Psychology – give a definition and explain what it means A

Psychology – give a definition and explain what it means

A. “Nature” – or Biology. Text: “The Boundary with Biology”.

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– Explain Biopsychology

– Phenomenon: Phineas Gage. Who was he? What does his famous case of brain damage illustrate?

– Explain localization of function. Use Broca’s area as an example in your explanation. You may need to look it up outside the text.

– Do neuroscientists still believe in localization of function?

Biopsychology is a branch of psychology that analyzes how the brain, neurotransmitters, and other aspects of our biology influence our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. This field of psychology is often referred to by a variety of names including biopsychology, physiological psychology, behavioral neuroscience, and psychobiology. Bio psychologists often look at how biological processes interact with emotions, cognitions, and other mental processes.

Biopsychology has very specific beliefs. First, that psychology is a lab-based science. Second, that behavior can systematically be explained through biological concepts, such as genes and hormones.

Third, most behavior has an evolutionary purpose because human genes have developed over millions of years through adapting behaviors to environmental stimuli.

The roots of biopsychology began when Charles Darwin formulated his theory of natural selection during his global travels.

Biopsychology represents one of the important ways of thinking about psychology. This perspective in psychology has allowed researchers to gain a greater understanding of how the brain and nervous system influence human behavior.

By studying normal brain functioning as well as how brain disease and injury influence behaviors, feelings, and thoughts, researchers can come up with new ways of treating potential problems that may arise.

Phineas Gage is often referred to as one of the most famous patients in neuroscience. He suffered a traumatic brain injury when an iron rod was driven through his entire skull, destroying much of his frontal lobe. Gage miraculously survived the accident but was so changed as a result that many of his friends described him as an almost different man entirely.

The rod penetrated Gage’s left cheek, tore through his brain, and exited his skull before landing 80 feet away. Gage not only survived the initial injury but was able to speak and walk to a nearby cart, so he could be taken into town to be seen by a doctor. Dr. Edward H. Williams, the first physician to respond to this case.

Gage’s case had a tremendous influence on early neurology. The specific changes observed in his behavior pointed to emerging theories about the localization of brain function, or the idea that certain functions are associated with specific areas of the brain.

Today, scientists better understand the role that the frontal cortex must play in an important higher-order functions such as reasoning, language, and social cognition. In those years, while neurology was in its infancy, Gage’s extraordinary story served as one of the first sources of evidence that the frontal lobe was involved in personality.

B. “Nurture” or Culture. Text: “The Boundary with Culture” Explain cross-cultural psychology. Give an example as part of your explanation

C. Nature-nurture controversy. See the beginning of “The Evolutionary Perspective”. This the oldest debate about human behavior. Explain it.

Cross cultural psychology is based on the predominant premise of culture having a huge impact on the mental cognition and functioning of a collective society. Cross cultural society explores the differences amongst humans across cultures. The Emic and etic perspective is a part of this domain.

Nature nurture argument is based on the popular argument that splits the academia in two halves, it being that the personality and characteristics of an individual are a product of their genes and genetic. The other half being that the individual is a product of their environment and upbringing.

II. From Philosophy to Psychology

A. 1879 – the first scientific approach to studying the mind.

Wundt establishes the 1st psychology lab. His method

of observing the mind was called introspection. Explain it.

B. Titchener develops introspection into the first way of thinking about psychology called “Structuralism”. Explain it.

C. Explain the other early school of thought, functionalism

A. Introspection: Simply speaking, Introspection is the examination of one’s own conscious thoughts and feelings. In psychology, the process of introspection relies exclusively on observation of one’s mental state. Introspection generally provides a privileged access to our own mental states, not mediated by other sources of knowledge, so that individual experience of the mind is unique.

Wundt, who is considered as father of Modern Psychology was first to adopt Introspection in experimental psychology. Building upon the pre-existing use of introspection in physiology, Wundt believed the method of introspection was the ability to observe an experience. According to Wundt, all introspection observations be performed under following things-

1) The Observer must, if possible, be able to determine beforehand the entrance of the process to be observed.

2) The Introspectionist must grasp the phenomenon in a state of strained attention and follow its course.

3) Every observation must be capable of being repeated several times under the same conditions and

4) The conditions under which the phenomenon appears must be found out by the variation of the attendant circumstances and when this was done the various coherent experiments must be varied according to a plan partly by eliminating certain stimuli and partly by grading their strength and quality.

B.STRUCTURALISM-Structuralism can be defined in psychology as the study of the elements of consciousness. The idea is that conscious experience can be broken down into basic conscious elements, much as a physical phenomenon can be viewed as consisting of chemical structures that can in turn be broken down into basic elements. In fact, much of the research conducted in Wundt’s laboratory consisted of cataloging these basic conscious elements. To reduce a normal conscious experience into basic elements, structuralism relied on a method called introspection. For example, an object such as an apple can be described in terms of the basic perceptions it invoked (e.g. cold, crisp or sweet).

C. FUNCTIONALISM-Functionalism is a theory about the nature of mental states. According to functionalists, mental states are identified by what they do rather than by what they are made of. Functionalism is the most familiar or “received” view among philosophers of mind and cognitive science.

