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Ethan. Questions Investigated by Psychologists. How important are parents in the development of a child? Why do individuals remain in abusive relationships? Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance? What are the long-term consequences of sexual assault?

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questions investigated by psychologists
Questions Investigated by Psychologists
  • How important are parents in the development of a child?
  • Why do individuals remain in abusive relationships?
  • Is depression caused by a chemical imbalance?
  • What are the long-term consequences of sexual assault?
  • Is personality more influenced by genetics or the environment?
  • What causes school bullying?
what is psychology
What is Psychology?
  • The scientific study of behavior and mental processes.
  • The goal of psychology is to describe, understand, predict, and change thought and behavior.
what is psychology con t
What is Psychology? (con’t)
  • Psychology involves analysis at three levels.
    • The brain (biology)
    • The person (intrapersonal)
    • The group (interpersonal)
what is psychology con t5
What is Psychology (con’t)
  • Psychologists use critical thinking to investigate various phenomenon:
    • Identify central ideas.
    • Maintain a skeptical and questioning attitude.
    • Tolerate uncertainty and avoids black/white thinking.
what is psychology con t6
What is Psychology (con’t)
  • Psychologists use empiricism to investigate behavioral phenomena:
    • Knowledge acquired through observation.
psychology involves
Psychology involves:

Objective data collection

Subjective data collection

Systematic observation

Hit or miss observation

Reliance on evidence

Ignores counterevidence

early movements in psychology
Early Movements in Psychology:
  • Structuralism
  • Functionalism
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Behaviorism
  • Humanistic Models
how has psychology attempted to achieve its mission its history
How has psychology attempted to achieve its mission? Its history:
  • Structuralism: The first major movement.
    • Goal – To understand the basic elements of thought and laws by which they combine into complex experience.
for example there are two elements of consciousness
For example, there are two elements of consciousness:
  • Sensations: Arising from the eyes, ears, and other sense organs.
  • Feelings: Such as fear, anger, and love.

…How to these combine into mental structures? What are the rules?

what is psychology con t11
What is Psychology (con’t)
  • Structuralism’s roots were established by Wilhelm Wundt.
    • Set up the first psychology laboratory in Germany (1879).
wundt believed
Wundt believed:
  • Experimentation can be used to study basic processes of mind, not the higher processes. For the latter, only naturalistic observation could be used.
history con t
History (con’t)
  • Edward B. Titchener furthered Wundt’s in the United States.
  • He sought a periodic table of mental elements. For example,

sensations and images were characterized by quality, sensation, intensity, duration, clearness, extensity.

history con t14
History (con’t)
  • Key contributions of structuralism:
  • Introspection (self-examination): To understand the mind by describing and analyzing thoughts, sensations, and feelings.
history con t15
History (con’t)
  • Experiments. For example, studying the speed of thought by observing reaction time.
an example of structuralism s explanation of behavior
An example of structuralism’s explanation of behavior:
  • Studying Tiger Wood’s golf success by analyzing how he perceives distances, faraway terrain, and wind direction.
history con t17
History (con’t)


  • Not all behavior can be described with conscious thought.
  • Structuralism failed to establish laws of behavior.
history con t18
History (con’t)
  • Functionalism: The second major movement, which went beyond charting the mind’s elements…
history con t19
History (con’t)
  • Goal: To understand the function of the mind in adaptation: functionalism was influenced by Charles Darwin (1809-1882).
    • Involved studying people’s goals and beliefs.
history con t20
History (con’t)
  • Founder of functionalism (and American psychology!) was William James.
    • James set up the first American psychology laboratory.
history con t21
History (con’t)
  • He believed that knowing only the contents of the mind was too limited: we need to know how the mind’s contents function and work together.
an example
An example:
  • How do Tiger Wood’s goals and beliefs help him to press on in the face of adversity?
history con t23
History (con’t)
  • Key contributions of functionalism:
    • Using animals to study behavior.
    • Practical applications
      • Example: Improving education
how does psychology currently work to achieve its mission
How does psychology currently work to achieve its mission?
  • Today’s perspectives incorporate ideas of the past expanded by a deeper understanding of the mind. Psychologists with different perspectives work in different settings and in different ways. However:
today s psychology
Today’s Psychology
  • All are attempting to explain human behavior.
current methods con t
Current methods (con’t)
  • All incorporate a theory of development, personality, and therapeutic techniques.
  • Most consider research and theory to be cornerstones of their approach (Lefton & Brannon, 2003).
psychoanalytic theory
Psychoanalytic Theory

Major Founder: Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

famous quote
Famous Quote

“I have found little that is ‘good’ about human beings on the whole. In my experience most of them are trash.”

