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Survey of Modern Psychology


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Title: Survey of Modern Psychology

Survey of Modern Psychology
  • Introduction

What is this class about? Refer to syllabus
  • We will cover
  • What psychology is
  • The history of psychology
  • An overview of the major fields of psychology
  • The focus of the course will be on mental illness
    and clinical psychology

What is (and is not!) psychology
  • Psychology is defined as the study of the mind

Psychology is not
  • Mind reading
  • Mind control
  • All about therapy therapy is only one part of

Ancient Greece Hippocrates
  • Took an advanced view of mental illness by
    attributing it to physical causes
  • He believed that physical cause to be an
    imbalance of four fluids in the body

Ancient Greece Humors
  • A greater amount of a particular humor resulted
    in the following personality types
  • Sanguine strong, warm blood cheerful
  • Choleric yellow bile in the liver anger
  • Melancholic - black bile in the liver
  • Phlegmatic mucus in the brain cool, aloof,
    slow, unemotional

Religious Views
  • Middle ages through today
  • Disagreed with physiological explanations,
    believed that mental illness was caused by
    demonic possession

Religious Views
  • Cures could be burning witches or exorcisms
  • Exorcism is still used as a treatment for
    Tourrettes Syndrome
  • However
  • Scientists today believe that some prophets may
    have been schizophrenic, and hallucinations were
    interpreted as divine communication

  • Prehistoric times through today
  • Based on the ideas that mental illness was caused
    by demons that were stuck inside the head, or by
    a buildup of pressure in the brain

  • This was advanced for its time because it
    correctly focused on the brain.
  • However
  • Trepanation is the practice of drilling a hole in
    the skull.

  • Interestingly, trepanation does have practical
    use in modern medicine, but in the realm of brain
    injury or surgery.

  • Initiated by Franz Joseph Gall in the 1800s in
  • Used the shape of a persons head/bumps on the
    head to predict their personality, traits, and
  • Was used in employment decisions and to determine
    marital partners

  • Starting in the middle ages, people began to view
    mental illness as a form of real illness
  • However
  • The mentally ill were put in hospitals in
    inhumane conditions (including cages and chains)

  • While conditions in psychiatric hospitals have
    been notoriously bad, some changes in the
    treatment approach began in 1793, when Philippe
    Pinel (who was put in charge of hospitals in
    Paris) ordered that patients be unchained.
  • When they were treated like people, patients did
    respond positively!

The Talking Cure
  • Term popularized in America by Sigmund Freud in
    the early 1900s
  • Believed that symptoms were genuinely felt and
    real to the person
  • Acknowledged to some degree the influence of
    biology and environment

Social Psychology
  • In the 1940s 1950s (after WWII), there was
    increased interest in peoples behavior in groups
  • This contrasted with the previous focus on

Psychology Today
  • Medical model of mental illness
  • Mental illness is real and treatable
  • The study of behavior and mental processes
  • This includes behaviors that are observed, and a
    persons inner experience

Major Perspectives(Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Biological/Physiological
  • We are essentially complex biological systems
    that respond to both hereditary and environmental

Major Perspectives Biological (Zimbardo,
Johnson Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth
  • Behavior is determined by brain structure and
    chemicals and by inborn responses to external
    cues for survival and reproduction

Major Perspectives Biological (Zimbardo,
Johnson Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth
  • Questions for study
  • How do the nervous system, endocrine system
    produce behavior and mental processes?
  • Evolutionary psychologists seek to learn how
    behaviors may be linked to evolutionary changes
    that conferred a survival or reproductive
    advantage on our ancestors

Major Perspectives (Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Developmental
  • People undergo predictable patterns of change
    throughout their lives
  • Behavior is determined by the interaction of
    nature and nurture (heredity and environment)

Major Perspectives Developmental (Zimbardo,
Johnson Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth
  • Questions for study
  • What are the patterns that characterize
    developmental change?
  • What are the genetic and environmental influences
    underlying these patterns

Major Perspectives (Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Cognitive
  • Often paired with behavioral psychology
  • People are information processing systems
  • Behavior is the result of our mental
    interpretations of our experience

Major Perspectives Cognitive (Zimbardo, Johnson
Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Questions for study
  • What factors influence our mental processes,
    including sensation, perception, learning,
    memory, and language?