III. Theoretical Perspective or Paradigm

Explain this VERY important idea – what is a paradigm?

A perspective, or way of viewing and analyzing phenomena. A perception or the idea, in one own though process on in that of a business about their point of view, belief of their truth is Paradigm. The term paradigm is used to mean a broad model, a framework, a way of thinking, or a scheme for understanding reality. A paradigm establishes the rules (written or unwritten), defines the boundaries, and tells one how to behave within the boundaries to be successful.

IV. The Psychodynamic Perspective ~ 1900

Explain what Freud meant by psychodynamics – the

motives, or emotional forces, that control our behavior. Go beyond the text and use an example to illustrate.

Freud said that an individual is a layered individual, who has many internal forces as a brain is a complex machinery that has the propensity to motivate behavior. There are many components. Especially the libido, that Freud used to help explain the motivators of behavior.

Freud likened the mind to an iceberg. Go beyond the text –

why did he believe the mind is like an iceberg?

Freud compared the mind to an iceberg, saying that there is the tip which is visible, and the iceberg is taken to be the floating piece of ice above, but an iceberg, is veritable, vast underneath and is submerged and not visible to the naked eye, that is exactly our mind, which has the conscious, which is the tip, and the subconscious, which is the submerged and the hidden. This part harbors most of the inner turmoil’s and secrets.

V. The Behaviorist Perspective – a.k.a. “Behaviorism” ~ 1915

A. Explain the focus of behaviorism. Make sure you explain

why behaviorists do not study the mind, only behavior.

The behaviorism is a systematic approach to study behavior rather than study brain and mental functions. Behavioristic approach believes in the outcomes so that it explains behavior as the main stage of understanding mental functions. Behaviorist believes that the structure of mind is same, but the behavior is not same so that it must be studied. Behavioristic approach studies the relationship between environment and body rather than mental functions.

Behaviorists believe that human behavior is completely controlled by the environment/ environmental stimuli. Explain this statement. Can you describe an example to illustrate?

If we feel cold, we use warm clothes, we need those stuff to adjust to the environment, and we think and create ideas to solve our problems. In this example, you can see that our thinking changed the direction and our nature to adjust to the environment.

The behavioristic approach explains the cause and effects of adjustment between environment and mind. If we were not feeling cold our behavior may not be changed.

In my opinion, the behaviorism believes in the reality while other approaches believe in learning and conditioning of the mind. According to behaviorism, our every physical and mental movement occurs to solve problems and problems come from nature.

VI. The Cognitive Perspective (*also a field of study)~1950s-60s

A. Explain this paradigm. Make sure you explain:

What cognition, or information processing, is

The cognitive perspective, just like every other school of thought within psychology, gives precedence and predominant attention to a certain aspect for the human mind.

The cognitive perspective is the belief that an individual’s cognition which is also called as thought process, helps understand the behavior of an individual. The mind of an individual is like an information processing unit, and helps understand language, helps in learning and memory and thought.

Give two examples of “cognition”

First example is the ability to solve a problem, like when a bike chain breaks. A person can have some memories or ideas that are already stored in their brain to try to fix the chain.

Second example can be when a person judges another person, this is based of all the information received, then the brain processes all that information and creates some criteria.

Cognitive psychologists liken the mind to a computer. Explain why the computer is a fitting metaphor for the cognitive perspective.

The reason why the cognitive psychologist juxtaposes the kind with a computer is as they say that the mind is like the CPU of a computer, wherein you have an input and then the computer comprehends the input and then provides an output, it codifies everything, and you get a final output. The mind, similarly, has the input from the external environment and it comprehends it and processes it as a computer does and gives a final output.

VII. The Evolutionary Perspective

Explain this way of thinking about human psychology.

Evolutionary psychology is an approach to psychology that is theoretical in nature’s, where there would be an attempt in explaining the psychological traits of humans, which is perception, memory, or adaptations of language, that help in natural selection. This approach helps in identification of the functional form of the biological mechanism. It explains the role of evolution in shaping the behavior of humans.

This perspective is based on Darwin’s theory of evolution: Natural Selection. Explain natural selection by giving an example of an adaptive trait – one that promotes the ability of a species to adapt to its environment, survive and reproduce

The ability referred to as adaptive tracking. Because of this perspective, as the person would be changing their habitat, there would be movement from one area to another. There would be genetic changes that would take place in an individual, such that they could be adjusting to the newer environment.

Inclusive fitness – explain this concept, and how it is used by evolutionary psychologists to explain human behavior

This could be defined as an individual’s ability to be passing on their genes from one generation to another considering the genes that have been passed by the close relatives of the organism.

VIII. “Commentary: Making Sense of Perspectives”

Describe the contributions of each of the perspectives:

We have theoretical perspectives in psychology, because in many cases advocates of one perspective understand less than other perspectives. Those other perspectives can contribute in special ways to understand the phenomena, based on the object being investigated. The purpose of these perspectives is to understand the behaviorist, cognitive, evolutionary and psychodynamic perspectives.


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