--Sigmund Freud

major ideas assumptions
Major Ideas/Assumptions
  • Behavior is determined by unconscious processes and biological/instinctual forces (e.g., sex & aggression).
  • Personality develops during the first 6 years of life, influenced by one’s early experiences and progression through the stages of psychosexual development.
  • Early childhood experiences are responsible for subsequent adult problems.
  • Early childhood relationships lay the foundation for all adult relationships.
psychoanalytic theory con t
Psychoanalytic Theory (con’t)
  • Key Idea: Behavior/emotional problems are driven from anxiety stemming from early traumatic experience.
  • Unconscious: warehouse of past experiences, conflicts, memories, & repressed material; it substantially contributes to most of our behavior and mental health problems.
  • Techniques

1) Free association: Patient reports freely and without censure ideas that come to mind.

2) Dream interpretation: Interpreting dreams uncovers symbols of unconscious conflict.

behaviorism con t
Behaviorism (con’t)
  • Founder: John Watson (1878- 1958).
  • Established the study of observable stimuli (environmental situation) and response (anything an organism does).
basic assumptions of behaviorism
Basic Assumptions of Behaviorism
  • All behavior, whether positive or negative, is learned. Cognition (thoughts, beliefs, attitudes, etc.) are also learned behaviors.
  • Behavior is maintained by current circumstances, not historical events.
watson quote
Watson quote:

“If you could understand rats without the convolutions of introspection, could you not understand people the same way?”

watson quote37
Watson quote:

“Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified 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 that I might select- a doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief and, yes, even into a beggarman and thief………..”

“Little Albert” experiment….

behaviorism con t39
Behaviorism (con’t)
  • Founder: B. F. Skinner (1904- 1990).
  • Furthered behaviorism and examined the effects of reinforcement on behavior (currently a technique used with children, and dog training too!)
cognitive behavior therapy
Cognitive-Behavior Therapy
  • Major founders: Varied
  • Key ideas: Most behavioral/emotional problems are due to faulty learning coupled with poor choices and habits.
humanistic therapy
Humanistic Therapy
  • Founder: Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
  • Key Idea: Most behavioral or emotional problems are due to blocked growth and potential.
the most modern and cutting edge perspectives
The Most Modern and Cutting Edge Perspectives
  • Most psychologist use a blend of the aforementioned techniques, supplemented by:
cutting edge con t
Cutting Edge (con’t)
  • The Biopsychology perspective: Examines how brain structure and its cellular functioning (and thus neurotransmitters) affects mental processes and behavior. Study:
cutting edge con t44
Cutting Edge (con’t)

a. Genetic abnormalities

b. Central nervous system problems

c. Brain damage

d. Hormonal changes

cutting edge con t45
Cutting Edge (con’t)

2) The Sociocultural perspective: Examines how culture affects mental health, identity, and ability to thrive.

  • Time, identity, values
cutting edge perspectives con t
Cutting Edge Perspectives (con’t)

3) The Evolutionary perspective: Analyzes how the human brain developed over hundreds of thousands of years. This framework can be used to understand:

cutting edge perspectives con t47
Cutting Edge Perspectives (con’t)

a. Cross-cultural similarities

b. Gender differences

c. Drives (e.g. altruism).

the common factors model what all perspectives have in common
The Common Factors Model: What ALL perspectives have in common
  • All of the major schools of thoughts have similar therapeutic outcomes. This is because they share certain COMMON FACTORS such as:
cutting edge con t49
Cutting Edge (con’t)
  • Catharsis
  • Reassurance
  • Learning
  • Feedback and changing expectations
research methods used by psychologists

