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Psychology: the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.
 Behavior – all of our outward or over actions and reactions
 Mental processes – internal, covert activity of our minds
Psychology’s goals
 Description: observing a behavior and noting everything about it
o What is happening, where it happens, to whom it happens, and under
what circumstances it seems to happen
 Explanation: why is it happening?
o Theory: a general explanation of a set of observations or facts
 Prediction: when will it happen again?
 Control: How can it be changed?
- Psychology is 130 years old
- Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920) – physiologist from Leipzig, Germany, in 1879. Did an
experiment where students had to give thoughts on what he was feeling about a
certain object
Object introspection: the process of objectively examining and measuring
one’s own thoughts and mental activities
Considered to be the “father of psychology”
Edward Titchener (1867-1927) – Englishman student of Wundt
o Structuralism: the focus of study is the structure of the mind or the basic
o 1894 – one of his students became famous of becoming the 1st woman to
receive a Ph.D in psych: Margaret F. Washburn
 1908 – published a book on animal study The Animal Mind.
o Structuralism died in the early 1900s
William James – prof of Harvard
o Published Principles of Psychology 1890
o Functionalism: how the mind allows people to function in the real world –
how ppl work, play, and adapt
o Influenced by Charles Darwin’s natural selection
Mary Whiton Calkins, one of James’s student but denied of a degree
o 1905 1st female president of the American Psychological Association, but
didn’t earn the degree
1920 Francis Cecil Summer – 1st African American to earn a degree at Clark
o chair of the psych dep. at Howard University
o considered the father of African American psychology
Max Wertheimer, german psychologist
o Gestalt psychology
 Gestalt means “an organized whole” or “configuration”
Believes that perceiving and senses can not be broken down and
still be properly understood
 Part of cognitive psychology today
Sigmund Freud – Austrian neurologist
o Believed that the repressed urges caused nervous disorders in his
o Personality formed in the 6 years so if problems then mean it was early
o Freudian psychoanalysis: the theory and therapy based on freud’s ideas
 Basis of psychotherapy – a process in which a trained professional
helps a person gain insights into and change his or her behavior
Ivan Pavlov – Russian physiologist
o Stimulus experiment with dogs and food/timing
 - conditioning
psychologist John B. Watson
o behaviorism – science of behavior; focus on observable behavior
o believed all behaviors are learned
o phobias are learned through process conditioning
 experiment:
 took baby named “Little Albert” and taught him fear a white
rat by making a scary noise every he saw the rat until the
baby just cried after seeing the rat
 Little Albert became afraid of other fuzzy things
Mary Cover Jones – student of Watson’s and completed master’s in 1920
o Did again with “Little Peter” and a rabbit
o Then counterconditioning
 Where Lil Peter watched the rabbit from a distance while eating
his fave food
 The food made him happy and the rabbit was brought closer each
time and he was no longer afraid
Psychodynamic perspective: modern version of psychoanalysis that is more
focused on the development of a sense of self and the discovery of other
motivations behind a person’s behavior than sexual motivations
B.F. Skinner – operant conditioning
o Behavioral responses that are followed by pleasurable consequences are
strengthened, or reinforced.
Self-actualization – the achievement of one’s full potential
o Earliest and most famous are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers
Cognitive psychology, which focuses on how ppl think, remember, store, and use
information 1960s
o Cognitive perspective – focus on memory intelligence, perception,
thought processes, problem solving, language, and learning
o Cognitive neuroscience – includes the study of physical workings of the
brain and nervous system when engaged in memory, thinking, and other
cognitive processes
Tools to show the structure and the activity of the brain such as
Sociocultural perspective – combines social psychology (study of groups, social
roles, and rules of social actions and relationships) and cultural psychology
(study of cultural norms, values, and expectation).
o How people behave are influenced by social norms and friends fads,
ethnic and such
o Cross-cultural research - contrasts and comparisons of a behavior or
issue are studied in at least 2 or more cultures
Darley and Latane
o Presence of other people actually lessened the chances that a person in
trouble would receive help
 Bystander effect and diffusion of responsibility
Biopsychology – study of the biological bases of behavior and mental processes
o Part of larger field of neuroscience: study of the physical structure,
function, and development of nervous system
Biopsychological perspective – human and animal behavior is seen as a direct
result of events in t eh body
evolutionary perspective – perspective that focuses on the biological bases of
universal mental characteristics that all humans share.
Psychologist: a professional with an academic degree and specialized training in
one or more areas of psychology
o Besides counseling, can do research, teaching, designing equipment and
workplace, and developing educational methods
o Can be in health, sports, legal issues, business concerns, and design
Psychiatrist: a medical doctor who has a specialized in the diagnosis and
treatment of psychological disorders.
