Flashcards in Human and animal psychology Deck (68):
Define evolution and explain how it occurs.
A change of allele frequencies within a population over time.
It occurs when certain animals with favourable alleles survive due to natural or artificial selection and then reproduce to pass on these alleles.
What is an adaptation?
Give 2 examples.
An adaptation is when a particular animal is better suited to the environment it's in, meaning they're more likely to survive and reproduce.
A lion that is adapted to run faster and can therefore catch more prey.
A fish that's more aerodynamic and can escape prey more easily.
Define homology and give an example.
It's the existence of shared ancestry between a pair of structures (e.g. bone structure) within different species.
For example, whales, humans and birds all have the same bone structure in their upper limbs aka tetrapods.
Define analogy and give an example.
A comparison between two things.
Dolphins and sharks have similar morphology due to selection pressures but are completely unrelated.
Define convergent evolution.
When organisms that aren't closely related evolve independently to have similar traits, this is an analogy.
What are Tinbergen's 4 whys?
Explain each one.
1. What?: This is the proximate, it involves certain biological mechanisms like hormones and nerves.
2. When?: This is the phylogenetic, it involves the animal's evolutionary history.
3. Why?: This is the functional aspect which involves the reasons behind the specific adaptations.
4. How?: This is the ontogenetic aspect which involves the nature nurture debate and animal development.
What do Tinbergen's 4 whys explore?
It's an evolutionary theory that explores what factors have caused an animals' adaptations. The four aspects can all be involved or just one aspect etc.
Apply Tinbergen's 4 whys to an example
Proximate: When FoxP2 is blocked, male birds don't learn to sing as FoxP2 is involved in the synthesis of testosterone, this suggests testosterone is involved in males learning to sing.
Phylogenetic: A common ancestor may have had the ability to sing so when speciation occurred, some species of birds could sing (parrots, songbirds, hummingbirds) and some couldn't. The ones that can, have an area of the brain that's more active.
Functional: Male birds adapting to sing for territorial defence and for attracting females.
Ontogenetic: The birds learn to sing during the sensory period of development and birds from different areas have different accents due to nurture.
What are the 4 type of change within evolution?
Explain each stage.
1. Evolution itself, adaptive changes that increase chance of survival against environmental change.
2. Morphology, how the shape of body parts form and how the structure of it forms.
3. Speciation, the formation of a new species.
4. Extinction: When there are more deaths than births, resulting in a species with no living members.
What is Lamarckism, with an example? (It is mostly discredited)
What is the mechanism of inheritance?
Lamarckism is the idea that acquired characteristics are inherited, only the good ones are passed on. For example, he believed elephants had small trunks but when they needed to reach food, they stretched their trunks and the offspring inherited long trunks.
The mechanism of inheritance is genes.
What is the main source of variation?
True or False: Variation is dependent on/subject to evolution.
The main source of variation is mutation and recombination during the synthesis of DNA, RNA and proteins.
False, variation isn't subject to evolution. For example, the average height in the UK has increased but this is not due to evolution.
What is the currency of selection?
What does this consist of?
The currency of selection is fitness
Fitness consists of survival and reproduction and it involves morphology and behaviour.
What is adaptation?
When an organism improves their own fitness or their traits improve their fitness.
List three misconceptions of evolution
1. Evolution is just a theory and can't be proven but there is extensive evidence to support it
2. One species involves into another but actually speciation occurs with a species, resulting in two new species.
3. Evolution has a foresight, however it's actually unpredictable.
What are the four main types of evidence that supports evolution?
2. Comparisons of organisms
3. Geographical distribution
4. Modern and observed examples.
What is ethology and who is the father of it?
Ethology is the observational study of animal behaviour.
Tinbergen is the father of ethology.
What are the four approaches to researching animal behaviour?
What validity does the first two approaches have?
Experimental, observational, comparisons across species and mathematical modelling.
Experimental: Internal validity
Observational: Ecological validity.