Major Perspectives (Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Behavioral
  • Our behavior is primarily shaped by learning
  • Based on laws of behavioral learning, we respond
    to stimulus cues and to our history of rewards
    and punishments

Major Perspectives Behavioral (Zimbardo,
Johnson Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth
  • Questions for study
  • What are the laws that associate our responses
    with stimulus conditions?
  • How can they be applied to improve the human

Major Perspectives(Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Trait or Personality
  • Individual differences result from differences in
    our underlying patterns of stable characteristics
  • Behavior results from each persons unique
    combination of traits

Major Perspectives Personality (Zimbardo,
Johnson Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth
  • Questions for study
  • How many fundamental traits are there?
  • How can we use trait patterns to predict behavior?

Major Perspectives (Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Sociocultural or Social Psychology
  • People are social animals, so human behavior must
    be interpreted in its social context
  • Behavior is heavily influenced by culture, social
    norms and expectations, and social learning
  • Note Social Psychology focuses on the
    individual, as opposed to Sociology which studies
    the group

Major Perspectives Social Psychology(Zimbardo,
Johnson Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth
  • Questions for study
  • Under what conditions is the social and cultural
    situation predictive of behavior?
  • How are social influences different across

Major Perspectives (Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Clinical
  • Psychodynamic view
  • Humanistic view
  • Clinical psychology encompasses what is commonly
    referred to as abnormal psychology

Major Perspectives Clinical (Zimbardo, Johnson
Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Psychodynamic
  • Emphasizes negative forces in the unconscious
  • Sees behavior arising from unconscious needs,
    conflicts, repressed memories, and childhood

Major Perspectives Clinical Psychology -
Psychodynamic(Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Questions for study
  • How can our understanding of the unconscious help
    us understand and treat mental disorders?

Major Perspectives Clinical (Zimbardo, Johnson
Weber Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Humanistic
  • Emphasizes human growth and potential
  • Focuses on the influence of self-concept,
    perceptions, interpersonal relationships, and
    need for personal growth

Major Perspectives Clinical Psychology -
Humanistic (Zimbardo, Johnson Weber
Psychology Core Concepts Fifth Edition)
  • Questions for study
  • What factors encourage high self esteem and
    mental health?
  • How can this knowledge be used in counseling and

Summary of Class Demonstration
  • The first students who came in were instructed to
    sit on the floor.
  • Students who came in later often sat on the floor
    too even without explicit instructions to do so
  • Students followed the order to sit on the floor
    because of a fear of getting in trouble and it
    wasnt a big deal

  • The most notable research on obedience comes from
    Stanley Milgrim.
  • This research began in 1963, and lead to his book
    Obedience to Authority in 1974.
  • The research began during the time of Nazi war
    crime trials.

  • A participant went to the laboratory and met
    another participant (actually a confederate)
    and the experimenter.
  • The experiment was supposedly about the effects
    of punishment on learning.
  • The participant was assigned to the role of
    teacher, the confederate was assigned to the role
    of learner.
  • A confederate is a person who is working with
    the experimenter and poses as a participant. The
    actual participants are not aware of this until
    the study is over

  • The participant and the confederate were put in
    separate rooms
  • The participant was instructed to test the
    leaners memory and give increasingly strong
    electric shocks each time the learner made a
  • The participant was given a sample shock to show
    that the shocks were real and let the participant
    know the intensity of the shocks.
  • The confederate was not actually receiving shocks
    and was in no real danger
  • The learner told the experimenter (in front of
    the participant) about having heart problems, but
    the experimenter assured both that it was safe.

