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Date Created: 10/31/15
Gazzaniga • Heatherton • Halpern Psychological Science FIFTH EDITION Chapter 1 The Science of Psychology ©2015 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. 1.1 What Is Psychological Science? Learning Objectives • Define psychological science. • Define critical thinking, and describe what it means to be a critical thinker. • Identify the eight major biases in thinking, and explain why these biases result in errors in reasoning. 1.1 What Is Psychological Science? • Psychological science is the study, through research, of mind, brain, and behavior. – The mind (mental activity: perceptions, thoughts, memories, and feelings) – The brain (mental activity results from biological processes within the brain) – Behavior (observable actions) Psychological Science Teaches Critical Thinking • Psychologists critically evaluate information to reach reasonable conclusions. • Critical thinking systematically questions and evaluates information using well-supported evidence. – A savvy consumer of scientific research practices amiable skepticism. Psychological Reasoning Examines How People Typically Think • Psychological reasoning refers to using psychological research to examine how people typically think in order to understand when and why they are likely to draw erroneous conclusions. • Critical thinking: systematically questioning and evaluating information using well- supported evidence Psychological Reasoning Examines How People Typically Think • Noncritical thinking can lead to erroneous conclusions. – Ignoring evidence (confirmation bias) – Failing to accurately judge source credibility – Misunderstanding or not using statistics – Seeing relationships that do not exist – Using relative comparisons – Accepting after-the-fact explanations – Taking mental shortcuts – Failing to see our own inadequacies (self-serving bias) What to Believe? Using Psychological Reasoning • Failing to see our own inadequacies: Why are people unaware of their weaknesses? – Fremdschämen: refers to times when we experience embarrassment for other people in part because they do not realize that they should be embarrassed for themselves – People are often blissfully unaware of their weaknesses because they do not assess themselves objectively. What to Believe? Using Psychological Reasoning – If people lack the skills to produce correct answers, they are also cursed with an inability to know when their answers, or anyone else’s, are right or wrong. – In studies of college students, Dunning and Kruger found that people with the lowest grades rate their mastery of academic skills much higher than evidenced by their performance. What to Believe? Using Psychological Reasoning – To make matters worse, people who are unaware of their weaknesses fail to make any efforts at self-improvement to overcome those weaknesses. – Kruger and Dunning have shown that teaching people specific skills helps them to be more accurate in judging their performance. – People may need help in identifying their weaknesses before they can fix them. What to Believe? Using Psychological Reasoning • Why are people so inaccurate in the first place? – They generally start with extremely positive views about their abilities. – Most people believe they are better than average in many things. 1.2 What Are the Scientific Foundations of Psychology ? Learning Objectives • Trace the development of psychology since its formal inception in 1879. • Define the nature/nurture debate and the mind/body problem. • Identify the major schools of thought that have characterized the history of experimental psychology. 1.2 What Are the Scientific Foundations of Psychology ? • Psychology originated in philosophy. – Chinese and Muslim philosophers and scientists speculated about human behavior. – In nineteenth-century Europe, psychology emerged as a scientific discipline. • Development of schools of thought The Nature/Nurture Debate Has a Long History • Ancient Greek philosophers Aristotle and Plato debated the source of human psychology. • Culture: the beliefs, values, rules, and customs that exist within a group of people who share a common language and environment The Nature/Nurture Debate Has a Long History • Nature/nurture debate: the arguments concerning whether psychological characteristics are biologically innate or acquired through education, experience, and culture • The view today: Nature and nurture influence each other and are inseparable. The Mind/Body Problem Also Has Ancient Roots • Mind/body problem: a fundamental psychological issue asking whether mind and body are separate and distinct or the mind is simply the physical brain’s subjective experience – Early scholars: The mind is entirely separate from, and in control of, the body. – 1500s: Leonardo da Vinci challenged this doctrine. – 1600s: Cartesian dualism suggested body and mind were indeed separate but that some mental functions resulted from bodily functions. Experimental Psychology Began with Introspection • Early 1800s: John Stuart Mill argued that psychology should be a science of observation and experimentation. • 1879: Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychology laboratory. – Wundt realized that psychological processes, the products of physiological actions in the brain, take time to occur. Therefore, he used a measure developed earlier, called reaction time, to assess how quickly people can