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Week 1 Reading Notes

by: Elizabeth Manela

Week 1 Reading Notes SLS 20

Marketplace > Harvard University > Psychology > SLS 20 > Week 1 Reading Notes
Elizabeth Manela
Harvard University

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Notes from first three required reading chapters from Psychology: Third edition
Psychological Science
Daniel Gilbert
Psychology, Intro to Psychology
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This 15 page Bundle was uploaded by Elizabeth Manela on Tuesday April 5, 2016. The Bundle belongs to SLS 20 at Harvard University taught by Daniel Gilbert in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 8 views. For similar materials see Psychological Science in Psychology at Harvard University.

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Date Created: 04/05/16
• Psychology: the scientific study of mind and behavior • mind: the private inner experience of perceptions, thoughts, memories, and feelings • behavior: observable actions of human beings and nonhuman animals 1. What are the bases of perceptions, thoughts, memories, and feelings, or our subjective sense of self? ◦ objective, physical world vs. subjective psychological world ◦ all of our subjective experiences arise from electrical and chemical activities in brain ◦ fMRI can map different parts of the brain/their activity       2. How does the mind usually allow us to function effectively in the world? ◦ psychological processes=adaptive ▪ they promote the welfare and reproduction of organisms that engage in those processes 3. Why does the mind occasionally function so ineffectively in the world? ◦ “autopilot" ◦ ex. putting money into a machine, getting the object, and saying “thanks" ◦ mind’s mistakes are instructive Roots in Philosophy • structuralists: analyzed the mind by breaking it down into its basic components • functionalists: focused on how mental abilities allow people to adapt to their environments • nativism: (plato) the philosophical view that certain kinds of knowledge are innate or inborn ◦ ex. children and language • philosophical empiricism: (aristotle) the view that all knowledge is acquired through experience • nature vs. nurture • Descartes: the mind and the body are fundamentally different things, different substances (cartesian dualism… thanks phil 22!!!) ◦ leads to the mind-body problem… how do they interact? • phrenology: (gall) a now defunct theory that specific mental abilities and characteristics, ranging from memory to the capacity for happiness are localized in specific regions of the brain ◦ the idea that diff parts of the brain are specialized for specific psychological functions was right, but phrenology took it to an extreme ▪ ex. he said size of bumps on skull could indicate if a person was friendly, etc • other scientists proved that the mind is grounded in a material substance by studying diff forms of brain damage • physiology: the study of biological processes, especially in the human body • stimulus: sensory input from the environment • reaction time: amt of time taken to respond to a specific stimulus • Helmholtz used stimuli/reaction time to estimate how long it takes nerve impulses to travel to the brain (proved it wasn’t instantaneous)                Wilhelm Wundt below • consciousness: a person’s subjective experience of the world and the mind • structuralism: (taken from the chemist’s approach) the analysis of the basic elements that constitute the mind ◦ breaking down consciousness into elemental sensations and feelings • introspection: the subjective observation of one’s own experience ◦ ex. an observer presented with a page would not report seeing words on the page, but instead might describe a series of black marks, some straight and others curved, etc • also used reaction times to distinguish perception and interpretation of stimulus • Edward Titchener • focused on identifying the basic elements of the brain • the introspective method lost its power because of the variability in introspection ◦ think: all scientists looking at DNA through a microscope and seeing something different • William James ◦ agreed with Wundt on some points ▪ importance of focusing on immediate experience ▪ usefulness of introspection as a technique ◦ disagreed with Wundt’s claim that consciousness could be broken down into separate elements ▪ believed that trying to isolate a moment of consciousness distorted the essential nature of consciousness ▪ he saw it was a flowing stream, rather than a bundle of separate elements ◦ functionalism: approach by James— the study of the purpose mental processes serve in enabling people to adapt to their environment ◦ inspired by natural selection: the features of an organism that help it survive and reproduce are morel likely than other features