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Introduction to Psychology Suzy Scherf Lecture 1: Introduction The Science of Psychology Thinking Critically in Psychology Evaluating the SSSM. What is Psychology?. What is Psychology?.

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slide1

Introduction to Psychology

Suzy Scherf

Lecture 1: Introduction

The Science of Psychology

Thinking Critically in Psychology

Evaluating the SSSM

slide3

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical, state, mental state, and external environment.

slide4

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical, state, mental state, and external environment.

  • Scientific study requires several things:
  • Theoretical framework
  • Testable Hypotheses
  • Empirical evidence
slide5

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical, state, mental state, and external environment.

  • Behavior and mental processes include overt, observable instances but also include subtle kinds of instances, like brain activity.
slide6

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical, state, mental state, and external environment.

  • Humans and may other creatures included in the scientific study of behavior and mental processes
slide7

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical state, mental state, and external environment.

  • Physical state relates primarily to the organism’s biology - most especially the state of the brain and central nervous system
slide8

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical state, mental state, and external environment.

  • Mental state does not have to be conscious - can study mental states in many creatures without their conscious awareness - and can be studied in terms of brain activity.
slide9

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical state, mental state, and external environment.

  • All organisms function in an environment that is constantly presenting them with problems and challenges that must be solved.
slide10

What is Psychology?

The scientific study of behavior and mental processes and how they are affected by an organism’s physical state, mental state, and external environment.

  • Most people think of psychology as the study of differences between people, but it also includes the study of similarities between people.
slide11

What is Psychology?

Kinds of Psychologists: (all scientists)

  • Cognitive
  • Social
  • Developmental
  • Health
  • Clinical
  • Human Factors
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Evolutionary
  • Educational
slide12

What is Scientific Thinking?

1. Critical thinking - assess claims on the basis of well-supported reasons and evidence - not on emotional or anecdotal reasoning.

2. Involves asking questions - one of the most important is, “WHY?”

3. Involves defining terms - must be clear and concrete

slide13

What is Scientific Thinking?

4. Involves examining evidence - “Let me have my opinion!” doesn’t count

5. Involves analyzing assumptions and biases - scientific thinkers do not take anything as proven fact and work hard to overcome their own biases in thinking

slide14

What is Scientific Thinking?

6. Involves avoiding emotional reasoning - do not let gut feelings replace clear thinking - emotional conviction does not settle arguments

7. Involves avoiding oversimplification - the obvious answer is often wrong and misleading - do not argue based on own anecdotal evidence

slide15

What is Scientific Thinking?

8. Involves consideration of other interpretations - the best interpretations are supported by the most evidence and explain the most variables

9. Involves tolerating uncertainty - sometimes evidence is unclear or does not even exist

10. Involves asking questions that can be tested in this world

slide16

What is Scientific Thinking?

What is the difference between these two statements?

1. I like Fords better than Hondas.

2. Fords are better than Hondas.

And what about this statement?

3. Fords are the best in the world and Hondas do not exist; they are a conspiracy of the Japanese government.

slide18

What’s Happening in Our Class?

1. Taking a look at Psychology by asking five broad questions.

  • How did we get here?
  • How do we act?
  • How do we think/know?
  • How do we interact?
  • How do we differ?
slide19

What’s Happening in Our Class?

2. We will always be asking how the physical state of an organism and its environment simultaneously influence an organism’s behavior and mental processes.

3. We will spend a lot of time discussing how people are similar and some time talking about how they are different.

slide20

What’s Happening in Our Class?

4. We will draw on what we know about other critters to help us understand ourselves.

5. We will study and critique all kinds of ideas about the way people work.

6. We will learn a set of theoretical tools in the beginning of class and continue to use them though out the course.

slide21

What’s Happening in Our Class?

Examples of ideas that we will discuss and evaluate:

  • What happens to our brains when we eat chocolate?
  • Are women just gold-diggers and men just superficial?
  • How do people overdose on drugs?
  • Why are we fooled by magic tricks?
slide22

What’s Happening in Our Class?

Examples of ideas that we will discuss and evaluate:

  • Why can children learn any language while adults have to work so hard to learn a second language?
  • Why is Jamie Lee Curtis a man genetically?
  • What is stem cell research and why do we care?
slide23

How Did We Get Here?

Evolution is the best scientific theory that explains how we got here.

slide24

Why Does it Matter How We Got Here?

  • Most psychologists don’t ask about how we got here. They only study how things work now that we are here.
  • Knowing how we got here helps us understand why we work the way we do.
  • Evolution is crucial for understanding psychology!
slide25

Psychology without Evolution

The Standard Social Science Model (SSSM)

  • Most psychologists agree that bodily organs evolved to serve a function.
  • However, many of them also believe that the mind/brain and behavior did not evolve to serve a function.
  • They believe that our brains and behavior transcend biology!
slide26

What is Psychology Like without Evolution?

  • 1. Social scientists don’t tend to ask questions like,
  • “How did we get here?”
  • Without this question we have no complete theory of human psychology
slide27

What is Psychology Like without Evolution?

2. Can only ask HOW questions – not WHY questions.

  • No way to study what the mind is for, or what it is designed to do.
  • Can only study how the mind works.
slide28

SCIENTIFIC

BLIND ALLEY

What is Psychology Like without Evolution?

3. Traditional psychology has to work through trial-and-error to discover the mind’s operating principles

  • No overarching theory that guides inquiry about “mind design”
  • Trial-and-error approach can lead to bind alleys
slide29

What is Psychology Like without Evolution?

4. An artificial line is drawn between the Social and the Natural sciences.

  • Our biology makes everything we do possible – including social interactions and learning
  • All of science is a coherent enterprise – can’t have contradictions across fields
  • We are not above our biological nature!
slide30

What is Psychology Like without Evolution?

5. It assumes that humans born as a blank slate.

  • All living things are born with important preparations for living
  • Just because a trait is not present at birth does not mean that it is acquired through experience (ie. Puberty) – process of Maturation
slide31

What is Psychology Like w/o Evolution?

6. It assumes that differences among people arise primarily from different experiences and cultures.

  • Genes also contribute to differences between individuals
  • Experience has to act on something – a biological organism
  • Genes and environment always working together to mold an individual