Research Methods Used by Psychologists

Scientific Method

True Experiments




assumptions and values of the scientific method
Assumptions and Values of the Scientific Method:
  • Behavior is lawful or orderly.
  • We can discover the laws of human behavior through carefully controlled investigations.
  • Only phenomena will empirical referents can be studied.
  • Beliefs and theories should be subjected to rigorous, public evaluation.
  • Science is (ideally) self-correcting. Theories should be modified or discarded based on new evidence.
  • Theories should be tentative and falsifiable.
the carl principle mmhmm
The Carl Principle (“mmhmm”)
  • Science attempts to develop the most parsimonious explanations to account for one’s findings or psychological phenomenon.
  • This principle explains why chance is frequently invoked as the explanation for the relationships among variables.
the scientific method
The Scientific Method
  • Psychology is a science because of its methods of finding things out. Its main method is:
true experiments gold standard
True Experiments (Gold Standard)
  • Definition: a research design that attempts to establish cause and effect relationships by manipulating an independent variable(s) and observing the impact on a dependent variable(s).
    • How do you do this?

Developing a hypothesis

Performing a controlled test

Gathering objective data

Analyzing the results

Publishing, criticizing, and replicating the results

five steps of the true experiment step 1
Five Steps of the True Experiment: Step 1
  • 1) Form a hypothesis from a theory (i.e., an interlocking set of concepts or principles that explain a set of observations).
step 1 example
Step 1: Example
  • We want to investigate the impact of moderate levels of alcohol consumption on students’ abilities to drive a car through a difficult maze. We predict that moderate levels of alcohol consumption (BAC = .05) will still impair driving performance.
step 1
Step 1…
  • A hypothesis must be able to be falsified: You must be able to test it as right or wrong.
step 2
Independent variable:

the “cause” or variable presumed to bring about changes in the dependent variable(s); the IV is either controlled or manipulated by the researcher.

Dependent variable:

-- the “effect” or variable presumably altered by an independent variable; this variable is what is measured by a researcher.

Step 2….
step 262
Step 2

Remember this: The value of the dependent variable (D.V.) depends on what happens with the independent variable (I.V.). In our experiment:

I.V. – Alcohol Consumption

D.V. – Driving Performance

step 263
Step 2…
  • Participants are randomly assigned to levels of the IV to reduce selection biases (e.g., individual differences).
  • Experimental group: the group of participants exposed to the variable of interest or simply those who experience the experimental condition (alcohol).
  • Control group: the group of participants who do not experience the treatment or manipulation (no alcohol).
step 164
Step 1
  • Define your terms by using

An operational definition: A definition of a variable that specifies how it is measured or manipulated.

IV: Moderate levels of alcohol impairment will be defined as a BAC of .05.
  • DV: Driving impairment will be defined as the number of errors made on an obstacle course.
  • A researcher investigates whether medication or psychotherapy is more effective in reducing symptoms of depression .
  • What is the Independent Variable?
  • What is the Dependent Variable?
Another researcher investigates whether exposure to violent video games increases aggressive playground behavior.
  • What is the Independent Variable?
  • What is the Dependent Variable?
step 2 controlled test
Step 2 -Controlled Test

2) Next, you perform a controlled test to either accept or reject hypothesis.

step 3 on handout
Step 3 (on handout)
  • Collect your data.
step 3
Step 3
  • In this example, you would compare the driving performance of those in the experimental and control groups.
step 4
Step 4

4. Analyze the data (test scores) and either accept or reject the hypothesis. You do this by using:

step 4 con t
Step 4 (con’t)

a. Statistics – Numbers that summarize or indicate differences or patterns of differences in measurement.

