Presentation 1 Nature of Psychology

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Introduction to Psychology PSY101:

Introduction to Psychology PSY101 Dr Byron Gaist American College Spring 2011

Slide 2:

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LESSON PLAN, Session One:

LESSON PLAN, Session One SUBJECT: The Nature of Psychology AIMS: To gain knowledge of the history of psychology To grasp the main theoretical perspectives To become acquainted with research methods OBJECTIVE: to cover material of textbook ch.1

The Nature of Psychology:

The Nature of Psychology DEFINITION: PSYCHOLOGY IS THE SCIENTIFIC STUDY OF BEHAVIOUR AND MENTAL PROCESSES

The historical origins:

The historical origins Western philosophical tradition: famous philosophers of ancient Greece Socrates c. 469 – 399 B.C. Teacher of Plato, who is also our major source of info on Socrates “Socratic method” Agreed with the Oracle at Delphi that he was the wisest Athenian, since he was the only one who knew he knew nothing ! Sentenced to death for “corrupting the young” and “not believing in the gods of the state”

The historical origins:

The historical origins Plato c. 428-348 B.C. Teacher of Aristotle “Platonism” the senses do NOT offer a reliable picture of reality e.g. cave allegory “Platonic” e.g. Platonic love is non-sexual, such as love of a friend

The historical origins:

The historical origins Aristotle c. 384-322 B.C. “Aristotelianism” Moving from particular things to universals (whereas Plato suggested we should move from universal “forms” to particulars) One of the founders of the scientific method

The historical origins:

The historical origins These Greek philosophers asked important psychological questions: What is consciousness? Are people rational? Do we have free will? And many other questions relating to mental life and human behaviour

A NOTE!:

A NOTE! PSYCHOLOGY = PHILOSOPHY + SCIENCE (approximately) The same basic questions may continue to be asked, but the difference is that the answers are tested using the scientific method.

The historical origins:

The historical origins NATURE – NURTURE DEBATE An ancient question: are human abilities innate, or are they acquired by experience? Nature view – we are born with a store of knowledge, e.g. Ren é Descartes (1596-1650) argues some ideas such as God, infinity, geometric axioms are innate. Nurture view – we acquire knowledge through the experience of interacting with the world, e.g. John Locke (1632-1704) says we are born tabula rasa. Today most psychologists see both nature and nurture as important.

The historical origins:

The historical origins 1879 - The Birth of Scientific Psychology Wilhelm Wundt, University of Leipzig, Germany Wundt studied Medicine, interested in physiology Establishes the first psychological laboratory Uses the method of introspection : observing and recording thoughts, perceptions, feelings. Wundt tested it by varying a property of a stimulus.

The historical origins:

The historical origins Structuralism and Functionalism E.B. Titchener (1867-1927) formulated the theory of STRUCTURALISM. He was a student of Wundt, and applied his method of introspection but more rigorously. Structuralism attempts to discover the basic ‘building blocks’ of the mind: sensations, thoughts etc. Titchener believed that once the basic structures of the mind are identified, it will be possible to explain higher mental processes.

The historical origins:

The historical origins Structuralism and Functionalism William James (1842 -1910) opposed structuralism with his own theory, which was (later) named FUNCTIONALISM. Functionalism studies how the mind adapts to and functions in its environment. Influenced by Darwin (note: 1859 publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species ) Notice that both structuralism and functionalism focus on psychology as the science of conscious experience .

QUOTE:

QUOTE “Psychology is the science of mental life, both of its phenomena and of their conditions. The phenomena are such things as we call feelings, desires, cognitions, reasonings, decisions and the like.” William James

The historical origins:

The historical origins Behaviourism Structuralism and functionalism were displaced by behaviourism, Gestalt psychology and psychoanalysis. Behaviourism was founded by the American John B. Watson (1878-1958). (But note also importance of Russian Ivan Pavlov, 1849-1936). Watson rejects psychology as science of consciousness: instead he focuses on what people do (not what they think or feel).

The historical origins:

The historical origins Behaviourism Behaviourism argues that all behaviour is a result of conditioning, and the environment shapes behaviour by reinforcing habits. Also known as S-R psychology (stimulus-response). A stimulus, e.g. walking into a bar, leads to a response, e.g. drinking The behavioural perspective in contemporary psychology is still current.

The historical origins:

The historical origins Gestalt Psychology Max Wertheimer (1880-1943), Kurt Koffka (1886-1941), Wolfgang K öhler (1887-1967) – the BERLIN SCHOOL Gestalt is German for “form” or “configuration” Focus on perception : what we see depends on the background (figure-ground) The whole is different from the sum of its parts Influenced social psychology theory (e.g. meaning is imposed automatically on incoming stimuli; we perceive the whole of a person rather than just parts)

The historical origins:

The historical origins Psychoanalysis a theory of personality and a method of psychotherapy Founded by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), an Austrian neurologist Ψα focuses on unconscious mind: motives, thoughts, attitudes, impulses, wishes Unconscious is expressed in dreams, slips of the tongue (and pen), physical mannerisms etc. Started using hypnosis after observing Charcot (1825-1893) treating hysteria in Paris. Freud eventually gave up hypnosis as a method (he didn’t like it, found it too mystical, and he found it didn’t work with all of his patients); he developed free association .

20th Century Psychology:

20 th Century Psychology After WWII (1945) Development of computers able to simulate human psychological processes: humans as information-processors . e.g. human memory is working- and long-term; computers have temporary storage (RAM) and hard drive. Noam Chomsky in the 1950s stimulated psycholinguistics . Advances in neuropsychology , connecting neurological events to mental processes These advances meant that psychology returned to the study of mind & consciousness, not just external behaviour. Birth of Cognitive Psychology .