What are the three principles of evolution?
Variation (due to mutations)
Inheritance (via mitosis and meiosis)
Selection pressures (natural selection, giving the illusion of design)
It is the outdated term for evolution, which is the 2nd most important idea in science.
Define scientific theory
A well supported explanation of an aspect in the natural world that involves facts, laws, inferences and hypotheses.
True or false:
The fittest are those who survive
False. It just means that they are more likely to produce more offspring over time as they are better adapted.
Define microevolution and macroevolution.
How is macroevolution researched?
Microevolution is the changes within a species over time that can result in speciation.
Macroevolution is the changes of taxonomic groups.
It's researched via fossil records and DNA comparisons to discover the relations between organisms.
Why is it important to try and reduce bad science?
List 5 things with examples.
1. It can have negative health benefits, for example newspaper articles causing parents to not vaccinate their children.
2. It can affect justice, for example children recovering false memories of abuse during therapy.
3. It can have ethical consequences, for example selecting people based on their personality test.
4. It can cause financial issues, for example using funds for ineffective treatments.
5. It can affect scientific progress, for example pseudoscience is regressive and slows science from progressing.
Where do we get our scientific/general beliefs from?
List 4 things.
1. Authority, parents, lecturers etc.
2. Tenacity, people who hold on to their beliefs despite contrary evidence.
3. A priori, beliefs that haven't been studied or researched (the world being flat).
4. Scientific methods, beliefs gained through controlled observations.
What is the difference between pseudoscience and general science?
Is there a clear line between pseudoscience and science?
Pseudoscience accepts intuition and personal insight as a valid source of knowledge whereas science believes knowledge from the external world can only come from objective observation.
No, there isn't a clear line between them, there is a continuum but pseudoscience tries to be like good science.
What is the difference between non-science and psychology?
What makes something good science?
Non-science relies on informal, secondary resources whereas psychology relies on well developed techniques to develop theoretical explanations.
Something is good science when it involves scepticism and is questioned with reasonable doubt.
What is the main assumption of the scientific method?
That events have causes that can be discovered through controlled, systematic and empirical observation.
The belief that experience, rather than faith, is the source of knowledge.
What is the criteria for a hypothesis?
It must be testable and refutable and derive deeper explanations for observable phenomena, from which the scientific theories can be developed.
What criteria should the scientific method fulfil?
The method should be replicable and repeatable, controlled observation that can be made public, a self correcting theory that can be compared to old theories or can be discarded.
What makes a good theory?
Parsimony, aka simplicity, the theory shouldn't be overly complicated, testability, so it should be open to experimentation, unlike psychics who refuse to be tested upon.
Do we always think scientifically?
No we don't, we still fall for pseudoscientific claims because we don't constantly evaluate data as it wouldn't be easy and would require a lot of effort. Instead, we use heuristics, which are mental shortcuts. For example, if it costs more, it must be valuable.
Give a detailed example about bad science.
8 points, get at least 6.
EMDR. This is eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing.
This method was developed by Shapiro who found that sadistic eye movements (looking left to right), eased her anxious thoughts when in some woods.
The national institute of clinical excellence found that CBT was more effective and that EMDR's effects were weak and negligible but it can be used for PTSD.
Shapiro's theoretical rationale for this method was weak, she said that your psychologically based information processing system becomes imbalanced after trauma causing the trauma to be locked in the brain but there is
no evidence behind this.
The belief that traumatic memories are stored differently to normal memories is controversial and the role of the bilateral stimulation (aka eye movements) is unclear. Also, there is little evidence supporting the reprocessing so the only valid area is desensitisation or a placebo effect upon the patient.
EMDR claims to treat many disorders like schizophrenia, autism, anorexia etc, the list is extensive.
It ties into the pink aspirin analogy where if a new pink aspirin was sold then "what's new isn't effective and what's effective isn't new".
Training for EMDR is very costly, this money could be spent elsewhere.
