AP Psychology 120 – 2011/2012
Unit 1 - Introduction and Evolution of Psychology
Section 1 – Introduction
Psychology – is the science that studies behavior and the physiological and cognitive
processes that underlie it, and it is the profession that applies the accumulated
knowledge of this science to practical problems.
Summary of the six Contemporary Approaches (text pg.11)
1. Behaviorism (Watson, Skinner) studies the effects on the environment on
behavior. Only observable events are studied scientifically. Sometimes called
stimulus-response (S-R) psychology.
2. Psychoanalytic Theory (Freud) studies the influence of the unconscious on
behavior.
3. Humanism (Rogers, Maslow) studies the unique aspects of humans. Humans are
free, rational and potential for personal growth.
4. Cognition (Piaget, Chomsky, Simon) studies mental processes.
5. Biological (Olds, Sperry) studies the biological bases of mental processes and
behavior.
6. Evolutionary (Buss) studies the evolutionary bases of mental processes and
behavior. Behavior has evolved to solve adaptive problems.
Section 2 – Psychology Today
Ref: pg. 21
Research Areas in Psychology
Ref: pg.24-Fig.1.6
Cognitive Psychology focuses on higher mental processes such as memory,
reasoning, problem solving, decision making, creativity, language, and information
processing.
Developmental Psychology studies human development across the lifespan.
Experimental Psychology focuses on sensation/perception, motivation, emotion,
and learning. However, psychologists in all areas of research do experiments.
Personality studies individual’s consistency in behavior and factors which shape
personality.
Physiological Psychology (Biological) studies genetics, chemistry, and the role of the
nervous systems in behavior.
Psychometrics is the measurement of behavior and mental processes, usually
through the use and development of psychological tests.
Social Psychology studies interpersonal behavior and the social forces which govern
behavior.
Professional Specialties in Psychology
Ref: pg.25 – Fig.1.7
Clinical Psychologists evaluate, diagnose, and treat people with psychological
disorders, as well as less severe behavioral and emotional problems.
Do not confuse a psychologist with a psychiatrist.
A psychologist usually has a PhD (or at least a master’s degree) and takes a mostly
non-medical approach to psychological problems (i.e.: in most jurisdictions they
cannot prescribe drugs).
A psychiatrist is a medical doctor (has a M.D.) and has specialized in psychiatry,
which is the branch of medicine concerned with mental disorders.
Counseling Psychologists do similar work as clinical psychologists, but tend to work
with people dealing with more common and less severe problems (i.e.: marriage
counseling).
Educational Psychologists improve curriculum, teacher education, and standardized
tests. School Psychologists test and counsel children with school related problems.
Industrial and Organizational Psychologists work in business and industry to
improve HR departments, improve staff morale, and increase worker productivity.
Section 3 – Seven Key themes in Psychology
Ref: pgs.26-30
1. Psychology is empirical. Knowledge is gained through direct observation, not
through reasoning, beliefs, or common sense. This is the scientific method. The
study of psychology requires people to become critical thinkers and maintain a
healthy degree of skepticism.
2. Psychology is theoretically diverse. One of the strengths of psychology is that it
has many different theoretical approaches.
3. Psychology develops in a sociohistorical context. Sciences always develop
within a context of society and history. Psychology is influenced by society and
influences society. Psychology has gone through phases or stages of interest.
4. Behavior is determined by multiple causes. There is usually not a single
determinant for any behavior, though this is what people (using “common
sense”) often believe before studying psychology.
5. Behavior is shaped by culture. Culture is the human made part of the
environment, including shared beliefs, norms, and customs. Cultural heritage
includes assumptions, values, and ideals which people often do not think about.
6. Heredity and environment both influence behavior. It’s not either nature or
nurture, it’s both. The question psychologists look at is - how much of each is
involved in a particular behavior.
7. People’s experience of the world is highly subjective. Everyone experiences the
world according to their own interpretation. Science is used to counteract this
and get an objective idea of a subject.
Section 4 – The Development of Psychology (text 3-23)
Wilhelm Wundt & Stanley Hall
 1879 is often viewed as the “date of birth” for psychology. Wilhelm Wundt
wanted to make psychology an independent discipline from physiology and
philosophy. He opened the first psych lab in Leipzig in 1879.
 Wundt insisted that psychology be a science, like chemistry or physics. It would
be based on scientific methods.
 One of Wundt’s students was G. Stanley Hall, who later opened the first psych
lab in the USA (at John Hopkins University) and founded the American
Psychological Association (APA).
Structuralism & Functionalism (The battle of the schools begin)
 The first major schools of thought in psychology were structuralism and
functionalism.
 The structuralists (led by Edward Titchener) believed the focus of psychology is
to analyze consciousness and break it into its basic part.
 One of the methods of structuralism was introspection, which is systematic selfobservation of one’s conscious experience.
 Structuralists stressed the importance of laboratory study.
 The functionalists were led by William James and they believed psychology
should investigate the purpose or function of consciousness.
 Functionalism was influenced by Charles Darwin’s idea of natural selection,
which states that characteristics which provide an advantage to survival will be
“naturally selected” (survival of the fittest). Accordingly, James believed that
consciousness must be important for the survival of our species.
 James also stressed that consciousness was a continuous flow (“stream of
consciousness”) and should not be broken down in studies.
 Functionalists were also interested in how people functioned in the real world,
so they studied psychology in practical areas like child development and gender
roles.
Behaviorism: Watson &Pavlov
 John B. Watson promoted behaviorism, which believed that psychology should
only study observable behavior.
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Watson’s work first asked the critical question of nature versus nature. How
much of a person’s behavior is the result of heredity (nature) and how much is a
result of environment (nurture)?
Watson believed very much in the shaping influence of the environment.
