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What Is Psychology?
• Psychology – Psyche: Mind – Logos: Knowledge or study • Definition: The scientific study of behavior and mental processes
• Directly observable actions and responses – Overt; i.e., can be directly observed (crying) – Covert; i.e., cannot be directly observed (remembering); private, internal
• Information gathered from direct observation
• Scientific Observation: A systematic empirical investigation that is structured to answer questions about the world • Research Method: Systematic approach to answering scientific questions
What Might a Psychologist Research?
• Development: Course of human growth and development from conception to death • Learning: How and why it occurs in humans and animals • Personality: Traits, motivations, and individual differences • Sensation and Perception: How we come to know the world through our five senses
What Might a Psychologist Research?
• Comparative Psychologists: Study and compare behavior of different species, especially animals • Biopsychologists: How behavior relates to biological processes, especially nervous system activities • Cognitive: How reasoning, problem solving, and other mental processes relate to human behavior • Gender Psychologists: Study differences between females and males
What Might a Psychologist Research? Continued
• Social: Human social behavior • Cultural: How culture affects human behavior • Evolutionary: How our behavior is guided by patterns that evolved during human history
What Are the Goals of Psychology?
• Description of Behaviors: Naming and classifying various observable, measurable behaviors • Understanding: The causes of behavior(s) • Prediction: Forecasting behavior accurately • Control: Altering conditions that influence behaviors – Positive Use: To control unwanted behaviors, (e.g., smoking, tantrums, etc.) – Negative Use: To control peoples’ behaviors without their knowledge
History of Psychology: Beginnings
• Wilhelm Wundt: “Father” of Psychology – 1879: Set up first lab to study conscious experience – Stimulus: Any physical energy that affects the person and provokes a response – Introspection: Looking inward (i.e., examining and reporting your thoughts, feelings, etc.) – Wundt’s ideas brought to the U.S. by Tichener and renamed Structuralism
History of Psychology: William James and Functionalism
• Functionalism: How the mind functions to help us adapt to our environment – Functionalists admired Darwin and his theory of Natural Selection: • Animals keep physical features through evolution that help them adapt to environments
History of Psychology: Behaviorism
• Watson and Skinner – Psychology must study observable behavior objectively – Watson studied Little Albert with Rosalie Raynor; Skinner studied animals almost exclusively
History of Psychology: Gestalt
• “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” • Key names: Wertheimer, Perls • Wertheimer: Mistake to analyze psychological events into pieces; many experiences cannot be broken into smaller units
FIGURE 1.2 The design you see here is entirely made up of broken circles. However, as the Gestalt psychologists discovered, our perceptions have a powerful tendency to form meaningful patterns. Because of this tendency, you will probably see a triangle in this design, even though it is only an illusion. Your whole perceptual experience exceeds the sum of its parts.
Psychoanalytic Psychology: Freud
• Our behavior is largely influenced by our unconscious wishes, thoughts, and desires, especially sex and aggression • All thoughts and actions are determined; nothing is an accident • Freud performed dream analysis and was an interactionist (combination of our biology and environment make us who we are) • Recent research has hypothesized that our unconscious mind is partially responsible for our behaviors
• Unconscious thoughts held out of awareness because they are threatening
• Rogers – Goal of psychology is to study unique aspects of the person; focuses on subjective human experience. – Each person has innate goodness and is able to make free choices (contrast with Skinner and Freud). • Maslow: Self-actualization: Develop one’s full potential and become the best person you can be
• Biopsychology: Our behavior can be explained through physiological processes – Uses brain scans to gather data (CT, MRI, PET) – Looks at neurotransmitters • Positive Psychology: Study of human strengths, virtues, and optimal behavior
• Many thoughts and behaviors are influenced by our culture • Psychologists need to be aware of the impact cultural diversity may have on our behaviors • What is acceptable in one culture might be unacceptable in another • Cultural Relativity: Behavior must be judged relative to the values of the culture in which it occurs • Social Norms: Rules that define acceptable and expected behavior for members of various groups
FIGURE 1.3 (a) Specialties in psychology (APA, 2005). Percentages are approximate. (b) Where psychologists work (APA, 2000). (c) This chart shows the main activities psychologists do at work (APA, 2000). Any particular psychologist might do several of these activities during a work week. As you can see, most psychologists specialize in applied areas and work in applied settings.