respond to events. Experimental Psychology Began with Introspection • Laboratories were established throughout Europe, Canada, and the United States. • Introspection: a systematic examination of subjective mental experiences that requires people to inspect and report on the content of their thoughts Introspection and Other Methods Led to Structuralism • Edward Titchener: pioneered a school of thought that became known as structuralism • Structuralism: an approach to psychology based on the idea that conscious experience can be broken down into its basic underlying components – Used introspection to study consciousness – Problems with introspection: Experience is subjective and reporting the experience changes it. Functionalism Addressed the Purpose of Behavior • William James: physiologist, philosopher – Principles of Psychology (1890) • Mary Whiton Calkins, first woman to set up a psychological laboratory and first woman president of the American Psychological Association Functionalism Addressed the Purpose of Behavior • Functionalism: an approach to psychology concerned with the adaptive purpose, or function, of mind and behavior • Stream of consciousness: a phrase coined by William James to describe each person’s continuous series of ever-changing thoughts Functionalism Addressed the Purpose of Behavior • The mind developed over the course of human evolution because it is useful for preserving life. – The mind helps humans adapt to environmental demands. Evolution, Adaptation, and Behavior • Evolutionary theory: a theory presented by the naturalist Charles Darwin, which views the history of a species in terms of the inherited, adaptive value of physical characteristics, of mental activity, and of behavior • Adaptation: As randomly mutated genes are passed along from generation to generation, species change over time. Evolution, Adaptation, and Behavior • Natural selection: Mutations that facilitate survival and reproduction are passed along. – Survival of the fittest: Species that are better adapted to their environments are more likely to survive and reproduce. Gestalt Psychology Emphasized Patterns and Context in Learning • Founded by Max Wertheimer in 1912 • Gestalt theory: a theory based on the idea that the whole of personal experience is different from the sum of its constituent elements – The perception of objects is subjective and dependent on context. – Influenced the study of vision and human personality Freud Emphasized the Power of the Unconscious • Sigmund Freud: Much of human behavior is determined by mental processes operating below the level of awareness. – Unconscious: the region where mental processes operate below the level of conscious awareness Freud Emphasized the Power of the Unconscious • Psychoanalysis: a method developed by Sigmund Freud that attempts to bring the contents of the unconscious into conscious awareness so that conflicts can be revealed – Freud analyzed the apparent symbolic content in the patient’s dreams in search of hidden conflicts. – Used free association, in which the patient would talk about whatever he or she wanted to for as long as he or she wanted to • Contemporary psychologists no longer accept much Freudian theory. Behaviorism Studied Environmental Forces • John B. Watson challenged psychology’s focus on conscious and unconscious mental processes. – Developed behaviorism, a psychological approach that emphasizes the role of environmental forces in producing observable behavior – The intellectual issue most central to Watson and his followers was the nature/nurture question. Behaviorism Studied Environmental Forces • B. F. Skinner took up the mantle of behaviorism. – Research emphasized how behavior is shaped by the consequences that follow it. – Skinner argued that mental processes were of no scientific value in explaining behavior. – Controversial book, Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971) • Behaviorism dominated psychology into the 1960s. Cognitive Approaches Emphasized Mental Activity • Studies showed that the simple laws of behaviorism could not explain all learning. • In 1957 George A. Miller launched the cognitive revolution. – Ten years later, Ulric Neisser integrated a wide range of cognitive phenomena in his book, Cognitive Psychology. • Cognitive psychology: the study of mental functions such as intelligence, thinking, language, memory, and decision making Cognitive Approaches Emphasized Mental Activity • Computers led to information-processing theories. • 1980s: cognitive psychologists joined forces with neuroscientists, computer scientists, and philosophers. – Cognitive neurosciencehe study of the neural mechanisms underlying thought, learning, perception, language, and memory Social Psychology Studies How Situations Shape Behavior • Mid-twentieth century: increased interest in understanding how behavior is affected by the presence of others • Pioneering researchers: Floyd Allport, Solomon Asch, Kurt Lewin – Emphasized a scientific, experimental approach to understanding how people are influenced by others Social Psychology Studies How Situations Shape Behavior • Social psychology: the study of how people influence other people’s thoughts, feelings, and actions • Personality psychology: the study of characteristic thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in people and how they vary across social situations Science Informs Psychological Therapy • Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow pioneered a humanistic approach to the treatment of psychological disorders. • Behaviorism gave rise to therapies designed to modify behavior. • Albert Ellis and Aaron T. Beck developed cognitive therapies to correct faulty thoughts and beliefs. Science Informs Psychological Therapy • The nature/nurture debate is also central to the current understanding of psychological disorders. • Advancements in understanding the biological and environmental bases of psychological disorders are leading to effective treatments. 