CHAPTER 1: Foundation of the study of Psychology
psychology: the science of behavior and the mind
behavior: refers to the observable actions of a person or an animal
mind: refers to an individuals sensations, perceptions, memories, thoughts, dreams, motives, emotional feelings, and other
subjective experiences. It also refers to all of the unconscious knowledge and operating rules that are built into or stored in
the brain, and that provide the foundation for organizing behavior and conscious experience
science: refers to all attempts to answer questions through the systematic collection and logical analysis of objectively
observable behavior, because behavior is directly observable and mind is not.
1879 – Willhelm Wundt opened the first university-based psychology laboratory
Ideas of psychology before seen as a scientific discipline:
Behavior and mental experiences have physical causes, so they are amenable to scientific analysis.
The way a person behaves, thinks, and feels is modified, over time, by the person’s experiences in his or her
The body’s machinery, which produces behavior and mental experiences, is a product of evolution by natural
Philosophy was tightly bound to religion through the seventeenth century. The church maintained that each human being
consists of two distinct but intimately conjoined entities, a material body and an immaterial soul – a view referred to today
as dualism. Thought that the soul could not be studied scientifically: the accepted religious doctrine.
Rene Descartes (1596-1650)
Descartes speculations, in the seventeenth century, about reflexes and the interaction of the body and soul in
controlling voluntary actions were an important step towards a scientific analysis of human behavior. (Treatise of
Man and The Passions of the Soul)
He believed that even quite complex behaviors can occur through purely mechanical means, without involvement
of the soul.
He contended that non-human animals do not have souls any activity performed by humans that non-human
animals can perform, in theory occur without the soul.
Thought – conscious deliberation and judgment
Thomas Hobbes and the Philosophy of Materialism:
Wrote Leviathan, and shorter work called Human Nature. Hobbes argued that spirit, or soul, is meaningless
concept and that nothing exists but matter and energy, a philosophy now known as materialism. In Hobbes view,
all human behavior, including the seemingly voluntary choices we make, can in theory be understood in terms of
physical processes in the body, especially the brain. Conscious thought, he maintained, is purely a product of the
brain’s machinery and therefore subject to natural law.