Contemporary Perspectives:

Contemporary Perspectives A perspective is an approach, or a way of looking at the phenomena in psychology. 5 major perspectives are: The biological perspective The behavioural perspective The cognitive perspective The psychoanalytic perspective The subjectivist perspective

Contemporary Perspectives:

Contemporary Perspectives The Biological Perspective Different from other perspectives – draws data from biology Understands humans as biological organisms Seeks to specify the neurobiological processes behind all human behaviour. The brain has over 10 billion to 100,000,000,000 nerve cells. The connections between them are almost infinite. The biological perspective can be used in combination with all other perspectives. When human behaviour is seen as totally biological , this is reductionism.

Contemporary Perspectives:

Contemporary Perspectives The Behavioural Perspective Focuses on observable STIMULI and RESPONSES Regards behaviour as a result of CONDITIONING (learning by association) and REINFORCEMENT (reward or punishment). E.g. eating (R) in front of television (S) → eat at table, less eating (R)! Strict behaviourists do not consider the mental processes between S and R.

Contemporary Perspectives:

Contemporary Perspectives The Cognitive Perspective A reaction to behaviourism and return to mental processes (but not introspection) Considers processes such as perceiving, memory, reasoning, decision-making, problem-solving. Rely often on an analogy between mind and computer: information is processed by the mind. E.g. childhood amnesia: we remember things after 3 yrs of age, because language acquisition offers us a new way of storing memory.

Contemporary Perspectives:

Contemporary Perspectives The Psychoanalytic Perspective Behaviour is the result of unconscious mental processes, e.g. beliefs, fears, desires we are unaware of, but they influence our behaviour. These include many thoughts, feelings and behaviours which are punished by parents, teachers, society – especially instinctive needs for sex and self-preservation (aggression). Freud believed we have the same instincts as animals, but society (rightly and necessarily) teaches us to control these.

Contemporary Perspectives:

Contemporary Perspectives The Subjectivist Perspective Behaviour is a result of the way we perceive the world, not the way it is objectively. We construct reality. We need to understand how the person “defines the situation”, which will vary across culture, family background, current state. Na ïve realism : our tendency to take our constructed and subjective reality as a faithful representation of an objective world, e.g. in fundamental attribution error, other people’s behaviour is seen as due to personality, our own is situational.

Contemporary Perspectives: Class Exercise:

Contemporary Perspectives: Class Exercise Discuss how the psychological phenomenon of forgetting might be explained by any three of the five contemporary perspectives.

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology Research in science involves two steps: Formulating a hypothesis Testing the hypothesis A hypothesis is a theoretical statement which can be tested, e.g. ‘it is more efficient to study during daylight hours’. A theory is larger than a hypothesis, but may contain several interconnected propositions, e.g.. the theory of evolution

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology EXPERIMENTS The strongest way of testing a hypothesis Investigates the cause and effect, i.e. the causal relationship between variables (measurable quantities) Uses controlled conditions, e.g. in a laboratory The experimenter manipulates the independent variable , and observes the effect on the dependent variable .

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology EXPERIMENTS Experimental group: a group of participants in which the hypothesized cause is present (e.g. people who study during only the day) Control group: a group of participants in which the hypothesized cause is absent (e.g. people who study at any time) RANDOM assignment means there is no bias in the experimental population, i.e. it is just as likely (except for the independent variable) to be in the control group or the experimental group. You do not have e.g. only men in one group and only women in the other.

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology STATISTICS The bit nobody likes! It involves sampling data from a population and drawing inferences (conclusions) about the data. E.g. mean, rank, median etc. Statistical significance occurs when our result cannot have happened by chance, e.g. people learn twice as much in the same amount of time if they study during the day (a fictional example). If our samples were not biased, this finding would be highly statistically significant.

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology CORRELATION Often the only kind of number we can get from sudying natural (non-laboratory) situations The correlation coefficient is r , the degree to which two variables are related. E.g. there is a +0.90 positive correlation between brain damage and losses in face recognition. r is always a number between +1 and -1. If r is equal to, or near +1 or -1, there is a strong positive or negative correlation. (>0.60 very good, <0.20 not reliable)

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology Note that CORRELATION IS NOT CAUSATION. It does not necessarily follow that because two things occur together frequently, one is therefore a cause of the other. Further experiment and other kinds of converging evidence is required to make a stronger case.

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology OTHER RESEARCH METHODS Direct observation: e.g. field study of animals; this requires special training. Masters & Johnson (1966) Surveys: asking people about their behaviour. Often used in market research. Problem: social desirability effect. (Kinsey, Pomeroy & Martin, 1948) Literature review: narrative review or meta-analysis.

Research in Psychology:

Research in Psychology Research Ethics Minimal risk – should not be more risky than ordinary daily life Informed consent – participants should be aware of what they are going to take part in, and be free to pull out at any time. Debriefing must address both information and emotional issues. Personal data – any information gained must be confidential and anonymity preserved.

Research in Psychology: Class Exercise:

Research in Psychology: Class Exercise Come up with one or two questions around which to design a research project. (e.g. “is competition in schools good for children”?) Identify an appropriate independent variable What is the dependent variable? What, if any, is the control variable? What research method would be most practical? What do the experimental and control groups do? How would using a different method change the study? Any research ethics issues?