to be passed on to subsequent generations ▪ James reasoned that mental abilities must have evolved because they were adaptive ▪ they hoped people solve problems and increased their chances of survival ▪ reasoned also that consciousness must serve an important biological function and the task for psychologists was to understand what those functions were • G. Stanley Hall ◦ focused on development and education and strongly influenced by evolutionary thinking ◦ believed that children pass through stages that repeat the evolutionary history of the human race ▪ the mental capacities of a young child resemble those of our ancient ancestors, and children grow over a lifetime in the same way that a species evolves over aeons The Development of Clinical Psychology • hysteria: the temporary loss of cognitive or motor functions, usually as a result of emotionally upsetting experiences ◦ when hypnotized, they regained their lost functionality  ◦ when brought out, they lost all memory of hypnosis and returned to the first state ◦ during conscious experience we are only aware of one “self” but these occurrences suggest that the brain can create many “selves” without being aware of the others ◦ inspired Sigmund Freud • Freud ◦ theorized that many of the patients’ problems could be traced the the effects of painful childhood experiences that the person couldn’t remember ◦ suggested that the powerful influence of these seemingly lost memories revealed the presence of an unconscious mind ▪ unconscious: the part of the mind that operates outside of the conscious awareness but influences conscious thoughts, feelings and actions ◦ led him to develop psychoanalytic theory: an approach that emphasizes the importance of the unconscious mental processes in shaping feelings, thoughts, and behaviors ▪ important to uncover early experiences ◦ psychoanalysis: focuses on bringing unconscious material into conscious awareness to better understand psychological disorders • Influence of Psychoanalysis and the Humanistic Response ◦ humanistic psychology ▪ an approach to understanding human nature that emphasizes the positive potential of human beings ▪ focused on the highest aspirations that people had for themselves The Search for Objective Measurement: Behaviorism Takes Center Stage • behaviorism: advocated that psychologists restrict themselves to the scientific study of objectively observable behavior • Joan Broadus Watson ◦ believed that private experience was too idiosyncratic and vague to be an object of scientific inquiry\ ◦ science required replicable, objective measurements of phenomena that were accessible to all observers, and the introspective methods used by structuralists and fundamentalists were far too subjective for that ◦ what people do rather than what they experience ◦ goal of scientific psychology: to predict and to control behavior in ways the benefit society ◦ inspired by Pavlov’s dog ◦ response: an action or physiological change elicited by a stimulus • B.F. Skinner and the Development of Behaviorism ◦ animals act on their environments in order to find food, shelter, etc ◦ skinner wondered if he could develop behaviorist principles that would explain how they learned to act in those situations ▪ built a conditioning chamber (skinner box) with a lever and a food tray— hungry rat could get to the food by using lever ▪ once the rat discovered the lever would release food, the use of the lever became increasingly frequent ▪ evidence for what he called reinforcement: the consequences of a behavior determine whether it will be more or less likely to occur again ◦ no such thing as free will— everything is determined by reinforcement (the consequences) ◦ argued that his insights could be used to increase human well-being and social problems but people pushed back against his theory of the illusion of free will Return of the Mind: Psychology Expands • Problems with Behaviorism ◦ ignored the mental processes that had fascinated psychologists such as Wundt and James ▪ found itself unable to explain some very important phenomena, such as how children learn language ◦ ignored the evolutionary history of the organisms it studied ▪ unable to explain why a rat could learn to associate nausea with food much more quickly than it could learn to associate nausea with a tone or a light • Pioneers of Cognitive Psychology ◦ Max Wertheimer ▪ study of illusions: errors of perception, memory, or judgment in which subjective experience differs from objective reality ▪ led to development of Gestalt psychology: a psychological approach that emphasized that we often perceive the whole rather than the sum of the parts ◦ Sir Frederic Bartlett ▪ memory ▪ found that participants often remembered what should have happened or what they expected to happen rather than what actually did happen ▪ suggested that