Psychiatric social worker: social worker with some training in therapy methods
who focuses on the environment conditions that can have an impact on mental
disorders, such as poverty, overcrowding, stress, and drug abuse.
Scientific method: a system for reducing bias and error in the measurement of
o Perceiving the question
o Forming a hypothesis (a tentative explanation of a phenomenon based on
 Confirmation bias: a tendency to notice only things that agree with
a certain view of the world
o Testing the hypothesis
o Drawing conclusions
o Reporting your results
 Replication in research: repetition of a study or experiment to see
if the same results will be obtained in an effort to demonstrate
reliability of results
Empirical questions are those that can be tested through direct observation or
Naturalistic observations: watching animals or humans in their natural
o Observer effect: a tendency to behave differently from normal when
knowing that one is being observed
o Participant observation: a naturalistic observation in which the observer
becomes a participant in the group being observed
o Observer bias: tendency of observers to see what they expect to see
o Blind observers: people who do not know what the research is about so
they shouldn’t have any preconceived notions about what they should see
Case study: study of one individual in great detail
o Disadvantages: can’t really apply results to other people since people are
different and can be biased
o Representative sample: randomly selected sample of subjects from a
larger population of subjects
o Population: the entire group of people or animals in which the researcher
is interested
o Courtesy bias: where people give socially correct answers than their true
opinion to not offend anyone
Correlation: a measure of the relationship between two variables
o Variable: anything that can change or vary
o Correlation coefficient: a number derived from the formula for measuring
a correlation and indicating the strength and direction of a correlation
 Represented by the small letter r
 Will either get a positive or a negative number
 If positive, the two variables increase/decrease in the same
 If negative, the two variables will have an inverse
relationship – one increase, the other decreases
 Strength of the relationship between variables will be an actual
 Will always ranged between +1.00 and -1.00
 On a scatterplot
 The closer the number is to zero, the weaker the
relationship is
o Correlation does not mean causation
Experiment: a deliberate manipulation of a variable to see if corresponding
changes in behavior result, allowing the determination of cause-and-effect
o Operational definition: definition of a variable of interest that allows it to
be directly measured
o Independent variable: variable in an experiment that is manipulated by
the experiment
o Dependent variable: variable in an experiment that represents the
measureable response or behavior of the subjects in the experiment
Confounding variables: variables that interfere with each other and their
possible effects on other variable of interest
Experimental group – subjects in an experiment who are subjected to the
independent variable
Control group – subjects in an experiment who are not subjected to the
independent variable and who may receive a placebo treatment
Random assignment: process of assigning subjects to the experimental or
control group randomly, so that each subject has an equal chance of being in
either group
Placebo effect: the phenomenon in which the expectations of the participants in
the a study can influence their behavior
Experimenter effect: tendency of the experimenter’s expectations for a study to
unintentionally influence the results of the study
Single-blind study: study in which the subjects do not know if they are in the
experimental or the control group
Double-blind study: study in which neither the experimenter nor the subjects
know if the subjects are in the experimental or control group
EXPERIMENT:: Wesleyan University Matthew Jameson, Robert Diehl, and Henry
Danso 2007
o 72 male college athletes were given an intellectual test
o ½ were given a question before and the other after; the question “rate
your likelihood of being accepted to the university w/o the aid of athletic
o the before group scored lowered than the after group
institutional review boards: where groups of professionals look over studies and
judge whether it is safe enough to carry out or not
o rights and well-being of participants must be weighed against the study’s
value to science – people come first and then research
o participants must be allowed to make an informed decision about
 have to explain the study to the people they want before doing
anything – informed consent
 even in a single- or double-blind studies,
o deception must be justified – after the experiment if there are deceptions,
the participants have to be told why it was important – debriefing
o participants may withdraw from the study at any time
o participants must be protected from risks or told explicitly of risks
o investigators must debrief, telling the true nature of the study and
expectations of results
o data must remain confidential
o if for any reason a study results in undesirable consequences for the
participant, the researcher is responsible for detecting and removing, or
correcting, these consequences
Animal experimentation is very important as some experiments are not able to
be performed on humans
o They’ll try to not expose animals to any unnecessary pain or suffering
o Animals are used in only about 7% of all psychological studies
Critical thinking: making reasoned judgments about claims
o There are very few “truths” that do not need to be tested
o All evidence is not equal in quality
o Just because someone is considered to be an authority or to have a lot of
expertise does not make everything that person claims automatically true
o Critical thinking requires an open mind.