1.2—how psychology became a science Flashcards Preview

🚫 PSY100H1: Introduction to Psychology (Winter 2016) with J. Vervaeke > 1.2—how psychology became a science > Flashcards

Flashcards in 1.2—how psychology became a science Deck (39)
Loading flashcards...

1.1 Learning Objectives

  • know the key terminology of psychology’s history.
  • understand how the various philosophical and scientific fields became major influences on psychology.
    • the philosophical schools of determinism, empiricism, and materialism provided a background for a scientific study of human behaviour.
    • the first psychologists were trained as physicists and physiologists.
    • Fechner developed psychophysics, and Titchener looked for the elements of thought.
    • Darwin’s theory of natural selection influenced William James’s idea of functionalism.
  • apply your knowledge to distinguish among the different specializations in psychology.
  • analyze how the philosophical ideas of empiricism and determinism are applied to human behaviour.
    • psychology is based on empiricism, the belief that all knowledge—including knowledge about human behaviour—is acquired through the senses.
    • all sciences, including psychology, require a deterministic viewpoint.
    • determinism is the philosophical tenet that all events in the world, including human actions, have a physical cause.
    • applying determinism to human behaviour has been met with resistance by many because it appears to deny a place for free will.


1.1 Focus

  • why did it take so long for scientists to start applying their methods to human thoughts and experience?
  • what has resulted from the application of scientific methods to human behaviour?


Empiricism | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

a philosophical tenet that knowledge comes through experience.


Determinism | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • determinism: the belief that all events are governed by lawful, cause-and-effect relationships.
  • free will vs determinism—to what extent do have control over our actions?
  • behaviour is determined by both internal (e.g. genes, brain chemistry) and external influences.


Four Humours | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • four humours: blood, yellow bile, black bile, and phlegm; Hippocrates (460-370 BCE) believed that these flowed throughout the body and influenced both health and personality.
  • Galen of Pergamon’s (127-217) four temperaments were each related to a humour.
  • temperaments: the four humours combined made emotional and personality characteristics that remained stable throughout the life.
    • sanguine (blood): a tendency to be impulsive, pleasure-seeking, and charismatic.
    • choleric (yellow bile): a tendency to be ambitious, energetic, and a bit aggressive.
    • melancholic (black bile): a tendency to be independent, perfectionistic, and a bit introverted.
    • phlegmatic (phlegm): a tendency to be quiet, relaxed, and content with life.
  • ​Roman, and later Persian, physicians also attempted to link different foods with different humours, so if a person’s humours were out of balance a dietary adjustment was sometimes advised to help him or her return to a balanced state.


Zeitgeist | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • Zeitgeist: a general set of beliefs of a particular culture at a specific time in history.
  • in the 1600s, people were not ready to accept a science that could be applied to human behaviour and thought.


Psychophysics | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • psychophysics: the study of the relationship between the physical world and the mental representation of that world.
  • e.g. Gustav Fechner’s (1801-1887) experiments with two different weights in your hand; which perceived weight will be heavier?


Charles Darwin | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

Charles Darwin’s (1809-1882) theory of natural selection helped us to realize that behaviours, like physical traits, are subject to hereditary influences.


Clinical Psychology

the field of psychology that concentrates on the diagnosis and treatment of psychological disorders.


Brain Localization | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • brain localization: the idea that certain parts of the brain control specific mental abilities and personality characteristics.
  • phrenology: Franz Gall (1758-1828) and Johann Spurzheim (1776-1832) believed that the brain consisted of 27 “organs,” corresponding to mental traits and dispositions that could be detected by examining the surface of the skull. (figure 1.7)
    • they believed that by measuring the bumps on a person’s head, you could identify the different traits that an individual possessed.
  • brain injuries—physician Paul Broca (1800s) studied a patient named Tan, named so because this was the only word he could speak despite understanding everything else.
    • motivated by this study, Karl Wernicke identified Wernicke’s area in 1874, a critical part for language comprehension.


Franz Mesmer | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • Mesmer (1700s) speculated that prolonged exposure to magnets could redirect the flow of metallic fluids in the body, curing disease and insanity.
  • his claim was rejected in the scientific community, but some of his patients seemed to be cured after being lulled into a trance.
  • psychosomatic medicine: patients being cured due to their belief in the treatment.
  • hypnosis—inspired by the trances of Mesmer’s patients
  • hysterical paralysis: a condition in which individuals lose feeling and control in a specific body part, despite the lack of any known neurological damage or disease.
    • Freud began to use hypnosis to treat his own patients of hysterical paralysis.


Sigmund Freud | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • developed psychoanalysis.
  • many modern psychologsis make inferences about unconscious mental activity, just as Freud had advocated.
  • medical model: influenced by Freud; the use of medical ideas to treat disorders of emotions, though, and behaviour.
  • Freud emphasized how physiological needs and urges relating to survival and reproduction can influence our behaviour.
  • Frued placed great emphasis on how early life experiences influence our behaviour as adults.


