Psychology Notes Part One

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Chapter One

The Evolution of Psychology

Know the definition of psychology.

The science that studies behavior and the physiological and cognitive process that underlie it, and its profession that applies to the accumulated knowledge of science to practical problems.

Know the role of Wilhelm Wundt in founding psychology.

“Founder of Psychology.” Wanted to make psychology independent rather then a step child of philosophy or physiology. He established the first lab for research, said that new psychology should be modeled after field studies such as physics and chemistry. Primary focus was consciousness-awareness of immediate experience.

Know the intellectual parents of psychology and what each contributed: philosophy and physiology.

Know and be able to recognize examples of the five things that make psychology scientific.

Empirical-That knowledge should be acquired through observation

To say that psychology is empirical means that its conclusions are based                                    on direct observations rather than reasoning, speculations, traditional                                beliefs, or common sense.


Combines Observations into Theories

Has Scientific Goals- Common to all other all sciences

Uses Scientific Methods– Law of effect: if you do something, and something                           good happens, you will do it again. Vice Versa

Know the basic areas or schools of psychology including structuralism, functionalism, behaviorism, psychoanalytic, humanistic, cognitive, biological, and evolutionary.

  • Structuralism-Based on the notion that the task of psychology is to analyze consciousness into its basic elements and investigate how these elements are related.
    • Emerged through the leadership of Edward Titchener
    • Structuralists wanted to identify and examine the fundamental components of conscious experience, such as sensations, feelings and images.
    • To examine contents of consciousness, structuralists depended on the method of introspection, or the careful, systematic self-observation of one’s own conscious experience
      • Introspection required training to make the subject-person being studied- more objective and more aware
  • Functionalism- based on the belief that psychology should investigate the function or purpose of consciousness, rather than its structure.
    • Emergence from William James
    • James argued that structuralists’ approach missed real nature of conscious experience. Conscious, consists of continuous flow of thoughts
    • Structuralists naturally gravitated to the laboratory, functionalists were more interested in how people adapt their behaviors to the demands of the real work around them.
    • Functionalism fostered the development of two descendants that have dominated modern psychology; behaviorism, and applied psychology
  • Behaviorism- a theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology should study only observable behavior.
    • Founded by James B. Watson, he proposed that psychologists abandon the study of consciousness altogether and focus exclusively on behaviors that they could observe directlyà redefining what scientific psychology should be about.
      • Asserted that psychologists could study anything that people do or say-shopping, playing chess, eating, complimenting a friend- but they could not study scientifically the thoughts, wishes and feelings that might accompany these observable behaviors.
      • Nature vs. Nurture.
    • Skinner-Free will is an illusion
    • Behavior refers to any overt (observable) response or activity by an organism
    • Behaviorists came to view psychology’s mission as an attempt to relate overt behaviors (responses) to observable events in the environment (stimuli)
      • Stimulus-any detectable input from the environment

à Light, sound waves, advertisements on TV

  • Psychoanalytic-attempts to explain personality, motivation, and mental disorders by focusing on unconscious determinants of behavior
    • Freud was the founder of this idea. His work with his patients and his own self-exploration persuaded him of the existence of what he called the unconscious.
      • Unconscious-contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but that nonetheless exert great influence on behavior.
    • Freud concluded that psychological disturbances are largely caused by personal conflicts existing at an unconscious level.
    • Widespread popular acceptance of this theory forced psychologists to apply their scientific methods to the topics Freud has studied: Personality, motivations, and abnormal behavior.
  • Humanistic-is a theoretical orientation that emphasizes the unique qualities of humans, especially their freedom and their potential for personal growth
    • Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow were the prominent architects of the humanistic movement
    • Rogers argued that human behavior is governed by each individual’s sense of self, or “self-concept”
    • To fully understand people’s behavior, psychologist must take into account the fundamental human drive toward personal growth-people have basic need to continue to evolve as human beings and to fulfill their potentials.
    • Fundamentally different from animals
  • Cognitive- refers to the mental process involved in acquiring knowledge, involves thinking or conscious experience. 
    • Jean Piaget-Focused attention on study of children’s cognitive development
    • Noam Chomsky-New interests in the psychological underpinnings of language
    • Herbert Simon-Began influential, groundbreaking research on problem solving
    • Cognitive theorists argued psychology must study internal mental events to fully understand behavior
    • Cognitive perspective point out that people’s manipulations of mental images surely influence how they behave
      • Cognitive perspective has become the dominant perspective in contemporary psychology
  • Biological- perspective that much of human and animal behavior can be explained in terms of the bodily structures and biochemical processes that allow organisms to behave.
    • James Olds- demonstrated that electrical stimulation of the brain could evoke emotional responses such as pleasure and rage in animals
    • Roger Sperry- Showed that the right and left halves of the brain are specialized to handle different types of mental tasks
    • David Hubel & Torsten Wiesel- how visual signals are processed in the brain
  • Evolutionary- examines behavioral processes in terms of their adaptive value for members of a species over the course of many generations
    • Asserts that the patterns of behavior seen in species are products of evolution in the same way that anatomical characteristics are.
    • Basic premise is that natural selection favors behaviors that enhance organisms’ reproductive success-passing genes on to the next generation
    • David Buss, Martin Daly, Margo Wilson, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby- published widely cited studies on a broad range of topics including mating preferences, jealousy, aggression, sexual behavior, language, decision making, personality and development
    • Most recent major development in psychology

