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Psyc-Lecture Notes

on 10 September 2013

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Transcript of Chapter01

Nature vs. Nurture
What is Psychology?

:study of human mind and behaviour
Nature: the impact of biology
Nurture: the impact of environment
Which of them does affect our psychological characteristic?
Psychological science depends on understanding both the genetic
basis of human nature and the environment that shapes it.
Mind Vs. Body
Evolutionary Theory and Adaptation to Environment
The mind and body are
separate and distinct (Dualism)
The mind is simply the subjective experience of the physical brain
Each and every behaviour can be traced back to the brain. All our behaviours can be explained by the acts of nerve cells
Descartes, French philosopher, brought a new perspective to Dualism by bringing mind and body closer to each other. Descartes' Dualism helped open the door for a science of psychology.
evolutionary changes occur in our body and anatomy
Charles Darwin's studies showed that
by natural selection
Adaptation: so that we can fit into the environment and survive
Heritable characteristics that provide survival advantage are more likely than alternative characteristics to be passed on to following generations. These characteristics will be selected over time.
We inherit certain characteristics that serve us for survival.
Around the same time with Descartes, English philosopher named Thomas Hobbes argued that
spirit or soul is a meaningless concept.
nothing exists but matter and energy (materialism)
all human behaviour can be understood in terms of physical processes in the body, especially the brain.
Hobbes' ideas and materialism led to Empiricism (information is gained by means of observation, experience, or experiment) . Empiricists argued that we come to the world as a blank page and we fill it with experiences. We are reflections of our experiences in the physical and social environment.
Another group called nativists argued that some
knowledge and rules of operation are native to human mind. For instance our ability to learn a language is innate and we are preprogrammed for that. However, nativist had no scientific explanations and these came from the studies of Charles Darwin.
Rise of Social
Psychologists started to study mind by trying to understand its structure.
They were focusing on conscious experience (feelings, images, sensations).
Their method was introspection.
Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychology lab & institute in Leipzig, Germany.
This is accepted as the date of birth for psychology.
Wundt trained many psychologists. These new psychologists established psyc labs throughout Europe, Canada and United States.
William James believed that mind is too complex and it cannot be broken down into its elements.
Investigating individual thought is not possible.There is a continuous flow of thoughts, stream of consciousness that needs to be analyzed.
They believed that psychologists should examine the functions served by the mind.
Functionalists were highly influenced by Darwinian thinking. Mind exists to help organism adapt to environmental demands. That's why they were concerned with applying psychological research to the real world. They studied topics like patterns of development in children and the effectiveness of educational practices.
Freud created a theory of unconsciousness which was able to explain many aspects of human mind and behaviour.

His theory influenced many other studies, especially about the
unconsciousness but it is still very controversial.

There are two important ideas that Freud brought up. One is the 'existence of unconsciousness and unconscious motivation'. The second is that 'unconscious conflicts exist and lead to mental illnesses, dreams, and slips of tongue'

According to Freud, there are three distinct processes going on in your head unconsciously:

(a) Id: It is the animal part of the self, works with pleasure principle. It wants pleasure and it wants it now.

(b) Ego: It handles the desires of the id by either planning how to satisfy it either by planning how to suppress them. It is the self and works on the reality principle.

(c) Superego: It is the internalized rules of society.

Interaction of these three processes leads to unconscious conflicts and affects your thoughts, feelings and behaviour.
The whole idea of studying mental processes were criticized by some scholars as being unscientific.
Behaviourists argued that if psychology is to be a science, then observable events, in other words, behaviours should be studied.
They argued that everything is a result of learning and experience.
Since mental processes were not important, they thought human learning can be studied by studying learning in animals. Research on animals increased with behaviourism.
Important figures in Behaviourism were John Watson and B. F. Skinner.
Cognitive psychologists argued that mental functions are important for understanding behaviour.
They were highly concerned with high-order mental functions such as intelligence, thinking, language, memory and decision making.
An important factor in the rise of cognitive psychology was growing use of computers and software programs, which are based on rules for how information is processed.
This group of thought arose in 1950's as a results of the Second War World.
Psychologists wanted to understand how people turn into evil and do really bad things to each other.
Even though it was thought to be a personality issue, it became clear that social situations affect us more than we think.
Power of situation were discovered and authority, obedience and group behaviour started to be studied.
Humanism emerged as a reaction to dehumanizing view of behaviourism and psychoanalysis.
Both behaviourism and psychoanalysis failed to recognize unique qualities of human behaviour: freedom and potential for growth
Humanists believed that human behaviour is governed primarily by each individual's sense of self.
Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow were the representatives of this school of thought.
Stanley Milgram wanted to determine the extent to which people are willing to follow authorities' orders. He invited participants to the lab. He said they are trying to understand the effectiveness of punishment on learning. The participant is selected as the teacher and the learner went to the next room, strapped into an electrical chair. Teacher (participant) started to ask questions and every time the learner made a mistake, he delivered shocks (The learner was not actually receiving any shocks). The intensity of the shock increased with each mistake and at some point the learner, sitting in the next room, started to scream. At this point participants turned to the experimenter (the authority) for guidence. Experimenter said "It is absolutely essential that you continue". Out of 40 participants, how many of them do you think delivered the entire series of shock (including the highest levels that can kill a person)?
Starting in 1980's, psychologists realized that the studies have been conducted on typical, middle-class, white Americans.
Cultural variability and diversity have been ignored.
Development in communication, travel and international trade brought people from different backgrounds together. These developments increased the cultural awareness.
By 1990's, with the leadership of Seligman, psychologists argued that psychology devoted too much attention to pathology, weaknesses, treatment of disorders and it is time to focus on building positive qualities.
Positive psychologists tried to use theory and research to better understand the positive, adaptive, creative and fulfilling aspects of human behaviour.
Their area of interest are positive emotions, personal strengths, and positive institutions and communities, such as healthy work environment and supportive neighbourhood communities.
Clinical Psychologist
Counseling Psychologists
Educational School Psychologist
Industrial/Organizational Psychologist
Developmental Psychology
Social Psychology
Cognitive Psychology
Clinical Psychology
Cognitive Neuroscience
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