*For example, compare the mean driving scores between your experimental and control groups.

step 5 on handout
Step 5 (on handout)

5.Publishing/criticizing/and replicating the results: This involves a write-up of your study results using a particular format (APA style). You should pose competing explanations for your findings is a special section of the write-up.

demonstrating cause and effect relationships
Demonstrating Cause-and-Effect Relationships
  • Temporal Precedence: the cause (A) must precede the effect (B).
  • There must be a functional relationship between A & B (i.e, they must co-vary together).
  • Alternative explanations for the relationship between A & B must be ruled out.
alternative explanations
Alternative Explanations

1) Participant expectancy bias: The participant’s expectations lead him or her (consciously or unconsciously) to be influenced by the experimental situation rather than I.V. manipulation.

alternative explanations76
Alternative Explanations

2) Experimenter Expectancy Bias: The experimenters’ expectations lead him or her to consciously or unconsciously treat participants in a way that encourages the expected results.

A way eliminate these biases:

eliminating alternative explanations
Eliminating Alternative Explanations
  • Use a Double Blind Design (control): The participant is “blind” to the predictions of the study and the experimenter is “blind” to the conditions assigned to the participants.

Eg. Drug studies.

alternative explantions
Alternative Explantions

3) Another form of bias is Sampling Bias: A bias that occurs when the participants are not chosen at random, but are instead chosen in such a way that they are not representative of the population (e.g. college students).

4. External Validity: Do the results of our study apply to college students at other universities, members of the general population, psychiatric patients, alcoholics, etc.?
other potential problems
Other Potential Problems

5) Confounding variables: Variables that vary along with the ones of interest, and could be the actual reason for the study findings.

three alternatives to true experiments
Three Alternatives To True Experiments
  • Quasi-experimental research: similar to the true experiment, but participants are not randomly assigned to groups for ethical or practical reasons.
quasi experimental con t
Quasi-Experimental (con’t)

Example: Effects of sleep deprivation on memory for people aged 18-25 verses 30-35.

  • I.V.s – Age and sleep deprivation
  • D.V. – Memory
  • Correlational research: Uses a statistic called a correlation to measure the relationship between 2 or more variables. Useful when you cannot ethically or experimentally manipulate your variables.

Examples: lack of sleep and G.P.A;

domestic assault and self-esteem.

The correlation indexes a relationship in which changes in one variable are

accompanied by changes in another.

correlation coefficient
Correlation Coefficient
  • Correlation Coefficients, which range from –1.00 to +1.00, describes the relationship between two research variables; sign indicates the direction of the relationship, and the number represents its strength.
  • Note: r = -1.0 is as strong as r = 1.0

Cannot imply causation due to:

Directionality problems

Third Variables


Possibility 1: A might cause B




Possibility 2: B might cause A




If A and B are correlated:

Possibility 3: A might influence B while B influences A in return.




Rather than A causing B or B causing A, third variable C causes A & B.




  • So, you must be VERY careful about what conclusions that you draw. For example;
    • Eyesight and I.Q. (small correlation)
    • Ice cream consumption and crime
    • Heat and shark attacks
examples of positive and negative correlations
Examples of Positive and Negative Correlations
  • Positive:
    • Hours of studying and good test scores
    • Self esteem and reported happiness
    • Inches of snow and school closures
  • Negative:
    • Missed classes and test scores
    • Social skills and reported social anxiety
    • Depression and good coping skills
zero correlation
Zero correlation
  • Height and grades
  • Wealth and body weight
  • Looks and intelligence
descriptive research
Descriptive Research
  • Describes phenomenon such as behaviors, emotions, and interactions in their natural environment. No variables are manipulated!

1) Naturalistic observation: Observing your variable of interest in its natural setting.

descriptive research96
Descriptive Research

2) Case study: A study that focused on a single instance of a situation.

For example, a therapist writes an anonymous case study (with client permission) about a Vietnam Veteran with PTSD.

descriptive research97
Descriptive Research

3) Survey: A set of questions about beliefs, attitudes, preferences and activities.

Example: Survey 500 students on campus about their beliefs/attitudes concerning alcohol.

descriptive research98
Descriptive Research
  • Pitfalls of a survey are:
    • People may not be honest.
    • People may not be comfortable answering.
    • The wording of the survey could influence response.
    • The survey could limit response options.