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Intro. to Psychology. Mr. Cameron – Jeannette Senior High School. Why Study Psychology?. Psychology – the scientific study of behavior and mental processes Behavior – any action that other people can observe or measure Examples: Walking, talking, eating, pressing a button

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Intro to psychology

Intro. to Psychology

Mr. Cameron – Jeannette Senior High School

Why study psychology
Why Study Psychology?

  • Psychology – the scientific study of behavior and mental processes

  • Behavior – any action that other people can observe or measure

  • Examples:

  • Walking, talking, eating, pressing a button

  • Heart rate, blood pressure, brain activity

Behavior and mental processes
Behavior and Mental Processes

  • Cognitive activities – private, unobservable mental processes such as sensation, perception, thought, and problem solving

  • Dreams, perceptions, thoughts, and memories

  • Brain waves that indicate dreaming can be measured

  • Cell activity in an eye responding to color can be measured

Behavior and mental processes1
Behavior and Mental Processes

  • Psychologists also want to measure emotions

  • Emotions affect behavior and mental processes

  • Emotions must be studied through psychological constructs

  • Psychological constructs – concepts that enable a person to discuss something that cannot be seen, touched , or measured directly

Goals of psychology
Goals of Psychology

  • Observe behavior and mental processes to gain a better understanding

  • Enables psychologists to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior

  • Dealing with anxiety

  • Positive visualization

Psychology as a science
Psychology as a Science

  • Psychology is a social science (sociology, history)

  • Closely tied to natural sciences (biology, physics)

  • Answer questions by following scientific research steps

  • 1. Conducting surveys and experiments

  • 2. Collecting and analyzing data

  • 3. Drawing conclusions

Psychological theories
Psychological Theories

  • Psychologists organize their research into theories

  • Theory – Statement that attempts to explain why things are the way they are & happen the way they do

  • Discuss principals that govern behavior and mental processes

  • Principals – Rule or law

Areas of psychology
Areas of Psychology

  • 1. Clinical Psychologists

  • Make up the largest group of psychologists

  • Help people with psychological problems

Areas of psychology1
Areas of Psychology

  • 2. Counseling Psychologists

  • Use interviews and tests to identify problems

  • Treat people who have adjustment problems

Areas of psychology2
Areas of Psychology

  • 3. School Psychologists

  • Aid students with problems that interfere with learning

  • 4. Educational Psychologists

  • Focus on course planning and instructional methods

Areas of psychology3
Areas of Psychology

  • 5. Developmental Psychologists

  • Study changes that occur throughout a person’s life (behavior, thoughts, feelings)

Areas of psychology4
Areas of Psychology

  • 6. Social Psychologists

  • Study people’s behavior in social situations

  • Physical and psychological factors of attraction

  • Ways men and women behave in situations

  • Reasons people conform to group standards

  • How behavior changes when in a group

Areas of psychology5
Areas of Psychology

  • 7. Forensic Psychologists

  • Testify about the psychological competence of a defendant

History of psychology
History of Psychology

  • Began as part of philosophy

  • Wilhelm Wundt “father of psychology”

  • Studied conscious experiences

  • Sensations, images, feelings?

  • Observed and measured stimuli

  • Stimuli = lights, sounds, pain

  • Stimulus – physical energy that evokes a sensory response


  • Wundt also used “introspection”

  • Introspection is “looking inward”

  • Basic elements of consciousness:

  • 1. Objective sensations

  • 2. Subjective feelings

  • Structuralism – Human mind functions by combining these basic elements of experience (Objective and Subjective)


  • Developed by William James

  • How the mind functions to help us survive and adapt

  • Influenced by Charles Darwin (natural selection)

  • James wanted to know how the mind helps us adapt

  • Adaptive behavior is learned because it is successful

  • Adaptive (successful) behavior is repeated and eventually becomes a habit…studying = success!