memory is not a photographic reproduction of past experience and that our attempts to recall the past are powerfully influenced by our knowledge, beliefs, hopes, aspirations, and desires ◦ Jean Piaget ▪ perceptual and cognitive errors of children to gain insight into the nature and development of human mind ▪ theorized that younger children lack a particular cognitive ability that allows older children to appreciate the fact that the mass of an object remains constant even when it was divided ◦ Kurt Lewin ▪ argued that a person’s behavior in the world could be predicted best by understanding the person’s subjective experience of the world ▪ it wasn’t the stimulus but rather the person’s construal of the stimulus that determined the person’s subsequent behavior ▪ used a special kind of mathematics called topology to model the person’s subjective experience ◦ The computer ▪ both comps and humans seem to register, store, and retrieve information ▪ led psychologists to wonder whether the comp might be useful as a model for the human mind ▪ spawned a new approach called cognitive psychology: the scientific study of mental processes, including perception, thought, memory, and reasoning • Technology and the Development of Cognitive Psychology ◦ World War II ▪ military turned to psychologists to try to teach people more efficiently how to use certain techs such as radar ▪ behaviorism solved the problem by denying it so other fields decided to deny behaviorism and try to solve the problem ◦ David Broadbent ▪ what happens when people try to pay attention to several things at once ▪ observed that pilots can’t attend to many different instruments at once and must actively move the focus of their attention from one to another ▪ explained lots of mistakes ◦ George Miller ▪ we can pay attention to, and briefly hold in memory, about seven (plus or minus 2) pieces of information • The Brain Meets the Mind: The Rise of Cognitive Neuroscience ◦ behavioral neuroscience: an approach to psychology that links psychological processes to activities in the nervous system and other bodily processes ◦ cognitive neuroscience: the field of study that attempts to understand the links between cognitive processes and brain activity • The Adaptive Mind: The Emergence of Evolutionary Psychology ◦ evolutionary psychology: explains mind and behavior in terms of the adaptive value of abilities that are pressured over time by natural selection ◦ they think of the mind as a collection of specialized “modules” that are designed to solve the human problems our ancestors faced as they attempted treat, mate, and reproduce over millions of years ◦ the brain is not an all-purpose computer that can do or learn one thing just as easily as it can do or learn another… rather, it was built to do a few things well and everything else not at all Beyond the Individual: Social and Cultural Perspectives • The development of Social Psychology ◦ social psychology: the study of the causes and consequences of sociality ◦ Lewin developed a “field theory” that viewed social behavior as the product of “internal forces” (personality, goals, etc) and “external forces” (social pressure, culture) ◦ Asch performed lab experiments to examine the “mental chemistry” that allows people to combine small bits of information about another person into a full impression of that person’s personality ◦ Holocaust brought problems of conformity and obedience into sharp focus ▪ examination of the conditions under which people can influence each other to think and act in inhuman or irrational ways ◦ Civil rights movement: studying stereotypes, prejudice, racism ▪ suggested that prejudice was the result of a perceptual error that was every bit as natural and unavoidable as an optical illusion • Emergence of Cultural Psychology ◦ cultural psychology: the study of how cultures reflect and shape the psychological processes of their members ◦ visual perception, social interaction, seek to understand which are universal and which vary from place to place ◦ communication between psychologists and anthropologists ◦ absolutism: culture makes little/no difference ◦ relativism: psychological phenomena are likely to vary across cultures Empiricism: How to Know Stuff • dogmatists vs. empiricists ◦ dogma, tradition vs. data, experience • empiricism: the belief that accurate knowledge can be acquired through observation • the scientific method: procedure for finding truth by using empirical evidence • theory: hypothetical explanation of a natural phenomenon • the rule of parsimony: the simplest theory that explains all evidence is the best one ◦ aka Ockham’s razor • hypothesis: falsifiable prediction made by a theory • theories don’t give rise to hypotheses— cannot be evaluated by the scientific method • the art of looking ◦ empirical method: a set of rules and