• Usually have masters or doctorate. Trained in methods, knowledge, and theories of psychology – Clinical Psychologists: Treat psychological problems or do research on therapies and mental illnesses – Counseling Psychologists: Treat milder problems, such as poor adjustment at work or at school
• MD; usually use medications to treat problems; generally do not have extensive training in providing “talk” therapy
Many Flavors of Psychologists
• Psychoanalysts: Receive additional Freudian psychoanalytic training post-Ph.D. or postM.D. at an institute • Counselors: Advisers who help solve problems with marriage, career, school, or work • Psychiatric Social Workers: Many have masters degrees and perform psychotherapy – Use social science principles – Presently a very popular profession • Not all psychologists perform therapy!
The Scientific Method
• Six Basic Elements – Observing – Defining a problem – Proposing a hypothesis (an educated guess that can be tested) – Gathering evidence/testing the hypothesis – Publishing results – Building a theory
FIGURE 1.5 Psychologists use the logic of science to answer questions about behavior. Specific hypotheses can be tested in a variety of ways, including naturalistic observation, correlational studies, controlled experiments, clinical studies, and the survey method. Psychologists revise their theories to reflect the evidence they gather. New or revised theories then lead to new observations, problems, and hypotheses.
• Predictable outcome of an experiment or an educated guess about the relationship between variables • Operational Definition: States exact procedures used to represent a concept. Allows abstract ideas to be tested in real-world terms
FIGURE 1.4 Operational definitions are used to link concepts with concrete observations. Do you think the examples given are reasonable operational definitions of frustration and aggression? Operational definitions vary in how well they represent concepts. For this reason, many different experiments may be necessary to draw clear conclusions about hypothesized relationships in psychology.
• Observing a person or an animal in the environment in which the person or animal lives
• Observer Effect: Changes in a subject’s behavior caused by an awareness of being observed • Observer Bias: Occurs when observers see what they expect to see or record only selected details • Anthropomorphic Error: Attributing human thoughts, feelings, or motives to animals, especially as a way of explaining their behavior (e.g., “Anya my cat is acting like that because she’s feeling depressed today.”)
• Existence of a consistent, systematic relationship between two events, measures, or variables
Coefficient of Correlation
• Statistical index ranging from -1.00 to +1.00 that indicates direction and degree of correlation – Closer the statistic is to –1.00 or to +1.00, the stronger the relationship – Correlation of 0.00 demonstrates no relationship between the variables
• Increases in one measure are matched by increases in the other measure
• Increases in one measure are matched by decreases in the other measure
Correlation and Causation
• Correlation does not demonstrate causation: Just because two variables are related does NOT mean that one variable causes the other to occur
FIGURE 1.7 The correlation coefficient tells how strongly two measures are related. These graphs show a range of relationships between two measures, A and B. If a correlation is negative, increases in one measure are associated with decreases in the other. (As B gets larger, A gets smaller.) In a positive correlation, increases in one measure are associated with increases in the other. (As B gets larger, A gets larger.) The center-left graph (“medium negative relationship”) might result from comparing anxiety level (B) with test scores (A): Higher anxiety is associated with lower scores. The center graph (“no relationship”) would result from plotting a person’s shoe size (B) and his or her IQ (A). The center-right graph (“medium positive relationship”) could be a plot of grades in high school (B) and grades in college (A) for a group of students: Higher grades in high school are associated with higher grades in college.
• A formal trial to confirm/disconfirm a hypothesis and to identify cause and effect relationships
Performing an Experiment
• Directly vary a condition you might think affects behavior • Create two or more groups of subjects, alike in all ways except the condition you are varying • Record whether varying the condition has any effect on behavior
FIGURE 1.1 Results of an empirical study. The graph shows that aggravated assaults in Los Angeles become more likely as air temperature increases. This suggests that physical discomfort is associated with interpersonal hostility (Data from Simister & Cooper, 2005.)
