PsychologyUnit 1 Chapter 1 – Nature of psychology
Define Psychology Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of mental processes and behaviour in humans (and animals).
What is behaviour? • Behaviour is any action that can be observed and scientifically measured. • Anything that you do that can be seen. • Make a list of five observable behaviours • They are also known as OVERT behaviours.
What is a mental process? • Mental processes are thoughts and feelings that are personal and internal and cannot be directly observed. • Make a list of five mental processes • They are sometimes known as COVERT behaviours and include • Perception • Cognition • Emotion
Perception • Perception enables us to make sense of and understand the many different stimuli in our surrounding environment
Cognition • Cognition refers to thinking and any other mental operation relating to how we process information, make plans or acquire knowledge.
Emotion • Emotion refers to an individual’s subjective response to the world around them. • Eg: How would you respond to being told that school is cancelled? • How would you respond to being told that your boyfriend/girlfriend has been cheating on you? • Each person’s response may vary due to their different interpretation of the news. • Emotion also involves physiological responses – can you think of any?
Psychology as a profession • What is a psychologist? • How do you become a psychologist? • Visit http://www.psychology.org.au to research the different types of psychologists. • CAM: Exercise 1.1
Activity • For each of the following problems decide if you would see a psychologist or psychiatrist for help. Explain your choice. • Relationship issues • Bipolar disorder • Frequently experiencing intense rage • Eating disorder • Problems falling asleep at night – short term • Clinical depression • An irrational fear of spiders • Suffering anxiety about starting at a new school • Poor self esteem • Grieving over the death of a friend
Specialist areas of Psychology Clinical psychology Clinical neuropsychology Community psychology Counselling psychology Educational and developmental psychology Forensic psychology Health psychology Organisational psychology Sport psychology Biological psychology Cognitive psychology Personality psychology Social psychology
Classic Perspectives and Theories • Each of the following perspectives had its own theories of behaviour and mental processes. They all differed in three main ways: • Their focus of study • Their method of study • Their theories • There are five different theories (complete LA 1.10).
Structuralism – Wilhelm Wundt (1832 – 1920) • Interested in the study of human consciousness • Considered ‘radical’ because consciousness can’t be directly observed. • Focuses on the structure of the consciousness, how the parts are organised and how they are interpreted. • Used ‘introspection’ to study consciousness – requires participants to reflect on their thoughts and other mental experiences.
Functionalism – William James (1842 – 1910) • Focuses on studying the purpose that mental processes serve in enabling people to adapt to their environment. • Interest in how and why our thoughts and feelings lead us to behave as we do.
Psychoanalysis – Sigmund Freud (1856 – 1939) • Focuses on the roles of unconscious conflicts and motivations in understanding and explaining behaviour and mental processes. • We are not usually aware of what is going on in our unconscious because it is hidden from our conscious awareness. • Also, our past experiences are very important in the development of our personality and behaviour.
Behaviourism – John B. Watson (1878 – 1958) • Involves understanding and explaining how behaviour is learned and moulded by experience. • According to behaviourists, we tend to repeat behaviours that we find rewarding in some way and avoid those we associate with punishment.
Humanism – Carl Rogers (1902 – 1987) • An approach to understanding and explaining behaviour and mental processes that focuses on the uniqueness of the individual person and the positive qualities of all human beings to fulfil their lives. • Assumption that all people are born good and that we strive to reach our full potential, whatever that might be.
Contemporary Perpectives • Each of the classic perspectives have influenced the following contemporary perspectives of psychology: • Biological perspective • Behavioural perspective • Cognitive perspective • Socio-cultural perspective • Each represents a different point of view about human behaviour and mental processes.
Biological perspective • Focus on the biological influences on behaviour and mental processes, including the brain and the rest of the nervous system, the endocrine system, the immune system and genetics. • All our thoughts, feelings and behaviours are associated with underlying bodily activities and processes. • Michael Gazzaniga (2006) – three major developments within biological perspective via split-brain surgery: • Brain chemistry • Genetics • Technology to study human brain
Behavioural perspective • Focus on how behaviour is acquired by environmental consequences such as rewards and punishments • All behaviour can be explained in terms of learning processes. • Origins in Watson’s behaviourism • Will learn more in the Area of Study - Learning
Cognitive perspective • Focus on how we acquire, process, remember and use information about ourselves and the world around us. • How we take in information in order to think, feel and behave as we do. • Assumption is that internal mental processes are important in their own right. • It is essential to know what is going on inside one’s mind to know what makes one ‘tick’.
Socio-cultural perspective • Focus on the roles of social and cultural influences on human behaviour and mental processes. • Assumed that socio-cultural factors such as sex, race, age, income level and the culture in which people grow up are important influences.
Scientific Nature of Psychology • Scientific method refers to the systematic approach for planning, conducting and reporting research which involves collecting empirical evidence (data collected directly by observation or experimentation). • Empirical evidence allows to draw accurate conclusions which are most likely to be free from personal biases. • Research must also be able to be replicated, therefore, making the results reliable if similar results are obtained from first research. • Copy fig 1.30, page 38
Science Vs Non Science • Psychology uses a scientific approach when conducting research. This enables psychologists to draw valid and reliable conclusions about the behaviour and mental processes they study. • Other ways to explain human thoughts, feelings and behaviours that are not based on science – these are pseudo-sciences or fake sciences. • Astrology • Numerology • Graphology • Palmistry