  • As the experiment went on, the learner began
    making more mistakes, and the participant was
    instructed to give higher and higher voltage
  • The mechanism for administering the shocks
    claimed to start at 15 volts and increased by
    increments of 15 volts up to 450

  • Beginning at 75 volts, the learner complained
    about the shocks being painful.
  • At 150 volts, the learner complained of heart
    related chest pains and asked to be let out
  • At 300 volts the learner refused to continue
  • At 300 volts the learner begged to be let out,
    screamed in pain, and then went silent

  • When the participant questioned whether he should
    continue to give shocks, the experimenter told
    him that he must go on for the experiment
  • 65 of participants reached the maximum of 450
    volts before stopping
  • Many seemed to be in distress about continuing,
    but still did

Milgrim - Variations
  • When the experimenter did not encourage the
    participant to continue, the participant stopped
    giving shocks early on
  • Three factors that influenced obedience were
  • The authority figure
  • The proximity of the victim
  • The experimental procedure

The Authority Figure
  • While the experimenter was not actually a
    powerful authority figure, he was seen as someone
    to be respected
  • When the experiment was done in a rundown office
    building (as opposed to laboratories at Yale)
    only 48 of participants were completely obedient

The Authority Figure
  • When the experimenter was presented as another
    participant (as opposed to a researcher) only 20
    were obedient
  • When the experimenter gave orders by telephone or
    was otherwise unable to watch the participant,
    only 21 were fully obedient
  • Some participants feigned obedience by only
    pressing the button for 15 volt shocks

The Victim
  • In the original study, participants were in a
    separate room from the learner
  • When they were in the same room, 40 obeyed
  • When the participant had to physically place the
    learners hand on a shock plate, 30 obeyed

The Experimental Procedure
  • The structure of the experiment allowed to
    participant to avoid feeling personally
    responsible for his actions he could blame the
    authority figure
  • When participants were led to believe that they
    were responsible for their own actions, they
    became less obedient

The Experimental Procedure
  • Kilham and Mann (1974) did a similar study in
    which the participant was either
  • The transmitter took orders from the
    experimenter and passed them on
  • Or
  • The executant had to follow out the orders
  • Transmitters were more compliant than executants
  • (54 vs. 28)

Final Thoughts on Milgrim
  • Part of what made the experiment so successful
    was the gradual escalation/foot in the door
  • By the time participants began to question their
    actions, they had fully committed themselves to
    the task and each subsequent step seemed smaller.

Final Thoughts on Milgrim
  • Similarly to the Asch experiments, when other
    participants (confederates) refused to obey the
    participant was also less likely to obey.

  • The tendency to change our perceptions, opinions,
    or behaviors in ways that are consistent with
    group norms

  • Even though we may feel that we are individuals
    and can think for ourselves, we follow certain
    social customs and find it hard to break these

  • In an attempted study on breaching social norms,
    psychology research assistants were assigned to
    ask subway passengers to give up their seats.
  • Even though they knew what the purpose of the
    study was, many could not perform the task and
    feigned illness so their request would seem

Solomon Asch
  • Conducted a study were participants were put in a
    room with a group of other people and told that
    the experimenter was studying the ability to make
    visual discriminations.
  • The experimenter then showed the participants a
    sample line and set of three other lines and
    asked them which line was of the same length as
    the sample.
  • The participant was seated so he or she would
    answer second to last.

  • In each example, the correct answer was obvious.
  • On the first two trials, everyone agreed on the
    same answer.
  • Starting on the third trial, the other people
    gave a clearly wrong answer.
  • The other people were confederates, who were
    affiliated with the experimenter and instructed
    to give wrong answers.

  • The participants went along with the majority 37
    of the time
  • Of the remaining 63
  • Only 25 refused to agree on any incorrect answer
  • 50 went along on at least half of the incorrect
  • The remaining 25 conformed on some trials

  • Standard line

Comparison lines A B C
  • In later interviews, participants said that they
    went along with the majority even though they
    were not always convinced that the majority was
  • Those who refused to conform reported feeling
    conspicuous, crazy, and like a misfit
  • Others actually did come to believe the rest of
    the group

Why People Conform
  • Informational influence
  • People want to be correct, and assume that if so
    many others agree the others must be right
  • Normative influence
  • People fear the consequences of not conforming
    because we want to be accepted and liked
  • Disagreement can be stressful
  • Sometimes its more useful to reach a consensus

Types of Conformity
  • Private conforming
  • True acceptance
  • Outside influences actually cause the person to
    change their mind, not just their behavior
  • Public conformity
  • Compliance
  • Pretending to agree, even when one does not

  • Having even one ally makes dissent more likely
  • In a later version of the Asch study, a
    confederate disagreed with the majority and the
  • The participant was still more likely to disagree
    with the majority, even though no one agreed with
    him or her