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Course: Psychology 1100—General Psychology Semester: Fall 2007 Date/Time: September 20-December 13, 2007/THR 5:30PM-9:20PM Instructor: Richard H. Mills, Ph.D. Phone: (630) 808-2025 (cell) Email: Website: Quizzes.

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Course: Psychology 1100—General Psychology

Semester: Fall 2007

Date/Time: September 20-December 13, 2007/THR 5:30PM-9:20PM

Instructor: Richard H. Mills, Ph.D.

Phone: (630) 808-2025 (cell)





Quizzes will be given at the beginning of some classes. Quizzes will be scheduled in advance (see class schedule for approximate dates). Each quiz will consist of multiple-choice questions (approximately 10-15 questions) and will cover the scheduled reading assignment. Your five best quizzes will count towards your final grade—quizzes cannot be made up.

  • What is Psychology?
    • Psychology is a word deriving from ancient Greek roots:
      • Psyche – “soul” or “mind,”
      • ology – “study”
    • Psychology is the study of the mind.
the goals of psychologists
The Goals of Psychologists
  • Psychologists engage in the study of psychology in order to understand, explain and predict behavior
  • What are the major philosophical issues that are relevant to this study?
the major philosophical issues
The Major Philosophical Issues
  • Free will vs. determinism – are the causes of behavior knowable, and is behavior predictable?
    • Free will is the belief that behavior is caused by an individual’s independent decision-making
    • Determinism is the assumption that everything that happens has a cause or determinant in the observable world
major philosophical issues
Major Philosophical Issues
  • Which perspective holds that behavior is fully predictable?
    • A determinist assumes everything that happens has a cause that can be known
    • A believer in free will assumes that even with complete information regarding causes and conditions, predictions regarding human behavior can never be fully accurate
major philosophical issues7
Major Philosophical Issues
  • The mind vs. brain problem: - How is experience (mind) related to the organ system called the brain?
    • Dualism is the belief that the mind is separate from the brain but somehow controls the brain and through it also the rest of the body
    • Monism is the view that conscious experience is generated by and therefore is inseparable from the brain
major philosophical issues8
Major Philosophical Issues
  • The nature vs. nurture issue
    • How do differences in behavior relate to differences in heredity and environment?
    • Some scientists assume the larger proportion of differences in potential and behavior are due to the influence of genes
    • Others assume that most differences are a result of aspects of the environment such as culture, expectations, and resources
    • This issue arises in virtually every field of psychology, and knowledge gained through research seldom provides a simple answer
what psychologists do
What Psychologists Do
  • Psychology is an academic, non-medical discipline that includes many branches and specialties
    • The educational requirements can vary, but generally involve study beyond the bachelor’s degree
    • A master’s degree, or a Ph.D./Psy.D. (doctor of psychology) are common terminal degrees in the discipline

More than one-third of psychologists work in academic settings. The remainder find positions in a variety of settings (based on the data of Chamberlain, 2000).