1.3 What Are the Latest Developments in Psychology? Learning Objectives • Identify recent developments in psychological science. • Distinguish between subfields of psychology. Biology Is Increasingly Emphasized in Explaining Psychological Phenomena • The last four decades have seen tremendous growth in our understanding of the biological bases of mental activities. • Three major advances that have helped further the scientific understanding of psychological phenomena – Progress in understanding brain chemistry – Developments in neuroscience – Advances in decoding the human genome Brain Chemistry • Tremendous progress has been made in understanding brain chemistry. – Hundreds of substances play critical roles in mental activity and behavior. Neuroscience • Since the late 1980s, researchers have been able to study the working brain as it performs its vital psychological functions. – Brain imaging methods, such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) • Localization of function: Some brain areas are important for specific feelings, thoughts, and actions. Neuroscience • Many brain regions work together to produce behavior and mental activity. – The Human Connectome Project was launched in 2010 as a major international research effort involving collaborators at a number of universities. The Human Genome • Scientists have made enormous progress in understanding the human genome: the basic genetic code, or blueprint, for the human body. – For psychologists, this map represents the foundational knowledge for studying how specific genes affect thoughts, actions, feelings, and disorders. The Human Genome • By identifying the genes underpinning mental activity and disorders, researchers may be able to develop therapies based on genetic manipulation. – The scientific study of genetic influences has made clear that very few single genes cause specific behaviors. Evolutionary Thinking Is Increasingly Influential • As William James and his fellow functionalists knew, the human mind has been shaped by evolution. – The field of evolutionary psychology attempts to explain mental traits as products of natural selection. – While the brain adapts biologically, some of the contents of the mind adapt to cultural influences. Solving Adaptive Problems • Evolutionary theory is useful for considering whether behaviors and physical mechanisms are adaptive. – Through evolution, specialized mechanisms and adaptive behaviors have been built into our bodies and brains. • Adaptive mechanisms enhance our chances of survival. Our Evolutionary Heritage • Knowledge of the challenges our early ancestors faced helps us understand our current behavior. – Modern humans (Homo sapiens) can be traced back 100,000 years, to the Pleistocene era. – Many of our current behaviors reflect our evolutionary heritage, some of which may now be maladaptive (e.g., the preference for sweet, fatty foods). – Some behaviors do not reflect our evolutionary heritage (e.g., driving, texting, reading books). Culture Provides Adaptive Solutions • The complexity of living in groups gives rise to culture, and culture’s various aspects are transmitted from one generation to the next through learning. – Culture affects thought and behavior (e.g., music/food preferences, ways of expressing emotion, tolerance of body odors). – Human cultural evolution has occurred much faster than human biological evolution. Culture Provides Adaptive Solutions • Cultural “rules” reflect adaptive solutions worked out by previous generations. – Cultural rules are learned as norms. Psychological Science Now Crosses Levels of Analysis • Researchers can explain behavior at many levels of analysis. • Four important levels - Biological level of analysis - Individual level of analysis - Social level of analysis - Cultural level of analysis • Example: Listening to music can be studied at all levels. Subfields in Psychology Focus on Different Levels of Analysis • Psychologists work in many different settings. – The setting often depends on whether the psychologist’s primary focus is on research, teaching, or applying scientific findings to improving the quality of daily living. • A scientist will choose to study at a particular level of analysis—or more than one level—based on his or her research interests, general theoretical approaches, and training. Subfields in Psychology Focus on Different Levels of Analysis • Following are some of the most popular subfields. – Neuroscientists/biological psychologists – Cognitive psychologists – Developmental psychologists – Personality psychologists – Social psychologists – Cultural psychologists Subfields in Psychology Focus on Different Levels of Analysis – Clinical psychologists – Counseling psychologists – School psychologists – Industrial and organizational psychologists – Forensic psychologists – Sports psychologists – Health psychologists
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