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Psychology

Definition

2012-09-11

Scientific study of behaviour and the mind o Behaviour refers to actions and responses that we can directly observe o Mind refers to internal states and processes like thoughts and feelings that cannot be seen directly and must be inferred from observable/measurable responses Eg. We cannot see a persons feeling of love for someone else but it can be inferred through verbal statements I love you

Clinical Psychology The study and treatment of mental disorders o Subfield of psychology o Diagnose and treat people with mental problems or research on the causes of mental disorder o Examine effectiveness of treatments

Cognitive Psychology The study of mental processes from a model that views the mind as an information processor Examines topics like consciousness, attention, memory decision making and problem solving o Psycholinguistics area within cog. Psych.examines psych. Of language

Biopsychology Behaviour and biology o Brain processes, genes, hormones influence actions, thoughts and feelings o How evolution shaped psychological capabilities and behavioural tendencies o Eg. Our capacity for advanced thinking; eg. Acting aggressively

Developmental Psychology Examines human physical, psychological, and social development across the lifespan Eg. The emotional world of infants, parenting styles and effects of children; changes in our mental abilities during adolescence and adulthood

Experimental Psychology

Focuses on basic processes o Eg. Learning, sensory systems (vision;hearing), perception, motivational states (hunger, sexual motivation) o Research mostly involves usually non-human laboratory experiments o Although this is called experiemental psch, researchers in other psych fields also perform experiements

Industrial-Organizational (I/O) psychology Examines peoples behaviour in the workplace o Eg. Studies leadership, teamwork, factors influencing employees job satisfaction, work motivation, performance o Develops tests helping employers identify best job applicants o Designs systems that companies use to evaluate employee performance

Personality Psychology Focuses on the study of human personality o Identifies core personality traits how different traits relate to one another influence behaviour o Develops tests that measure personality

Social Psychology Examines peoples thoughts, feelings, and behaviour regarding the social world o A.k.a the world of other people o Studies how people influence each other o Behaviour in groups o Form impressions and attitudes o Studies social relationships with love and attraction, prejudice, discrimination, helping, aggression

Note* Psychologist in one area often overlap with other areas Science Systematically gathering and evaluating empirical evidence to answer questions and test beliefs about the natural world

Empirical Evidence

Evidence gained through experience and observation-including evidence from manipulating with things then seeing what happens o Eg. Why peoples smartness changes as they age; we do not rely on intuition/reasoning/ folk wisdom but we collect empirical data by exposing these people to tasks and measuring performance

Systematic The above observations are systematicmeaning they must be done under a system of rules to obtain a precise objective

Understanding Behaviour: Some Pitfalls of Everyday Approaches Mental shortcutsjudging someone based on appearances or stereotypes Fail to consider alternative explanations there may be a factor affecting someones behaviour that we do not know about Confirmation biaspaying attention to information consistent with our beliefs and ignoring inconsistent info.

Using Science to minimize everyday pitfalls Scientific Approach to minimize bias o Use various instruments eg. Questionnaires, video recorders o Independent observations o Statistics to analyze data o Highly controlled experimental conditions o Publish findings and other scientist challenge findings

Science is a self correcting process Thinking Critically about Behaviour What is the claim or assertion Is the person making the claim reliable/credible What and how good is the evidence Other explanations? Can they be evaluated Most appropriate conclusion

Pseudoscience Astrology, graphology, rumpology...attracts believes despite unscientific claims

Psychologys Goals

1. 2. 3. 4.

To describe how people and other animals behave To explain and understand the causes of these behaviours To predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions To influence or control behaviour through knowledge ; control of its causes to enhance human welfare

If we understand the causes of a behaviour and know when the causal factors are present/absent then we should be able to predict when the behaviour will occur. If we control the causes we should control the behaviour Psychology as a Basic and Applied Science Basic Research The quest for knowledge purely for its own sake Describe how people behave and to identify the factors that influence or cause a particular type of behaviour Done in real world settings or in labs

Applied Research Solve specific practical problems Uses principles discovered through basic research to solve practical problems

Levels of Analysis Behaviour and its causes can be examined at the o biological level brain processes; genetic influences o psychological level thoughts, feelings and motives o environmental level past and current physical and social environments to which we are exposed

Mind-Body and natureNurture Interactions Mind body interactions o Relations between mental processes in the brain and the functioning of other bodily systems Eg. Negative thoughts release stress hormones

Perspectives Different ways of viewing people

Mind Body Dualism The belief that the mind is a spiritual entity not subject to physical laws that govern the body Descartes said that the interaction occurred in the pineal gland Dualism implies that no amount of research on the physical body could unravel the mysteries of the nonphysical mind

Monism The mind and body are one o Not a separate spiritual entity o Hobbes position is that mental events correspond to physical events in the brain

British Empiricism All ideas and knowledge are gained empiricallythrough the sense o Empiricists believe observation is a more valid approach to knowledge than pure reason because reason has the potential for error

Psychophysics Psychologically experienced sensations depend on the characteristics of physical stimuli o Eg. How perceived loudness of sound changes as physical intensity increases