what psychologists do11
What Psychologists Do
  • There are many specialties in the broad science of psychology. Psychologists practice within their chosen specialty in 3 main areas:
    • Teaching and research
    • Service providers to individuals
    • Service providers to organizations
what psychologists do12
What Psychologists Do
  • Teaching and research
    • Most teaching psychologists work in colleges and universities
    • Most psychologists who teach also engage in research and writing
    • Some psychologists are employed in full-time research positions
what psychologists do13
What Psychologists Do
  • Biological psychology or neuroscience
    • A bio-psychologist tries to explain behavior in terms of biological factors, such as anatomy, electrical and chemical activities in the nervous system, and the effects of drugs, hormones, genetics and evolutionary pressures
    • Sample question: How do drug abuse, brain damage, and exposures to environmental toxins change nervous system functioning (and by extension, behavior)?
what psychologists do14
What Psychologists Do
  • Learning and motivation
    • A psychologist who studies and does research in this area is interested in how behavior depends on outcomes of past behaviors and on current motivations
    • Sample question: Do frequent or consistent rewards for desired behaviors produce better learning than less frequent or less predictable rewards?
what psychologists do15
What Psychologists Do
  • Cognitive psychology
    • A cognitive psychologist studies the processes of thinking and acquiring knowledge.
    • Sample question: What do “experts” in a field know or do that sets them apart from other people?
what psychologists do16
What Psychologists Do
  • Evolutionary Psychology
    • Central premise: natural selection occurs for behavioral, as well as physical, characteristics
    • Studied natural selection of mating preferences, jealousy, aggression, sexual behavior, language, decision making, personality, and development
    • Thought provoking perspective gaining in influence, but not without criticism
what psychologists do17
What Psychologists Do
  • Developmental psychology
    • A developmental psychologist studies the behavioral capacities typical of different ages and how behavior changes with age.
    • Sample questions: What do people do or know as adults that they do not know as children? Why did this change occur? Was the change due to biological changes, increased experience, or a combination of these?
what psychologists do18
What Psychologists Do
  • Social psychology
    • A social psychologist studies how an individual influences and is influenced by other people
    • Sample question: To what degree do the demands and expectations of authority figures influence our behavior? How strong is the human tendency to conform? 
what psychologists do19
What Psychologists Do
  • Service providers to individuals
    • There are many types of psychotherapists, professionals with training in psychology who specialize in helping people with psychological problem. Psychotherapists are trained in a variety of disciplines. 
what psychologists do21
What Psychologists Do
  • Service providers to individuals
    • Clinical psychologists have advanced degrees in psychology, with a specialty in understanding and helping people with mental and emotional problems.
    • They receive training in intellectual and psychological testing used in the diagnosis and treatment. 
what psychologists do22
What Psychologists Do
  • Service providers to individuals
    • Psychiatrists are trained as medical doctors.
    • In addition to learning the principles of psychology, they are educated in how to use prescription drugs to treat psychological distress.
what psychologists do23
What Psychologists Do
  • Service providers to individuals
    • Psychiatric and clinical social workers combine training in traditional social work with specialized knowledge of how to treat emotionally disturbed people and advocate for their well-being within the larger community.
what psychologists do24
What Psychologists Do
  • Service providers to individuals
    • Psychoanalysts are psychotherapists who use mental health treatment strategies that are based on the theories and methods pioneered by Sigmund Freud.
    • Freud believed that an unconscious component of the human mind affects our functioning in day-to-day life.
what psychologists do25
What Psychologists Do
  • Service providers to individuals
    • Counseling psychologists have an advanced degree in psychology and help people with educational, vocational, marriage, health, and other important life decisions. They receive training in therapy and some types of psychological testing.
what psychologists do26
What Psychologists Do
  • Service providers to organizations
    • A school psychologist specializes in the psychological condition of the students, usually at the kindergarten through secondary school levels.
      • School psychologists draw upon a combination of developmental, learning and motivational principles, and often use educational and psychological tests to assist with educational planning for individual students.

Sample question: Does a fourth grade student whose grades have been declining over the past two years have an identifiable learning disability, or is there an issue related to the student’s emotional well-being affecting his performance?

