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Psychology Exam 1 Study Answer Guide

Module 1 - Introduction to Psychology
Define 'psychology'.
The scientific study of the human mind and its functions, especially those affecting behavior in a
given context.
Explain why psychology is a scientific discipline. Describe the three (or four, depending on if you
count "critical thinking, I guess!) aspects of scientific attitude.
Discuss the contributions of Wundt, James, and Freud to the development of psychology.
Wundt's contribution to Psychology: Wrote first textbook of psychology (Principles of
Physiological Psychology, 1873-4) Set up first laboratory of experimental psychology (1879)
Used the scientific method to study the structure of sensation and perception.
James developed the James-Lange theory of emotion. This theory argues that emotions are
physiological reactions.
Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind, dreams, infantile sexuality, libido,
repression, and transference—all of which continue to influence the field of psychology to
varying degrees.
Describe how introspection, behaviorists, humanistic psychologists, and cognitive psychology
influenced the development of psychology as a discipline. How did each define the study of
Introspection: The examination or observation of one's own mental and emotional processes.
Behaviorism: The theory that human and animal behavior can be explained in terms of
conditioning, without appeal to thoughts or feelings, and that psychological disorders are best
treated by altering behavior patterns.
Humanistic: Humanistic, humanism and humanist are terms in psychology relating to an
approach which studies the whole person, and the uniqueness of each individual
Describe the biopsychosocial model and its importance in psychology.
The biopsychosocial (BPS) model incorporates interactions between biological, psychological,
and social factors to help determine why an individual might suffer from a
disorder. Psychologists and experts in other fields use it to diagnosis and treat patients.
What is the distinction between counseling psychology, clinical psychology, and psychiatry?
A counseling psychologist has a stronger focus on healthy individuals, who have fewer
pathological mental problems. A clinical psychologist has a stronger focus on those with a
psychosis or other serious mental illness. This goes back to them taking over some degree of the
work previously reserved for psychiatrists.
Explain the variety of things that psychologists study.
Module 2 - Scientific Thinking and Research Methods
Discuss and provide examples of the problems with relying on common sense to understand behavior.
we then tend to focus on cases that confirm our intuitive beliefs and not on cases that disconfirm
them. This is called confirmation bias. For example, once we begin to believe that women are
more talkative than men, we tend to notice and remember talkative women and silent men but
ignore or forget silent women and talkative men.
Describe the research process, including definitions/applications of theory, hypotheses, variables,
operational definitions, research, and replication.
Describe the three types of descriptive research methods. Also, what are the strengths and limitations of
each method?
Observational Method: With the observational method (sometimes referred to as field
observation) animal and human behavior is closely observed. There are two main categories of
the observational method — naturalistic observation and laboratory observation.
Case Study: Case study research involves an in-depth study of an individual or group of
individuals. Case studies often lead to testable hypotheses and allow us to study rare
Survey Method: In survey method research, participants answer questions administered through
interviews or questionnaires.
What does it mean if two variables are correlated? What does the sign of the correlation mean?
What does the value of the correlation mean? Discuss how scatterplots depict correlations and
their strength and direction.
What conclusions can we draw from correlational research? What conclusions can't we draw?
Discuss and apply the two problems associated with correlational methods. Be able to create
examples of both reverse causality and third variables!
List and describe the four things required for a good experiment. Distinguish between
independent and dependent variables (and be able to identify them in examples!). Explain what a
confound is in an experiment and be able to identify them in examples.
Define, compare, and contrast random sampling and random assignment. When is each used?
Why is each used?
Describe the differences between descriptive, correlational, and experimental research methods.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of each kind of research method?
What ethical concerns are there for psychological research? What are informed consent and
debriefing and how do these procedures help with ethical requirements?
Module 3 – Nervous and Endocrine System
Why is studying the brain and biology important for psychologists?
Describe/explain the parts of a neuron (including the axons, dendrites, soma, synapse, and myelin
sheath) and what each part does. Explain how neurons communicate information.
What is an action potential and how does it start?
What happens in the synaptic gap? What are neurotransmitters and what do they do?
Describe the effects of Dopamine, Serotonin, Norepinephrine, and Endorphins on human
How are drugs like neurotransmitters? What are the different ways they can affect our brains?
Explain the structure and functions of the Peripheral Nervous System. Describe the Autonomic
and Somatic Nervous Systems and their roles in human behavior. What is the distinction between
the Parasympathetic and Sympathetic Nervous System (as divisions of the ANS)? Explain why
statements like “I was so upset I threw up” can be explained by the divisions of the ANS.
Explain the structure and functions of the Central Nervous System.
The central nervous system CNS is responsible for integrating sensory information and
responding accordingly. It consists of two main components: The spinal cord serves as a conduit
for signals between the brain and the rest of the body. It also controls simple musculoskeletal
reflexes without input from the brain.
Describe the function of the Endocrine system. What are the major organs in this system and
what do they do?
