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Elements of Psychology, notes for Topic 1

by: Cos

Elements of Psychology, notes for Topic 1 PSY 1113

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These are the notes that summarize the contents of the first two weeks of class of the course and the first topic of the textbook. It is summarized and condensed, and it contains everything that wi...
Elements of Psychology
Jenel Cavazos
Class Notes
Psychology, correlation, causation, types of sampling, types of observations, types of data, areasofspecialization
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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Cos on Sunday September 25, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PSY 1113 at University of Oklahoma taught by Jenel Cavazos in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 13 views. For similar materials see Elements of Psychology in Psychology at University of Oklahoma.


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Date Created: 09/25/16
PSYCHOLOGY – FIRST EXAM topic 1: defining psychology Psychology is the scientific study of human behavior and mental processes.  Scientific study: psychology uses systematic methods to observe human behavior and draw conclusions.  Goals of psychology: to describe, predict and explain behavior; to help control it or change it in some cases.  Behavior: everything a person does which can be directly observed.  Mental processes: thoughts, feelings, motives which are experienced privately (but are nonetheless real). Critical thinking is employed in psychology by reflecting deeply and actively, asking questions and evaluating the evidence. Thinking critically means asking ourselves how we know something. In addition, scientists are characterized by skepticism: they challenge whether a supposed fact is really true, looking at assumptions in new and questioning ways. By using the empirical method, psychologists gain knowledge through the observation of events, the collection of data and logical reasoning. They are open to the evidence; they think objectively. There are many branches of psychology; among them, positive psychology specializes in human strengths and focuses in topics like gratitude, forgiveness, optimism. Wilhelm Wundt integrated pieces from philosophy and the natural sciences to convert psychology into an academic discipline.  Performed an experiment to measure time lag between the instant a person heard a sound and the moment he pressed a telegraph key to signal having heard it: he believed that mental processes could be measured.  He focused on studying the basic elements (“structures”) of mental processes; this approach was called structuralism, and his method consisted of introspection (“looking inside”, focusing on one’s own thoughts). o To do this, he would ask a person to think about what was going on mentally as various events took place: he’d be subjected to a repetitive clicking sound, and then might have to report what feelings and thoughts the clicking produced. o This was a scientific method because it required a systematic, detailed self- report in a controlled laboratory setting. William James: instead of focusing on what the mind is, he focused on what the mind is for: its purposes and functions.  His view has named functionalism, and consisted in probing the functions and purposes of the mind and behavior in the individual’s adaption to the environment.  Functionalists would focus on human interactions with the outside world, and the purpose of thoughts. It is a view deeply inspired by Darwin’s evolutionary theories.  William James didn’t believe in rigid structures in the mind, but rather thought that the mind was something flexible and fluid characterized by constant change in response to a continuous flow of information from the world: the “stream of consciousness.” In psychology, there are seven different approaches: (1) biological, (2) behavioral, (3) cognitive, (4) evolutionary, (5) humanistic, (6) psychodynamic and (7) sociocultural. 1. Biological approach: the body, the brain and nervous system.  it might involve genetics, heredity and evolution; instincts; hormones and neurotransmitters…  neuroscience is the scientific study of the structure, function, development, genetics and biochemistry of the nervous system. o Possible studies from this approach: the way the heart races when a person is afraid, or how the hands sweat when someone lies. 2. Behavioral approach: observable behavioral responses and their environmental determinants. It focuses on an organism’s visible interactions with the environment.  behaviorists were deeply influenced by John B. Watson and B. F. Skinner.  Skinner: psychology should be about what people do, their actions and behaviors, and not about things that cannot be seen, like thoughts or feelings. He believed that our behaviors are determined by rewards and punishments.  Nowadays, most behaviorists don’t accept the earlier rejection of thought processes (cognition). 3. Psychodynamic approach: unconscious thought, conflict between biological drives and society’s demands, early childhood family experiences.  sexual and aggressive impulses are buried deep within the unconscious mind and they influence how people think, feel and behave.  Sigmund Freud: early relationships with parents shape an individual’s personality. Psychoanalysis was about unlocking a person’s unconscious conflicts by talking to the individual about childhood memories, dreams, thoughts and feelings.  Today psychodynamic theorists focus more on cultural and social experiences as determinants of behavior rather than sexual drives. 4. Humanistic approach: a person’s potential and positive qualities, capacity of growth, the freedom to choose one’s destiny.  people have the ability to control their lives and are not simply controlled by the environment.  rather than by unconscious impulses or external rewards, people are guided by their choices to live by higher human values such as altruism and free will.  it often ends up in research about motivation, emotion and personality psychology. 5. Cognitive approach: mental processes involved in knowing: how we direct our attention, perceive, remember, think, solve problems.  