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Module 1 Week 1

Psychology is the science of behaviour, thought and experience with focus on discovering and explaining
mental processes. It is both empirical and deterministic in that our understanding of behaviour comes from
what we can see and measure- there are a lot of factors. Founding father are considered to be Wilhem
Wundt(focused on structuralism) who used introspection and William James (functionalism).
Science is a process or method, a way of asking and answering questions. It identifies causes through
systematic observation and experimentation- it is empirical. The success of theories is measured by their
ability to explain past results and predict future results.
o Tackles problems of how (mechanism)and why (evolutionary/functional view) something works
o Different from technology because it attempts to answer whereas technology attempts to optimize

Describe the philosophical roots of psychology
Psychology has roots in Western philosophy, which originated with the ancient Greeks like Socrates, Plato
and Aristotle. They examined questions like free will and if humans were inherently good or evil- questions
still present today.
These philosophers examined most of these questions through rationalism.
o Socrates studied Do perceptions equal reality? and concluded thru logical argument that our
perceptions are not always the same as reality (optical allusions as proof).
The drive to use a scientific, as opposed to a philosophic approach arose from the influence of physiologists,
or scientists who study the function of living systems. Many physiologists in the late 19
century attempted
to answer the questions raised by philosophers (like those between mind and body).
Thus, psychophysics was founded as a sub-discipline of psychology in the 19
century. It is the study of the
relationship between the physical world and the mental representation of that world. It can measures
relationships between changes in magnitude of physical energy in a stimulus (like light intensity) and our
sensation of the changes in stimulus magnitude (how we perceive brightness). Gustav Fechner coined this.

Describe the roots of psychology in biology and evolutionary thought
Darwins natural selection theory was that species fine tune to their environment via these criterions:
o Characteristics vary among individual members of species (some hear better than others, etc.)
o Characteristics are passed from parents to offspring
o Adaptive characteristics that cause greater reproductive or survival success become more common
over generations, while those that hinder survival become less common.
Natural selection has to do with psychology because as Darwin pointed out in the late 1800s, behaviour is
shaped by natural selection just as physical traits are, since certain emotional expressions and other
behaviours influence natural selection as well.

Explain and compare the major trends in the early development of psychology:
Rationalism- the pursuit of truth through reason and logic
Materialism- belief that humans, and other living beings, are composed exclusively of physical matter.
o Implies that humans are essentially nothing more than complex machines that lack a self-conscious,
self-controlling soul. Shocking implications made it not for centuries (1600s).
Empiricism the belief that people can describe the world through rules generated by observation,
quantification and the belief that knowledge comes from observation, not common sense/speculation.
o Whatever we see or measure should be observable by anyone using same methods.
o Supports that scientific theories must be rational explanations of how theories fit together.
Determinism- belief that all events are governed by lawful cause-and-effect relationships, like gravity
Structuralism- emphasizes the elemental constituents of experience- breaking down experiences into
simpler parts- if you understand the different elements you can understand the whole.
o Structuralism people perceive an apple as red, round, sweet, crunchy
Functionalism- the study of the purpose and function of behaviour of conscious experience, implicating that
our brains and behaviours have been shaped by the physical and social environment of our ancestors.
o Functionalism people consider how apples contribute to the ability to survive and make babies
Describe the development of behaviourism and humanistic psychology
Twitmyer had an interesting idea. He made a contraption that would regularly tap the patellar region of
peoples knees with a rubber mallet. To ensure his subjects were not startled, the contraption rang a bell
before the mallet struck the tendon. When the mallet was removed but the bell continued the knee would still
kick- this is classical conditioning, which became the focus of behaviourism.
o Behaviourism is an approach the dominated the first half of the 20
century of American psychology
and had a singular focus on studying only observable behaviour with little to no reference to mental
events or instincts as possible influences on behaviour.
Behaviour is any action that can be observed, recorded or measured. It is generated by a brain, so science
of behaviour is also science of the brain and mental processes it computes. It is based on how we process
information using our senses and our perceptions to create our understanding of information at hand.
Humanistic psychology focuses on the unique aspects of each individual human, each persons freedom to
act, his or her rational thought and the belief that humans are fundamentally different than animals. Human
psychologists sought to understand the meaning of personal experience. They believed that people could
attain mental well-being and satisfactions through gaining a greater understanding of themselves, rather that
being diagnosed with disorders or having their problems labelled. Contrasted with behaviourism in proposing
that humans had the freedom to act and a rational mind to guide the process.

Describe the newer trends in psychology including the cognitive sciences and neurobiology
Cognitive sciences contrast with Americas behaviourism because they have more to do with what goes on
inside a persons brain (mental processes) rather than their external behaviour.
o Gestalt psychologists emphasize an approach that focuses on the whole of perception and
experience rather than its parts, contrasting with the idea of structuralism.
Interesting example with apple: just because it is red, round and smoother and delicious
does not mean that you will bight a Volkswagen Beatle which is also red, smooth and round.
Modern day cognitive psychology is a psychological perspective that focuses on processes such as
memory, thinking and language. Much of what such psychologists study consists of mental processes that
are inferred through rigorous experimentation.
Social psychology and personality psychology have more to do with how we act when we are with other

Make connections between psychology and other disciplines
Clinical psychology is the field of psychology that concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of
psychological disorders. One area of medical study is brain localization: the idea that certain parts of the
brain control specific mental abilities and personality characteristics.
Psychosomatic medicine is also around- but it is really just the placebo effect.
Psychoanalysis is a psychological approach that attempts to explain how behaviour and personality are
influenced by unconscious processes. It was coined by Freuds idea of the conscious mind (perceptions,
thoughts, a sense of self and sense that we are in control) and the unconscious mind (forgotten episodes
from childhood, and urges to fulfil self-serving sexual and aggressive impulses
o Freud used the medical model to try and treat emotional disorders, thought and behaviour via
medical means and he incorporated evolution into his work, emphasizing how physiological needs
and urges relating to survival and reproduction influence behaviour.
Social Sciences
Influence of social science: statistic methods of social sciences were used to measure human traits. Galton,
for example noticed that great achievement tended to run in families because of genetics and that in terms
of nature vs nurture, genetics were infinitely more important- coined eugenics.

Summarize how psychology is relevant to many different professions
Some psychologists are clinical psychologists and they diagnose and treat people with mental disorders.
This is related to psychiatry.
Some psychologists work as researchers and teachers at universities
Applied psychology uses psychological knowledge to address problems and issues across various settings
and professions, including law, education, clinical psychology and business organization and management.
Forensic psychology encompasses work in the criminal justice system, including interactions with the legal
system and its professionals.
School psychology involves working with students who have special needs, such as those with emotional,
social or academic problems.
Health psychology is the study of how individual, biological and environmental factors affect physical health.
Other non-academic, non-clinical psychologists work in advertising, communications, business and human
resources and governmental and community service organizations.

Describe the roles of psychological research, including the different types of psychologists and the problems they
Behaviours are studied to determine psychological processes, including underlying cognitions, emotions,
perceptions and memories. Some areas psychologists might investigate are:
o The motor and cognitive development of infants and the maturation of brain structures and pathways
o Principles of development that apply similarly across different species
o Principles of development across different cultures
o How language develops in children
o How the principles of language development can be used algorithmically for use in computers
o Decisions made by new parents to stay home or keep working & how child development is affected
o How different day cares influence how children get along and how academics are influenced