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• Scientific study of human behavior and mental processes
– Behavior – anything an organism does – any action we
can observe and record (yelling, smiling, blinking, talking)
– Mental processes – internal subjective experiences we
infer from behavior (sensations, perceptions, dreams,
thoughts, beliefs).
– Science – way of asking and answering questions. Sifts
opinions and evaluates ideas with careful observation
and rigorous analysis. Case studies, surveys, naturalistic
observations, statistics and most importantly use the
scientific method.
(Past, Present, and Future start at 5:17)
Approaches to the Science
Biological Approach
– Emphasizes activity of the nervous system, especially the brain, and the
action of hormones and other chemicals.
Cognitive Approach
– Emphasizes mechanisms through which people receive, store, retrieve, and
otherwise process information
Behavioral Approach
– Emphasizes learning, especially each person’s experience with rewards and
– Behavior is learned through classical conditioning (Pavlov), operant
conditioning (Skinner), and modeling (Bandura).
Psychoanalytic Approach
– Emphasizes internal conflicts, mostly unconscious, which usually pit sexual
or aggressive instincts against environmental obstacles to their expression.
Use defense mechanisms to protect us from this unacceptable wishes,
urges, feelings, etc
– Childhood experiences, especially conflicts with parents, shape our
personality in ways that we might not be consciously aware of.
Approaches to the Science
Humanistic Approach
– Emphasizes individual potential for growth and the role of unique perceptions
in guiding behavior and mental processes
– Studies the total human being and its potential to grow and develop
– Humans are motivated to achieve (Maslow).
Socio-cultural Approach
– Emphasizes how behavior varies according the values and norms of your
culture and group
Evolutionary Approach
– Emphasizes the ways in which behavior and mental processes are adaptive
for survival and promote the passing on our genes
Behavioral-Genetics Approach
– Tries to determine how much of our behaviors are influenced by nature
(genes) or nurture (environment). Emphasizes the ways in which the
environment influences our genetic predispositions.
– Emphasizes the influence of nature or nurture
Perspectives and the Outrageous Celebrity
• Choose the most outrageous celebrity you can
think of, past or present. Complete the following:
– Provide a short list of some of the outrageous
behaviors this person has exhibited
– Then explain these behaviors from the point of
view of each major psychology perspective.
• Your reasoning can be as ridiculous as the
behavior itself, as long as it falls in line with the
perspective. They don’t have to be true!
Perspectives and the Outrageous Celebrity
Example: Dennis Rodman is well known for his outrageous
behavior, cross-dressing, tattooing his body and rapidly
changing hair color.
• Neuroscience:
– Perhaps Dennis Rodman has a high level of
estrogen that makes him feel as though he should
wear women’s clothes
• Evolutionary
– Dennis Rodman’s tall height and athleticism are
traits that are naturally selected for; however, his
cross-dressing tendencies might be counterintuitive
to him passing on his genes
• Behavior Genetics
– We should examine Dennis’ genetic background to
see whether his behaviors come from his family or
are a product of his NBA environment.
• Psychodynamic
– Dennis was traumatized as a child when he was not
permitted to have a Halloween costume. He has
repressed the memory but, as a result, dresses in
outrageous clothing to try and overcompensate for
his loss as a child.
Perspectives and the Outrageous Celebrity
– Dennis Rodman’s father and grandfather both were crossdressers and frequently dyed their hair. Dennis observed
this throughout his life and is no imitating the same
behavior. In addition, he gets a lot of attention and press
for his weird looks.
– Dennis Rodman interprets his role in the NBA as needing
to create attention for his team. As a result, he thinks that
by cross-dressing, dying his hair, and tattooing his body,
his team will get the positive attention it requires.
– Perhaps in the NBA culture, these behaviors occur often
and are widely accepted; thus, Dennis Rodman believes
his behavior to by typical and not out of the ordinary.
– Perhaps Dennis Rodman’s potential in life is to entertain
others and make people happy, which he has chosen to
do through his crazy antics. Dennis Rodman could also be
unsatisfied with his true self and wants to be someone
greater. Maybe he perceives himself as boring and thus
changes his hair and cross-dresses to become more
exciting and improve his self-esteem
Enduring Issues
BIG/ENDURING Issues = fundamental questions about behavior and mental processes that cut across
psychologists’ interests and areas of specialization
Person vs. Situation = Is behavior caused by processes that occur inside the person (i.e., thoughts,
emotions, motives, attitudes, values, personality, intelligence) or by situational factors outside the person
(i.e., rewards/punishments, cues in the environment, the presence of other people)?
Rationality vs. Irrationality = Are humans noble, admirable creatures that can make judgments with
amazing efficiency or are humans prone to err and have a tendency to overestimate judgments and
Universality vs. Diversity = How are people similar to others and how are they unique? Focuses on
how demographic factors, such as age, gender, ethnicity, race contribute to who we are.