Perspective & Influential Period

Principal Contributors

Subject Matter

Basic Premise



John B. Watson

Ivan Pavlov

B. F. Skinner

Effects of environment on the overt behavior of humans and animals

Only observable events (stimulus-response relations) can be studied scientifically



Sigmund Freud

Carl Jung

Alfred Adler

Unconscious determinants of behavior

Unconscious motives and experiences in early childhood govern personality and mental disorders



Carl Rogers

Abraham Maslow

Unique aspects of human experience

Humans are free, rational beings with the potential for personal growth, and they are fundamentally different from animals



Jean Piaget

Noam Chomsky

Herbert Simon

Thoughts; mental processes

Human behavior cannot be fully understood without examining how people acquire, store, and process information



James Olds

Roger Sperry

David Hubel

Torsten Wiesel

Physiological bases of behavior in humans and animals

An organism’s functioning can be explained in terms of the bodily structures and biochemical processes that underlie behavior



David Buss

Martin Daly

Margo Wilson

Leda Cosmides

John Tooby

Evolutionary bases of behavior in humans and animals

Behavior patterns have evolved to solve adaptive problems; natural selection favors behaviors that enhance reproductive success.

Know the professional psychological specialties and the type of research or job that each carries out.

Know the following academic/research areas of psychology

Know the differences and similarities between a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist.

  • Psychology-Non-medical and Psychiatry-Branch of Medicine
    • Clinical psychologists go to graduate school to earn one of several doctoral degrees (Ph.D., Ed.D., or Psy.D.P)ß In order to enjoy full status in their profession
    • Psychiatrists go to medical school for their postgraduate educations-
      • They receive general training in medicine and earn an M.D. degree.-Specialize by completing residency training in psychiatry at hospital
    • They also differ in a way they tend to approach the treatment of mental disorders

Area                        Focus of Research



Looks at human development across the life span. Developmental psychology once focused primarily on child development but today devotes a great deal of research to adolescence, adulthood, and old age.

Social psychology

Focuses on interpersonal behavior and the role of social forces in governing behavior. Typical topics include attitude formation, attitude change, prejudice, conformity, attraction, aggression, intimate relationships, and behavior in groups

Experimental psychology

Encompasses traditional core of topics that psychology focused on heavily in its first half-century as a science; sensation, perception, learning, conditioning, motivation, and emotion.

Physiological psychology

Examine the influence of genetic factors on behavior and the role of the brain, nervous system, endocrine system, and bodily chemicals in the regulation of behavior

Cognitive psychology

Focuses on “higher” mental processes, such as memory, reasoning, information processing, language, problem solving, decision making, and creativity


Interested in describing and understanding individuals’ consistency in behavior, which represents their personality. This area of interest is also concerned with factors that shape personality and with personality assessment.


Concerned with the measurement of behavior and capacities, through the development of psychological tests. Psychometrics is involved with design of test to assess personality, intelligence, and a wide range of abilities. Also concerned w/ development of new techniques for statistical analysis

Know the following applied areas of psychology

Specialty                  Focus of Professional practice

Clinical Psychology

Clinical psychologists are concerned with evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of individuals with psychological disorders, as well as treatments of less severe behavioral and emotional problems.