techniques for observation ◦ empirical challenges in psychology ▪ complexity of the brain ▪ variability— no two people are exactly the same ▪ reactivity: people often think, feel, and act one way when they are being observed and a different way when they are not ◦ solutions: ▪ methods of observation: allow psychologists to determine what people do ▪ methods of explanation: allow them to determine why people do it Observation: Discovering What People Do • Measurement ◦ defining the property and detecting it ▪ operational definition: a description of a property in concrete, measurable terms ▪ instrument: anything that can detect the condition to which an operational definition refers ▪ ex. define happiness: frequency with which a person smiles— then the instrument could be a computer-assisted camera/a human eye ◦ validity, reliability, and power ▪ validity: the goodness with which a concrete event defines a property ▪ reliability (in an instrument): the tendency for an instrument to produce the same measurement whenever it is asked to measure the same thing ▪ power: an instrument’s ability to detect small magnitudes of the property ◦ demand characteristics: those aspects of an observational setting that cause people to behave as they think someone else wants or expects ▪ problem for psychologists ▪ other solutions (besides naturalistic observation—below) are anonymity, involuntary behavior, or not informing subject of why they’re being observed ◦ naturalistic observation: technique for gathering scientific information by unobtrusively observing people in their natural habitats ◦ observer bias: expectations can influence observations and reality ◦ double-blind observation: an observation whose true purpose is hidden from both the observer and the person being observed • Description ◦ graphic representations ▪ frequency distribution: graphic representation of measurements arranged by the number of times each measurement was made ▪ common: bell curve/normal distribution: mathematically defined distribution in which the frequency of measurements is highest int he middle and decreases symmetrically in both directions ◦ descriptive statistics ▪ essential information ▪ central tendency, variability ▪ mode: most frequently observed measurement ▪ median: in the middle ▪ mean: average ▪ normal distribution: mean, median, mode are all the same ▪ range: value of the largest measurement minus the smallest ▪ standard deviation: statistic that describes the average difference between the measurements in a frequency distribution and the mean of that distribution Explanation: Discovering Why People Do What They Do • Correlation: correlated when the variations in the value one variable are synchronized with variations in the value of the other ◦ Patterns of Variation ▪ measure variables (make a series of measurements)— determine relationships • measuring direction and strength of a correlation ◦ correlation coefficient: mathematical measure of both the direction and strength of a correlation, symbolized by the letter “r" ▪ perfect positive correlation- r=1 ▪ perfect negative correlation- r=-1 ▪ no correlation- r=0 • causation ◦ natural correlations: correlations observed in the world around us ◦ the third-variable problem: a causal relationship between two variables cannot be inferred from the naturally occurring correlation between them because of the ever-present possibility of third-variable correlation ◦ solution^: ▪ matched samples technique: technique whereby the participants in two groups are identical in terms of a third variable ▪ matched pairs technique: technique whereby each participant is identical to one other participant in terms of a third variable • experimentation: technique for establishing the causal relationship between variables (manipulation and random assignment) • manipulation: changing a variable in order to determine its causal power ◦ independent variable: the variable that is manipulated ◦ experimental group: group of people exposed to a particular manipulation ◦ control group: group of people who are not exposed to that particular manipulation • random assignment: procedure the lets chance assign people to the experimental or the control group • self-selection: problem that occurs when anything about a person determines whether he or she will be included in the experimental or control group • significance ◦ when there is less than a 5% chance that a result would happen if random assignment had failed, then that result is said to be statistically significant (p < .05) • drawing conclusions ◦ internal validity: an attribute of an experiment that allows it to establish causal relationships ◦ external validity: an attribute of an experiment in which variables have been defined in a normal, typical, or realistic way ◦ representative people ▪ populations are rarely