Introduction - Approaches to Psychology

Definition of Psychology - The science of the human soul; specifically, the systematic or scientific knowledge of the powers & 
functions of the human soul, so far as they are known by consciousness; a treatise on the human soul.
 Ψ  Definition of Psychology - The systematic, scientific study of behaviors & mental processes.

Goals of Psychology 
- Describe -         - Explain -         - Predict -         - Control - 

Modern Approaches

Ψ  Biological approach - Examines how our genes, hormones, & nervous system interact with our environment.

Ψ  Cognitive approach - Focuses on how we process, store,& use information.

Ψ  Behavioral approach - Analysis of how learning occurs based upon reward & punishment. 
	Subsets: B. F. Skinner (strict behaviorism) & Albert Bandura (adds social cognition) 

Ψ Psychoanalytic approach - Based on the belief that childhood experiences greatly influence the development 
of later personality traits & psychological problems. From Sigmund Freud's work. 

Ψ  Humanistic approach - emphasizes individual freedom in directing a one's future. Developed in part as a result 
of Abraham Maslow's dissatisfaction with psychoanalysis & behaviorism 

Ψ Cross-cultural approach - Studies the influence of cultural & ethnic similarities & differences.

Ψ  Evolutionary approach - Studies how evolutionary ideas, such as adaptation & natural selection, explain 
behaviors & mental processes.

Ψ    By combining information from all the approaches psychologists stand a better chance of 
reaching their four goals of describing, explaining, predicting & controlling behavior. 
(An eclectic approach works best.)

Historical Approaches 
Structuralism: elements of the mind      Wilhelm Wundt - Introspection

  Introspection: the contemplation of your own thoughts & desires & conduct. Introspection was once an acceptable means of 
gaining insight into psychological phenomena. Introspection was used by German physiologist Wilhelm Wundt in the experimental 
psychology laboratory he had founded in Leipzig in 1879. Wundt believed that by using introspection in his experiments he would 
gather information into how the subject's minds were working, thus he wanted to examine the mind into its basic elements.

•  Functionalism: functions of the mind     William James - Purpose of mental activity 
    The primary interest in this approach is in the function of mental processes, including 
consciousness. While not the creation of any single scholar, William James was clearly 
its most famous advocate. 
    The functionalists tended to use the term 'function' rather loosely. The term is used in 
at least two different ways. It can refer to the study of how a mental process operates. 
This is a major departure from the study of the structure of a mental process, the 
difference between stopping a train to tear it apart to study its parts (structuralism), 
and looking at how the systems interact while it is running (functionalism). The term 
'function' can also refer to how the mental process functions in the evolution of the 
species, what adaptive property it provides that would cause it to be selected through evolution. 
    Functionalism never really died, it became part of the mainstream of psychology. The 
importance of looking at process rather than structure is a common attribute of modern 
psychology. As an individual approach it lacked a clear formulation & inherited the problems 
of the structuralist reliance on introspection.

•  Gestalt approach: sensations versus perceptions. Perception is more than the sum of its parts. 

 	Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, Kurt Koffka 

                e.g. Apparent motion is demonstrated by the phi phenomenon.
•  Behavioral approach: objective, scientific analysis of observable behaviors. 
                                    dominant approach: 1920s - 1960s

 	John B. Watson - B. F. Skinner

•  Cognitive approach: dominant approach: 1970s - present    

    The cognitive approach deals with mental processes like memory & problem solving. 

Careers in Psychology

Ψ  A psychologist has a Ph.D., PsyD., or Ed.D. 
Ψ  A clinical psychologist has a Ph.D., PsyD., or Ed.D., has specialized, & has 1 year of supervised training. 
Ψ  A counseling psychologist usually works with problems such as those involving marriage, family, or career counseling. 
Ψ  A psychiatrist must be a Medical Doctor.

Ψ  Note: until recently, no psychologists in the U.S. have been able to prescribe drugs. Now, psychologists 
in New Mexico & Louisiana (who have completed special medical training) can prescribe drugs like psychiatrists.

Areas of Specialization a.k.a. branchs of psychology

Ψ  Social psychology involves the study of social interactions, stereotypes, prejudices, attitudes,conformity, 
group behaviors, & aggression. 
Ψ  Personality psychology involves the study of personality development / change / assessment, & abnormal behaviors. 

Ψ  Developmental psychology examines moral, social, emotional, & cognitive development throughout a person’s entire life.

Ψ  Experimental psychology includes areas of sensation, perception, learning, human performance, motivation, & emotion.

Ψ  Biological psychology - psychobiology 
Ψ  Cognitive psychology involves how we process, store, and retrieve information and how cognitive processes influence 
our behaviors. 

Ψ  Psychometrics - psychological measurement

 Branches of Psychology
 Ψ  There are many branches of psychology; how they are categorized depends on which book you are reading (such as the areas of specialization 
 listed above). There is no universally agreed on list.  However, the following list could reasonably be seen as encompassing the main branches of 

•  Developmental psychology examines moral, social, emotional, & cognitive development throughout a person’s entire life. Developmental psychology 
focuses on how people grow & learn.

•  Social psychology involves the study of social interactions, stereotypes, prejudices, attitudes, conformity, group behaviors, & aggression.

•  Cognitive psychology involves how we process, store, & retrieve information & how cognitive processes influence our behaviors.

•  Neuroscience; which is a study of the mind by looking at the brain. Neuroscience is a branch of the life sciences that deals with the anatomy, 
physiology, biochemistry, or molecular biology of nerves & nervous tissue & especially with their relation to behavior & learning 

•  Clinical; which examines mental health & mental illnesses. 
Improve your study habits! 

    A common complaint from students is that their study is ineffective; because, students are often poor judges of what they know, the use of self 
tests such as those in most texts & most textbook support web sites can fix this.

    A plan for time management using the right sort of goals is effective in improving study results.

Types of study goals:

1. Time       
  2. General       
   3. Specific performance goals 

    Reward yourself when goals are reached (self-reinforcement).

Take notes! 

- Use your own words. 
    - Use an outline format. 
        - Associate new material with old. 
            - Ask yourself questions as you study, then look for the answers.

Stop procrastinating:

     1.  Stop thinking or worrying about the final goal, conquer today's work. 
       2.  Break the overall task down into smaller more reachable goals. 
        3.  Write down a realistic schedule that you know you can follow.

Read the textbook!

Ψ   Many students don't bother to read the textbook before going to the lecture that will cover the material. Trying to get 
anything out of a lecture without reading the material first is like trying to find a new, unfamiliar place without using a map 
or a GPS device. You can get lost real quick. This is especially true because most instructors in the traditional college 
setting make the assumption that the student has in fact prepared for the class by reading the assignment to be covered 
by the lecture. The instructors then use the lecture to expound on the information the student has supposedly got from the 
reading. If the student's have failed to do the reading, the lecture may not make a lot of sense.    

Think Critically!

Ψ   Critical thinking means making reasoned judgments. It is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully 
conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, 
observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief & action. 

Ψ   A Critical thinker

•  raises vital questions & problems, formulating them clearly & precisely. 
•  gathers & assesses relevant information. Uses abstract ideas to interpret that information effectively. 
•  comes to well-reasoned conclusions & solutions by testing them against relevant criteria & standards. 
•  thinks open-mindedly within alternative systems of thought, recognizing & assessing, as need be, their assumptions, 
implications, & practical consequences. 
•  communicates effectively with others in figuring out solutions to complex problems. 

                           Topics In Psychology
                               Robert C. Gates