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Chapter 1 What is Psychology?. What is Psychology?. Psychology is a word deriving from Greek roots: Psyche – “soul” or “mind” Logos – “word” Psychology is the systematic study of behavior and experience. . Module 1.1. The Goals of Psychologists. The Goals of Psychologists.

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what is psychology
What is Psychology?
  • Psychology is a word deriving from Greek roots:
    • Psyche – “soul” or “mind”
    • Logos – “word”

Psychology is the systematic study of behavior and experience.

module 1 1
Module 1.1
  • The Goals of Psychologists
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 Versus 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.
which perspective holds that behavior is fully predictable
Which Perspective Holds that Behavioris Fully Predictable?
  • A determinist assumes that 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.
the major philosophical issues7
The Major Philosophical Issues
  • The Mind-Brain Problem
    • How is experience 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.
Data from brain imaging research such as PET (positron emission tomography) suggests that brain activity and mental activity are two aspects of the same thing. Yet this question is far from resolved.
the major philosophical issues9
The Major Philosophical Issues
  • The Nature-Nurture Issue
    • How do differences in behavior relate to differences in heredity and environment?
      • Some scientists assume that the larger proportion of differences in potential and behavior are due to the influence of genes.
      • Some scientists assume that most differences are a result of aspects of the environment such as culture, expectations, and resources.
      • This issue shows up 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.
Figure 1.4

More than one third of psychologists work in academic institutions; the remainder find positions in a variety of settings. (Based on data of Chamberlin, 2000)

what psychologists do12
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 do13
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 do14
What Psychologists Do
  • Major categories of psychological research
    • 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 do15
What Psychologists Do
  • Major categories of psychological research
    • 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 do16
What Psychologists Do
  • Major categories of psychological research
    • 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 do17
What Psychologists Do
  • Major categories of psychological research
    • Developmental Psychology
    • A developmental psychologist studies the behavioral capacities typical of different ages and how behavior changes with age.

Sample Question: 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
  • Major categories of psychological research
    • Social Psychology
    • A social psychologist studies how an individual influences and is influenced by other people

Sample Question: To what degree to the demands and expectations of authority figures influence our behavior? How strong is the human tendency to conform?

concept check
Concept Check

Which psychologist would ask if punishment is an effective means of eliminating undesirable behaviors?

Learning And Motivation

Which psychologist would ask if people will obey an authority figure even when that leader is demanding behavior that might be classified as immoral or wrong?

Social Psychologist

Which psychologist wants to know when language learning occurs most rapidly in children?

Developmental Psychologist

Which psychologist would do research to determine how memories are stored in the brain?


Which psychologist would do research to determine how retention and recall of information in a college-level psychology course can be enhanced?

Cognitive Psychologist

what psychologists do24
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 problems, actually are trained in a variety of disciplines.

Clinical Psychologists and Other Psychotherapists

what psychologists do26
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 intended to aid in diagnosis and treatment.
what psychologists do27
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 do28
What Psychologists Do
  • Service Providers to Individuals
    • Psychiatric nurses receive standard nursing education plus additional training in the care of emotionally troubled individuals.
    • They usually work in medical clinics and hospitals.
what psychologists do29
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 do30
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 do31
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.
concept check32
Concept Check

Which psychotherapist would help a middle-aged woman trying to transition from work as a homemaker to resuming her college education?

Counseling Psychologist

Which psychotherapist would prescribe a mood stabilizer to a patient who shows signs of bipolar affective (emotional) disorder?


Which psychotherapist might provide ongoing counseling and support for residents of a halfway house for recovering addicts?

Clinical Social Worker

Which psychotherapist might be part of the staff of a hospital emergency room, and manage the intake of a patient admitted with acute suicidal thoughts and feelings?

Psychiatric Nurse

Which psychotherapist might be employed in an inpatient facility for developmentally delayed children and adolescents, doing assessment and psychotherapy?