observed, samples are preferred ▪ case method: procedure for gathering scientific information by studying a single individual ▪ random sampling: a technique for choosing participants that ensures that every member of a population has an equal chance of being included in the sample (when this is done, the sample is said to be representative of the population so we can generalize about that population) Ethics of Science • Respecting People ◦ research should show respect for people, be beneficent, and should be just ◦ informed consent: written agreement to participate in a study made by an adult who was been informed of all the risks that participation may entail ◦ freed from coercion ◦ protection from harm ◦ risk-benefit analysis ◦ deception ◦ debriefing: verbal description of the true nature and purpose of a study ◦ confidentiality • Respecting Animals • Respecting truth Social psychology: the study of the causes and consequences of sociality Social Behavior: Interacting with People • Survival: the Struggle for Resources ◦ Aggression: behavior with the purpose of harming another ◦ Frustration-aggression hypothesis: animals aggress when their desires are frustrated ▪ argue that the cause of aggressive behavior is negative affect (feeling bad) and that a frustrated desire is just one of many things that might induce negative affect ▪ not every kind of negative affect gives rise to aggression ◦ Biology and aggression ▪ gender is the single best predictor of aggression ▪ testosterone (higher in men than women) ▪ men with unrealistically high self-esteem are most prone to aggression because they see certain actions as a challenge to their idea of themselves ▪ aggression in women is usually more premeditated than impulsive and more likely focused on protecting a resource ▪ much less likely than men to aggress without provocation or in ways that cause physical injury ▪ only slightly less likely to aggress in ways that cause psychological injury ▪ may be more likely than men to aggress by causing social harm (ostracizing others, etc) ◦ Culture and Aggression ▪ Aggression varies with geography ▪ violent crime is more common in the south— men are taught to react aggressively when they feel their status has been challenged ▪ south- nicer than north when unchallenged, but more aggressive when challenged • Cooperation: behavior by two or more individuals that leads to mutual benefit ◦ Risk and Trust ▪ cooperation is beneficial but risky ▪ Prisoner’s Dilemma ◦ Groups and Favoritism ▪ group: collection of people who have something in common that distinguishes them from others ▪ prejudice: positive or negative evaluation of another person based on their group membership ▪ discrimination: positive or negative behavior toward another person based on their group membership ▪ “i’m one of us, not one of them” is sufficient to produce prejudice and discrimination, even among strangers ▪ when groups try to make decisions, they rarely do better than the best member would have done alone, and they quite often do worse ▪ don’t fully capitalize on the expertise of their members ▪ susceptible to the common knowledge effect ▪ the tendency for group discussions to focus on information that all members share ▪ group discussion often acts as an “amplifier” of initial opinions ▪ group polarization: the tendency for groups to make decisions that are more extreme than any member would have made alone ▪ groupthink: the tendency for groups to reach consensus in order to facilitate interpersonal harmony ▪ groups often sacrifice the goodness of their decisions in order to achieve harmony ▪ deindividuation: occurs when immersion in a group causes people to become less concerned with their personal values ▪ diffusion of responsibility: the tendency for individuals to feel diminished responsibility for their actions when they are surrounded by others who are acting the same way ▪ social loafing: the tendency for people to expend less effort when in a group than alone ▪ bystander intervention: the act of helping strangers in an emergency situation ▪ people are less likely to help an innocent person in destress when there are many other bystanders present, simply because they assume that one of the other bystanders is more responsible than they are ▪ one of the best predictors of a person’s wellbeing is the extent of their group memberships ◦ Altruism: behavior that benefits another without benefiting oneself ▪ kin selection: process by which evolution selects for individuals who cooperate with their relatives ▪ cooperating with relatives isn’t really altruistic (warning signs in squirrels when a hawk is near) ◦ Reciprocal altruism: behavior that benefits another with the expectation that those benefits will be returned in the future ▪ not truly altruistic— just an extension of cooperation  • Reproduction: The