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The Science of Psychology

Lecture for PSYC 101 Class 2

Clare Gruszka

on 16 September 2012

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Transcript of The Science of Psychology

Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes
Behavior: All of our outward or overt actions and reactions, such as talking, facial expressions, and movement
Mental processes: All the internal, covert activity of our minds such as thinking, feeling, and remembering What is Psychology? Why Science?? To study behavior and mental processes in animals and humans, researchers must observe them
Psychologists try to eliminate bias and be objective through using the scientific method to study psychology 4 Goals of Psychology 1. Description: What is happening? 2. Explanation: Why is it happening? 3. Prediction: When will it happen again? 4. Control: How can it be changed? The History of Psychology Psychology began as a science in 1879
Wilhelm Wundt established a psychological laboratory and developed the technique of objective introspection Objective Introspection: The process of objectively examining and measuring one's own thoughts and mental activities Edward Titchener, a student of Wundt's, brought psychology to America in the form of structuralism Structuralism: A focus on the structure or basic elements of the mind; Belief that every experience can be broken down into individual emotions and physical sensations William James proposed a countering point of view called functionalism, that stressed the way the mind allows us to adapt, live, work, and play (German word meaning an organized whole) Believed that people naturally seek out patterns ("wholes") in the sensory information available to them Sigmund Freud proposed that the unconscious mind controls much of our conscious behavior in his theory of psychoanalysis
Proposed that there is an unconscious (unaware) mind into which we push, or repress, all of our threatening urges and desires
Believed that these repressed urges, in trying to surface, create mental disorders Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, showed that a reflex ( an involuntary reaction) could be caused to occur in response to a formerly unrelated stimulus John Watson proposed a science of behavior called behaviorism Behaviorism: Focuses only on the study of observable stimuli and responses Watson and Rayner demonstrated that a phobia could be learned by conditioning a baby to be afraid of a white rat Modern Freudians such as Anna Freud, Jung, and Adler changed the emphasis on Freud's original theory into a kind of neo-Freudianism
Focus includes the unconscious mind and its influence over conscious behavior and on early childhood experiences, but less of an emphasis on sex and sexual motivations and more emphasis on the development of a sense of self, social and interpersonal relationships, and the discovery of other motivations behind a person's behavior Psychodynamic Perspective B.F. Skinner's operant conditioning of voluntary behavior became a major force in the twentieth century
Skinner introduced the concept of reinforcement to behaviorism Behavioral Perspective Humanism: focuses on free will and the human potential for growth
Developed by Maslow and Rogers, as a reaction to the deterministic nature of behaviorism and psychoanalysis
View that people have free will, the freedom to choose their own destiny, and strive for self-actualization (the achievement of one's full potential) Humanistic Perspective Study of learning, memory, language, and problem solving, and includes the field of cognitive neuroscience
If we want to know what makes people "tick," then we need to understand the internal processes of their minds Cognitive Perspective (McLeod, S. A. (2007). Cognitive Approach in Psychology. Retrieved from http://www.simplypsychology.org/cognitive.html) Combines two areas of study: social psychology and cultural psychology
Two areas are related in that they are both about the effect that people have on one another, either individually or in a larger group such as a culture
Perspective is important because it reminds people that the way they and others behave (or even think) is influence not only by whether they are alone, with friends, in a crowd, or part of a group, but also by the social norms, fads, class differences, and ethnic identity concerns of the particular culture in which they live
Cross-cultural research also occurs within this perspective Sociocultural Perspective Social Psychology: study of groups, social roles, and rules of social actions and relationships Cultural psychology: study of cultural norms, values, and expectations Biopsychology emerged as the study of the biological bases of behavior, such as hormones, heredity, chemicals in the nervous system, structural defects in the brain and the effects of physical diseases Biopsychological Perspective Principles of evolution and the knowledge we currently have about evolution are used in this perspective to look at the way the mind works and why it works as it does
Behavior is seen as having an adaptive or survival value Evolutionary Perspective The scientific method is a way to determine facts and control the possibilities or error and bias when observing behavior
There are 5 steps... Psychology and the Scientific Method Perceiving the Question: You notice something interesting happening in your surroundings for which you would like to have an explanation 1 Forming a hypothesis: Form a tentative answer or explanation for behavior you have observed 2 3 Testing the hypothesis: determining if the factor you suspect has an effect and that the results were not due to chance or luck; method you use to test your hypothesis will depend on exactly what kind of answer you think you might get 4 Drawing conclusions: once you know the results of your hypothesis testing, you will find that either your hypothesis was supported--which means your experiment worked, and that your measurements supported your initial observations--or that your hypothesis was not supported, which means that you need to go back to square one and think of another possible explanation for what you have observed 5 Reporting the results: you have come to some conclusion about your investigation's success or failure, and you want to let other researchers know what you have found, even if your experiment did not find support for your hypothesis There are a number of different ways to investigate the answers to research questions
What method is used depends on the kind of question being asked
If the question is, "What has happened?" or "What is happening?", a descriptive method is used Descriptive Methods Involve watching animals or people in their natural environments Naturalistic Observations Advantages:
Allows researchers to get a realistic picture of how behavior occurs
In a more controlled, arranged environment, like a laboratory, might get behavior that is contrived or artificial rather than genuine Disadvantages:
Lack of control
Observer effect: Animals or people who know they are being watched will not behave normally
Observer bias: Happens when person doing observing has a particular opinion about what he/she expects to see, thus sometimes that person recognizes only those actions that support the preconceived expectation and ignores actions that coincide with it Involve watching animals or people in an artificial, but controlled situations, such as a laboratory Laboratory Observations Advantage: control over environment Disadvantage: may produce artificial behavior Detailed investigations of one subject Case Studies Advantages:
Amount of detail provided
Enables study of rare phenomena Disadvantages:
Cannot apply results to other people
Vulnerable to researcher bias Researchers will ask a series of questions about the topic being studied
Can be conducted in person in the form of interviews or on the telephone, the Internet, or with a questionnaire Surveys Advantages:
Ability to ask a lot of questions
Ability to survey a large amount of people Disadvantages:
Researchers need to ensure that a representative population is surveyed
People may not provide accurate or truthful answers Correlation: a statistical technique that allows researchers to discover and predict relationships between variables of interest; a measure of a relationship between two or more variables Finding Relationships Variable: anything that can change or vary (scores on a test, temperature, gender, etc.) Is there a relationship between smoking behavior and life expectancy?? For Example, We have 2 variables:
1. Number of cigarettes smoked per day
2. Age of person at death After examining the data, have two sets of numbers for each person in the study that go into a mathematical formula Produces a number called a correlation coefficient, which represents the direction and strength of the relationship Direction: As one variable increases, does the other increase or decrease?
As smoking increases, does life expectancy go up or down?
Positive correlation: Exists when increases in one variable are matched by increases in the other variable
Negative correlation: Exists when increases in one variable are matched by decreases in the other variable Strength: Determined by the correlation coefficient
Will range between +1.00 and -1.00
The stronger the relationship, the closer the number is to +1 or -1
The weaker the relationship, the closer the number is to zero Correlations CANNOT be used to prove cause-and-effect relationships
Just because two variables are related to each other, researchers cannot assume that one of them causes the other to occur Modern Perspectives The only research method that will allow researchers to determine the cause of a behavior by deliberately manipulating some variable and measuring changes in the variable of interest The Science of Psychology Experiments These are our Operational Definitions: clear, concise detailed definitions of a measure Say we want to know if violent cartoons cause aggression in children... We need to define what a violent cartoon is and what constitutes aggression in children First, Then, We can assign our independent and dependent variables Independent variable: the variable that is manipulated (i.e. violent cartoons) Dependent variable: the measure used to evaluate the manipulation of the independent variable (i.e. aggression in children) Next, We can assign participants to the experimental or control group Experimental: gets the independent variable or experimental manipulation (i.e. children in this group are shown violent cartoons) Control: receives no treatment or treatment that should not have an effect (i.e. children in this group are shown a non-violent cartoon) But wait... How should we assign participants to these groups?? Random assignment to groups is the best way to assure control over extraneous variables or confounding variables, variables that interfere with each other Beware... of experimental hazards Placebo effect: beliefs or expectations about a study can influence participants' behavior Experimenter effect: experimenter's biases can affect of influence participants' behavior These can be controlled through single-blind (participant "blind" to treatment/condition) and double-blind studies where the experimenter measuring the dependent variable does not know the treatment/condition associated with the data Don't worry, So, Let's look at a few examples: One more VERY important thing: Before we move on, let's practice... But, WHY??? So, what does all this mean for me? Applying Psychology to Everyday Life: Thinking Critically About Critical Thinking We live out principles of psychology everyday, thus, "The real world is full of opportunities for scientific thinking" So, let's learn to think critically about the world around us... 1. There are few concepts that do not need to be tested 4 Basic Criteria of Critical Thinking 2. Evidence can vary in quality 3. Claims by experts or authorities do not automatically make something true 4. Keeping an open mind is important Is there evidence for this claim? How do you know that? What is the evidence? Evaluate how evidence is gathered before deciding that it provides good support for some idea How was the evidence gathered? What methods did they use? How good is the evidence? Are there other alternative explanations? Is the alternative explanation simpler? The Law of Parsimony: if there are two explanations for some phenomenon and both account for the phenomenon equally well, the simplest explanation is most often the best one Critical thinking requires a delicate balance between skepticism and willingness to consider possibilities...even possibilities that contradict previous judgments or beliefs Now it's time for.... Name That Research Method! 100 200 300 400 500 Ben is counseling with Fennimore Jones in a small room in the neuropsychiatric hospital. Ben is a graduate student in clinical psychology and Fennimore is his client. Fennimore was admitted to the neuropsychiatric hospital when he came to the student health clinic complaining that he hears voices shouting obscenities at him, and confiding that he thinks he is going through a spontaneous sex change. After each session with Fennimore, Ben writes a report describing Fennimore’s verbal and nonverbal behavior and his interpretations of the behavior. Case Study Dee is an assistant professor who will teach introductory psychology for the first time next term. She has chosen some films to show to her class of more than 200 students, and is now preparing a questionnaire to administer to her students after each film. She thinks getting student reactions to the films will be helpful next time she teaches the class. Survey Ed is an undergraduate psychology major. For his senior thesis he is investigating the nature of the audience for pornography. This afternoon he is sitting in his car across the street from one of the pornographic bookstores in the area. He is taking notes on the sex, approximate age, and ethnicity of the patrons as they enter and leave the store. Naturalistic Observation Frank is a full professor who is interested in the factors that affect the performance of rats who are
learning to find their way through a complex maze. Every afternoon he gives each of his 50 rats ten
trials in the maze, counting the number of wrong turns each rat makes on its way through the maze. Laboratory Observation Ada is testing the hypothesis that color preference can be influenced by associating a color with a pleasant experience, such as eating. This afternoon she is delivering a supply of red, yellow, blue, green, and white nursing bottles to the mothers of newborns who have consented to let their infants be subjects in her research. Experiment Based on Ciccarelli, S.K. & White, J.N. (2012). Psychology (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
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