Clinical Psychologist

Which psychotherapist would try to help a patient discover his or her hidden motivations for an apparently distressing and unacceptable behavior or thought?


what psychologists do38
What Psychologists Do
  • Service Providers to Organizations
    • Industrial/Organizational Psychologists study people’s behavior in the workplace using a combination of social, cognitive, and motivational psychology principles, and often employing psychological tests.

Sample Question: Workers in two separate departments at an aerospace engineering firm have started to withhold information from each other and this has been detrimental to morale and productivity. How can this behavior be stopped without terminating or reassigning any employees?

what psychologists do39
What Psychologists Do
  • Service Providers to Organizations
    • An ergonomist, or human factors specialist, attempts to facilitate the use of machinery and appliances so that the average user can operate them as efficiently and as safely as possible.

Sample Question: How can the design of a clerical workstation in an office be improved to minimize the possibility of repetitive stress related injuries occurring to the employee who occupies it?

what psychologists do40
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?

concept check41
Concept Check

Which psychologist would consult in the design of an airplane cockpit to maximize crew efficiency and safety?


Which psychologist would evaluate a student for possible placement in a school’s program for gifted children?

School Psychologist

Which psychologist would work with supervisors at a software development company to improve communication between departments and levels of management?

Industrial-Organizational Psychologist

majoring in psychology
Majoring in Psychology
  • Should you major in psychology?
    • Although psychology is a popular major, very few jobs are listed specifically for people with bachelor’s degrees.
    • Examples of jobs that are closely related to psychology are:
      • Personnel or human resources specialist
      • Halfway or transitional home staff or supervisor
      • Community or social services outreach worker
majoring in psychology45
Majoring in Psychology
  • Should you major in psychology?
    • Psychology will be useful in careers that are not closely related to psychology, and in your life apart from work as well.
      • It can help you to more effectively evaluate evidence presented to you in a variety of situations
      • It can help you to improve your learning and retention
      • It can help you to be aware of the power of social influence and cultural context
      • It is also an excellent major for those who are contemplating further professional education in areas such as business, law, or divinity.
majoring in psychology46
Majoring in Psychology
  • Should you major in psychology?
    • What about becoming a real psychologist?
      • You will probably need a doctorate (Ph.D./Psy.D.).
      • You will be in school for up to eight more years. It is hard to anticipate how the job market will change in the time it takes to complete your degree.
      • You should have an interest in working in health care or educational settings or a willingness to work in a private practice or consulting role.
majoring in psychology47
Majoring in Psychology
  • Should you major in psychology?
    • Why take this class or consider majoring in the field?
      • Psychology is a field that offers the exciting possibilities for improving the quality of life in many aspects and levels of human existence.
      • Psychologists use information from the areas of psychology presented here to help people understand themselves and make better use of their skills and qualities.
      • It is currently attracting talented persons from an increasing diverse variety of backgrounds.
majoring in psychology48
Majoring in Psychology
  • Should you major in psychology?
    • Whether or not you choose to do more advanced work, we hope that you will find a long-lasting benefit from your investment of time and energy in this Introduction to Psychology course.
module 1 2
Module 1.2
  • Psychology Then and Now
the early era and roots of psychology
The Early Era and 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 such compelling descriptions and make profound observations of human behavior.
Figure 1.7

Dates of some important events in psychology and elsewhere. (Based partly on Dewsbury (2000a).

the early era and roots of psychology52
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • The first psychological laboratory: The work of William Wundt, Leipzig, Germany - 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.
the early era and roots of psychology53
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • William Wundt
    • 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.
the early era and roots of psychology54
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • William Wundt
    • 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.
the early era and roots of psychology55
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Edward Titchener
    • 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 – the sensations, feelings and images.
the early era and roots of psychology56
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Edward Titchener
    • 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.
the early era and roots of psychology57
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • William James: The Principles of Psychology (1890)
    • The American psychologist William James was 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.
the early era and roots of psychology58
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • William James: The Principles of Psychology (1890)
    • Typical questions asked from a functionalist perspective:
      • 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?
the early era and roots of psychology59
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Psychophysics
    • Early psychologists, doing research on sensation and sensory experience, 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.
the early era and roots of psychology60
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Psychophysics
    • A sound that is half as loud (in physical terms, in decibels) as another sound may not sound that way to the listener.
    • Psychophysics attempts to provide a mathematical description of the relationship between the actual physical properties of the stimulus and its perceived properties.
the early era and roots of psychology61
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • The enormous impact of Darwin: The origin of species (1859); The descent of man (1871)
    • In his presentation of 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.
    • Comparative psychologists, who use this perspective, are specialists who compare different animal species.
Figure 1.10

