Chapter 1
Explaining Human Behavior
• After reading and studying you should
be able to:
• Explain the difference between scientific
psychology and pseudoscience
• Define Critical Thinking
• Demonstrate critical thinking in
approaching problems or questions
• Describe the origins of psychology as a
formal science
Objectives continued
• Describe the three basic types of psychologists
and their training
• Distinguish between psychologists, psychiatrists,
psychotherapists, and psychoanalysts.
• Describe the five leading psychological
• Apply each of the five leading psychological
approaches to some problem or question
• Describe humanistic and feminist psychology.
Psychology’s Purpose
• “The purpose of psychology is to give
us a completely different idea of the
things we know best.”
Paul Valéry
A. Psychology - the scientific study of
behavior and mental processes.
1) To examine and explain how humans and
animals think, feel, and behave
2) Behavior and mental processes are affected by
an organism’s physical state, mental state, and
external environment.
3) Psychology is based on empirical evidence,
gathered by careful observation,
experimentation, and measurement.
B. Pseudoscience and Psychobabble
1) Methods and approaches distinguish psychology
from non-science and pseudoscience.
Psychology relies on research evidence.
2) The distinction between pseudoscience and
psychology is important because major
decisions are often based on psychological
3) Psychobabble confirms existing beliefs and
prejudices; psychology often challenges them.
Thinking Critically and
Creatively about Psychology
A. Critical thinking - the ability and
willingness to assess claims and make
judgments on the basis of wellsupported reasons and evidence,
rather then emotion and anecdote.
1. Critical thinkers look for flaws in
arguments and resist poorly supported
Thinking Critically and
Creatively about Psychology
2. Critical thinkers have the ability to come
up with various possible explanations for
3. Being open-minded does not mean
accepting all opinions as equally valid.
B. Critical thinking is fundamental to all
Thinking Critically and
Creatively about Psychology
C. There are eight essential guidelines for
critical thinking
Ask questions; be willing to wonder.
Define your terms
Examine the evidence.
Analyze assumptions and biases.
Avoid emotional reasoning.
Don’t oversimplify or argue by anecdote.
Consider other interpretations.
Tolerate uncertainty.
Psychology Past and Present
A. The goals of psychology are to describe,
predict, understand, and modify behavior
in order to add to human knowledge and
increase human happiness.
B. Forerunners of modern psychology were
philosophy, natural science, and medicine.
Early investigators did not always rely on
empirical evidence.
The Birth of Modern
A. Psychology as a forma science began in
1879 with Wilhelm Wundt
1) Wundt’s method of trained introspection observation and analysis of one’s own mental
experience - rejected as unscientific.
2) Functionalism emphasized the purpose of
behavior - how behavior helped adaptation.
William James was an early leader. Inspired in
part by Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution.
The Birth of Modern
B. Psychology as a method of psychotherapy
began around 1900 with Sigmund Freud
1. Freud argued that a major portion of human
functioning occurs in the unconscious mind.
2. Psychoanalysis is a theory of personality and a
method of psychotherapy originally formulated
by Freud, which emphasizes unconscious
motives and conflicts.
Psychology Today
A. Psychology is now a complex field
with many specialties, perspectives,
methods, and training programs.
B. Despite the stereotype of the
psychologist as psychotherapist,
psychology is a highly diverse field.
Most professional activity falls into
one of three categories…
Psychology Today
Psychological research, including
Basic psychology, the study of
psychological issues in order to seek
knowledge for its own sake rather than
for its practical application, and
Applied psychology, the study of
psychological issues that have direct
practical significance and the
application of psychological findings.
Psychology Today
2. Psychological practice, attempts to
understand and improve physical and
mental health. Practitioners include
counseling, clinical, and school
psychologists. People often confuse
the term clinical psychologist with:
a) Psychotherapist - anyone who does any
kind of psychological therapy (only some
of whom are clinical psychologists)
Psychology Today
a) Psychoanalyst - persons who practice one
specialized form of therapy (psychoanalysis).
Some but not all are psychologists.
b) Psychiatrists - medical specialists concerned
with mental disorders. Psychiatrists are not
C. Psychology in the Community - people who
apply psychological research in various