Behaviorists looked at psychology as a series of behaviors (responses) caused by
the environment (stimuli). Because of the stimulus-response focus of
behaviorism, it is sometimes called S-R psychology.
Ivan Pavlov first demonstrated behaviorism when he taught his dogs to drool at
the sound of a bell.
The popularity of behaviorism led the increase of animal research in psychology.
Opposed to behaviorism was Gestalt psychology, in which the perception of the
environment was the primary cause of behavior.
Freud & the Unconscious
 Sigmund Freud developed a new approach to psychology called psychoanalysis.
 Psychoanalysis relied heavily on understanding the unconscious, or the
memories, conflicts, and desires of which we are not consciously aware.
 Psychoanalytic theory attempts to explain motivation, personality and mental
disorders through the unconscious.
 Freud’s ideas were slow to gain acceptance and were considered controversial
because they were very different from behaviorism, which was very popular, and
often had a focus on sex, a topic scientists were uncomfortable studying at the
time.
Skinner & Behaviorism
 B. F. Skinner promoted a return to behaviorism.
 Skinner identified the basic principles of behaviorism – organisms tend to repeat
responses which lead to positive outcomes and tend not to repeat responses
which lead to neutral or negative outcomes.
 For Skinner, these laws of behaviorism controlled everything. Free will is an
illusion.
Rogers, Maslow, & the Humanists
 Many people revolted against the “dehumanizing’ approaches of behaviorism
(people are governed by their environments) and psychoanalysis (people are
governed by unconscious conflicts and desires). Behaviorism was especially
criticized for its use of animal research.
 The humanists emphasize the unique qualities of humans, especially their
individual freedom and growth potential. This is an optimistic view of people.
 Carl Rogers argued that human behavior is governed by the individual’s selfconcept, or sense of self.
 Abraham Maslow identified a “hierarchy of needs” which must be fulfilled for
human growth. Many psychological problems are the result of disrupting this
growth.
 Humanism contributed a great deal to clinical and counseling psychology.
Psychology as a Profession
 The Second World War created a great need for clinical psychologists. Clinical
psychology is concerned with the diagnosis and treats mental disorders.
 In the 1950’s, clinical psychology continued to grow, leading psychology to be
considered not simply a science, but also a profession.
Cognition & Biology
 Cognition refers to the mental processes involved in learning and decision
making
 The focus on behaviorism had limited scientific interest in mental processes. The
1950’s saw advances in cognitive research with scientists like Jean Piaget (child
mental development), Noam Chomsky (child language acquisition), Herbert
Simon (decision making).
 Scientists in the 1950’s demonstrated that mental processes are not
“unobservable”, as the behaviorists believed, but can in fact be studied with the
proper tools.
 With the advancement of cognition, psychologists also began studying the brain
itself. For example, James Olds demonstrated that electrical stimulation of the
brain (ESB) could create emotional responses and Roger Sperry demonstrated
that the two cerebral hemispheres are specialized to different types of mental
tasks.
 Donald Hebb was credited with highlighting the importance of physiological and
neuropsychological perspectives and as having paved the way for the recent
cognitive revolution in psychology. His emphasis on the importance of the brain
in behavior provided an important counterweight to that time’s dominance of
the behavior models.
Culture & Psychology
 In the 1980’s, psychologists realized that most of their research had been done
in the west (North America, Western Europe, Australia). Moreover, the greatest
amount of research had been done using young, white, educated American
university students.
 Psychologists have always believed their research to be reflective of all
humanity, but in recent years more cross cultural testing has taken place to
determine if this is true.
Evolutionary Psychology
 Evolutionary psychology examines behavior in terms of their adaptive value for
the species.
 The basic premise of evolutionary psychology is that natural selection favours
behaviours that enhance organisms’ reproductive success – that is passing on
genes to the next generation.
 Evolutionary psychology has emerged in the 1990’s and its most prominent
leader is David Buss.
Ref: Table 1.2, pg.11
A Brief Timeline
1879 - Wundt opened the first psych lab at the U. of Leipzig.
1881 - Wundt published the first psychology journal.
1883 - Hall opened the first US psych lab at John Hopkins U.
1890 - James published – Principles of Psychology.
1892 - Hall founded the APA
1900 – Freud published his first work on psychoanalysis.
1904 – Pavlov conducted his S-R experiments.
1905 – Binet developed the first intelligence tests
1909 – Freud gave his first US lectures.
1913 – Watson argued that psychology should be the study of behavior.
1920 – Gestalt principles in psychology became very important. Watson was forced
to resign because of a scandal.
1933 – Freud published -New Lectures on Psychoanalysis, advancing psychoanalysis.
1936 – Selye developed the concept of stress.
1941 – Clinical psychology began to grow in response to WWII
1951 – Rogers published Client-Centered Therapy
1953 – Skinner published Science and Human Behavior, advocating behaviorism.
1954 – Maslow published Motivation and Personality, promoting interest in
behaviorism. Piaget promoted interest in cognition through his research on child
development.
1956 – Miller promoted interest in cognition through his study of memory. Olds
promoted interest in biology by demonstrating that ESB can create emotions.
1957 – Chomsky promoted interest in cognition through his work on language
acquisition.
1961 – Sperry began his split brain research.
1962 – Milgram conducted his study on authority.
1971 – Skinner published Beyond Freedom and Dignity, a radical view of
behaviorism.
1978 – Simon won the Nobel Prize for his work in cognition.
1980 – Research interest in cultural variations in psychology begins.
1981 – Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his split brain research.
1994 – Buss published The Evolution of Desire, promoting evolutionary psychology.
2002 – Kahneman won the Nobel Prize for his research on decision making.
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Unit 1 - Introduction and Evolution of Psychology