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Unit One – What is Psychology?

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1 Unit One – What is Psychology?

2 The Origins of Psychology
Unit 1 - What is Psychology The Origins of Psychology Psychology: commonly defined today as “the study of human thought and behavior” Written records of psychological thought can be traced back over 1000 years ago Ancient Egypt studied the brain and its illnesses Greeks (Plato) philosophized on the mind/body link China, 600AD: first record of intelligence tests Arabia, 7th cen.: first insane asylums, identified both physical and mental causes to physical ills Other Arab contributions: dream interpretation, experiments in sensation & perception, many others European Renaissance and Enlightenment philosophy debated the nature of the mind/soul 19th Century Psychology: “pseudo-science” Astrology, Animal Magnetism, Phrenology 1879: W. Wundt opens first psychological research laboratory in Leipzig, Germany Marks the beginning of modern era of psychology “Psychology has a long past, but a relatively short history.” - Herrman Ebbinghaus

3 Historic Schools of Thought
Structuralism (Wilhelm Wundt) Argues the mind consists of sensations, feelings, & images that combine to form experience. Introspection: one’s own thoughts & emotions Functionalism (William James) Focuses on the uses or functions of the mind rather than the elements of experience Notes evolutionary principles of adaptive behaviors Behaviorism (John B. Watson) Psychology ought to be a natural science, thus only observable behaviors should be studied Centers on learning (reinforcement, punishment) Gestalt Psych. (Wertheimer, Koffka, Kohler) Emphasizes tendency to organize perceptions into wholes. Integrate separate stimuli into patterns. Psychoanalysis (Sigmund Freud) Emphasizes the importance of unconscious motives and conflicts as the root of our behaviors

4 Contemporary Approaches
Evolutionary & Biological Perspectives E: Interested in influence of heredity, instincts B: focused on brain structures & chemistry, hormones, & their effects on thought & behavior Arguably the most-popular approach today Cognitive Perspective Focus on mental processes like perception, learning, memory, problem solving, language, etc. “Cognitive Revolution”: rapid expansion in past couple of decades Humanistic/Existential Perspectives Cognitive in nature, emphasizes a more subjective (personal) experience of consciousness Humanism: capacity to chose, “invent ourselves” Existentialism: people free to choose, responsible Psychodynamic Perspective Psychotherapy focused less on unconscious mind, more on conscious choice and direction See value in dreams, unusual thoughts & desires

5 Psychological Research
Unit 1 - What is Psychology Psychological Research Process of scientifically collecting data to test hypotheses & form psychological theories Psychology aims to be an empirical science… must be tested, supported by observable evidence Scientific Method: Putting Ideas to the Test An organized way of using experience and testing ideas in order to expand or refine knowledge Experiments attempt to identify cause-and-effect Hypothesis: specific statement about behavior or mental processes that is tested through research Independent variable: change that occurs in an experiment directly controlled by the experimenter Dependent variable: change that occurs as a result of the I.V. that are measured by experimenter Experimental group: receives independent variable Control group: does not receive independent variable Correlational Method: identify statistical links Measure the degree in which variables are linked Can be positive or negative, range from +1 to -1 DO NOT indicate cause and effect relationships Psychological theory Daily experiences Commonly held beliefs Research Question Hypothesis Test Research Question Hypothesis Testing Evidence (observations) Drawing Conclusions Theory Construction or Modification New Research Question/Hypothesis

6 Issues in Experimental Design
Researchers go to great lengths in hopes that their findings generalize to non-participants Sample: individuals that are being studied Population: a group that is being targeted for study Problems in Generalizing from Research Sampling Error: study participants do not reflect the intended population one or more characteristics Volunteer Bias: those who offer to participate may be substantially different than those who refuse Methods of Observation Case study: carefully drawn biography that may be obtained through interviews, questionnaires, tests Often used to investigate rare occurrences that would impossible or unethical to create in laboratory setting Survey: a large sample answers questions (interview, questionnaire) about their attitudes or behavior Used to learn about behavior and mental processes that cannot be observed or studied experimentally Naturalistic Observation: organisms closely watched in their natural environments (least obtrusive) “All generalizations are dangerous, even this one.” - Alexandre Dumas

7 Ethical Issues in Psychological Research
Commitment to a belief in human dignity Right to make their own decisions, choose behavior Psychologists aim to better understand—not control—influences on how we think and act Pop culture, historic experiments create stigma Ethical Safeguards in Research with Humans Institutional review boards weigh potential risks Informed consent: subjects agree to participate after learning of the purpose and nature of research The use of deception is acceptable when the potential gains outweigh the potential harms (Milgram Study) Subjects are debriefed often completion of study Collected personal data is confidential, in most cases Ethics in Research with Nonhuman Animals Used when human subjects impractical, unethical i.e. monkeys used to study maternal attachment Major advances have resulted from animal research APA guidelines: animals may be harmed only when no alternative & belief that benefits outweigh harm

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