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Introduction to Psychology Philosophical Foundations of the Psychological Sciences


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Title: Introduction to Psychology Philosophical Foundations of the Psychological Sciences

Introduction to Psychology Philosophical
Foundations of the Psychological Sciences
What comes to mind when you think of psychology?
Common myths from psychological psuedo-science
  • Our lives are determined by our childhood
    experiences (its all Moms fault)
  • Our desires are hidden in our unconscious and
    emerge in our dreams

Science can answer some questions but not others
  • The best things in life are free.
  • Shakespeares Richard III is a better play than
    Romeo and Juliet.
  • The death penalty is wrong.
  • There is a genetic predisposition to
  • Attitudes affect the course of cancer.
  • 2 2 4

Folk wisdom can be contradictory
  • Opposites attract vs birds of a feather flock
  • Better safe than sorry vs nothing ventured,
    nothing gained
  • Look before you leap vs he who hesitates is
  • Absence makes the heart grow fonder vs out of
    sight, out of mind

True or False?
  • Opposites generally attract
  • We use only 10 percent of our brain power
  • If you dont vent your anger youll explode
  • Most of us suffer from low self-esteem
  • Talking about your depression only makes it worse
  • Women crave chocolate when they have PMS

Psychology is
  • A set of questions
  • A set of theories and procedures for asking and
    answering questions
  • A product of history

What is psychology?
  • The science of behavior and mental processes
  • Also
  • Explanation
  • Understanding
  • Scientific investigation

Before PsychologyA classical view of the bodys
control centers
  • Liver ? metabolic processes
  • Heart ? emotions perception
  • Brain ? thought reason

Personality determined by bodily fluids
  • The theory of Humors
  • Black bile ? moody
  • Blood ? optimistic
  • Yellow bile ? hot-tempered
  • Phlegm ? passive

Willhelm Wundt
  • Considered the founder of scientific psychology
  • Interested in the speed of mental processes
  • Used reaction-time tests to determine the amount
    of time it took to perform cognitive tasks.
  • Basis for cognitive psychology

Wilhelm Wundt
  • "we learn little about our minds from casual,
    haphazard self-observation...It is essential that
    observations be made by trained observers under
    carefully specified conditions for the purpose of
    answering a well-defined question

Experimental Psychology Begins with Structuralism
  • Edward Titchener used methods such as
    introspection to develop a new school of thought
    that became known as structuralism.
  • The basic idea of structuralism is that conscious
    experience can be studied when it is broken down
    into its underlying components or elements.
  • Focused on sensation using introspection

Rules of Introspection
  • 1. Be impartial. Do not form a preconceived idea
    of what you are going to find by the experiment
    do not hope or expect to find this or that
    process. Take consciousness as it is.
  • 2. Be attentive. Do not speculate as to what you
    are doing or why you are doing it, as to its
    value or uselessness, during the experiment. Take
    the experiment seriously.
  • 3. Be comfortable. Do not begin to introspect
    till all the conditions are satisfactory do not
    work if you feel nervous or irritated, if the
    chair is too high or the table too low for you,
    if you have a cold or a headache. Take the
    experiment pleasantly.
  • 4. Be perfectly fresh. Stop working the moment
    that you feel tired or jaded. Take the experiment

What are the problems with the method of
  • The problem with this approach is that experience
    is subjective.
  • Each person brings to introspection a unique
    perceptual system, and it is difficult to
    determine whether subjects are using the criteria
    in a similar way.
  • Accordingly over the course of time introspection
    was largely abandoned in psychology.

Functionalism Addresses the Purpose of Behavior
  • Functionalism, was more concerned with how the
    mind operates than with what the mind contains.
  • The mind came into existence over the course of
    human evolution, and it works the way it does
    because it is useful for preserving life and
    passing along genes to future generations

William James and Functionalism
  • Inspired by biology, Darwinism
  • What is the purpose of the behavior?
  • Focused on the purpose and function of the mind.
  • Behaviors serve adaptive function
  • Influenced by Darwin
  • Paid lip service to the experimental method, but
    relied on introspection

William James
  • A great many people think they are thinking when
    they are merely rearranging their prejudices.
  • Believe that life is worth living and your belief
    will help create the fact.
  • The greatest discovery of any generation is that
    a human being can alter his life by altering his

Gestalt Psychology
  • Mind must be understood in terms of organized
    wholes, not parts.
  • Looking at a duck, you first recognize it as
    duck, not a collection of wings, feathers, and
    a bill.

Gestalt Psychology Emphasizes Patterns and
Context in Learning
Psychodynamic Approach
  • Founded by Freud
  • Emphasizes unconscious motivations (often
    sexual) early childhood experiences

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3 levels of mind
Id Ego Superego
  • Took over psychology for the first half of the
    20th century
  • Experience reinforces behavior
  • Possessed scientific qualities

Behaviorist Approach
Skinner (smiling)
  • Rejected Freuds dependence on unobservable
  • Should study directly observable behaviors

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Cognitive Approach
George Miller
  • Displaced behaviorism
  • Focuses on ability to acquire, organize,
    remember, and use knowledge to guide behavior
  • Magic number 7

Modern Psychology
  • Return to cognitive psychology in late 20th
  • Cognition mental processing
  • Fundamental cognitive abilities

Current fields in psychology
  • Biopsychology
  • Cognitive
  • Developmental
  • Health
  • Clinical
  • Social
  • Evolutionary



Psychological Science Crosses Levels of Analysis