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What is Psychology? The scientific definition of Psychology:

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1 What is Psychology? The scientific definition of Psychology:
Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes. Why study Psychology? The study will give you new ways to look at and interpret your world and the people who inhabit it.

2 What is Psychology? September 9, 2011

3 Learning Objectives Be able to define “Psychology”
Know what Psychologists study Understand the history and evolution of Psychology Review for Tuesday’s Test

4 Behavior and Mental Processes
Behavior is any action that other people can observe or measure. Mental Processes (cognitive processes) are mental processes that are not directly observable. They include dreams, perceptions, thoughts, memories, etc. Psychology also studies emotions (feelings) Emotions affect both behavior and mental processes.

5 Goals of Psychology In general, scientists seek to observe, describe, explain, predict, and control the events studied. Psychologists observe, describe, explain, predict and sometimes even control behavior and mental processes to better understand the human psyche.

6 Psychology as a science
Psychology is a social science with foundations in philosophy and natural science. *Social sciences include history, anthropology, sociology, economics, political science, linguistics, psychology, etc. However, like all scientists, psychologists study behavior and mental processes using the scientific method to test ideas (i.e., conducting experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions) and then form new or reshape pre-existing theories. Psychology is anchored by both scientific research and theory. Research is the testing of ideas (hypotheses and theories) through various research methods. Psychology continually tests theories, hypotheses, ideas and therefore is considered an empirical science.

7 Psychology as a science
Theory is a statement or set of statements that attempt to explain why things are the way they are and happen the way they do. A useful psychological theory allows psychologists to predict, explain, and/or treat/control behavior and mental processes. It is a continual cycle where established theories drive research which in turn changes the theories and again directs further research.

8 What Psychologists Do! All psychologists share a strong interest in behavior and mental processes, AND in the value of scientific research. Some psychologists are mainly interested in research -> investigating factors that explain behavior and mental processes. Other psychologists consult (or provide direct social services). These psychologists apply their knowledge by providing some form of psychotherapy to help people. Yet other psychologists teach – sharing their knowledge.

9 What Psychologists Do!

10 Psychological Perspectives
Although all psychologists agree and are committed to empiricism and scientific research, they approach the study of behavior and mental processes from different points of view. Psychologists try to understand the relationships, causes, and effects of behaviors and mental activities. For example, a psychologist might be interested in understanding the behavioral and mental processes that explain drug abuse. (Why does one person become addicted, while another person does not?) How will the psychologist approach this inquiry? The psychologist needs an approach, a perspective, to begin researching this inquiry. Depending on the perspective, it will dictate the set of assumptions, questions, and methods that he/she will use to understand the behavioral and mental processes of drug addiction.

11 Psychological Perspectives
First perspective: Psychodynamic Rooted in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis. Assumes that all behavior and mental processes reflect the constant and mostly unconscious psychological struggles within the individual Freud believed that unconscious conflicts stemmed from unresolved childhood conflicts. Today, this perspective has been transformed and is reflected in a number of contemporary theories explaining personality, psychological disorders, and psychotherapy. What might a psychoanalyst say is the reason someone who always needs to chew gum?

12 Psychological Perspectives
Second perspective: Cognitive Understands behavior and mental processes by focusing on how individuals sense, mentally represent, and store mental information.

13 Cognitive Perspective
Focuses on how we think (or encode information) How do we see the world? How did we learn to act to sad or happy events? Cognitive Therapist attempt to change the way you think. Meet girl Get Rejected by girl Or get back on the horse Did you learn to be depressed

14 Psychological Perspectives
Third perspective: Behavioral Antecedent is Behaviorism (only study observable behavior) Assumes that behavior and mental processes are primarily the result of learning Modern-day behavioral approach has changed to a Cognitive-behavioral Approach. Now, psychologists working from this perspective study measurable mental processes in addition to the traditional emphasis on observable behaviors.

15 Behavioral Perspective
If you bit your fingernails when you were nervous, a behaviorist would not focus on calming you down, but rather focus on how to stop you from biting your nails.

16 Psychological Perspectives
Fourth perspective: Humanistic Developed by Carl Rogers (trained in the psychoanalytic tradition, began humanistic approach through his theories on personality and his psychotherapy methods) Studies behavior and mental processes primarily by studying each individual’s uniqueness and capacity to think and act A humanistic psychologist would argue that to fully understand a person’s behavior and mental processes you must appreciate the individual’s perceptions and feelings experienced. Today, the humanistic perspective has limited influence in psychological research mainly because humanistic theories tend to be too broad and therefore difficult to test scientifically. Humanistic psychology is primarily an approach in psychotherapy.

17 Humanistic Perspective
Focuses on positive growth Attempt to seek self-actualization Therapists use active listening and unconditional positive regard. Mr. Rogers would have made a great Humanistic Therapist!!!

18 Psychological Perspectives
Fifth perspective: Biological Assumes that behavior and mental processes are largely shaped by biological processes Understands behavior and mental processes by studying hormones, genes, and the activity of the nervous system especially the brain. If you could not remember the names of your parents and went to a psychologist who adheres to the biological perspective, what might they say?