à Include interviewing clients, psychological tests, and providing group or individual psychotherapy

Counseling psychology

Overlaps with clinical psychology in that specialists in both areas engage in similar activities-interviewing, testing, providing therapy. However, counseling psychologists usually work with a somewhat different clientele, providing assistance to people struggling with everyday problems of moderate severity. Thus, they often specialize in family, marital, or career counseling.

Educational and school psychology

Educational psychologist work to improve curriculum design, achievement testing, teacher training, and other aspects of the education process. School psychologists usually work in elementary or secondary schools, where they test and counsel children having difficulties in school and air parents and teachers in solving school-related problems.

Industrial and Organizational psychology

Psychologists in this area perform a wide variety of tasks in the world of business and industry. These tasks include running human resources departments, working to improve staff morale and attitudes, striving to increase job satisfaction and productivity, examining organizational structures and procedures, and making recommendations for improvements

Know the information in the Personal Application about Improving Academic Performance.

Know the Practice Test Questions!

Chapter 2

The Research Enterprise in Psychology

Know and recognize examples of the Scientific Goals listed below.

Measurement and Description– Science’s commitment to observation requires t        hat an investigator figure out a way to measure the thing under study

  • First goal of psychology is to develop measurement techniques that make it possible to describe behavior clearly and precisely.

Explanation and Prediction-To evaluate understanding, scientists make and test          predictions called hypothesis

  • Hypothesis-a tentative statement about the relationship between 2 or more variables.
    • Variables-any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviors that are controlled or observed in a study

Application and Control– scientists hope that the information they gather will be           of some practical value in helping to solve everyday problems.

Theory- a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations; must be testable

à How do theories help scientists to achieve their goals? To build toward a better        understanding of behavior

Know and recognize examples of the 5 steps in scientific investigation.

Scientific Investigation-Consists of a sequence of carefully planned steps, beginning with the formulation of a testable hypothesis and ending with the publication of the study, if its results are worthy of examination by other researchers.

1. Formulate Hypothesis-scientific hypotheses must be formulated precisely and variables under study must be clearly defined. Researches achieve these clear formulations by providing operational definitions of the relevant variables

  • Operational definition-describes the actions or operations that will be used to measure or control a variable.

2. Design the study- 2nd step is to figure out how to put the hypothesis to an empirical test.. The researcher has to ponder the pros and cons and then select the strategy that appears to be the most appropriate and practical. Once researchers have chosen a general method, they must make detailed plans for executing their study.

  • Participants-or subjects, are the persons or animals who behavior is systematically observed in a study.

3. Collect the data- a procedure for making empirical observations and measurements.

  • Commonly used techniques include
    • Direct observation
    • Questionnaires
    • Interviews
    • Psychological tests/recordings

4. Analyze the data and draw conclusions

5. Report the findings- write up a concise summary of the study and its findings.

  • Journal- a periodical that publishes technical and scholarly material, usually in a narrowly defined area of inquiry

Summarized nicely in Figure 2.2

Know and be able to recognize examples of the Observational or Correlational Methods of data collection.

Naturalistic Studies- Careful, usually prolonged observation of behavior without         direct intervention

  • Example-Youngsters’ spontaneous acts of aggression during recreational activities are observed unobtrusively and recorded
  • Advantages- Minimizes artificiality; can be good place to start when little is known about phenomena under study
  • Disadvantages-Often difficult to remain unobtrusive; can’t explain why certain patterns of behavior were observed

Case Studies- In-depth investigations of a single participants using direct          interview, direct observation, and other data collection techniques.

  • Example- Detailed case histories are worked up for youngsters referred to counseling bc of excessive aggressive behavior
  • Advantages- Well-suited for study of certain phenomena; can provide compelling illustrations to support a theory
  • Disadvantages- subjectivity makes it easy to see what one expects to see based on one’s theoretical slant; clinical samples often unrepresentative

Survey Methods- Use of questionnaires or interviews to gather information about        specific aspects of participants’ behavior.

  • Example- Youngsters are given a questionnaire that descries hypothetical scenarios and are asked about the likelihood of aggressive behavior
  • Advantages- Can gather info on difficult to observe aspects of behavior; relatively easy to collect data from large samples
  • Disadvantages-Self-report data often unreliable, due to the intentional deception, social desirability bias, response sets, memory lapses, and wishful thinking.

