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Introduction To Psychology Notes

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BM Part 2 Psychology (Using Hilgard's 'Introduction to Psychology') Lecture 1 - The Scope of Psychology (Chapter 1) Main types of psychology: biological (neuroscientific), information processing, clinical, social, educational Concepts of psychology: perception, cognition, actions, consciousness Examples of experimental and psychometric methods The relation of psychology to neuroscience?

Psychology can be defined as the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes. Nativism vs. empiricism: nativists believe that human capabilities are inborn ('nature') whereas empiricists believe that such traits are a result of conditioning, learning and sensual input as a child ('nurture'). An English philosopher, John Locke, believed the mind at birth to be a tabula rasa or a 'blank slate' onto which experience writes knowledge and understanding. Most modern psychologists now take an integrated approach to the naturenurture debate. Concepts of psychology:
? Perception: the study of how we integrate sensory information into percepts and the study of how we then use these percepts to move around and navigate our environment.
? Cognition: attention, thought, memory and language. The process by which individuals make plans and solve problems. Actions arise in order to solve these problems according to a decided plan.
? Consciousness: a method of monitoring ourselves and our environment so that we are aware of percepts and thoughts and can therefore generate memories. Also a means by which we can control ourselves and the environment by initiating and terminating behavioural and cognitive activities. Experimental and psychometric methods
? Introspection: the recording of one's own perceptions, thoughts and feelings e.g. towards an event or sensory change. Initiated by Wilhelm Wundt in 1879 who combined introspection with experimental changes e.g. colour intensity change. However, introspection is very subjective and even individuals trained in introspection gave very different results to the same stimuli (especially in very rapid mental events).
? Free association: Freudian method to bring the unconscious to the surface by patients saying the first things that come into their head. Analysis of dreams: another Freudian method to bring the unconscious to the surface.
? Experimental method: an independent variable is altered by the experimenter and the effect seen on the dependent variable where all other variables are controlled if possible. Often the difference between an experimental group (with a condition) and a control group (without a condition) is investigated to see if it is statistically significant.
? Correlational method: in some instances, experimentation is not possible therefore the correlation between two factors is investigated. The correlation may be negative or positive and range from 0 (no correlation) to 1 (perfect correlation). However researchers must be careful when attributing cause to one variable.
? Observational method: researchers who have been trained in recording behaviour accurately can observe the phenomenon of interest or may use questionnaires or interviews to observe phenomena indirectly. Ethical Issues - the benefits of the research vs. the human costs (embarrassment etc) must be carefully weighed up.


Minimal risk: the risk to a subject must be no more than encountered in everyday life. Can be hard to judge what 'normal' risk is.
? Informed consent: participant must know what they are entering into, enter into it voluntarily and know that they can withdraw from the experiment at any time. Can be problems with giving informed consent but not ruining the validity of the experiment with a subject's prior knowledge of what is to be tested. De-briefing can sometimes be used as an alternative.
? Right to privacy: information gained from the study about an individual must be kept confidential unless the individual gives their consent e.g. names may be replaced by numbers in published research. Structuralism and functionalism and their replacement
? Structuralism: the relation of psychology to the analysis of mental structures. Functionalism: studying how the mind works so an organism can adapt to and function in its environment. Both consider psychology as the science of conscious experience, they just approach this from different angles.
? By 1920, structuralism and functionalism were being replaced by three new approaches: behaviourism, Gestalt psychology and psychoanalysis. Behaviourism aka 'stimulusresponse psychology': John B. Watson was the person mainly responsible for the spread of behaviourism and saw that the unit of behaviour was the conditioned response and that chains of these conditioned responses were responsible for complex behaviour patterns. Behaviourism dominated psychology until WW2. Gestalt(form/configuration) psychology: this German psychology was mainly concerned with perception and Gestalt psychologists believed that the relationship between parts and to the background on which objects are perceived as well as patterns formed are important for perceptual experiences i.e. the whole is different from the sum of its parts. Psychoanalysis: Sigmund Freud was the instigator psychoanalysis and his emphasis was on the unconscious - the thoughts, impulses, motivations and emotions that we are unaware of. These unconscious thoughts are brought to the surface by slips of the tongue, dreams and physical mannerisms. Main types of psychology
? Information processing: after WW2, computers became more readily available. Herbert Simon in the 1950s coined the idea of psychology as a range of information-processing systems that could be simulated by computers e.g. memory could be seen as similar to a computer which can convert short-term information to long-term info on the hard drive. With increasing knowledge of the brain and nervous system, neuropsychology also increased as did psycholinguistics with the increase in info about mental structures required to understand and speak language.
? Biological: aim to discover the relationship between biological processes and behaviour.
? Clinical: clinical psychologists apply psychological principles to the diagnosis and treatment of emotional and behavioural problems e.g. marital/family problems, mental illness and drug addiction.
? Social psychologists: look at how individuals interact with their social environment and how beliefs, attitudes and behaviours are influenced by social interaction. This type of psychology overlaps strongly with developmental (factors that shape behaviour from birth) and personality psychology (individual's personal style of interacting with the world).
? Educational psychology: aims to evaluate learning and emotional problems which are often first manifest when a child goes to school. Educational psychologists often carry out research and train teachers in advanced teaching methods. The relation of psychology to neuroscience

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