  • Behaviorism – Study of observable behavior

  • John B. Watson…introspection was “unscientific”

  • Observed the relationship between stimuli and an animal’s response (can’t ask animals questions)

  • Used Pavlov’s idea of conditioning to explain behavior

  • Conditioned response – learned behavior to a particular stimulus

John b watson
John B. Watson

  • “Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own special world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select – doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and yes, beggarman and thief”

B f skinner
B.F. Skinner

  • Believed behavior is controlled by positive reinforcements (rewards)

  • Worked with animals, ideas applied to humans

  • If rewarded, an animal is more likely to perform act

  • People behave in certain ways because they have been reinforced for doing so

Gestalt school
Gestalt School

  • Gestalt is German for “form, pattern, or whole”

  • Gestalt psychologists studied thinking, learning, and perception in whole units, not by analyzing experiences into parts

Gestalt school1
Gestalt School

  • Playing the same song on a guitar and on the drums

  • Playing a song with only one note per hour

  • Perception is affected by the context in which it appears

  • The human eye sees objects in their entirety before perceiving their individual parts


  • Emphasized unconscious motives and internal conflicts in determining human behavior

  • Believed that mental life is like an iceberg…huh?

  • Unconscious – Area of the mind that lies outside of our personal awareness

  • Our behavior is deeply influenced by unconscious thoughts, impulses, and desire…especially those concerning sex and aggression


  • Freud theorized that many unconscious thoughts are threatening, so they are repressed

  • Repressed – Restrained, held out of awareness

  • Unconscious thoughts are revealed by dreams, emotions, and slips of the tongue

  • Believed all thoughts, emotions, etc. are determined

  • There are no accidents, every thought has a cause!


  • Freud was one of the first psychologists to appreciate that childhood affects adult personality

  • “The child is father to the man”…what does this mean?

  • Known for creating psychoanalysis, “talking therapy”

  • Gained his understanding of behavior through meetings

  • Theorized that behavior is aimed at satisfying needs / desires

  • Help people find socially acceptable ways of meeting needs

Contemporary perspectives
Contemporary Perspectives

  • The study of psychology has changed over the years

  • Theories of Skinner and Watson have been modified

  • Many contemporary psychoanalysts do not use the same methods as Sigmund Freud

  • New perspectives still use historical traditions of psych

  • Each perspective emphasizes different topics/approaches

Biological perspective
Biological Perspective

  • Emphasizes the influence of biology on our behavior

  • Assume our mental processes (thoughts, fantasies, & dreams) are made possible by the nervous system

  • Look for connections between events in the brain

  • Study brain activity when listening to music,solving problems, experiencing psychological disorders

  • Interested in the influences of hormones and genes

Hormones and genes
Hormones and Genes

  • Hormones – Chemicals that glands release into the bloodstream to set in motion body functions

  • Body functions can include growth or digestion

  • Genes – Basic unit of heredity

  • Biological psychologists study the influence of genes on personality traits, psychological health, as well as various behavior patterns

Evolutionary perspective
Evolutionary Perspective

  • Focuses on the evolution of behavior and mental processes

  • Darwin believed that the most-adaptive organisms have a greater chance of surviving to maturity

  • People who are resistant to certain diseases are more likely to transmit those genes to future generations

  • Behavior (aggression) have a hereditary basis

Cognitive perspective
Cognitive Perspective

  • Emphasize the role thoughts play in behavior

  • Study mental processes to understand human nature

  • Look at the ways people perceive information, make mental images, solve problems, and dream

  • Cognitive psych. study the mind

Humanistic perspective
Humanistic Perspective

  • Stresses the human capacity for self-fulfillment and the importance of consciousness, self-awareness, and the capacity to make choices

  • Considers people’s personal experiences to be the most important aspect of psychology

  • Unlike behaviorists (stimuli acting upon us) believe that we are free to choose our own behavior

  • View people as basically good & desiring to help others

Psychoanalytic perspective
Psychoanalytic Perspective

  • Stresses the influence of unconscious forces on human behavior

  • Focus less on unconscious sexual and aggressive impulses

  • Focus more on conscious choice and self-direction

Learning perspective
Learning Perspective

  • Emphasizes the effects of experience on behavior

  • Social learning theory – People can change their environments or create new ones

  • Behavior is learned either from direct experience or by observing other people

  • We learn to act hostile/friendly based on the situation

Sociocultural perspective
Sociocultural Perspective

  • Studies the influence of ethnicity, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status on behavior and mental processes

  • Helps people appreciate the cultural heritages and historical issues of various ethnic groups

  • Ethnic groups – United by heritage, race, language, and history

  • Sociocultural theorists also study gender

Sociocultural perspective1
Sociocultural Perspective

  • Gender is not simply a matter of being male or female

  • Involves cultural expectations and social roles

  • These can affect self-concepts, aspirations, & behavior

  • Sociocultural psychology addresses the similarities and differences between men and women

  • As of 2005, women made up 72% of psychology PhD’s