Correlation- Exists when two variables are related to each other

à Cigarette smoking & Physical disease

  • They depend extensively on a useful descriptive statistic: the correlation coefficient.
    • Correlation Coefficient- is a numerical index of the degree of relationship between 2 variables

Interpreting correlation coefficients- The magnitude of a correlation coefficient indicates the strength of the relationship between two variables. The sign (plus or minus) indicates whether the correlation is positive or negative. The closer the coefficient comes to + 1.00 or – 1.00, the stronger the relationship between the variables

Positive versus Negative Correlation

  • Positive correlation- two variables co-vary in the same direction; Variable X ( High scores)  associated with variable Y ( High scores)
  • Negative correlation- Co-vary in the opposite direction; variable X ( High score) tends to score low on variable Y

Strength of the Correlation

  • Size of the coefficient indicates the strength of an association between two variables
    • Can vary between 0 and + 1.00 ( if positive) or 0 and -1.00 ( if negative)

v     No relationship between the variables; that is, high or low scores on variable X show no consistent relationship to high or low scores on variable

Correlation and Prediction

  • Key goal of scientific research is accurate prediction. A close link exists between the magnitude of a correlation and the power it gives scientists to make predictions.
    • As a correlation increases in strength, the ability to predict one variable based on knowledge of the other variable increases.

Correlation and Causation

  • Predict one variable from another, does not tell us whether a cause-effect relationship exists between the two variables
    • Variables can be highly correlated even thought they are not casually related
      • Correlation between the size of a child’s good and the size of their vocabulary.

Understand the experimental method.

Know and recognize examples of:

Experimental Group- consists of the subjects who receive some special                                  treatment in regard to the independent variable.

Control Group-Consists of similar subjects who do not receive the s                            special treatment given to the experimental group

  • Important be alike

Random Assignment of Subjects- occurs when all subjects have an                           equal chance of being assigned to any group or condition in the study

Independent Variable-is a condition or event that an experimenter varies                                 in order to see its impact on another variable

Dependent Variable- Is the variable that is thought to be affected by                           manipulation of the independent variable

Extraneous Variables- Any variables other than the independent variable                    that seem likely to influence the dependent variable in a specific study

Be able to explain and recognize the factors that can lead to misinterpretation of experimental data:

Major differences between the experimental group and control group.

– The experimental group got the 24 beers, the control group had 1 beer.

Experimenter bias- Occurs when a researcher’s expectations or         preferences about the outcome of a study influences the results obtained.

Subject bias- the collection of subjects selected for observation in an    empirical study.

Sampling bias- exists when a sample if not representative of the           population from which is drawn.

  • When a sample is not representative, generalizations about the population may be inaccurate
    • If a political pollster were to survey only people in posh shopping areas that were wealthy, the pollsters generalizations about the voting public as a whole would be off the mark

Placebo effects- occur when participants’ expectations lead them to    experience some change even though they receive empty, fake, or       ineffectual treatment

  • Used because researchers know that participants’ expectations lead them to experience some change even though they receive empty, fake, or ineffectual treatment.
    • Sugar Pills

Remember that in the true or ideal experiment the experimenter has control

The selection of subject

The assignment of subjects to groups

The administration of the independent variable

Be able to recognize quasi-experimental designs and know why and when they are necessary.

Experimental field study

  • No control over the selection of subject
  • No control over the assignment of subjects

àDropping Books

Ex-post-facto design.

  • No control over the IV
  • Unethical

à Lightening

Know the function of and recognize examples of

Descriptive Statistics-used to organize and summarize data; they provide       overview of numerical data.

  • Includes measures of central tendency, measures of variability, and the coefficient of correlation

Measures of Central Tendency-use this to know what constitutes                             a typical or average score

Mean-Is the arithmetic average of the scores in a                                                          distribution

  • Obtained by adding up all the scores and dividing by the total number of scores
  • The most useful measure of central tendency because additional statistical manipulations can be preformed on it that are not possible with the median or mode
  • Sensitive to extreme scores in distribution, which makes the mean misleading

Median-is the score that falls exactly in the center of a                                      distribution of scores

Mode-the most frequent score in a distribution

Variability-refers to how much the scores in a data set vary from                                 each other and from the mean

Standard Deviation –an index of the amount of variability                                in a set of data

Inferential Statistics-used to interpret data and draw conclusions; used           after researchers have summarized their data with descriptive statistics,            need to decide whether their data support their hypotheses

  • used to evaluate the possibility that their results might be due to the fluctuations of chance ( Fluctuation-constant change)

Statistical Significance- to exist when the probability that the                          observed findings are due to chance is very low


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