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PSY 110 (General Psychology): Psychology


What is Psychology?

Psychology is the Scientific study of behavior and mental processes. It seeks to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior and mental processes.

The word psychology is derived from two Greek roots: psyche, meaning “mind,” and logos, meaning “study” or “knowledge.”

History and Foundations of Psychology

Aristotle: argued human behavior was subject to rules and laws

Democritus: think of behavior as terms of body and mind. Behavior is influenced by external stimulation.

Socrates: rely on rational thought and introspection or examination of one's own thoughts and emotions to gain self- knowledge. People are social creatures and influence each other.

Gustav Theodor Fechner: published book Elements of Psychophysics which showed how physical events stimulate psychological sensations and perception.

The founding of psychology as an experimental science is generally credited to a German scientist, Wilhelm Wundt. He studied mental experiences and used a method known as introspection, which is an attempt to directly study consciousness by having people report on what they are consciously experiencing. He also established the world’s first scientific laboratory dedicated to the study of psychology in Germany.

Edward Titchener, Wundt's disciple, brought Wundt's ideas to the United States and the rest of the world. The school of psychology that attempts to understand the structure of the mind by breaking it down into its component parts is known as structuralism. Structuralism: attempted to break conscious experience down into objective sensations.

The first American to work in Wundt’s experimental laboratory was the psychologist G. Stanley Hall. Hall founded the American Psychological Association (APA).

William James, recognized as the father of American psychology, founded functionalism, the school of psychology that focused on how behavior helps individuals adapt to demands placed upon them in the environment.

Focused on the Behavior as well as the mind or consciousness

Argued that the stream of consciousness is fluid and continuous

Experiences help us function more adaptively to are environments

Charles Darwin: theory of evolution

Organisms that are the fittest, survive and reproduce.

In the early 1900s, a new force in psychology came about called behaviorism. The founder of behaviorism was the American psychologist John Broadus Watson. Behaviorism was based on the belief that psychology would advance as a science only if it turned away from the study of mental processes and limited itself to the study of observable behaviors that could be recorded and measured.

Early work in the field of behavior was conducted by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov. Pavlov studied a form of learning behavior called a conditioned reflex, in which an animal or human produced a reflex (unconscious) response to a stimulus and, over time, was conditioned to produce the response to a different stimulus that the experimenter associated with the original stimulus. The reflex Pavlov worked with was salivation in response to the presence of food.

Behaviorism became popular due to psychologist B. F. Skinner. Skinner studied how behavior is shaped by rewards and punishments. Skinner showed he could train animals, such as pigeons or rats, to perform simple behaviors by rewarding particular responses. Skinner also showed how advanced behaviors could be learned and maintained by adding the idea of rewards, which he called reinforcers.  As a part of his research, Skinner developed a chamber that allowed the careful study of the principles of modifying behavior through reinforcement and punishment. This device, known as an operant conditioning chamber or more familiarly, a Skinner box.

Gestalt psychology, the school of psychology that studies ways in which the brain organizes and structures our perceptions of the world was established by Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Kohler.

Wolfgang Kohler: Research with chimpanzee: Flash of Insight in other wards we rearrange the situation in order to come up with a solution to the problem. 

Austrian physician named Sigmund Freud, studied the region of the mind known as unconscious. Freud’s model of therapy, called psychoanalysis, is based on the belief that therapeutic change comes from uncovering and working through unconscious conflicts within the personality.

Psychoanalysis: theory of personality and the method of psychotherapy.  Most of our ideas are governed by unconscious ideas and impulses that originate in childhood conflicts.

During the early 20th century, American psychology was dominated by behaviorism and psychoanalysis. However, some psychologists were uncomfortable with what they viewed as limited perspectives being so influential to the field. Thus, humanism emerged. Humanism is a perspective within psychology that emphasizes the potential for good that is innate to all humans. Two of the most well-known proponents of humanistic psychology are Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers

By the 1950s, new disciplinary perspectives in linguistics, neuroscience, and computer science were emerging, and these areas revived interest in the mind as a focus of scientific inquiry. This particular perspective has come to be known as the cognitive revolution