Nature (Heredity) vs. Nurture (Environment) = Is a person a product of his/her genetics or simply a
sum of his/her experiences? NATURE VIA NURTURE!!!!
Stability vs. Change = Are individual traits or behavior patterns learned in childhood permanent or do
people change over time?
Continuity vs. Stages = Is development a slow, continuous shaping process or does development
progress through a fixed, biologically predetermined set of stages that everyone passes through in the
same order and has to be learned by a critical period?
Optimism vs. Pessimism = Are human beings basically good or evil? Are we kind and
compassionate, or cruel and merciless?
Equilibrium vs. Growth = Are we primarily tension-reducing, pleasure-seeking animals or are we
motivated primarily by the need to grow, to reach our full potential to reach for ever-higher levels of selfexpression and development?
Free will vs. Determinism = Do we have a conscious awareness and control of ourselves? Are we
free to choose, to be masters of our fate, or are we victims of biological factors, unconscious forces, or
external stimuli?
Handout 1-4: Survey of Enduring Issues
1) Rationality vs. Irrationality
• Reverse #’s 4, 10 (0=5, 1=4, 2=3)
• Add up the #’s you put for questions 1, 7, 13. Then add that up with the
reversed #’s from 4 and 10.
• Range 0-25. Higher scores reflect stronger belief in rationality
2) Stability vs. Change
• Reverse # 11 (0=5, 1=4, 2=3)
• Add up the #’s you put for questions 2, 5, 8, 14. Then add that up with
the reversed # from 11.
• Range 0-25. Higher scores reflect stronger belief in stability.
3) Nature vs. Nurture
• Reverse #’s 6, 15
• Add up the #’s you put for questions 3, 9, 12. Then add that up with the
reverse #’s from 6 and 15.
• Range 0-25. Higher scores reflect stronger belief in nature.
Perspectives: Case Studies
Case #1: Phineas Gage
• Biological/Neuroscience Perspective – rod damaged part of Phineas’ brain. His change in
brain structure caused a change in his behavior (personality).
• Free Will vs. Determinism – personality is determined by his brain damage, cannot control
how he acts.
Case #2: Cassie M.
• Sociocultural Perspective – learns from TV and magazines the ideal view of beauty.
Culture influences her behavior to participate in an eating disorder.
• Cognitive Perspective – this perspective might examine her irrational thought pattern of
how she thinks she is so fat and ugly.
• Humanistic Perspective – this perspective might focus on why she has a distorted selfimage and what in her environment is preventing her from reaching her true potential.
• Behavioral Perspective – this perspective might focus on how rewards in her environment,
such as praises of how good she looks or attention from boys, might perpetuate her
• Rationality vs. Irrationality – making irrational judgements regarding her appearance and
dangerous to participating in eating disorders
• Universality vs. Diversity – are eating disorders more common among girls, Westerners?
Perspectives: Case Studies
Case #3: Tom F.
Psychodynamic Perspective – since Tom does not know why he yells at his wife and children, this
perspective might examine how his desires and thoughts in his unconscious influence his behavior.
Furthermore, his unacceptable desires in his unconscious about killing his boss are revealed in his
Optimism vs Pessimism – Tom is being very evil
Person vs. Situation – Tom is not normally evil, but his situation, his boss and coworkers is causing him
to be evil
Case #4: Jack B.
Learning Perspective – Jack was punished by getting bit by a dog. Ever since his attack, Jack has
learned to avoid dogs.
Evolutionary Perspective – this perspective might look at how easy it was for Jack to learn to associate
dogs with danger, since it is evolutionary advantageous to avoid things that might hurt him and prevent
him from passing on his genes.
Rationality vs Irrationality – Jack’s fear is an overreaction; however, it is rational to be afraid of things
that can hurt us
Case #5: Michael R.
Behavioral Genetic Perspective – Since Michael’s parents were alcoholics, he might have a genetic
predisposition to become an alcoholic. He also learned from his environment that alcohol helps solve
his problems.
Humanistic Perspective – Michael did not receive a growth promoting environment from his parents that
allowed him to achieve his true unique potential and be the best he can be.
Equilibrium vs. Growth – Wants to grow but does not feel like he can do anything to reach his full
Psychology’s Subfields: Research
What she does
Explore the links between brain and
Study changing abilities from womb to
Study how we perceive, think, and solve
Investigate our persistent traits.
Explore how we view and affect one
Psychology’s Subfields: Applied
What she does
Studies, assesses, and treats people with
psychological disorders
Helps people cope with academic,
vocational, and marital challenges.
Studies and helps individuals in school
and educational settings
Studies and advises on behavior in the