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1

What is psychology?

The scientific study of behaviour and mind. Uses the scientific method.

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Empiricism

The view that knowledge arises directly from what we observe and experience.

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Dualism

A philosophical position that the mind and body are separate entities.
Problem: by placing the mind as an inherently immaterial, unknowable agent that forces its will upon the body, it is removed from the realm of scientific inquiry.

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3 Branches of Psychology

1. Basic Research
2. Application
3. Clinical work

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1. Basic Research

- Attempt to understand the fundamental principles that govern behaviour and mind.
- Conducted with healthy people, not clinical populations.
- The "how" & "why" of behaviour
- Has no regard how the information will be used
- Useful because if psychologist has understanding on how a behaviour occurs, it can be influenced in useful ways to solve practical problems

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8 Fields of Basic Research

1. Abnormal
2. Behavioural genetics
3. Behavioural neuroscience
4. Cognitive
5. Comparative
6. Developmental
7. Personality
8. Social

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Basic Research >> Abnormal

Understanding how & why unusual or maladaptive behavioural, emotional, and thought-processes develop.
(Researching why major depression more common in women)

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Basic Research >> Behavioural genetics

Linking individual differences in behaviour to genetic factors.
(Searching for genetic markers for autism, schizophrenia)

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Basic Research >> Behavioural neuroscience

Linking specific behaviour patterns to underlying physical components or activities in the brain.
(Linking the processing of faces to a specific area of the brain's cortex)

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Basic Research >> Cognitive

Understanding mental processes, and the ways people organise and process information.
(Figuring out how people transform sensations produced by the eyes into an understandable image)

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Basic Research >> Comparative

Studying nonhuman animal behaviour, often looking for commonalities with human behaviour.
(Testing whether a specific chemical that affects eating behaviour in mice also affects eating behaviour in humans)

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Basic Research >> Developmental

Understanding how & why the human mind, body, and behaviour change across the lifespan.
(Investigating how children learn to speak, why memory declines in old age)

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Basic Research >> Personality

Understanding how & why people differ in their characteristic traits, and how these differences may influence behaviour.
(Describing how some people are extraverted, & how extraversion predicts specific behaviour patterns)

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Basic Research >> Social

Studying how people understand themselves & others, and how behaviour can be influenced by other people.
(Investigating how/why ppl are persuaded by advertisement)

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2. Applied Psychology

- Solving practical problems
- Typically they change behaviour to solve practical problem (mental health issues, workplace efficiency)
- Sometimes they will alter environments so it better matches behaviour of people in them (keyboard design for helicopter pilot)

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2 Types of Applied Psychology

1. Applied research
2. Applied practice

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Applied Research

Applied research is done to discover a new or more effective way to solve some specific problem.

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Applied Practice

Applied practice refers to the actual application of techniques to the problems themselves.

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Translational Research

- The effort to translate basic findings into practical solutions.
- It is applied research.

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8 Types of Applied Psychology

1. Consumer behaviour
2. Educational
3. Forensic & legal
4. Human factors
5. Health
6. Industrial & organisational
7. Political
8. School

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Applied Psychology >> Consumer behaviour

Understanding the decisions consumers make about products & services.
(Research example: Investigating effectiveness of different advertisement techniques)
(Practice example: Designing product label in ways known to increase consumer interest)

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Applied Psychology >> Educational

Improving learning in educational settings.
(Research example: Testing how effective online HW is in raising understanding)
(Practice example: Designing textbook to take advantage of research on learning)

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Applied Psychology >> Forensic & legal

Applying psychological principles to features of the legal system.
(Research example: Investigating accuracy of eyewitness)
(Practice example: Testifying that defendant is competent to stand trial)

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Applied Psychology >> Human factors

Designing products/processes that improve usefulness or comfort for people using them.
(Research example: Studying which keyboard layout for helicopter pilots prevents more typing errors)
(Practice example: Designing user interface with target audience in mind)

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Applied Psychology >> Health

Improving long-term physical health & healthcare by applying psychological principles.
(Research example: Understanding the effects of chronic stress & how it affects mind and body...)
(Practice example: Developing workplace campaigns to reduce stress... mindfulness/meditation, etc)

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Applied Psychology >> Industrial & organisational

Helping organisations improve member performance, motivation, etc.
(Research example: Determining what kinds of job stresses lead to increased turnover rates)
(Practice example: Consulting with company to improve its management training program)

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Applied Psychology >> Political

Understanding the role of psychology in the political process, & the role of politics in psychology.
(Research example: Figuring out what kinds of demographic factors predict how someone will vote in upcoming election)
(Practice example: Using demographic info to determine where candidate should campaign)

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Applied Psychology >> School

Using psychology to improve academic & social experiences of children in school.
(Research example: Researching effective ways to prevent absenteeism in high school settings)
(Practice example: Meeting with students parents to recommend course of action for student with anger issues)

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Clinical Psychology

- Another form of applied psychology.
- Focuses on mental health & wellness issues.
- Dominant type of work in psychology.