• Any condition that can change and that might affect the outcome of an experiment
• Condition(s) altered by the experimenter; experimenter sets their size, amount, or value. These are suspected causes for behavioral differences
• Measures the results of the experiment; Condition is affected by independent variable
• Conditions that a researcher wants to prevent from affecting the outcomes of the experiment (e.g., number of hours slept before the experiment)
Figure 1.9 Experimental control is achieved by balancing extraneous variables for the experimental group and the control group. For example, the average age (A), education (B), and intelligence (C) of group members could be made the same for both groups. Then we could apply the independent variable to the experimental group. If their behavior (the dependent variable) changes (in comparison with the control group), the change must be caused by the independent variable.
• Experimental Group: The group of subjects that gets the independent variable • Control Group: The group of subjects that does NOT get the independent variable • Random Assignment: Subject has an equal chance of being in either the experimental or control group
FIGURE 1.8 Elements of a simple psychological experiment to assess the effects of music during study on test scores.
• A fake pill (sugar) or injection (saline) • Placebo Effect: Changes in behavior that result from expectations that a drug or other treatment will have some effect; the belief that one has taken an active drug
• Single Blind: Only the subjects have no idea whether they are in the experimental or control group Double Blind: The subjects AND the experimenters have no idea whether the subjects are in the control or experimental group – Best type of experiment if properly set up
• Changes in subjects’ behavior caused by the unintended influence of the experimenter’s actions • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: A prediction that leads people to act in ways to make the prediction come true
The Clinical Method
• Case Study: In-depth focus of all aspects of a single subject • Natural Clinical Tests: Natural events, such as accidents, that provide psychological data
FIGURE 1.10 Some of the earliest information on the effects of damage to frontal areas of the brain came from a case study of the accidental injury of Phineas Gage.
The Survey Method
• Using public polling techniques to answer psychological questions • Representative Sample: Small group that accurately reflects a larger population – Population: Entire group of animals or people belonging to a particular category (e.g., all married women) • Courtesy Bias: Problem in research; a tendency to give “polite” or socially desirable answers
FIGURE 1.11 If you were conducting a survey in which a person’s height might be an important variable, the nonrandom sample of shorter people would be very unrepresentative. The random sample, selected using a table of random numbers, better represents the group as a whole.
• Ability to analyze, evaluate, compare, critique, and synthesize information
Critical Thinking Principles
• Few truths transcend the need for empirical testing • Judging the quality of evidence is crucial • Authority or claimed expertise does not automatically make an idea true • Critical thinking requires an open mind
How to Critically Evaluate New Information
• Ask the following: – What claims are being made? – What test (if any) of these claims has been made? – Who did the test; how good is the evidence?
How to Critically Evaluate New Information Continued
• Ask the following: – What was the nature and quality of the tests? Are they credible and can they be repeated? – How reliable and trustworthy were the investigators? – How much credibility can the claim be given?
• Pseudo means “false.” Any unfounded “system” that resembles psychology and is NOT based on scientific testing (“Pseudo” means false) • Phrenology: Personality traits revealed by shape of skull and bumps on your head • Palmistry: Lines on your hands (palms) predict future and reveal personality
• Graphology: Personality traits are “revealed” by your handwriting • Astrology: The positions of the stars and planets at the time of your birth determine your personality and affect your behavior – Extremely popular today (“What’s your sign?”) • Uncritical Acceptance: Tendency to believe positive or flattering descriptions of yourself
Fallacy of Positive Instances
• When we remember or notice things that confirm our expectations and forget the rest
• Always have a little something for everyone. Tendency to consider a personal description accurate if it is stated in very general terms
Psychology in the Media: Separating Fact from Fiction
• Be skeptical • Consider the source of information • Ask yourself, “Was there a control group?” • Look for errors in distinguishing between correlation and causation (are claims based on correlational results yet passed off as causations?)
Psychology in the Media: Separating Fact from Fiction- Cont.
• Be sure to distinguish between observation and inference (e.g., Robert is crying, but do we know why he is crying?) • Beware of oversimplifications, especially those motivated by monetary reasons • “For example” is no proof, i.e., one example is not proof