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Introduction To The History And Science Of Psychology


Introduction To The History And Science Of Psychology Please view after reading p. 1 17 in the text ... Rather, other methods, such as philosophy or religion, ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction To The History And Science Of Psychology

Introduction To The History And Science Of
  • Please view after reading p. 1 17 in the text
  • Material taken from UCCP lesson content.

  • After completing this lesson, you should be able
  • Trace the views of pre-scientific thinkers
    regarding the origin of knowledge and how the
    mind and body relate.
  • Discuss early psychologists efforts to
    understand the structure and functions of the
  • Identify the nature and scope of contemporary
  • Describe the different perspectives from which
    psychologists examine behavior and mental
  • Identify some of the basic and applied research
    subfields of psychology, and differentiate the
    mental health professions of clinical psychology
    and psychiatry.

Psychology is
  • Psychology is the scientific study of behavior
    and mental processes. In other words,
    psychologists use scientific methods to study the
    way that people think, feel, and behave.
  • For much of human history, people have been
    asking the same questions about human nature that
    psychologists do today. In the past, however,
    scientific methods were not always used to find
    answers. Rather, other methods, such as
    philosophy or religion, were used to explore the
    questions that people had about humanity. These
    other disciplines comprise the pre-scientific
    roots of psychology. In order to see how
    psychology developed into the discipline it is
    today, we will first examine these precursors to

Religion Philosophy
  • Some of the earliest theories about the human
    mind were developed by religious thinkers.
  • - The Buddha in India wondered how the
    information we receive from our five senses
    becomes a part of our thought process.
  • - In China, Confucius argued that education was
    a powerful force in human development.
  • - In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the mind
    and emotions were linked to the body. Often,
    religious thinkers stressed that the mind and
    body were connected.

Religion Philosophy
  • Greek philosophers Socrates and Plato theorized
    that the mind and body were two separate
    entities. These philosophers differed from
    religious thinkers in that they used logical
    reasoning to come to their conclusions about
    human nature.
  • Logical reasoning involves applying rules of
    logic. Types of logical reasoning, include
  • 1. Inductive Reasoning (using a specific
    example to state a general law every fast car
    Ive seen is red, therefore every fast car is
  • 2. Deductive Reasoning (arguing from a general
    law to a specific instance all babies cry,
    therefore my sisters new baby cries)
  • 3. Analogy (people are like other social
    animals, such as apes)
  • These different forms of logic can lead to
    different conclusions about human nature, but
    they must always be based on premises that people
    already assume to be true. Logic is faulty if
    the premise is faulty (as you can see in the
    inductive reasoning example).

Religion Philosophy
  • Another Greek philosopher, Aristotle, believed
    that logical reasoning was not the best way to
    come to an understanding of human nature.
    Rather, Aristotle argued that gathering data
    through observation of people is the best way to
  • In his emphasis on data and observation,
    Aristotle anticipated modern science, and even
    today direct observation is used in many fields
    of psychology.

Modern Science
  • During the Renaissance period in Europe, a number
    of philosophers explored human behavior with a
    greater emphasis on scientific methodology. One
    highly influential person was John Locke, who
    argued that at birth the human mind is a tabula
    rasa (meaning a blank slate, or a white paper)
    and that our experiences in life write on that
    blank slate to make us into the people we are
    today. Lockes theory has been formalized into
    the concept of empiricism, the idea that
    knowledge we have comes from experiences and the
    idea that science should be used in observation
    and experiments.

Psychology As Its Own Discipline
  • Psychology was born as a formal discipline in
    1879, when William Wundt conducted an experiment
    to measure peoples reaction time to sounds.
  • The first experiment
  • When research participants were asked to press a
    key as soon as the sound occurred, it took them
    1/10 of a second. When participants were asked
    to press a key as soon as they were aware of
    perceiving the sound, it took them 2/10 of a
    second to respond.
  • These results showed that peoples behavior
    doesnt depend only on the information received
    by the sense organs (in this case, ears).
    Behavior can sometimes depend on the social
    environment in which we find ourselves, the
    instructions given, or our expectations about the
    situation. By making a change in wording, the
    reactions time slowed (their behavior changed).

Contemporary Psychology
  • Today, psychology has grown to include a wide
    variety of perspectives. Each perspective would
    approach a given problem or question about human
    nature somewhat differently, but each would give
    us another piece of the puzzle to help us
    understand the issue.
  • What would psychologists say about the following
  • Example In 2001, Andrea Yates drowned her 5
    children in the bathtub after her husband left
    for work. How would different psychologists
    understand or explain what happened?

Contemporary Psychology Theories
  • A psychologist with a cognitive perspective might
    look for the cause in Andreas private mental
    functions. She might note Andreas low
    self-esteem, or Andreas belief that she was
    possessed by the devil. These beliefs could have
    influenced Andreas decision.
  • A psychologist with a neuroscience or behavioral
    genetic perspective might look for the cause in
    Andreas potential mental disorder or an illness.
    He might note that mood disorders ran in
    Andreas family, and that all 3 of her siblings
    were on antidepressants. She may also have been
    suffering from a chemical imbalance in her brain,
    which could cause depression and psychosis.
  • A psychologist with a behavioral or
    social-cultural perspective might look for the
    cause in Andreas social environment. She might
    note that Andreas husband never helped with
    childcare, and that he left her alone to care for
    5 children when he knew that she was so depressed
    she could barely take care of herself. They
    might conclude that the stressors of her social
    environment were so great that Andrea took
    extreme measures to reduce her stress and change
    that social environment.

Theories cont
  • A psychologist with a humanistic approach might
    focus on Andreas subjective experience.
    Humanistic psychology often avoids statistical
    data in favor or introspection. A humanistic
    psychologist would consider Andreas experience
    as a whole, and avoid focusing on one single
    aspect of her actions or environment.
  • Psychodynamic approaches place importance on
    unconscious drives and internal conflict. A
    psychologist focusing on this theory would
    evaluate Andreas actions while focusing on
    unconscious conflicts that may have influenced
    her behavior. Her actions might be explained as
    the results of unfulfilled wishes, childhood
    trauma, and defense mechanisms (such as denial).
  • Evolutionary and Sociobiological approaches
    consider the mechanics of genetics, natural
    selection, and their interaction. For example, a
    psychologist might argue that Andrea lacked the
    stress management skills necessary to care for
    her children, and that led her to behave in the
    way she did. They focus on how the environment
    influences the selection of certain traits, and
    how this selection perpetuates the genes of some
    and stifles those of others.

Contemporary Psychology
  • From this example, we can see that
  • The different perspectives in psychology today
    all provide important information about human
    behavior AND there are many, many factors that
    shape human behavior.
  • No one perspective is more right than the
    others each adds another piece to the puzzle.
    This complexity is part of what makes psychology
    so interesting.
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