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Module 1: Discovering Psychology. Psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes. 1.Observable actions (Behavior) 2.Unobservable actions (Mental Processes). What is Psychology?. What are the goals of Psychology?. The 1 st goal of Psych. Is to Describe . What When

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Module 1: Discovering Psychology

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Module 1: Discovering Psychology

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Psychology is the science of behavior and mental processes.

1.Observable actions (Behavior)

2.Unobservable actions (Mental Processes)

What is Psychology?

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What are the goals of Psychology?

  • The 1st goal of Psych. Is to Describe.

  • What

  • When

  • Where

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What are the goals of Psychology?

  • 2nd step looks to Explain

  • WHY?

  • Why do people think differently?

  • Why are workers less productive after 3p.m.?

  • Why do people comprehend what they read differently?

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What are the goals of Psychology?

  • 3rd Step leads to a researcher making a prediction….Will?

  • Will a child learn a second language better if they begin in kindergarten?

  • Will a returning soldier from Afghanistan develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

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What are the goals of Psychology?

  • 4th Step: If events ( behavior, mental processes) can be predicted, then they may also be controlled.

  • How can schools teach math more effectively?

  • How can juvenile depression be contained?

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What is Psychology based on?

  • Is the science of psychology based solely on common sense?

  • Is the study of cognition and mental processes similar to what is seen in the movies?

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The Scientific Process

1. Empirical Research:

Research that is based on observation and experience and can be verified or disproved.

Ex: Cigarette smoking is proven to cause cancer.

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The Scientific Process

  • Analytical: It is a science that separates everything into components and analyzes cause and effect.

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Believe It Or Not?

  • Q: If a woman is born with no arms is she able to feel serious pain in her HANDS?


    Q: A man is brought to a psychologist with a “disorder” that causes him to think his parents are really alien imposters. Is he crazy?


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Believe It Or Not?

  • Do you think it is possible for a person to count to the 10,000th place of pi in his head?

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Believe It Or Not?

  • What is one method used by police, which allows a person to remember things they previously could not during questioning?

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…And this.

  • According to education psychologists; What is the most effective way a student can learn and retain information?

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…And this.

  • How about the least effective?

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… in the end.

“ The purpose of psychology is to give us a completely different idea of the things we know best.” Paul Valery (French poet, Essayist and Critic 1871-1945)

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Modern Approaches of Psychology

Psychology is a very broad field.

Within this discipline are a number of specific approaches all using different ideas, theories, and research methods

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Approaches of Psychology

  • Psychology tries to answer questions sometimes using different approaches.

    Similar too

    Trying to solve a problem like: I need a job, but I want good money, a fun job, and friendly co-workers?

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Approaches of Psychology

  • Another example:

    You have a headache:

    You ask yourself:

  • Am I sick?

  • Am I feeling down?

  • Do I need to eat?

  • Did I sleep enough?

  • Have I watched to much TV?

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Biological Approach

  • We are who we are biologically therefore our problems all have biological origins.

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Biological Approach

  • Genetic makeup

  • Heredity

  • Biological approach

    • focuses on how our genes, hormones, and nervous system interact with our environments to influence learning, personality, memory, motivation, emotions, and coping techniques

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Cognitive Approach

  • Memory: Are we simply a collection of past experiences?

  • Do our problems originate in our perceptions of the world around us?

  • Cognitive approach

    • examines how we process, store, and use information and how this information influences, what we attend to, perceive, learn, remember, believe, and feel

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Cognitive Approach

Right now, do you think you are interpreting this material different from the person next to you?

Do you think you have different beliefs, attitudes, values than the person behind you?

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Behavioral Approach

What is the purpose of punishment?

  • Could you own a dog with no training?

  • Can a human being exist in our society with no concept of right and wrong?

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Behavioral Approach

What is the purpose of being rewarded?

  • Behavioral approach

    • studies how organisms learn new behaviors or modify existing ones, depending on whether events in their environments reward or punish these behaviors

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Behavioral Approach

  • Why do people go to Atlantic City?

  • Would a person cease going if they never won?

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Psychoanalytic Approach

  • Sigmund Freud


  • Psychoanalyticapproach

    • stresses the influence of unconscious fears, desires, and motivations on thoughts, behaviors, and the development of personality traits and psychological problems later in life

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Psychoanalytic Approach

Show of hands,

How many of you dream every night? and How many of you have not remembered a dream in weeks?

Dali: Persistence of Memory

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Psychoanalytic Approach

Do you think it is possible for an individual to have more than (1) distinct personalities? Without ever knowing?

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Humanistic Approach

  • Each individual is unique and to be understand and evaluated must not be compared with another

  • Humanistic approach

    • emphasizes that each individual has great freedom in directing his or her future, a large capacity for personal growth, a considerable amount of intrinsic worth, and enormous potential for self-fulfillment

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Cross-Cultural Approach

  • Southwest native Americans consumed peyote in order to contact the spirit word. Today we know it as an hallucinogen which alters brain chemistry therefore altering our sense.

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Cross-Cultural Approach

  • To this day the Roman Catholic church still advocates exorcisms for people who have been diagnosed with specific psychiatric diseases.

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Psychological Approaches


Apply these numerous approaches to the endless differences in human beings and you will begin to see what the focus of psychology is about.

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Historical Approaches of Psychology

Confer to memory that the Scientific study of Psychology is only 125 years old.

By Scientific it means as a Specific Field.

