Psych Exam #1

Systematic, objective study of our mental activity and our behavior. Focuses on mental activity, behavior, and brain processes

Mental activity
Lets us perceive the world. Use our senses- sight, smell, taste, hearing, touch- to take in information from outside ourselves.

All of our actions that result from sensing and interpreting information

Critical thinking
Systematically evaluate information to reach reasonable conclusions based on the evidence. There are 3 steps:
1) What am I being asked to believe or accept?
2) What evidence is provided to support the claim?
3) What are the most reasonable conclusions?

Mozart effect
Original research: research participants showed significant but temporary gains in performing one type of task after listening to a Mozart sonata for 10 minutes, compared with listening to relaxation or silence. News falsely spun this research to claim that listening to Mozart was a way to increase intelligence. Media reports are used to grab attention.

Why is studying psychology important?
Helps improve critical thinking skills and study skills (analyzing information, evaluating, and communicating about psychological concepts). Also helps develop skills that make people successful in jobs (understand how people’s thinking, social abilities, and behaviors develop over time).

Nature v. Nurture
Does thinking and behavior result from a person’s biological nature (inborn), or does thinking and behavior acquired through education, experience, and culture? Both are crucial in influencing our psychological development.

Mind/body problem
Are the mind and body separate or distinct or is the mind our own personal experience of the physical brain’s activity? Ancient Greeks and Romans knew brain was essential for normal mental functioning. Later on, scholars believed the mind was separate from and in control of the body because of the strong religious belief that humans have a divine and immortal soul.

1600s, French philosopher, Rene Descartes. Believed mind and body were separate, yet intertwined. The body was nothing more than an organic machine governed by the “reflex”. Concluded that rational mind was divine and separate from the physical body. Dualism is REJECTED today (now believe that the mind emerges from activity- information processing- in the brain.

Experimental psychology
1879, Wilhelm Wundt. Established first psychology laboratory. Reaction time, introspection. Wundt’s work investigating conscious experiences was critical to the development of psychology.

Reaction time
Wundt inferred that more complex psychological tasks would require more brain activity and would take longer than simple tasks. This is referred to as reaction time, which is the time it takes to complete a psychological task.

New method to measure people’s conscious experiences and investigate the basic parts of the conscious mind by Wundt. Research participants had to reflect and report on their thoughts about their personal experiences of objects. Example: participants would experience a series of objects and say which one they found most appealing. Wundt ultimately rejected introspection, but his student Titchener relied on this method. Wundt and Titchener helped develop a pure science of psychology with own vocabulary and set of rules.

Components of conscious mind; this school is based on the idea that conscious experience can be broken down into underlying parts. Edward Titchener believed that if psychologists could understand the basic elements of conscious experience, they would have a scientific basis for understanding the mind.

Problem with introspection
It is personal and unique to each person who is having the experience. Each of us brings to introspection a unique way of perceiving things. Researchers can’t determine whether participants in a study are using introspection in a similar way. It is mostly abandoned now because it isn’t a reliable method for understanding psychological processes across different people.

Purpose of the conscious mind; William James was the founder of functionalism. Early school of psychology concerned with the adaptive purpose, or function, or mind and behavior. He investigated the function of the conscious mind and wanted to understand how the operations of the mind help people to adapt to environmental demands. Strongly rejected structuralism because the mind’s element mattered less than the mind’s usefulness to people. Believed the mind came into existence over the course of human evolution. The mind helps humans to adapt to environmental demands.

Evolutionary theory
Natural selection aids survival. Charles Darwin, 1859, published On the Origin of Species. He studied variations in species and in individual members of species.

Natural selection
The basic units of natural selection = genes, which contain hereditary information passed from parents to offspring. Mutations sometimes occur (physically, skills, abilities) to make an individual better adapted to its environment. They are more likely to survive and reproduce than those without mutations. As the adaptive genes are passed on to more and more offspring of succeeding generations, a species will change (evolution).

Psychoanalytic theory
Unconscious conflicts, Sigmund Freud. Tried to understand the connections between psychology and physical problems. Concluded that much of human behavior is determined by mental processes operating below the level of conscious awareness. Believed that mental unconscious forces caused psychological blockages within the individual, thus producing psychological discomfort/ mental disorders.

Therapeutic approach where the therapist and patient work together to bring the contents of the patient’s unconscious into the patient’s conscious awareness. Once unconscious issues are revealed, the therapist helps the patient deal with them constructively.

Gestalt psychology
Experiencing the “whole”; developed in opposition to structuralism. Sought to understand how people perceive information. Max Wertheimer and Wolfgang Kohler. 1912, Gestalt psychologists began to explore how people experience sensory input- influenced study of vision and understanding of human personality.

