Overview and Historical Roots. I. What is Psychology?. A. In the past psychology was defined as the science of the mind. B. Today it is defined as the study of behavior and mental processes. II. Three Key Themes in Psychology. A. Free Will vs. Determinism.
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Overview and Historical Roots
I. What is Psychology?
A. In the past psychology was defined as the science of the mind.
B. Today it is defined as the study of behavior and mental processes.
II. Three Key Themes in Psychology
A.Free Will vs. Determinism
1) Determinism: the assumption that everything that
Happens has a cause or determinant in the observable
2) Free Will: the belief that behavior is caused by a
person’s independent decisions.
1) Dualism:this approach argues that the mind is
somehow separate from the brain and yet controls the
brain and body.
2) Monism:the idea that the conscious mind is inseparable
from the brain and body; that the mind is a series of
processes that can occur because of the complexity of the
C.Nature vs. Nurture
How do differences in behavior relate to differences in
heredity (nature) and the environment (nurture)?
III. Key Sub-Disciplines in Psychology
A. Biopsychology: explains behaviorbased on electrical and
chemical activities in the nervous system. Examines the
effects of genetics, drugs, and brain damage on behavior.
B. Evolutionary Psychology: explains behavior based on
genes that may have been reinforced over the course of
C. Sensation and Perception: the study of how we
experience the world through our 5 senses (vision, hearing,
smelling, tasting, touching).
C. Learning and Motivation:how what we learn through
experience can affect our motivations in life such as goals
D. Cognitive Psychology:the study of the processes
associated with how we think, remember, and acquire
knowledge; examination of different states of consciousness.
E. Developmental Psychology: the study of how people’s
behavior changes with age.
F. Social Psychology: the study of how our thoughts, feelings,
and behaviors affect other people and how other people’s
thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect us.
G. Personality Psychology: in the past, this was the study of the human mind and behavior as a whole (e.g. Freud’s work). In essence, why do people do what they do? Today,
personality psychologists are more interested in individual
differences. They want to know why some people act one
way in certain situations while other people behave
differently in those same situations.
H. Abnormal Psychology: the study of people with
I. Clinical Psychology: the treatment of people with
psychological problems through the use of various therapies
such as cognitive or behavioral modification therapies.
1) Psychoanalysis:a form of clinical psychology that has
its roots in the Freudian approach to treating people with
psychological problems. Problems are typically understood
as they relate to dreams, abuse, past experiences, the
J. Psychiatry: the medical science of treating the
psychologically disturbed with drug therapy.
IV. Other Areas of Psychological Application
A. Health Psychology: the study of the relationship between
physical and psychological health.
B. Forensic Psychology: the study of criminal behavior.
C. Industrial/Organizational Psychology: the study of how to
match the right person to the right job or how to create an
optimally functioning work environment (light, design, etc.).
D. Ergonomics: the study of how to make machinery and
technology more easily understandable to common everyday
E. School Psychologists: work with students and their
problems both in and out of the school environment.
V. The History of Psychology: Key Highlights
A. Wilhelm Wundt: he argued that experience is composed of
elements and compounds much like in chemistry.
B. Edward Titchener:
Structuralism: the study of how people understand the
components that make up the structure of something.
C. William James:
Functionalism: the study of how people produce useful behaviors.
D. Charles Darwin:he argued that all species shared a remote
common ancestor and over time we broke off into separate
species. Different characteristics of a species may be more or
less adaptable in particular environments. Those that were
more adaptable continued into future generations while the
maladaptive ones died off.
1) Comparative Psychology:researchdone on animals,
such as rats, to better understand human physiology and
E. Alfred Binet: he devised the first useful test of human
F. John Watson:
1) Behaviorism: the study of observable and measurable
human behavior and NOT mental processes.
G. Sigmund Freud: the father of psychoanalysis. He
attempted to help people through methods such as dream
analysis and the recovery of repressed memories surrounding
traumas, such as child abuse. He also thought of sex as one
of the most primary drives guiding human behavior.
H. Ernest Becker:one of the last great “big picture” thinkers.
He argued that the fact that we know we are going to die
Someday is the primary motivating force that guides our
1) Terror Management Theory:asserts that when a person
is primed to think about their death, he or she becomes
observably hostile to people with different beliefs and
observably morefond of people with similar beliefs.