Prior to the late 19th century psychology was a term used by physiologists and philosophers.

Ancient Greece and its renowned philosophers were the first to document happenings of the mind

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Deep Historical Roots

  • From Ancient Greece to Descartes of 17th century France ( a renowned philosopher) , people have been always fascinated with the mind especially the abnormal.

  • Consider that little over (300) years ago the mentally ill were sometimes accused of witch hood and burned alive.

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From Philosophy to Psychology

  • In this last 100+ years, psychology and psychologists have become seen as researchers focusing solely on the mind.

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The power of a metronome?

Fact or Fiction?

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  • Structuralism focused on emotions, sensations, and perceptions.

    Wilhelm Wundt used the method of introspection to study these primary focuses.

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  • The concept could be likened to:

    Me playing a song for you


    You relaying to me the thoughts and emotions emotions you absorbed from it

    Why is it no longer accepted?

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To recap,

  • Structuralism

    • was the study of the most basic elements, primarily sensations and perceptions, that make up our conscious mental experiences

    • Wilhelm Wundt

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Your walking on a sidewalk when suddenly a car comes hurtling towards you out of control. Are you afraid?


Do you see the car and mentally become afraid leading to your heart racing, hands sweating and an impulse to run?


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Do you first become physically afraid with heart racing, hands sweating which leads into you becoming mentally afraid?

This concept of environment versus cognition is the cornerstone of the Functionalist Approach.

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  • William James focused on the functions of mind and behavior.

  • Functionalism

    • which was the study of the function rather than the structure of consciousness, was interested in how our minds adapt to our changing environment

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What do you see here?

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  • The Gestalt Approach began in Germany and focused on the phenomenon of why we see things as wholes not parts?

  • emphasized how sensations are assembled into meaningful perceptual experiences

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  • Is a beautiful beach made more beautiful by the sea, clouds, and mountains that surround it?

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  • Do not focus on subjective mental thoughts but rather focus on observable behaviors which can be studied.John B. Watson

  • Behaviorism

    • emphasized the objective, scientific analysis of observable behaviors

    • Outlines the premise of almost all tests you will ever take; HSPA, SAT, GRE, ASVAB etc.

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This school would state:

In theory, that any child could have their behavior controlled and raised to be a anything ex: doctor, gardener, writer etc.

A persons behaviors can be controlled, studied and changed.

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Psychoanalytic School

Your DREAMS, UNCONSCIOUS DESIRES, REPRESSED SEXUAL FEELINGS are what drive your conscious thoughts and behaviors!

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Psychoanalytic School

  • This school created by Freud utilized a clinical method called psychoanalysis to interpret one’s hidden wishes to solve their abnormal behaviors.

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The “Old Schools” v. “New Schools”

  • How many modern approaches were there?

  • How many historical approaches are there?

  • How many overlap?

  • How are they all different?

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  • Psychologist versus Psychiatrist

    • psychologists have completed four to five years of postgraduate education and have obtained a Ph.D., PsyD., or Ed.D in psychology

    • clinical psychologists have a Ph.D., PsyD., or Ed.D., have specialized in a clinical sub area, and have spent an additional year in a supervised therapy setting to gain experience in diagnosing and treating a wide range of abnormal behaviors

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  • for the Psychology of Women

  • in Psychology

  • of the American Psychological Association

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Careers and College Information

  • American Psychological Association Education Directorate  

  • Psychology Careers resources

  • Health Psychology

  • in Psychology Profiles

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  • Psychologist versus Psychiatrist

    • counseling psychologists provide many of the same services as Clinical Psychologists, but usually work with different problems such as those involving marriage, family, or career counseling

    • psychiatrists are medical doctors (M.D.s) who have spent several years in clinical training, which includes diagnosing possible physical and neurological causes of abnormal behaviors and treating these behaviors, often with prescription drugs

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  • Many Career Settings

    • 49% of psychologists work as clinical or counseling psychologists in either private practice or therapy settings

    • 28% of psychologists work in academic settings of universities and colleges

    • 13% of psychologists work in a variety of other kinds of jobs and career settings

    • 6% of psychologists work in industrial settings

    • 4% of psychologists work in secondary schools and other settings

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  • Areas of Specialization

    • Social and Personality

    • Developmental

    • Experimental

    • Biological

    • Cognitive

    • Psychometrics

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  • Areas of Specialization

    • Social psychology

      • involves the study of social interactions, stereotypes, prejudices, attitudes,conformity, group behaviors, and aggression

    • Personality psychology

      • involves the study of personality development, personality change, assessment, and abnormal behaviors

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  • Areas of Specialization

    • Developmental psychology

      • examines moral, social, emotional, and cognitive development throughout a person’s entire life

    • Experimental psychology

      • includes areas of sensation, perception, learning, human performance, motivation, and emotion

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  • Areas of Specialization

    • Biological psychology

      • or psychobiology involves research on the physical and chemical changes that occur during stress, learning, and emotions, as well as how our genetic makeup, brain, and nervous system interact with our environments and influence our behaviors

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  • Areas of Specialization

    • Cognitive psychology

      • involves how we process, store, and retrieve information and how cognitive processes influence our behaviors

    • Psychometrics

      • focuses on the measurement of people’s abilities, skills, intelligence, personality, and abnormal behaviors

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Yale University Lectures

Dr. Paul Bloom - lectures in Introductory Psychology on topics that we study. View his lectures at this link:

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