psychology then and now
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • In all cultures, and for thousands of years, people have wondered about the nature of human thought, action and experience.
    • The great writers of every civilization are widely read because they provide us with compelling descriptions and make profound observations of human behavior.
psychology then and now29
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • The first psychological laboratory was established by William Wundt, Leipzig, Germany in 1879
    • William Wundt was trained as a physician and did research on the workings of the senses.
    • Although other psychology experiments had been done, this was the first laboratory devoted exclusively to the activities of psychological research.
psychology then and now30
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Wundt’s fundamental question was: What are the components of experience, or mind?
    • He presented his subjects with a wide variety of stimuli, and asked them to look within themselves, to introspect. He tried to measure the changes in their experiences as the stimuli changes.
psychology then and now31
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Wundt and his students did experiments in a wide range of areas related to psychology, and they wrote prolifically about their findings.
    • Most importantly, Wundt demonstrated that it was possible to perform meaningful experiments in the science of psychology.
psychology then and now32
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Edward Titchener was a student of Wundt who immigrated to the United States in 1892.
    • He developed the approach he called structuralism.
    • In structuralism, the researcher attempts to describe the structures that compose the mind, its sensations, feelings and images.
psychology then and now33
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Titchener presented a stimulus to his subjects and asked them to analyze its separate features
    • After Titchener’s death in 1927, his research methods were abandoned
    • There was no feasible way to check the accuracy of his subjects’ observations
    • As psychology evolved through the 20th century, psychological researchers became more interested in describing and analyzing readily observable behaviors
psychology then and now34
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • William James wrote The Principles of Psychology (1890)
    • Hewas keenly interested in what the mind does, rather than the elements of mind
    • He rejected the methods of Wundt and Titchener
    • He wanted to learn how the mind produces behaviors. He called his approach functionalism
psychology then and now35
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Typical questions from a functionalist perspective include:
      • How does a person recall the answer to a question?
      • How does a person inhibit an undesirable impulse?
      • Can a person attend to more than one task at a time?
psychology then and now36
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Psychophysics is a term created by early psychologists working on sensation and sensory experience
    • They noticed interesting aspects of the functioning of the senses
    • For example, the perception of a stimulus’ intensity is not directly proportional to the actual physical intensity of the stimulus.
psychology then and now37
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Psychophysics attempts to provide a mathematical description of the relationship between the actual physical properties of the stimulus and its perceived properties
    • A sound that is half as loud (in physical terms, in decibels) as another sound may not sound that way to the listener
psychology then and now38
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • The works of Darwin had an enormous impact: The Origin of Species (1859); The Descent of Man (1871) 
      • By presenting compelling evidence that humans and other animal species were related, Charles Darwin forced scientists and thoughtful people working in many disciplines to consider the basic features held in common by many or all animals, such as thinking and intelligence.
psychology then and now39
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Francis Galton was one of the first scientists to try to measure human intelligence and determine to what extent heredity influenced variations in human cognitive abilities.
    • He studied the sons of accomplished men and found that the offspring of the talented and famous had a high probability of being accomplished too.
    • He explained this as due chiefly to the influence of heredity.
    • Galton tried to develop an intelligence test, but did not succeed.
psychology then and now40
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • Alfred Binet devised the first useful intelligence test in 1905, at the behest of the French government, for use in identifying children in the public school system who might be in need of special services
    • His test was imported to the United States after his death, and was the “template” for the development of many IQ and other psychological tests
    • Some of the most interesting questions you will encounter in this course will involve whether it is truly possible to measure these qualities, or to fully understand what they are
psychology then and now41
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • While structuralism was abandoned because of problems with subjectivity, behaviorism is a field of psychology that concentrates on observable, measurable behaviors and not mental processes
    • Behaviorists primarily seek to study the observable behaviors associated with what is generally referred to as learning.
psychology then and now42
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • The earliest researchers in the field of behaviorism and learning expected to find that it operated using simple, basic and predictable laws, comparable to Newton’s physical laws of the universe
    • Much as Newton’s “majestic clockwork” has given way to the more random and unpredictable world of modern quantum physics, the specialty of behaviorism has revealed some laws of behavior, but also major complications arising from other processes (such as the influence of cognition and motivation)
psychology then and now43
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • The early questions posed by behaviorists in the mid-20th century have given way to complex questions about how humans learn to be aggressive and violent
    • This is just one of many interesting questions with complex answers that have yet to be fully revealed
    • Even modern behaviorists have left behind the hope of discovering “simple universal principles of behavior.” But the principles of behaviorism are still interesting and useful, as you will soon see
psychology then and now44
Psychology Then and Now
  • The early era and the roots of psychology
    • In presenting psychoanalytic theory, Sigmund Freud revolutionized psychology by proposing the existence of an “unconscious mind” rooted in our animal origins
    • He worked with his patients to understand how this hidden part of the mind influenced their mood and behavior by analyzing their dreams, fantasies, and perceptions of their own early childhood experiences
    • Although much of psychoanalytic theory has been rejected as unscientific, psychology is still heavily influenced by Freud’s ideas about treatment of psychological distress
recent trends in psychology
Recent Trends in Psychology
  • Modern clinical psychology
    • The trauma experienced by so many soldiers in World War II provided ample opportunity for the further development of psychoanalysis and innovation in new methods of psychotherapy.
    • Behaviorists used rewards and other principles of learning in treating psychological distress.
    • Other fields of psychology that eventually made contributions to therapy as the 20th Century progressed include humanistic and cognitive psychology.
recent trends in psychology46
Recent Trends in Psychology
  • Academic and applied psychology
    • Although many researchers have abandoned the study of consciousnesses or self, there is still abundant research being done on cognition.
    • Applied fields of psychology are booming. These include:
      • Health psychology (addiction, stress, nutrition.)
      • Forensic psychology (dealing with issues of mental competence for trial, and accuracy of eyewitness testimony.)
recent trends in psychology47
Recent Trends in Psychology
  • Cross-cultural psychology and human diversity
    • In examining a variety of issues related to psychology, scientists have become more conscious of cultural context over the past three decades
    • Psychologists now recognize, for example that mental illness is at least partly culturally and socially defined
    • What is considered psychologically adaptive is defined by the culture in which one is raised
recent trends in psychology48
Recent Trends in Psychology
  • Cross-cultural psychology and human diversity
    • An observation that supports these ideas is that homosexuality once was considered a psychological disorder. It is no longer considered a legitimate mental illness in our culture, whatever controversy continues about issues of sexual orientation.
    • Psychoanalytic theories of child development seem irrelevant in world cultures where children are fathered by one man but raised by his brother.
recent trends in psychology49
Recent Trends in Psychology
  • An evolving science:
    • We have changed radically as a species, and we have changed our world over the past century. This fact is having major consequences for our day-to-day functioning and long-term survival.
    • Psychology cannot always provide simple answers and solutions. But psychologists are working to help us understand ourselves better, find the best solutions and change ourselves when it is in our best interest to do so.
studying psychology seven organizing themes
Studying Psychology: Seven Organizing Themes
  • Empirical
  • Theoretically diverse
  • Evolves in a sociohistorical context
  • Behavior is determined by multiple causes
  • Shaped by cultural heritage
  • Influenced jointly by heredity and environment
  • People’s experience of the world is highly subjective