Darwin (1809-1882) Theory of evolution had ++controversy b/c contradicted philosophical+religious beliefs about exalted nature of human beings Suggested that the mind is not spiritual but the product of biological continuity Human behaviour can be studied through other species

Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) Established first experimental psychology laboratory at the university of Leipzig in Germany Trained August Kirschmann and James Baldwin Wundts grad student Edward Titchener (1867-1927) made a psychological laboratory at Cornell

o They believed that the mind oculd be studied by breaking it down into its basic components aka. Structuralism o Structuralism used method of Introspection (looking within) to study sensations which were considered the basisc elements of consciousness They exposed participants to all sorts of sensory stimuli such as sounds and light and trained them to describe their inner experiences. Although criticised for being subjective and died out after a few decades, it left a mark by establishing a scientific tradition for studying cognitive processes Functionalism In U.S, structuralism became functionalism o Psychology should study the functions of consciousness rather than structure o The difference between structuralism and functionalism Consider hands Structuralists would try to explain their movement by studying how muscles operate Functionalist asks why we have hands. How do they help us adapt to our environment? o Functionalists were influenced by Darwins evolutionary theory which highlighted the adaptation in helping organisms survive and reproduce in their environment William James(1842-1910) o Leader of functionalist movement o Widened scope of psychology to include biological and mental processes and overt behaviour Functionalism still endures in cognitive psychology which studies mental processes and evolutionary psychology which emphasizes the adaptiveness of behaviour

Psychodynamic Perspective Searches for the causes of behaviour within the inner workings of our personality o Our unique pattern of traits emotions and motives emphasizing the unconsciousness o Freud (1856-1939) Developed first and most influential psychodynamic theory

In the 19th century Freud was intrigued by brain mysteries that were not caused by bodily malfunction or disease Therefore he reasoned that it was psychological o Since people were not producing their symptoms consciously he argued that the causes were unconscious o Treated his patients with a technique called free association This is where the patient expressed any thoughts that came to mind Patients described painful long forgotten childhood experiences-often sexual in nature When patients remembered and mentally relieved these traumatic experiences their symptoms improved Therefore Freud concluded that unconscious part of the mind influences behaviour o Developed theory and form of psychotherapy called psychoanalysis The analysis of internal and primarily unconscious psychological forces Also believed that humans have powerful inborn sexual and aggressive drives and that because these desires are punished in childhood, we learn to fear them and become anxious when we are aware of their presence. This anxiety develops defense mechanisms which help us cope with anxiety and pain of traumatic experiences o Repression, a primary defense system protects us by keeping unacceptable impulses, feelings and memories in the unconscious depths of the mind o All behaviour reflects the unconscious and conflict between the defense and internal impulses o These conflicting forces are dynamic in nature therefore called psychodynamic Freuds theory stirred controversy o Followers disapproved of childhood sexuality o Difficult to test Stimulated research on dreams, memory, aggression and mental disorders Freuds work broadened the face of psychology to include the study and treatment of psychological disorders

Modern Psychodynamic Theory Explores how unconscious and conscious aspects of personality influence behaviour Downplay the role of hidden sexual and aggressive motives and focus on early relationships with family members/ caregivers and how they shape the views that people form of themselves and others These views can unconsciously influence a persons relationships with other people throughout life

Modern psychological research identified brain mechanisms that produce unconscious emotional reactions and shows info processing outside of awareness

The Behavioural Perspective Focuses on the role of the external environment in governing our actions Our behaviour is jointly determined by habits learned from previous life experiences and by stimuli in our immediate environment

Origins of the Behavioural Perspective Roots in the philosophical school of British empiricism John Lockeat birth the human mind is a tabula rasa/blank tablet/slate upon which experiences are written-this view says human experiences are shaped by the environment Early 1900s Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) discovered how learning occurs between events associated with each other Dogs salivate to sound of new stimulus such as a tone if it was repeatedly paired up with food

Behaviourism Emphasizes environmental control of behaviour through learning John B. Watson creator Opposed mentalism of structuralists, functionalists and psychoanalysts Proper subject matter of psychology was observable behaviour Humans are the product of their own learning experience Discover laws that govern learning o Believed that the same principles of learning applied to all organisms BF skinner believed no account of what is happening inside the human body will explain the origins of human behaviour Real causes of behaviour reside in the outer world Skinner believed in social engineeringapproach called radical behaviourism o Was recognized for his focus on the environment 1960s behaviourism inspired behaviour modification o Decreasing problem behaviours and increasing positive behaviours

Cognitive Behaviourism

Albert Bandura environment exerts its effects on behaviour not by automatically stamping in/stamping out behaviours as Watson and Skinner believed but rather by affecting our thoughts. Cognitive Behaviourismlearning experiences and the environment affect our behaviour by giving us the information we need to behave effectively