19 Psychological Perspectives
Sixth perspective: Sociocultural Here, psychologists focus on the influence of cultural factors on the individual’s behavior and mental processes. Seeks to understand human behavior and mental processes by studying such cultural factors as gender, culture, ethnicity, race, and socioeconomic status, and so forth. Even in the same high school, behaviors can change in accordance to the various subcultures.

20 Psychological Perspectives
Seventh perspective: Evolutionary (related to Biological perspective) Assumes that behavior and mental processes are a result of evolution through natural selection. Understands behavior and mental processes by focusing on the adaptive value of behavior, biological mechanisms that make adaptation possible, and the environmental conditions therein.

21 Evolutionary Perspective
Focuses on Darwinism. We behave the way we do because we inherited those behaviors. Thus, those behaviors must have helped ensure our ancestors survival. How could this behavior have ensured Homer’s ancestors survival?

22 Philosophical Roots of Psychology
Ancient Greek philosophers, among other things, speculated on the concept of dualism (body & mind or body & spirit). Dualism is the notion that the world is divided into two parts: body and spirit. Early Greek philosophers like Socrates, Plato and Aristotle asked psychological questions about the body and the mind and sought answers. The Renaissance ushered in the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment (the scientific revolution) (15th-16th century), great discoveries in biology, astronomy, and other sciences & movements in literature and the arts – human nature began to be the subject of scientific inquiry.

23 Philosophical Roots of Psychology
French philosopher Rene Descartes ( ) theorized about the nature of man and dualism. Descartes hypothesized that the mind and body interact; and that the mind controls the body while the body provides the mind with sensory input. The British philosopher John Locke ( ) expanded on Descartes work. Locke introduced a new branch of philosophy known as Empiricism – the acquisition of truth through observations and experiences. Locke suggested that all knowledge is learned NOT innate – that all knowledge is derived from experience.

24 Empiricism v. Nativism Empiricism – John Locke
Our senses are passive. There are no innate ideas. Tabula Rasa (Blank Slate) = we are born with a blank mind. Knowledge comes from experience implies that all of what we know comes from sensory information AND by making associations. Nativism – Immanuel Kant (German Philosopher) Alternative to empiricism, perceptual experience depends on the organism’s active role in understanding and acquiring knowledge. This ability to actively process sensory information is innate. Knowledge is not from sensory input alone; there must be pre-existing abilities/structures to organize and process sensory information.

25 History of Modern Psychology: Wave One – Introspection
The beginning of modern psychology is 1879. In that year, Wilhelm Wundt ( ) established the first psychological laboratory at the University of Leipzig, Germany. Wundt studied on the psychological phenomena – introspection = asking subjects to record their cognitive reactions to simple stimuli. Wundt was examining basic cognitive structures. He eventually developed the theory of Structuralism – the idea that the mind operates by combining subjective emotions and objective sensations. In 1890, William James ( ) published the first psychology textbook: The Principles of Psychology. James studied how these “structures” Wundt identified “function” in life. James was more interested in studying and understanding the function of mental processes. This theory is called Functionalism.

26 History of Modern Psychology: Wave Two – Gestalt Psychology
Gestalt psychologists like Max Wertheimer ( ) argued against dividing human thought and behavior into discrete structures; instead, they examined a person’s whole experience because the way we experience the world is more than just an accumulation of various perceptual experiences. Gestalt psychology = to study the whole is more important than just the sum of its part.

27 History of Modern Psychology: Wave Three – Psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud ( ) revolutionized psychology with his psychoanalytic theory. While treating patients with psychosomatic complaints, Freud theorized about what he called “the unconscious mind”- a part of our mind that we are not conscious of and that ,in part, influences our thoughts and behave. Freud believed that to understand human behavior and thought we must examine the unconscious mind through psychoanalytic therapy.

28 History of Modern Psychology: Wave Four – Behaviorism
Ivan Pavlov ( ) (in Russia) pioneered conditioning experiments. After studying Pavlov’s work, American John Watson ( ) advanced the notion that for psychology to be considered a science it must limit itself to studying observable phenomena only, and not unobservable constructs such as the unconscious mind. Watson among others established behaviorism as the dominant paradigm of American psychology in the first half of the 20th century. Behaviorists argued that psychology should study only behavior and the causes of behavior – stimuli and responses. Another famous behaviorist, B.F. Skinner ( ), expanded upon his predecessors to include the idea of reinforcements’ impact on shaping behavior (he introduced Operant Conditioning).

29 History of Modern Psychology: Wave Five – Multiple Perspectives
With the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s in the United States, psychology began to consider the many different cultural perspectives when considering human behaviors and mental processes. Psychologists began to study human behavior and thought from the different existing perspectives (called eclectic approach) and to consider the multiple sociocultural factors.

30 History of Modern Psychology: Wave Six – Neuropsychology
Today, with all the advances in modern technology the past 30 years, psychology has turned more towards neuroscience and the molecular study of the nervous system in understanding human behavior and mental processes. The subfield of neuropsychology has grown tremendously in the last twenty years.

31 Psychology’s BIG Debates!!!
Nature vs. Nurture – Are human traits and psychological characteristics inborn OR do they develop over time through experience? Rationality vs. Irrationality – What is rational and what is not? Stability vs. Change – Are certain human traits stable or do they change?

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