Quest for Immortality ◦ Selectivity ▪ women tend to be choosier than men in mating ▪ biology: men have essentially limitless sperm, women have a limited number of eggs ▪ pregnancy is a lengthy process, an investment of sorts ◦ Attraction ▪ Situational factors ▪ mere exposure effect: the tendency for liking to increase with the frequency of exposure ▪ Physical Factors ▪ appearance— dance study where appearance was the only factor that truly determined attraction between randomly assigned partners ▪ beautiful people have more sex, more friends, and more fun and more money ▪ body shape ▪ men: triangle, women: hourglass ▪ symmetry ▪ bilateral symmetry is considered attractive ▪ age ▪ female faces are considered more attractive when less mature ▪ Psychological Factors ▪ similarity in everything (except gender, generally) ◦ Relationships ▪ reproduction usually occurs in long-term relationships ▪ babies are born without being fully developed so they need more care ▪ Love and Marriage ▪ people don’t marry to solve the “big-headed baby problem,” they marry bc love ▪ not always that way^ historically, it was a practical thing more than anything ▪ passionate love: an experience involving feelings of euphoria, intimacy, and intense sexual attraction ▪ compassionate love: an experience involving affection, trust, and concern for a partner’s well-being ▪ ideal relationship involves both^ • Divorce: When the Costs Outweigh the Benefits ◦ Social exchange: the hypothesis that people rain in relationships only as long as they perceive a favorable ratio of costs to benefits ▪ comparison level: the cost-benefit ratio that people believe they deserve for could attain in another relationship ▪ equity: state of affairs in which the cost-benefit ratios of two partners are roughly equal Social Influence: Controlling People • Social influence; the ability to control another person’s behavior • three basic motivations that make humans susceptible to social influence ◦ 1. people are motivated to experience pleasure and avoid experiencing pain (hedonic motive) ◦ 2. people are motivated to be accepted and avoid being rejected (approval motive) ▪ normative influence: occurs when another person’s behavior provides information about what is appropriate ▪ norms: customary standards for behavior that are widely shared by members of a culture ▪ norm of reciprocity: the unwritten rule that people should benefit those who have benefitted them ▪ door-in-the-face technique: an influence strategy that involves getting someone to deny an initial request (more likely to approve the second) ▪ conformity: the tendency to do what others do simply because others are doing it ▪ obedience: the tendency to do what powerful people tell us to do ◦ 3. people are motivated to believe what is right and avoid believing what is wrong (accuracy motive) ▪ attitude: an enduring positive or negative evaluation of an object or event ▪ belief: an enduring piece of knowledge about an object or event ▪ informational influence: occurs when another person’s behavior provides information about what is true ▪ persuasion: occurs when a person’s attitudes or beliefs are influenced by a communication from another person ▪ systematic persuasion: the process by which attitudes or beliefs are changed by appeals to reason ▪ heuristic persuasion: the process by which attitudes or beliefs are changed by appeals to habit or emotion ▪ consistency ▪ people evaluate the accuracy of new beliefs by assessing their consistency with old beliefs ▪ foot-in-the-door technique: making a small request and then following it with a larger request ▪ cognitive dissonance: an unpleasant state that arises when a person recognize the inconsistency of his or her actions, attitudes, beliefs Social Cognition: Understanding People • Social cognition: the processes by which people come to understand others • Stereotyping: process by which people draw inferences about others based on their knowledge of the categories to which others belong ◦ can be inaccurate, overused, automatic ◦ self-perpetuating ▪ self-fulfilling prophecy: the tendency for people to behave as they are expected to behave ▪ stereotype threat: the fear of confirming the negative beliefs that others may hold ▪ perceptual confirmation: the tendency for people to see what they expect to see ▪ sub typing: the tendency for people who receive disconfirming evidence to modify their stereotypes rather than abandon them • Attribution: drawing inferences from actions ◦ correspondence bias: the tendency to make a dispositional attribution when we should instead make a situational attribution ◦ actor-observer effect: the tendency to make situational attributions for our own behaviors while making dispositional attributions for the identical behavior of others


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