Give a detailed example of bad science that involves personality.
4 points get at least 3.
The Myers-Briggs type indicator which predicts which career is best suited to you.
Millions of copies of used in the workplace and at school each year and it was based on the book Psychological types.
There are 16 types, based on 4 features of personality with two opposites in each. The 4 types of personality are: Attitude which involves extroversion (E, react to conditions in environment) and introversion (I, look inward at internal reactions). Perceiving, which involves sensing (S, relying on things that can be perceived) and intuition (N, relying on unconscious perceptual processes). Judging which involves thinking (T, using logical and rational processes) and feeling (F, judging based on emotional reactions). Lifestyle which involves judgement (J, using thoughts and feelings fro judgement) and perception (P, using sensing and intuition).
It's an unreliable method because 50% of people are classified into a different personality type when repeated on a separate occasion. It's not valid because it measures preferences rather than ability and the factor analysis doesn't support it.
List 7 types of bad science, excluding Myers and EMDR.
Creationism, homeopathy, recovered memory therapy, DID, TV nutritionists, offender profiling and dolphin assisted therapy.
Give a detailed example of good science.
A study into predicting the future my Bem, he repeated the study 9 times and found the same results, which was significant psi effects. Psi is an anomalous process of information and energy transfer that is unexplained in terms of biological mechanisms. For example precognition (during sleep) and premonitions.
This is good science because he used a replicable process and he repeated it himself, even though other experimenters have failed to obtain the same results and these results were not published.
Why can't we apply scientific thinking to every situation?
List 7 ways in which we can be fooled by bad science.
We can't do this because we lack controlled, experimental data.
1. Word of mouth: This is similar to urban myths and it makes people believe phrases like 'opposites attract' which contradicts research.
2. Desire for easy answers: This is where people believe things that are too good to be true, like fad diets where people regain the weight they've lost at a later date.
3. Selective perception and memory: Filtering the world through our own biases by focusing on the hits but ignoring the misses. Like full moon correlating to admission of mental patients when there is no comparison, this is an illusory correlation.
4. Inferring causation from correlation: There could be a 3rd variable affecting both of the variable but this can be ignored.
5. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc: Something happening after another event and believing that was the cause.
6. Biased samples: For example, the clinicians illsusions. Psychotherapists say that smokers are unlikely to quit but
they only see the extreme cases.
7. Exaggeration of the truth: Men and women being slightly different in communication is exaggerated to men are from mars, women are from venus.
Are psychology students more or less likely to fall for misconceptions about psychology?
They are less likely but bad science fuels misconceptions about psychology to the public eye.
List 5 incorrect statements that a creationist says about evolution.
1. Evolution is only a theory, it's not a fact.
2. Evolution is unscientific because it's not testable or falsifiable.
3. Scientists doubt the truth of evolution.
4. Animals are too complex to be formed just by chance.
5. Why are there still monkeys, if humans evolved from them.
Imagine some data are published that show that students that feel most welcomed during their first week of university are less likely to quit their degrees. The university decides to spend more on welcoming activities to decrease dropout rates.
Why is this decision not necessarily justified? 
Suggest a plausible third variable that may explain the relationship 
What could the university to do scientifically test the validity of this idea? 
Because the data show a negative correlation between feeling welcomed and quitting, and this does not necessarily mean causation. Other factors may actually cause the relationship.
It could be that students who feel most welcomed are more motivated to integrate into the university, which means they engage in their degree more and are less likely to drop out.
The university would have to do an experiment. They could spend more on welcoming in some years and not in others, then follow the different cohorts of students and measure their drop out rates. If drop out is lower when more money is spend, the idea would seem to be correct.
Is psychology a science?
It's an evolving science that has many strands, aka approaches.
What is the mythical story about how the psychological science developed?
Psychologists grew impatient with introspectionism and behaviourism caught on rapidly. The cognitive approach returns to cognitive roots and reacts to the narrowness of behaviourism and S-R views.