Identify, prevent, and relieve distress that is psychological in origin.
(P.h.D/Psy. D)
(Research: evaluating effectiveness of different types of treatments for depression)
(Practice: Diagnosing a mental illness, helping client with strategies to overcome anxiety)

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Psychiatrists

- Medical doctors.
- Contrasted with clinical psychologists.
- Difference in training & approach to treatment.
- Psychiatrists focus on pharmacotherapy (prescribing medicine)
(M.D.)
(Research: Medical research on physiological causes of mental illness)
(Practice: Managing a patient's psychoactive medication..)

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Counselling psychology

Help people dealing with ongoing life crises, or transitioning from one situation to another.
(P.h.D/Ed.D)

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Nativism

- Opposite of empiricism.
- Hypothesizes that some forms of knowledge are innate.
- To its extreme, this position is called biological determinism.
- Nativism not dismissed entirely. (Ponzo illusion)

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Adaptive traits

- Traits that are advantageous for survival.
- Spread through population by natural selection.
- Darwin noted that these traits could extend to human behaviour.

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Phrenology

Shape of skull can determine how smart you are. (Debunked)

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William Wundt (structuralist)

- 1st psychologist, also a medical doctor & philosopher
- Structuralist
- Made first psychology lab in University of Leipzig 1879.
- Focused on sensation & perception, mental experience, the mind.
- How ppl understand the world and turn it into thoughts and ideas.
- Most experiments involved testing response time.

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Structuralism

- 1st movement in psychology (as a science)
- Structuralists believed that psychology should focus on decomposing immediate conscious experience into its basic elements and understanding how those elements combine to create experience.
- Believed self-reports should be primary form of evidence in psychology.

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Systematic introspection (structuralism)

- Edward Titchner.
- Used to solve the problem of self-reports.
- Attempted to standardize the way conscious experiences could be compared to another's more effectively.

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Edward Titchner (structuralist)

- Wundt's student.
- Founded lab at Cornell.

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William James (functionalist)

- Critic against structuralism.
- A functionalist.
- American doctor & philosopher.
- 1st person to offer course on psychology in USA at Harvard.

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Functionalism

- Position that psychologists must first understand the function of a behaviour or mental process in order to understand how its parts work together.
- 2nd movement in psychology.
- Influenced by Darwin/evolutionary theory.

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Gestalt psychology

- Berlin.
- Continuing with structuralism in Europe while functionalism is taking off in USA.
- Focusing on understanding how people perceived a unified whole out of the many chaotic individual elements of sensation.

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Behaviourism

- Skepticism around introspection (for eg. can't be performed on animals)
- Belief that psychology should focus on behaviour (ie. what is observable)
- By 1920s was dominant approach to psychology in North America.

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B. F. Skinner (behaviourist)

- Best known for operant conditioning. (rewards and punishment system)

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Cognitive Revolution

- 1950s.
- Renewed interest in mental processes & the mind.
- Limitations in purely behaviourist models & advances in methodology and measurement led to this.

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Sigmund Freud

- Austria.
- Believed mental illness came from the unconscious mind.
- Psychoanalysis

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Humanists & Positive Psychology

- Humanistic psychology proposes that people have free will & the capacity to realise their own potential.
- Rogers & Maslow.
- Positive psychology studies how humans can flourish & how positive outcomes can be achieved.

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Ultimate explanations

- Attempt to address the reasons why a psychological phenomenon occurs, by appealing to its role in the process of evolution.

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Proximate explanations

- Attempt to describe an immediate cause of a physiological phenomenon.

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Functional explanations

- Are proximate explanations that seek to identify a specific problem as the cause of a psychological phenomenon.

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Evolutionary psychology

- Strives to explain how mental processes and behavior have developed over the course of evolutionary history.