Changes in Definition of Psychology I
o Early definitions until 1920s
Cl Psychology
= science of mental life
Cl Wundt - 1979 establishment of lst psychology
o Watson, Skinner: Behaviorism: 1920s-1 960s
Cl Psychology
objective science that studies behavior
without reference to menta I processes
o Freud: Psychodynamic Psychology
Cl Psychology
= emphasis on unconscious thought
processes and emotional responses to childhood
Changes in Definition of Psychology II
o Rogers, Maslow: Humanistic Psychology:
Cl Psychology
= emphasis on growth potential of healthy
o Cognitive Psychology:
Cl Psychology
= scientific exploration of how information
is perceived, processed and remembered
o Cognitive Neuroscience :
Cl Psychology
= scientific exploration of brain activity
underlying mental activity
What is psychology for you? Put keyboards on board
What would you like to learn in this class?
What does “science” mean? Inquiry that is based on collecting
Observable (measurable) evidence;
Not just to believe in “common sense”
Psychology is a science: doesn’t just use common sense to explain
Behavior, but use scientific method
Psychol ogy as Science
Example: Sleep
boosts memory.
confirm,reject ,
or revise
Researchand observations
Example: Give study material to
people before (a) an ample night's
sleep, or (b) a shortened night's
sleep, then test memory.
lead to
Example: When sleep
remember less from
the day before.
Before discussing/showing any of the perspectives, ask why a person is depressed or angry:
what could be possible reasons? Tie this into the perspectives
Table p. 4
- Neuroscience: How the body and brain enable emotions, memories, and sensory
experiences: biology
- Evolutionary: How the natural selection of traits has promoted the survival of genes:
- Behavior genetics: How our genes and our environment influence our individual
differences: biology and environment
- Psychodynamic: How behavior springs from unconscious drives and conflicts:
unconscious mind
- Behavioral: How we learn observable responses: environment
- Cognitive: How we encode, process, store, and retrieve information: thinking
- Social-cultural: How behavior and thinking vary across situations and cultures
- Humanistic [not as current perspective in book]: emphasizes the growth potential of
healthy people
Psychodynamic perspective: Metaphors include an iceberg, with its different levels of
consciousness; a set of forces engaged in a battle or war; or any number of other
metaphors in which students represent a dynamic conflict among forces (e.g., conscious
and unconscious; id, ego, and superego) that results in the theorized defense mechanisms.
Behaviorist perspective: The classic metaphor is to represent the human mind as a “black
box.” The opaque color “black” is meant to represent the notion that we cannot peer
directly inside the mind to see objects of thought or mental activity (e.g., we cannot look
inside a brain and literally “see” a memory with all its vivid details, or a piece of
information and its exact form and content). We know that the mind “does” certain
things, but its activities and contents cannot be directly observed. Thus, mental activities
per se are not open to empirical investigation in the behaviorist perspective. However,
what can be observed are the “inputs” to the box (the experiences, stimuli, and so on), as
well as its “outputs” (resulting behaviors, overt reactions, words, and so on). Objective
empirical observations of the inputs and outputs allow us to draw conclusions about how
they are related without having to characterize what is “stored” or “worked on” inside the
box itself. There are other metaphors, too, that students can use so long as they involve
identify using opaque objects or locations.
Cognitive perspective: Metaphors related to computers are relatively easy to explain
(e.g., hardware versus software). Other types of machinery are also appropriate to capture
the concepts of information processing (e.g., selection, input, storage, manipulation, use
of information).
Evolutionary perspective: Competing behavior patterns can be represented as
competitors in a race for survival, metaphors that make use of the concept of successful
To foster students’ understanding of psychology’s current perspectives, provide them
some practice in applying the perspectives to a behavior other than anger. In small groups
of, say, four or five students each, have them identify a behavior pattern they find
interesting. Randy Larsen and David Buss suggest using personality characteristics such
as procrastination, narcissism, and perfectionism, although any behavior pattern that
catches the group’s interest will work. Have them prepare seven sentences about the
characteristic, one to represent each of psychology’s current perspectives: neuroscience,
evolutionary, behavior genetics, psychodynamic, behavioral, cognitive, and socialcultural. Each sentence should make a statement or raise a question about the behavior
pattern from a given perspective. Give the groups 15 or 20 minutes for the task, then have
them describe their chosen behavior pattern and list their statements for the full class.