Define and describe introspectionism
It's a psychological approach that 'looks within' and researches 2 types of experience; the external, physical world and the inner, mental world. It's main question is whether consciousness can be observed.
Who is the key figure of introspectionism and what did they do?
Wilhelm Wundt. He established the first lab for psychological research in 1879 in Leipzig, Germany, he wrote the first textbook for the science and he wrote the first academic journal Psychologische Studien.
He argued that higher mental functions, like language and thought, couldn't be studied in experiments so therefore, he rarely used introspective methods and the term introspection didn't even exist at the time. He usually used behaviourist methods.
Name 3 other introspectionists and where they studied/researched
1. Munsterberg, he was one of Wundt's students and was recruited by James to work at Harvard. He mainly measured behaviour and didn't focus vastly on introspectionism.
2. Kulpe, he studied under Wundt and then set up his own lab at the uni of Wurzburg.
3. Titchener, he also studied under Wundt and then moved to the uni of Cornell.
What did Kulpe and Titchener believe and what did they disagree on?
Explain the thing they disagreed on
They believed in the utility of the introspective method.
They disagreed on their interpretation of data involving the imageless thought, which is when you work out problems or think things without relying on mental images. This means that you don't introspect much as you can't introspect about which you aren't aware.
What does introspection explore?
It explores the mental processes that occur in between the stimulus and response.
What is the imageless thought controversy?
What is the truth behind it?
The controversy is that introspection was abandoned because Titchener and psychologists from Wurzburg couldn't agree on the basic concept of imageless thoughts.
The truth behind it is that Titchener and Wurzburg psychologists both found evidence for the hypothesis but the Wurzburg psychologists believed in the concept unlike Titchener who thought the participants weren't trying hard enough to see mental images. The introspective method wasn't abandoned, it's still alive and well today. For example the personality theory; every time you answer a questionnaire, you're introspecting or when you report pain.
List one application of the introspective method and list 2 critiques
Application: Progressive relaxation
Critiques: It often lacks reliability because if you repeat questionnaires on different days, you are likely to obtain different results. Also, our self perceptions are really flawed, for example most drivers believe they are better than other drivers.
Why did the behaviourist method come about, allegedly?
It came about because psychologists stopped trying to understand the mind and instead began focusing on observable behaviour. It then replaced introspectionism. This view is largely incorrect.
What was the original assumption for the behaviourist approach?
What did this cause?
To explain complex behaviours in terms of learning from simple behaviours and if you can control the simple behaviours along with a theory of learning then you can predict complex behaviour.
It caused some scary pronouncements, for example, Watson believed he could train any child to become a doctor, lawyer, artist etc.
How does behaviourism contrast from introspectionism?
Behaviourism looks at laws of behaviour that are observable and measurable whereas introspectionism doesn't. Watson said that you can then predict and control behaviours if the laws are correct, aka conditioning.
Describe a key figure in behaviourism that explored classical conditioning. Describe his study.
Pavlov. He studied the physiology of digestion but he noticed that dogs salivated when the owner came into the room to feed the dogs, even if food wasn't present. He then explored how the unessential property could elicit the same response as a chemical. He hypothesised that the physical reactions are adaptable and changeable reflexes and that the dogs salivated in response to an neutral conditioned stimuli that they associated with food.
Name the father of behaviourism, the main view he had and his most famous study.
John Watson. He believed behaviourism was a purely objective experimental branch of natural science, unlike introspectionism. His most famous experiment was the one involving Little Albert (1920).
Describe the textbook version of the little Albert experiment
Little Albert was given a rat to play with, Watson then provided an aversive stimuli by hitting a hammer against a metal bar. This scared little Albert and he associated the noise with the rat. This fear of the rat then became generalised to all furry objects. This happened over several months. The study has been used to support claims about the development and treatment of phobias, for example, Wolpe and Eysenk both used this as valid evidence.