Sir Francis Galton | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • Sir Francis Galton, inspired by his cousin Darwin, believed that heredity (genetics) explained psychological differences among people.
  • used it to reinforce his beliefs about social class; it seemed natural that people who did better in scholarship, business, and wealth were able to do so because they were better people (genetically speaking).
  • eminence: a combination of ability, morality and achievement.
  • one observation supporting his claim for a hereditary basis for eminence was that the closer a relative, the more similar the traits.
  • nature and nurture relationships.
  • but Galton ignored nurturing effects, rather than biological ones, could explain similarities between families; and ignored that great people can and do come from very humble beginnings.
  • eugenics; Galton promoted the belief that social programs should encourage intelligent, talented individuals to have children while inferior people should be kept out of the gene pool.


Wilhelm Wundt | Structuralism and Functionalism

  • Wundt (1832-1920) was largely responsible for establishing psychology as an independent scientific field.
  • introspection: “to look within”; required a trained volunteer to experience a stimulus then report each individual sensation he or she could identify.
  • basic sensations were the mental “atoms” that combined to form the molecules of experience.
  • reaction time; mental activity is not instantaneous, but requires a small amount of effort measured by the amount of time it takes to react.


Edward Titchener (1867-1927) | Structuralism and Functionalism

  • Titchener (1867-1927), a student of Wundt, adopted introspection to devise an organized map of the structure of human consciousness.
  • he used the term elements to be analogous to the periodic table; he believed mental experiences were made up of a number of limited sensations, like the elements in chemistry.
  • different sensations can form and create complex compounds.


William James | Structuralism and Functionalism

  • James (1842-1910) was influenced by Darwin, and sought to examine behaviour in context and explain how our thoughts and actions help us adapt to our environment.
  • evolutionary psychology: an approach that interprets and explains modern human behaviour in terms of forces acting upon our distant ancestor.


Edwin Twitmeyer | Behaviourism

  • Twitmyer (1873-1943) studied reflexes.
  • used a rubber mallet to strike a volunteer’s knee.
  • a bell would ring beforehand so that the volunteer wasn’t startled.
  • the participant’s knee would kick at the sound of the bell, before the mallet struck.


Ivan Pavlov | Behaviourism

  • the credit for discovering classical conditioning typically goes to Pavlov (1849-1936).
  • noticed that dogs in the laboratory learned to salivate to a tone if the tone had a history of sounding just prior to the delivery of food.


John B. Watson | Behaviourism

  • Watson (1878-1958) believed that all behaviour could ultimately be explained through conditioning.
  • was adamant that only observable changes in the environment and behaviour were appropriate for scientific study.
  • criticized introspection and believed very little in the power of genetics.
  • was fired from his university and took up a job in marketing.
    • did not focus on the product itself, but made associations between a product’s brand image and positive emotions.


B.F. Skinner | Behaviourism

  • Skinner (1904-1990) was a behaviourist who believed that psychology was the study of behaviour, and not of the observable mind.
  • the foundation of behaviour was how an organism responded to rewards and punishments.
  • believed this could apply to all organisms, both human and nonhuman.
  • faced with criticism because theory left little room for free will.


Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow | Humanism

  • Carl Rogers (1902-1987) and Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) were humanistic psychologists who focused on the positive aspects of humanity and the factors that lead to a productive and fulfilling life.
  • believed people could attain mental well-being and satisfaction through gaining a greater understanding of themselves, rather than by being diagnosed with a disorder or having their problems labelled.
  • believe humans strive to develop a sense of self and are motivated to personally grow and fulfill their potential.


Humanist Psychology

focuses on the unique aspects of each individual human, each person’s freedom to act, his or her rational thought, and the belief that humans are fundamentally different from other animals.



a psychological approach that attempts to explain how behaviour and personality are influenced by unconscious processes.


Materialism | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

  • materialism: the belief that humans, and other living beings, are composed exclusively of physical matter.
  • accepting this idea would mean that we are nothing more than complex machines that lack a self-conscious, self-controlling soul.
  • dualism: the belief that there are properties of humans that are not material (a mind or soul separate from the body).


Nature and Nurture Relationships | Philosophical and Scientific Origins

the inquiry into how heredity (nature) and environment (nurture) influence behaviour and mental processes.



an attempt to analyze conscious experience by breaking it down into basic elements, and to understand how these elements work together.



the study of the purpose and function of behaviour and conscious experience.



an approach that dominated the first half of the 20th century of North American psychology and had a singular focus on studying only observable behaviour, with little to no reference to mental events or instincts as possible influences on behaviour.


Karl Lashley | Brain Science

  • Lashley (1890-1958) was interested in locating the engram: the place in the brain where a memory trace was stored.
  • using rats, Lashley examined how the size and location of brain damage affected performance on tasks such as maze navigation. produced two findings:
  • the exact location of location of the damage didn’t affect performance; long-term memories are stored throughout many parts of the brain
  • principle of mass action: the size of the damage did have an effect, with larger lesions causing a greater impairment in performance.


Donald Hebb | Brain Science

  • Hebb (1904-1985), a former student of Lashley’s, conducted studies examining how cells in the brain change over the course of learning.
  • Hebb’s Law: when a brain cell consistently stimulates another cell, metabolic and physical changes occur to strengthen this relationship.
  • reinforced the notion that behaviour can be studied at a number of different levels ranging from neurons (brain cells) to the entire brain.

Decks in 🚫 PSY100H1: Introduction to Psychology (Winter 2016) with J. Vervaeke Class (50):