introduction to psychology philosophical foundations of the psychological sciences l.
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Introduction to Psychology Philosophical Foundations of the Psychological Sciences. What comes to mind when you think of psychology?. Common myths from psychological psuedo-science. Our lives are determined by our childhood experiences (it’s all Mom’s fault)

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Introduction to Psychology Philosophical Foundations of the Psychological Sciences

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common myths from psychological psuedo science
Common myths from psychological psuedo-science
  • Our lives are determined by our childhood experiences (it’s all Mom’s fault)
  • Our desires are hidden in our unconscious and emerge in our dreams
science can answer some questions but not others
Science can answer some questions but not others
  • The best things in life are free.
  • Shakespeare’s Richard III is a better play than Romeo and Juliet.
  • The death penalty is wrong.
  • There is a genetic predisposition to schizophrenia.
  • Attitudes affect the course of cancer.
  • 2 + 2 = 4
folk wisdom can be contradictory
Folk wisdom can be contradictory
  • “Opposites attract” vs “birds of a feather flock together”
  • “Better safe than sorry” vs “nothing ventured, nothing gained”
  • “Look before you leap” vs “he who hesitates is lost”
  • “Absence makes the heart grow fonder” vs “out of sight, out of mind”
true or false
True or False?
  • Opposites generally attract
  • We use only 10 percent of our brain power
  • If you don’t vent your anger you’ll ‘explode’
  • Most of us suffer from low self-esteem
  • Talking about your depression only makes it worse
  • Women crave chocolate when they have PMS
psychology is
Psychology is:
  • A set of questions
  • A set of theories and procedures for asking and answering questions
  • A product of history
what is psychology
What is psychology?
  • The science of behavior and mental processes
  • Also…
  • Explanation
  • Understanding
  • Scientific investigation
before psychology a classical view of the body s control centers
Before Psychology:A classical view of the body’s control centers
  • Liver  metabolic processes
  • Heart  emotions & perception
  • Brain  thought & reason
personality determined by bodily fluids
Personality determined by bodily fluids

The theory of Humors

  • Black bile  moody
  • Blood  optimistic
  • Yellow bile  hot-tempered
  • Phlegm  passive
philosophical developments
Philosophical developments
  • Descartes
    • Dualism: human body contains 2 distinct entities:
      • Material body
      • Mind/soul
    • What separates man from animals is thought (which requires having a soul)
    • Soul and mind are used interchangeably, here.

Mind-body movie

problems with descartes
Problems with Descartes
  • How can a non-material entity (soul/mind) have a material effect on the body?
  • How can the body follow natural laws, yet be moved by a mind that does not?
  • Precludes a scientific investigation of the mind.
hobbes materialism
Hobbes: Materialism
  • Basic axiom: everything (behavior, thought, etc.) can be understood in terms of the body’s physical processes, especially the brain.
    • Sort of the anti-Descartes
    • Paved the way for empiricism
    • Founder of materialism
roots of psychology
Roots of Psychology




Emphasis on reason and logic

Emphasis on data

Emphasis on data

Emphasis on theory


willhelm wundt
Willhelm Wundt
  • Considered the founder of scientific psychology
  • Interested in the speed of mental processes
    • Used reaction-time tests to determine the amount of time it took to perform cognitive tasks.
    • Basis for cognitive psychology
wilhelm wundt
Wilhelm Wundt
  • "we learn little about our minds from casual, haphazard self-observation...It is essential that observations be made by trained observers under carefully specified conditions for the purpose of answering a well-defined question
experimental psychology begins with structuralism
Experimental Psychology Begins with Structuralism
  • Edward Titchener used methods such as introspection to develop a new school of thought that became known as structuralism.
  • The basic idea of structuralism is that conscious experience can be studied when it is broken down into its underlying components or elements.
  • Focused on sensation using introspection
rules of introspection
Rules of Introspection
  • 1. Be impartial. Do not form a preconceived idea of what you are going to find by the experiment; do not hope or expect to find this or that process. Take consciousness as it is.
  • 2. Be attentive. Do not speculate as to what you are doing or why you are doing it, as to its value or uselessness, during the experiment. Take the experiment seriously.
  • 3. Be comfortable. Do not begin to introspect till all the conditions are satisfactory; do not work if you feel nervous or irritated, if the chair is too high or the table too low for you, if you have a cold or a headache. Take the experiment pleasantly.
  • 4. Be perfectly fresh. Stop working the moment that you feel tired or jaded. Take the experiment vigorously.
what are the problems with the method of introspection
What are the problems with the method of introspection?
  • The problem with this approach is that experience is subjective.
  • Each person brings to introspection a unique perceptual system, and it is difficult to determine whether subjects are using the criteria in a similar way.
  • Accordingly over the course of time introspection was largely abandoned in psychology.
functionalism addresses the purpose of behavior
Functionalism Addresses the Purpose of Behavior
  • Functionalism, was more concerned with how the mind operates than with what the mind contains.
  • The mind came into existence over the course of human evolution, and it works the way it does because it is useful for preserving life and passing along genes to future generations
william james and functionalism
William James and Functionalism
  • Inspired by biology, Darwinism
  • What is the purpose of the behavior?
    • Focused on the purpose and function of the mind.
  • Behaviors serve “adaptive” function
  • Influenced by Darwin
  • Paid lip service to the experimental method, but relied on introspection
william james
William James

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.

Believe that life is worth living and your belief will help create the fact.

The greatest discovery of any generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitude.

gestalt psychology
Gestalt Psychology
  • Mind must be understood in terms of organized wholes, not parts.
    • Looking at a duck, you first recognize it as “duck”, not a collection of wings, feathers, and a bill.

Psychodynamic Approach

  • Founded by Freud
  • Emphasizes unconscious motivations (often sexual) & early childhood experiences
3 levels of mind
3 levels of mind




  • Took over psychology for the first half of the 20th century
  • Experience “reinforces” behavior
  • Possessed scientific qualities

Behaviorist Approach




  • Rejected Freud’s dependence on unobservable phenomena
  • Should study directly observable behaviors

Cognitive Approach

George Miller

  • Displaced behaviorism
  • Focuses on ability to acquire, organize, remember, and use knowledge to guide behavior
  • Magic number 7
modern psychology
Modern Psychology
  • Return to cognitive psychology in late 20th century
  • Cognition = mental processing
  • Fundamental cognitive abilities
current fields in psychology
Current fields in psychology
  • Biopsychology
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Health
  • Clinical
  • Social
  • Evolutionary