often focuses on information processing, the ways that the human mind processes, weighs, stores and applies information to decision making. o Possible studies from this approach: how we solve math problems, why we remember somethings for only a short time but others for a lifetime, how we use our imagination to plan for the future. 6. Evolutionary approach: adaptation, reproduction and natural selection are the basis for explaining specific human behaviors.  as evolution molds our physical features, it also influences decision making, level of aggressiveness, fears, mating patterns.  the way we behave is traceable to problems early humans faced in adapting to their environment. 7. Sociocultural approach: how social and cultural environments influence behavior, and which ones do.  understanding a person’s behavior involves knowing about the cultural context in which the behavior occurs.  this approach involves the comparison between cultures to identify similarities or differences in the way people belonging to such cultures behave. o Possible studies from this approach: how do cultural differences help or hinder business negotiations? Undergraduate training in psychology: able to work in human resources and business consulting, or doing casework for individuals struggling with psychological disorders. Graduate training in psychology: able to work as therapists, counselors, researchers and teachers in universities, or as business consultants or marketing researchers. Psychologists primarily engaged in helping others are practitioners of psychology; they spend time in clinical practice, seeing clients, offering guidance… but they also pay attention to scientific research. They engage in evidence-based practice – the use of therapeutic tools whose effectiveness is supported by empirical research. Differences between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist:  a clinical psychologist spends four to five years of grad work and a year of internship in a mental health facility, but is not allowed to prescribe drugs.  a psychiatrist is a physician with a medical degree that specializes in abnormal behavior and psychotherapy; a psychiatrist can prescribe drugs, unlike clinical psychologists. Areas of specialization a. Physiological psychology – study physical processes that underlie mental operations like vision and memory; they may use animal models to examine such topics. b. Behavioral neuroscience – focuses on biological processes, especially the brain’s role in behavior. c. Sensation and perception – physical systems and psychological process that allow us to experience the world. d. Learning – the intricate process by which behavior changes in response to changing circumstances. It is studied using animals like rats and pigeons; it is addressed from both the behavioral and the cognitive perspective. e. Cognitive psychology – deals with attention, memory, information processing and consciousness; and with skills like problem solving, decision making, expertise and intelligence. Experimental psychologists study both sensation-perception and cognitive psychology. f. Developmental psychology – how people become who they are from conception to death. They study biological and environmental factors that contribute to human development. They study child development, adult development and aging. They use biological, cognitive and sociocultural approaches. g. Motivation and emotion – study resilience in individuals when attaining difficult goals, how rewards affect motivation; the physiological and brain processes that underlie emotional experience; the role of emotional expression in health; the possibility that emotions are universal. h. Women and Gender – psychological, social and cultural influences on women’s development and behavior. Integration of information about women with current psychological knowledge and beliefs, applying that information to society and its institutions. Understanding the broad topic of gender, and how our biological sex influences our ideas about ourselves as men and women. i. Personality psychology – considers personality, enduring characteristics of individuals. It studies traits, goals, motives, genetics, personality development, well-being… aspects of the psychological makeup that make you you. j. Social psychology – people’s interactions with one another: relationships, social perceptions, attitudes; the influence of groups on individuals’ thinking, behavior and attitudes; close interpersonal relationships. k. Industrial and organizational psychology – centers on the workplace; workers and employers alike. Industrial psychology deals with personnel matters and human resource management. Organizational psychology deals with social influences in organizations and organizational leadership. l. Clinical and Counseling psychology – counseling psychology help to solve practical problems in life, with students, for example. Clinical psychologists are interested in psychopathology: the scientific study of psychological disorders and the development of diagnostic categories and treatments for those disorders. m. Health psychology – multidimensional approach. Emphasizes psychological factors, lifestyle and delivery of healthcare system; the role of stress and coping; they may work in physical or mental health areas. n. Community psychology – improving quality of relationships among individuals, community and society. Strive to create communities that are more supportive, teaching people how to access resources and preventing mental health problems by identifying high-risk groups and intervening with appropriate services and resources in the community. o. School and educational psychology – concerns children’s learning and adjustment in school, both in elementary, secondary and higher education systems. p. Environmental psychology – study of the interactions between people and their physical environment: effects of physical settings in major areas of psychology. How different building and room arrangements influence behavior; what can be done to reduce human behavior that harms the environment. q. Forensic psychology – applies psychological concepts to the legal system: jury selection, testify as experts in trials, etc. r. Sport psychology – applies psychology’s principles to improving sport performance. s. Cross-cultural psychology – the study of culture’s role in understanding behavior, thought, emotion; whether psychological phenomena are universal or culture-specific.


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