Topic #1 - Schools of Psychology

Topic #1 - Schools of Psychology - I ntroduction to...

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Introduction to Experimental Psychology Nature of Psychology What is “psychology”? There is no easy definition. Its origins come from the words “logos” (the study) and “psyche” (the mind). Logically, therefore, psychology is the study of the mind, but this does not help much if we cannot define what we mean by the mind. Many claim that mental events take place within the mind. By mental events, we mean activities such as attention-consciousness, information processing, thought-language, memory, and decision-making. These labels, however, are still vague and abstract. If Psychology is a science, we need to define and measure our terms. These vague terms are neither easily defined nor measured. Some claim that Psychology is (or should be) the study of overt behaviour. A scientist cannot observe “mental events” but overt behaviour can be observed. For this course, we shall use a compromise definition of psychology – the study of mental events and behaviour. Modern psychology consists of many different branches. These branches and divisions are somewhat arbitrary and are based on (1) whether the psychologist is a basic, fundamental researcher (an experimental psychologist), an applied psychologist using the applications of experimental psychology (thus an “applied” psychologist) or a clinical psychologist. The general public and many students first studying psychology assume that all psychologists are clinical psychologists (or psychotherapists-counsellors). While many psychologists are clinical psychologists, many are not. Psychology really began as a branch of Physics (and was called Psychophysics). There is real physical energy in the universe; this is studied by physicists. Humans (and other animals), however, experience (or are conscious) of only a small portion of this energy. This is because our sensory receptors are sensitive to only a tiny fraction of the physical energy in the universe. Moreover, our information processing systems assure that we are conscious of only a small portion of all the energy that bombards our receptors, that which is most relevant for our survival. Our attentional systems thus filter stimulus input, only allowing a tiny portion of it “through”. Psychophysicists study the what and why of consciousness. We shall first examine the three major divisions of Psychology. Within each of these branches, there are also several divisions or what I call “schools”.
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Major Divisions of Psychology Experimental Psychology Began in mid- to late-1800s. First experimental psychology lab considered to be that of  Wilhelm   Wundt   in   Leipzig,   Germany.   Wundt   studies   basic   and   simple   concepts   of  consciousness.  Structuralism. One of Wundt’s students, Edward Titchener attempted to isolate the basic  elements of the mind. This was known  structuralism  (the basic structures of the mind). Our  experience of the external world is probably also made up of a mixture of simpler elements. 
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This note was uploaded on 12/21/2010 for the course PSY 1101 taught by Professor Textbook during the Fall '08 term at University of Ottawa.

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Topic #1 - Schools of Psychology - I ntroduction to...

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