- Slides: 35
WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY? SPRING 2014
PSYCHOLOGY • Psychology is defined as a scientific discipline concerned with behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical state.
PSYCHOLOGY, PSEUDOSCIENCE, AND COMMON SENSE • Psychology is not Pop Psychology. This often refers to self-help books or talk shows that offer suggestions or guidance to people. • Another term to describe this is Psychobabble, which is defined as Pseudoscience and quackery… otherwise known as things that are false (pseudo) and untrue.
EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE • Psychologists today rely on empirical evidence, which is evidence gathered by careful observation, experimentation, and measurement. • Psychology is not: 1. Psychobabble 2. Graphology (handwriting analysis) 3. Fortune telling 4. Numerology (study of symbolic meaning of numbers) 5. Astrology
COMMON SENSE • Psychology is not a fancy name for common sense. • More often than not, psychological research directly contradicts prevailing beliefs of most people. • Examples: If you play Beethoven tapes to your baby he/she will become smarter, All abused children will become abusive parents, etc.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER… 1. Psychology is not what the same as Pop Psychology. 2. Serious Psychology differs greatly from nonscientific competitors. 3. Psychology is not fancy name for common sense.
THE BIRTH OF MODERN PSYCHOLOGY • Great thinkers wanted to know how people take in information through their senses, use information to solve problems, and become motivated to act in brave or villainous ways. • They wanted to know if people could control their emotions. • They wanted to be able to describe, predict, understand, and modify behavior.
WHAT THEY DIDN’T DO CORRECTLY… • Great thinkers in history often only used information from observations and anecdotes of individual cases, they did not use empirical evidence. • Why is this not the best way to study something? Discuss!
Hippocrates (Hip-ock-rotees) • Known as the father of modern medicine, began observing patients with head injuries. • What he discovered – The brain is the source of our “pleasures, joys, laughter and jests as well as our sorrows, pains, grief, and tears. ” • What was determined – People don’t become sad, angry, or upset because of actual events but because of their explanation of those events.
THE HUMAN BRAIN
WILLIAM WUNDT (VIL-HELM VOONT) • Opened the first psychological laboratory in Leipzig, Germany. • Trained in medicine and philosophy and was the first to use the scientific method. • Promoted Trained Introspection, in which volunteers were taught to carefully observe, analyze, and describe their own sensations, mental images, and emotional reactions. • The conclusion was to break down behavior into its most basic elements. • This type of research is refuted today but Wundt is still credited for making psychology a science.
FUNCTIONALISM • Early approach that emphasized the function or purpose of behavior and consciousness • Interested in how and why something happens • Functionalists broadened field of psychology to include the study of children, animals, religious experiences, and stream of consciousness
WILLIAM JAMES • Functionalist view point. • Inspired by Charles Darwin, James sought to figure out how various actions help a person or animal adapt to the environment. • This emphasis on the causes and consequences of behavior was to set the course of psychological science.
PSYCHOANALYSIS • A theory of personality and a method of psychotherapy, originally formulated by Sigmund Freud. • Emphasizes unconscious motives and conflicts.
SIGMUND FREUD • Was an obscure neurologist who began studying his patients reports of depression, nervousness, and obsessive habits. • Freud believed that their symptoms had mental, not bodily causes. • Believed that patient distress was due to conflicts and emotional traumas that had originated in early childhood and were too threatening to be remembered consciously. • This became known as Psychoanalysis.
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVES • The various approaches to psychology have no been categorized into five major fields. 1. The Biological Perspective 2. The Learning Perspective 3. The Cognitive Perspective 4. The Sociocultural Perspective 5. The Psychodynamic Perspective
BIOLOGICAL PERSPECTIVE • Focuses on how bodily events affect behavior, feelings, and thought. • There are physical events occurring in your body (hormones flowing, electrical impulses from nerves, etc. ) • Psychologists study how physical events interact with events in the environment around us to produce perceptions, memories, and behaviors. • Evolutionary Psychology: focuses on how genetically influence behavior that was functional or adaptive during the evolutionary past may be reflected in in our present behaviors, thought process, and traits.
LEARNING PERSPECTIVE • Concerned with how the environment and experience affect a person’s actions. • Behaviorists focus on the environmental rewards and punishers that maintain or discourage specific behaviors. • Behaviorists believe that people learn not only by adapting their behavior to the environment but also by in imitating others and thinking about the events happening around them. • For example, if you had trouble sticking to a schedule, a behaviorist would study possible distractions around you that prevent you from meeting your scheduled tasks.
COGNITIVE PERSPECTIVE • Emphasizes what goes on in people’s heads. • This refers to reasoning, remembering, and understanding language. • Using specific methods, cognitive psychologists infer mental processes from observable behavior. • Our ideas may not always be realistic or sensible but they continually influence our behavior.