The Humanistic Perspective: Self Actualization and Positive Psychology Emphasized free will, personal growth and attempt to find meaning in ones existence Rejected psychodynamic concepts of humans as being controlled by unconscious forces and rejected reactors to the environment Maslow (1908-1970) believed each of us has inforn force toward self actualization the reaching of ones individual potential Eg. When humans develop in a supportive environment, positive inner nature of a person emerges; to contrast, misery and pathology occur when environments frustrate our innate tendency toward self-actualization Emphasized personal choice, responsibility, personality growth, positive feelings of self worthmeaning of life in our own hands Todays growing positive psychology movement which emphasizes the study of human strengths, fulfillment and optimal living Rather than focusing on what is wrong with our world, this method examines how we can nurture what is best within ourselves and society to create a fulfilling life

The Cognitive Perspective Examines the nature of the mind and how mental processes influence behaviour o Humans are information processors whose actions are governed by thought Structuralism and functionalism reflected this perspective Hermann Ebbinghaus studied memory (1850-1909) o 1920s German scientists formed school of thought called Gestalt Psychology o Examines how mind organizes elements of experience into unified/ whole perception o Perceptions are organized so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts o Believed that perceiving wholes is built in our nervous system

Renewed Interest in the Mind Cognitive processes began to be studied again during WW2 o Designing information displays such as gauges in airplane cockpits that allowed pilots to recognize and interpret info quickly and accurately

Psychologists interest in mental processes swelled by the 1960s 1970s a period that sometimes is referred to as the cognitive revolution Jean Piaget and language development in children

Cognitive Psychology Study of mental processes; embodies cognitive perspective Study processes by which people reason, make decisions, solve problems, form perceptions, and produce and understand language Study the nature of attention and consciousness and how unconscious processes influence behaviour Cognitive neuroscience uses sophisticated electrical recording and brain imaging techniques to examine brain activity while people engage in cognitive tasks This is the intersection of cognitive psychology and ht biological perspective within psychology They focus on how the brain goes about its business of learning language acquiring knowledge forming memories and performing other cognitive activities

Sociocultural perspective Examines how the social environment and cultural learning influence our behaviour thoughts, and feelings

Social Psychological Component Social psychologists have studied how the presence of other people influences our behaviour thoughts and feelings o Presence includes actually physical presencein a group o Implied presence -aware that at the party people will evaluate how you look o Imagined presence-driving a car you slow down because you incorrectly think the car behind you is an unmarked police car Like behaviourism, social psychology pays attention to the environment influencing behaviour, but its narrowed to the social environment Like the cognitive perspective, this examines social cognition: how people form impressions of one another, how attitudes form and can be changed, how our expectations affect our behaviour etc. Biological perspective examines biological bases of social thinking about behaviour o Social pain occur when people reject us and these brain circuits are the same for physical pain

Culture component Refers to enduring values, beliefs, behaviours, and traditions shared by a group of people and passed from one generation to the next All cultural groups develop their own social normsrules that specify what behaviour is acceptable and expected for members of that group eg. How we dress Culture endures when each generation internalizes the norms and values of the group as their own Socialization is the process by which culture is transmitted to new members and internalized by them Cultural psychology-ak.a cross cultural psychology o Explores how culture is transmitted to its members and examines psychological similarities and differences among people from diverse cultures o One main difference among cultures is the extent on their emphasis on collectivism-individual goals are subordinated to those of the group and personal identity is defined largely by the ties that bind one to the extended family and other social groups vs. Individualism-emphasis on personal goals and self identity based on ones attributes and achievements o Difference created by social learning experiences beginning ini childhood and continuing in the form of social customs

Biological Perspective Examines how brain processes and other bodily functions regulate behaviour

Behavioural Neuroscience Examines brain processes and other physiological functions that underlie our behaviour, sensory experiences, emotions, and thoughts Neurotransmitters o Chemicals released by nerve cells that allow them to communicate with one another

Behavioural Genetics Study of how behavioural tendencies are influenced by genetic factors o Animals can be selectively bred not only for physical traits but also for behavioural traits like aggression o Breeding done of generations by mating aggressive males and females

Evolutionary Psychology

Darwin noted with his evolution theory that within a species some members possess specific traits to a greater extent that other members Though natural selection, if an inherited trait gives certain members an advantage over others such as attracting mates, these members will be more likely to survive and pass on these characteristics to their offspring This way, specifies evolve as the presence of adaptive traits increases within the population over generations; species with bad traits become less common as they are less likely to survive and reproduce Environments change=adaptivness of a trait could increase/decrease Evolutionary Psychologyseeks to explain how evolution shapes modern human behaviour Stress that human mental abilities and behavioural tendencies evolved along with a changing body As our ancestors developed new traits mental/physical it allowed new ways of living Also attempt to explain human social behaviour o Evolutionary pressures stimulate development of brain mechanisms allow us to learn , think, reason, and socialize more effectively

Sociobiology Complex social behaviours are built into the human species as products of evolution Natural selection favours behaviours that increase the ability to pass on ones geners to the next generation o Eg. Aggression, competition, dominance in males and cooperative and nurturing tendencies in females Believes that genetic survival is more important than physical survival o Eg. Altruistic behaviours Critics believe sociobiology overemphasizes innate biological factors and not cultural and social learning factors

Understanding Depression!