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HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY PSYCHOLOGY The science of the mind. The science of behavior and mental processes. Science: an approach to knowledge based on careful, controlled observation using rigorous methods. Behavior: directly observable and measurable actions. Mental processes: private psychological activities that include thinking, perceiving and feeling. Why people act (behavior), feel (affect) and think (cognition) as they do. Psyche: (Greek) Literally means breath or life Later came to mean soul or mind. ology: From thought or word, the study or science of. .. Today's question: Is the mind (and soul) only the physical brain or is the whole more than the sum of the parts? Decarte(dualist): the soul is not the mind, it is separate. A reductionist: it is only the brain. ..a thought is an action potential (electrical activity) down the axon of a nerve cell, a feeling is the release of a neurotransmitter (chemical) in the brain, a perception is the upswing of a brain wave. GOALS OF PSYCHOLOGY Describe: Information obtained by systematic observation and study allows us to describe manic/depressive illness, the reaction of the body to stress, the behavior of animals (or children) on a certain schedule of reinforcement or punishment, or the electrical activity of a motor neuron in the spinal cord. Understand: Explanations in psychology are theories that attempt to account for all
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known descriptive information. Theories generate hypothesis that are testable and hopefully have predictive value. Thus we may understand that stress can lead to heart attacks by the explanation that stress causes an increase in the level of a hormone that promotes blood clots leading to blockage of the arteries of the heart. Predict: Psychologist attempt to predict future behavior such as how much anxiety new employees will experience bases on the stressfulness of their jobs. Influence : We go beyond describing, understanding and predicting when we attempt to help a troubled teen climb out of a period of deep depression, when we ponder the ways to help parents raise their children or to steer college students on the right career path or help a business increase productivity and retention of its workers. A HISTORY OF PSYCHOLOGY (Roots in Philosophy and Biology) Aristotle (384 B.C.) Greece. A scholar/philosopher who pursued knowledge for its own sake and studied life and living things. His father was a royal physician. Collected and dissected plants and animals in an attempt to see how their organs sustained life. Studied reproduction to see how life was recreated in each generation. Studied the everyday actions of living people as they reasoned, remembered, learned and attempted to persuade one another. Aristotle used the word 'psyche' to refer to the essence of life, which he believed escaped as the last dying breath was exhaled. Modern psychologists are interested in observing, understanding, explaining and predicting the same thoughts, feeling and actions of human beings. Aristotle received much of his own training from the famous philosopher Plato, but
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