whole organism not its parts., initiated studies of insight and problem solving and led to cognitive psychology.

  3. Psychodynamic perspective- causes of behavior are within the personality emphasizing the unconscious processes/ Sigmund Freud

    1. Psychoanalysis- analysis of internal mostly unconscious psychological forces. Causes of psychological illnesses were hidden. He used hypnosis then free association/ any thoughts that came to their mind. Humans have powerful inborn sexual and aggressive drives that are punished in childhood producing fear and anxiety in the child. This leads to the production of defense coping mechanisms. An ongoing psychological struggle between conflicting forces is dynamic in nature/ psychodynamic perspectives. Heavy emphasis on childhood sexuality/ little lab or research testing of theories.

    2. Modern psychodynamic theories downplay hidden sexual and aggressive motives but focus on early family relationships, social factors and sense of self. Object relations theory focuses on how early experiences with caregivers shape our view of ourselves and others.

    3. It dominated through the first half of the 20th century.

    4. Still 20-30% of American therapists are oriented towards psychodynamic approaches.

  4. The Behavioral Perspective began in the early 1900s and focuses on the role of the external environment and our behavior is based on previous learned experiences and the immediate environment. (A,B, C)

    1. Origins John Locke felt the mind is like a blank slate/ table rasa, which experiences are written upon.

    2. Ivan Pavlov founded classical conditioning/learning with dogs.

    3. Edward Thorndike focused on learning through consequences creating the law of effect.

    4. Behaviorism is the school of thought that focuses on environmental control through learning.

    5. John B. Watson is often called the founder of behaviorism, the experimenter in the “Baby Albert” conditioned fears experiment and the father of advertising. He also felt he could create any type of human by proper training, learning/conditioning, (p.10).

    6. B.F. Skinner examined behavior began in the 1960s and 70s and proposed that learning and the environment affect our expectations and thoughts and in turn our thoughts affect our behavior, Albert Bandura.

  5. Humanistic perspective bean in the mid 1900s and emphasized free will, personal growth and attempting the find meaning in one’s life.

    1. Abraham Maslow proposed that we have an inborn force diving us to self actualization.

    2. Carl Rogers pioneered scientific research in psychotherapy especially the concept of your “self concept”.

    3. Positive Psychology movement of today focuses on the study of human strengths, fulfillment and optimal living.

  6. Cognitive Perspective looks at the mind and how our thinking and beliefs influence behavior.

    1. Herman Ebbinghaus studied memory in the early 1900s.

    2. Gestalt psychology of the 1920s looked at the “whole”, which is greater than the sum of its parts.

    3. Computer technology and the mind metaphor became popular in the 1950-60s.

    4. Noam Chomsky studied how language was acquired and learned and argued humans are preprogrammed biologically to learn a language.

    5. Jean Piaget proposed that children’s thinking processes were developmentally organized by age.

    6. Elizabeth Loftus expanded the understanding of memory and the factors that distort it.

    7. Cognitive neuroscience uses brain imaging and recording devices to isolated where learning is occurring in the brain.

    8. Social constructivism maintains that we consider “reality” based on our own mental creation through our experiences, social and national groups. These perspectives explain the history of cultural conflict.

  7. The sociocultural perspective

    1. Culture refers to values, beliefs, behaviors, traditions, social norms or rules that are accepted and expected.

    2. Socialization is how a culture is passes on and internalized by new members.

    3. Cultural psychology is how people differ across cultures

      1. Individualism emphasizes personal growth and achievement/ North America and Europe.

      2. Collectivism is where individual success is measured by family or group success first/ Japanese and Asian.

  8. The biological perspective

    1. Behavioral neuroscience/physiological psychology- how the brain and other body functions affect behavior.

    2. Karl Lashley damaged areas of rat brains to discover functions.

    3. Donald Hebb helped in the discovery of neurotransmitters for nerve communication and transmission.

    4. Behavioral genetics

      1. Twin studies on how genetic factors affect behavior

    5. Evolutionary Psychology

      1. Natural selection- genetic advantages enable an organism to survive and pass on its characteristics to its offspring/ Charles Darwin.

III. Using levels of Analysis to integrate perspectives

  1. Behavior can be understood as biological, psychological and environmental

  2. Depression

    1. Biological

      1. Relatives of people, who had developed depression before age 20, were 8 times more likely to become depressed sometime in the life.

      2. Certain neurotransmitter systems don’t operate normally.

    2. Psychological

      1. Pessimistic thinking and interpretation of events style

      2. Depressed people are more likely to have experienced parental rejection, abuse, or loss of a parent through death or separation during childhood.

    3. Environmental

      1. Growing up in a non rewarding environment increases the odds of depression

      2. Depressed people complain a lot, alienate others, and seek excessive support

      3. Sociocultural effects

        1. Depression is found in all cultures

        2. In the US, Canada and Western nations, women are 2 times as likely to suffer from depression than men, but no sex difference is found in developing countries.

    4. Interaction is the ay one factor influences behavior depends on the presence of another of the 3 above factors.

IV. Psychology Today

  1. The American Psychological Association (APA) was founded in 1892 and is the largest psychological association in the world with international members also.

  2. The American Psychological Society (APS) founded just 20 years ago.

  3. Psychiatrists are medical doctors (MD) and can write prescriptions.

  4. PHD or PsyD have doctoral degrees, but haven’t attended medical school and can’t write prescriptions.

  5. Table 1.4 lists specialty areas in Psychology and their major focus. Know the differences between comparative, behavioral neuroscience, clinical, cognitive, counseling, cultural, developmental, educational, experimental, industrial/organizational, personality, social, quantitative and sports psychologists.



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