What is the actual version of the little Albert experiment?
After Albert had encountered pairings of the noise and the rat, he would cry and avoid the rat when presented without a noise. Albert then became fearful of some furry objects like the rat, a rabbit and a dog. Albert was reconditioned and was presented with the rat, rabbit and dog in a different, larger room and he only showed a slight reaction in the different context. Watson then attempted to elicit a response by making the loud noise, but this caused the dog to bark, confounding the results. They then did a follow up 31 days later, there was little evidence of a phobia. Albert let the rat touch him before he withdrew, at no point did he cry, he just shook his head and leant away. He did not try to avoid the rat.
What did Thorndike experiment? What was his most famous study?
He experimented behaviour as a series of conditioned reflexes. His most famous experiment involved cats in puzzle boxes. There was a variety of levers, pulleys and switches, one of which opened the door of the box. The cats learnt accidentally to begin with, and the time taken for them to escape would gradually decrease. If they used the mental process insight, then they would learn quicker. He found that the cats didn't learn suddenly, it was gradual. This lead to the law of effect; we repeat things that have pleasurable rewards. However, it is thought that the artificial puzzle box didn't allow insight and reasoning to occur.
Describe what Skinner explored?
He based his ideas on Thorndike's. He explored whether you can eliminate accidental learning via rewards and punishment for desirable and undesirable behaviour. Animals learn behaviour by associating a stimulus with a response, this can occur via rewards.
Describe operant conditioning
There are two types of reinforcement and punishment: Positive reinforcement; giving money. Negative reinforcement; letting child not do homework. Positive punishment; smacking. Negative punishment; naughty step.
When is punishment effective for operant conditioning?
When it's promptly after the undesirable behaviour, when it's strong and consistently applied. You can also ignore undesirable responses and they will gradually stop.
What are the two types of reinforcers? What is the best method of conditioning?
Primary reinforcers; biological needs. Secondary reinforcers; associations. Continuous reinforcement is fastest but once stopped, the behaviour becomes extinct. Intermittent reinforcement is more effective at maintaining behaviour.
Give an example of superstitious conditioning
When a behaviour is accidentally reinforced, like wearing looking boxers and doing well in an exam.
Does behaviourism deny the mind?
No, Watson was unsure. Skinner didn't deny it, he just said there isn't a place in scientific analysis for it. Tolman looked at mental maps in rats.
Describe Tolman's study in detail
He looked at rats in mazes. Every step they take acts involves an impression, aka a stimulus (impression) and response. When they find the food, their movement in the maze would be reinforced so they would find the food faster. This theory is good because it is simple and testable. Tolman tested his theory, he put them in the maze for 3 days with no food, on the 4th day he put food in the maze. They could then easily navigate the food on the second attempt due to latent learning (learning without a reward). He then put satiated (full/satisfied) rats in the maze where there was food and water, when they were hungry, they found the food etc.
What was MacFarlane's study?
He tested Tolman's theory. He put rats in a maze and flooded it with water so that their stimulus response associations didn't apply. However, the rats still managed to navigate the maze, suggesting they have memory. Tolman then said that the rats have a cognitive map representation of the maze which they used to navigate.
Why are Tolman's and MacFarlane's studies bad for strict behaviourists? 5 things.
Because: latent learning can occur, rats have goal directed behaviour, they have decision making behaviours, there is more to learning than stimuli and responses, mental processes intervene stimuli and responses (a mediational behaviourist view). This caused the false belief that behaviourism was overthrown by a cognitive revolution.
List some critiques of behaviourism. Name as many as you can.
Sometimes the mind is ignored or is considered irrelevant, tries to explain behaviour by cause and effect, it's a mechanistic theory as it looks at humans as machines, it ignores free will, it thinks behaviour is predictable and that you can't make decisions, language is too complicated to be learnt by reinforcement, we can understand new sentences without a stimulus, it ignores creativity.