SOCIOCULTURAL PERSPECTIVE • Focuses on social and cultural forces outside the individual, forces that shape every aspect of behavior… from how we kiss to how we eat! • How we perceive the world, express joy or grief, manage our households, and treat our friends and enemies has to do with the impact of other people… our social context and cultural rules.
PSYCHODYNAMIC PERSPECTIVE • Deals with unconscious dynamics within ourselves, such as inner forces, conflicts or instinctual energy. • This comes from Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis. • Psychodynamic psychologists try to dig below the surface of a person’s behavior to get to the roots of the personality. They think of themselves as archeologists of the mind.
HUMANISTIC PSYCHOLOGY • This emphasizes free will, personal growth, resilience, and the achievement of the human potential and selffulfillment. • Humanists argue that psychology should focus on what really matters to most people, their uniquely human hopes and aspirations. Some people argue this is not a science.
SUMMARY • Most psychological scientists agree on certain basic guidelines about what is and what is not acceptable in their discipline. • Nearly all reject supernatural explanations of events (evil spirits, psychic forces, miracles, and so forth). • Most believe in the importance of gathering empirical evidence and not relying on hunches or personal belief.
CRITICAL AND SCIENTIFIC THINKING IN PSYCHOLOGY • Critical Thinking is the ability and willingness to assess claims and make objective judgments on the basis of well-supported reasons and evidence rather than emotion or anecdote. • This includes the ability to be creative and constructive, to come up with alternative explanations for events, think of implications of findings, and apply new knowledge to problems.
8 CRITICAL-THINKING GUIDELINES 1. Ask Questions; Be willing to Wonder 2. Define Your Terms 3. Examine the Evidence 4. Analyze Assumptions and Biases 5. Avoid Emotional Reasoning 6. Don’t Oversimplify 7. Consider Other Interpretations 8. Tolerate Uncertainty
ASK QUESTIONS, BE WILLING TO WONDER • It is important to ask many questions about theories and findings presented to you while studying psychology. • There are never too many questions to ask about human nature, it is important to be curious and to wonder.
DEFINE YOUR TERMS • When asking questions, be very clear about what you are trying to answer. • Defining means being precise about what is being studied. • Hypothesis: a statement that attempts to describe or explain a given behavior. • A Hypothesis leads to explicit predictions about what will happen in a particular situation. • Operational Definitions: A precise definition of a term in a hypothesis, which specifies the operations for observing and measuring the process or phenomenon being defined.
EXAMINE THE EVIDENCE • Evidence must be backed by empirical evidence if it is to be taken seriously. • Accepting a conclusion without evidence, or expecting others to do so, is lazy thinking.
ANALYZE ASSUMPTIONS AND BIASES • Assumptions are beliefs that are taken for granted. • Biases are assumptions that keep us from considering the evidence fairly or that cause us to ignore the evidence entirely. • Some of the greatest scientific advances have been made b those who dared to doubt what everyone else assumed to b e true. • Principle of falsifiability: The principle that a scientific theory must make predictions that are specific enough to expose theory to the possibility of disconfirmation.
AVOID EMOTIONAL REASONING • Emotional conviction alone cannot settle arguments. • It motivates people to think boldly and defend unpopular ideas. • Disagreement is fine but it is important to rely on evidence and not get anxious or annoyed if the results are not what you would want them to be.
DON’T OVERSIMPLIFY • A critical readers looks beyond the obvious, resists easy generalizations, and rejects either. • One common form of oversimplification is argument by anecdote - generalizing from a personal experience or a few examples to everyone. • Example: One person who hates their school doesn’t mean that everyone that goes their feels the same way. • Example: One ex-convict that violates parole doesn’t mean all will violate.
CONSIDER OTHER INTERPRETATIONS • In science, the goal is to arrive at a theory, an organized system of assumptions and principles that sets out to explain certain phenomena and how they are related. • Theories that come to be accepted by the scientific community make as few assumptions as possible and account for many empirical findings.
TOLERATE UNCERTAINTY • Learning to think critically teaches us how to live with uncertainty. • Sometimes there is little or no evidence to examine. • Researchers must avoid drawing firm conclusions until other researches have repeated, or replicated their studies. • In science you must be willing to tell others where you got your ideas and how you tested them so that others can challenge the findings if they think they are wrong. • We must abandon all assumptions, beliefs, and convictions.
CORRELATIONAL STUDIES: LOOKING FOR RELATIONSHIPS
JOURNAL PROMPT • Tell me what items you might pack in a “go-bag” if you were evacuated from your home. Would your items be mostly practical, sentimental or financially valuable?