The endocrine system is the collection of glands that produce hormones that regulate
metabolism, growth and development, tissue function, sexual function, reproduction, sleep, and
mood, among other things.
The endocrine system is made up of the pituitary gland, thyroid gland, parathyroid
glands, adrenal glands, pancreas, ovaries (in females) and testicles (in males),
(Terms in this module you are NOT required to know: the difference between sensory neurons,
motor neurons, and interneurons, GABA, glutamate.)
Modules 4-5 – The Brain
Describe the case of Phineas Gage. What happened to this man? How was his behavior affected?
What does his case tell us about the brain?
What can the EEG, PET, and fMRI tell us about brain activity?
An electroencephalogram (EEG) is a test used to find problems related to electrical activity of
the brain. An EEG tracks and records brain wave patterns. Small metal discs with thin wires
(electrodes) are placed on the scalp, and then send signals to a computer to record the results.
Positron emission tomography (PET) scan is an imaging test that helps reveal how your tissues
and organs are functioning. A PET scan uses a radioactive drug (tracer) to show this activity
An fMRI scan is a functional magnetic resonance imaging scan that measures and maps the
brain's activity. An fMRI scan uses the same technology as an MRI scan. An MRI is a
noninvasive test that uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create an image of the
Which parts of the brain are evolutionarily oldest and shared most with other animals? Which
parts are newest and more uniquely human?
Describe/explain the following brain structures and their functions: Spinal Cord, Brainstem
(including the Pons and Medulla), Thalamus, Cerebellum, Limbic System (including the
Hypothalamus, Hippocampus, and Amygdala), the Cerebrum, and Corpus Callosum. Locate each
on pictures/diagrams of the brain.
What is the major function of the left hemisphere of the brain? The right hemisphere?
Describe the position and functions of the four lobes of the Cerebral Cortex: occipital, parietal,
temporal, and frontal.
Describe where the motor and sensory areas of the cortex are. How does the sensitivity of areas
of our body “match” these brain regions?
Which side of the brain receives sensory input from your right hand? Which side of the brain
controls movement in your right hand? Which side sees visual stimuli presented on the right
Describe what happens when you sever the corpus callosum (e.g., split-brain patients). How is the
behavior of these patients affected? What happens when they see words or pictures flashed on
the right or left side of their visual field?
Discuss the plasticity of the human brain. How does the brain deal with injury?
Explain the “10% of the brain” myth and the “left vs right brain” myth and why they are incorrect
Module 6 – Genetics and Evolutionary Psychology
What do behavior geneticists study? What do evolutionary psychologists study?
Explain how behavior genetics can study people with the same genes in different environments.
What are the results and conclusions of these studies?
Explain how behavior genetics can study people with different genes but hold the environment
constant (Note: There are two ways!). What are the results and conclusions of these studies?
Explain why “nature versus nurture” is an incorrect dichotomy.
Both nature and nurture are responsible for more or less each of your characteristics. As such, we
should no longer draw a line between the two and list characteristics that are due to one and the
other in two separate columns.
Explain “survival of the fittest” and natural selection as they apply to psychology and human
Describe ways in which evolution has shaped our behaviors, including stranger anxiety,
fear/phobias, and gender differences in dating preferences.
Module 7 – Consciousness
What is the two-track mind? How do conscious and unconscious processing differ?
Consciousness is our awareness of ourselves and our environment. Cognitive neuroscientists
study the links between brain activity and mental processes. Research indicates that we have
a two-track mind. Conscious information processing enables us to exercise control and to
communicate our mental states to others.
Describe selective attention, inattentional blindness, and change blindness. Compare and
contrast these concepts.
Why is multitasking not efficient? Explain how dual processing, selective attention, inattentional
blindness, and change blindness relate to the effectiveness of multitasking.
Module 8 – Sleep and Dreams
Describe the stages of sleep and common events at each stage (including hypnagogic jerks, sleep
spindles, delta waves, eye movements, etc.) . What is REM sleep and what happens to the body
and brain during REM sleep?
Describe the sleep cycle and how it changes throughout the night. Apply the consequences of the
sleep cycle for common events like napping and the snooze button. Are naps and the snooze
button helpful or harmful? When and why?
How much sleep is enough? How does that change with age?
Adults need 7-9 hours of sleep per night, one-year-olds need roughly 11 to 14 hours, school age
children between 9 and 11, and teenagers between 8 and 10. During these critical periods of
growth and learning, younger people need a heavy dose of slumber for optimal development and
Describe the 5 reasons why we sleep (i.e., the function of sleep in general).
1) Sleep clears our brains of junk
2) Sleep strengthens our memories
3) Sleep restores our bodies
4) Sleep conserves energy
5) Sleep helped us hide from predators
What happens when you are sleep deprived? How do you get rid of sleep debt? What can you do
to increase the chance of a good night’s sleep and decrease insomnia?
When do we dream? Describe the 5 theories of why we dream. Which theories have empirical
Compare and contrast the functions of sleep and the (possible) functions of dreams.