Biological: exploring the links between brain and mind
Developmental: study the changes (physical, cognitive, social, and emotional) that
occur across the life span
Clinical: help people with psychological disorders adjust to
The demands of life
Counseling: use interviews and tests to define their clients’
Problems, their clients typically have adjustment problems but
Not serious psychological disorders
School: help school systems identify and assist students who have
Problems that interfere with learning
Educational: research theoretical issues related to learning,
Measurement, and child development
Personality: identify and measure human traits and determine
Influences on human thought processes, feelings, and behavior
Social: are concerned with the nature and causes of individuals’
Thoughts, feelings, and behavior in social situations; how we are
Influenced by people around us
Environmental: study the ways in which people and the
Environment influence one another (e.g. influence of temperature
Or noise on learning in school)
Planning spaces: environmental psychologists are asked to consult
On the design of offices, they will suggest use of aquariums to
Help reduce stress that is created when many employees
work in Close quarters
Cognitive: experimenting with how we perceive, think, and solve problems
Industrial: focus on the relationships between people and work
Organizational: study the behavior of people in organizations
Such as businesses
Consumer: study the behavior of shoppers in an effort to predict
And influence their behavior
Health: examine ways in which behavior and attitudes are related
To physical health
Sport: help athletes concentrate on their performance and not on
The crowd, etc.
Forensic: apply psychology to the criminal justice system
Cognitive psychologists’ research on the quirks of human memory
Has led to revised guidelines for police and prosecutors. These
Guidelines warn that asking witnesses leading questions (e.g.,
“Do you remember a gun?”) can distort their memories, that false
Accusations are less likely if witnesses are told that the real criminal might not be in
a lineup or in a group of photos, and that
No one in a lineup should stand out from all the others
Some functions:
- Competency evaluations
- Sentencing recommendations
- Evaluations of the risk of reoffending
- Testimony as an expert witness
- Child custody evaluations
Human factors: make technical systems such as car dashboards
And computer keyboards more user-friendly
Improving bas designs: e.g. user-unfriendly fuel pumps where
It is difficult to find information
Head/eye tracking apparatus
Air traffic control
Four Big Ideas
o Critical thinking
o Bio-psycho-social approach
o Two-track mind
o Human strengths
Critical Thinking
o How do we know that?
o Who benefits from this?
o Is the conclusion based on guesswork and gut
feelings, or on evidence?
o How do we know one event caused the other?
o How else could we explain things?
Bi opsychosocia l A pproach
Psychological influences:
• learned fears and otherlearned
• emotional responses
• cognitive processingand
perceptual interpretations
Biological influences:
• genetic predispositions (genetically
influenced traits)
• genetic mutations
• natural selection of adaptive traits
and behaviors passed down
through generations
• genes respondingto the environment
Behavior or
mental process
Social-cultural influences :
• presence of others
• cultural,societal,and family expectations
• peer and other group influences
• compelling models (such as inthe media)
Much of thinking, feeling, sensing, and acting operates outside awareness
The brain works on two tracks through dual processing:
- Conscious mind
- Unconscious mind
Dual processing = principle that, at the same time, our mind processes information on
separate conscious und unconscious tracks.
• Positive emotions, such as satisfaction with the past, happiness with the present,
and optimism about the future.
• Positive character traits, such as creativity, courage, compassion, integrity, selfcontrol, leadership, wisdom, and spirituality.
• Current research examines the roots and fruits of such qualities, sometimes by
studying the lives of individuals who offer striking examples.
• Positive institutions, such as healthy families, supportive neighborhoods,
effective schools, and socially responsible media.
• Positive psychology
• Supports research on human flourishing
Focuses on building a “good life” that engages skills and a meaningful life
beyond self
Suggests that happiness is by-product of
pleasant, engaged, and meaningful life
Homework for Week 2
o Read from Chapter l the following sections BEFORE class:
D 1-1
D 1-2
D 1-3
D 1-6
D 1-7
D 1-8
D 1-9
D 1-1 1
D 1-12
D 1-13
o Complete Worksheet l BEFORE class
o Complete Quiz l on modules l and 2 at the beginning of class