One of the tasks used by early comparative psychologists to assess animal intelligence tested the delayed-response problem. A stimulus was presented and a delay ensued; then the animal was expected to respond to the remembered stimulus. Variations on this delayed-response task are still used today.

the early era and roots of psychology63
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Comparative psychology
    • Early comparative psychologists devised a number of experiments to try to measure animal intelligence, such as:
      • The delayed response problem
      • The detour problem
      • The pattern recognition problems
    • Some species appeared to be gifted in one set of tasks and highly deficient in another.
Figure 1.11

Another task popular among early comparative psychologists was the detour problem. An animal needed to first go away from the food in order to move toward it.

Figure 1.12

Zebras learn rapidly when they have to compare stripe patterns (Giebel, 1958). How “smart” a species is perceived to be depends in part on what ability or skill is being tested.

the early era and roots of psychology66
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Comparative psychology
    • Eventually the inconsistencies in performance between different tasks across a single species suggested to comparative psychologists that questions about animal intelligence might be meaningless.
    • This issue is similar to some of the problems that we currently are encountering in the controversial area of measuring human intelligence.
the early era and roots of psychology67
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Human intelligence and IQ testing
    • 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.
    • Is this the only possible explanation?
    • Galton tried to develop an intelligence test, but did not succeed.
the early era and roots of psychology68
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Human intelligence and IQ testing
    • Alfred Binet devised the first useful intelligence test 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 tests of intelligence and other qualities of interest in the field of psychology.
    • 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.
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The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Women in Psychology
    • In the early days of psychology, opportunities for women were limited as they were in so many areas at the time.
    • Mary Calkins was one of the pioneering women in the field. Her graduate education in psychology at Harvard was paid for as part of her teaching salary at Wellesley College.
    • Although she never received the Ph.D. that she earned from Harvard, she went on to do research, study the function of memory, and serve as the president of the American Psychological Association.
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The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Women in Psychology
    • Other early contributing women in the field of psychology were:
      • Christine Ladd-Franklin
      • Margaret Washburn
      • Karen Horney
      • Anna Freud
    • The latter two were followers of Sigmund Freud and the Psychoanalytic school of psychology.
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The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Behaviorism – John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner
    • Recall that structuralism was abandoned because it was difficult to study the subjective perception of experience.
    • 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.
the early era and roots of psychology72
The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Behaviorism – John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner

“Psychology as the behaviorist views it is a purely objective experimental branch of natural science. Its theoretical goal is the prediction and control of behavior.” -- John B. Watson, 1913

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The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Behaviorism and Studies of Learning
    • The earliest researchers in the field of 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 a good deal of complication arising from other processes (such as the influence of cognition and motivation.)
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The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Behaviorism and Studies of Learning
    • The early question posed by behaviorists in the mid-20th century, such as Clark Hull’s work with rats in the area of maze learning, 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 their principles are nonetheless interesting and useful, as you will soon see.
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The Early Era and Roots of Psychology
  • Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis
    • 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 exploring their perceptions of their own early childhood experiences.
    • Although much of his theory has been recently questioned or rejected as unscientific, modern psychology is still heavily influenced by his 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 in therapy as the 20th Century progressed include humanistic and cognitive psychology.
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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.)
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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 also defined by the culture in which one is raised.
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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.
    • Another is that Freudian theories of child development are difficult to apply in cultures of the world in which children are fathered by one man but raised by his brother.
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Recent Trends in Psychology
  • An evolving science
    • We have radically changed 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.