Max Wertheimer
Founder of Gestalt psychology. According to this school thought, people’s experiences cannot be broken down into parts. Instead perception is unique for each person and is affected context.

Stimuli and responses. 1913, John B. Watson. Challenged the focus on conscious and unconscious mental processes as being unscientific. Believed that animals and humans learned all behaviors through environmental factors. Believed that psychologists need to study the environmental stimuli, behavioral triggers in specific situations. Behaviorism investigates the observable environmental effects on behavior. B.F. Skinner furthered Watson’s views. Evidence has proven that thought processes really do influence behavior.

Cognitive psychology
Mental activity. Later 1900s, Edward Tolman showed that animals could learn just by observation even if they were not triggered to learn by a reward in the environment. 1957, George A. Miller and Ulric Neisser launched the cognitive revolution in psychology. Cognitive psychology: reveals how we pay attention, remember, solve problems, and make decisions. This information can be used to improve our learning and our daily lives.

Social psychology
Situations shape behavior. Mid 1900s, people’s behaviors are affected by the presence of others (could be positive or negative). Focuses on the power of situations and on the way people are shaped by their interactions with others. Kurt Lewin, founded modern social psychology and pioneered the use of experimental research to investigate how people influence each other.

Behavior modifications
Can be used to train people with intellectual impairments or treat clients who are anxious and fearful.

Structuralism (2)
Wilhelm Wundt, Edward Titchener.
Goal: identify the basic parts/ structures of the conscious mind

Functionalism (2)
William James, Charles Darwin.
Goal: describe how the conscious mind aids adaptation to an environment

Psychoanalytic theory (2)
Sigmund Freud
Goal: understand how unconscious thoughts cause psychological disorders

Gestalt psychology (2)
Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler.
Goal: study subjective perceptions as a unified whole

Behaviorism (2)
John B. Watson, B.F. Skinner.
Goal: describe behavior in response to environmental stimuli

Cognitive psychology (2)
George Miller. Ulric Neisser.
Goal: explore internal mental processes that influence behavior

Social psychology (2)
Kurt Lewin.
Goal: investigate how the presence of others affects people’s thoughts and actions

Biological level of psychological analysis
How the body influences our thoughts and behaviors. Genes affect thoughts, actions, feelings and disorders and certain psychological processes are associated with activity in specific parts of the brain.
Brain systems: neuroanatomy, animal research, brain imaging are studied
Neurochemistry: neurotransmitters, hormones, animal studies, drug studies are studied
Genetics: gene mechanisms, heritability, twin and adoption studies are studied

Individual level of analysis
Focuses on individual differences in personality and mental processes that affect perception and understanding. Ex: listening to music can change people’s moods and makes their feelings more intense.
Individual differences: personality, gender, developmental age groups, self-concept are studied
Perception and cognition: thinking, decision making, language, attention, memory, vision are studied
Behavior: observable actions, responses, physical movements are studied

Social level of analysis
Investigates how groups affect people’s interactions and people’s influence on each other.
Interpersonal behavior: groups, relationships, persuasion, influence, workplace interactions are studied
Social cognition: attitudes, stereotypes, perceptions are studied

Cultural level of analysis
Thoughts, actions, behaviors in different societies and cultural groups: norms, beliefs, values, symbols and ethnicity are studied

Where do the majority of psychologists work?
Universities and four-year colleges (35%)

What kind of psychology doctoral degrees were awarded the most for the 2007 academic school year?
Clinical (54.6%)

Biological psychology
Study how biological systems give rise to mental activity

Cognitive psychology/ neuroscience
Study attention, perception, memory, problem solving and language, often based on brain processes

Developmental psychology
Study how people change from infancy to old age

Personality psychology
Study enduring characteristics that people display over time and across circumstances

Cultural psychology
Study how people are influenced by the societal rules that dictate behavior in their cultures

Clinical psychology
Study the factors that cause psychological disorders and the best methods to treat them

Industrial/ organizational psychology
Study issues pertaining to industry and the workplace

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
Guardians of ethical guidelines at schools where research is conducted. These boards consist of administrators, legal advisers, trained scholars, and members of the community. Members review all proposed research to ensure it meets scientific standards.

5 issues to be addressed for research to be ethical
1) Privacy. Researchers must respect a participants’ privacy. It isn’t ethical to observe private behaviors without people’s knowledge.
2) Confidentiality. Participant’s information must be kept secret which prevents linking the study’s findings to the actual participants.
3) Informed consent (usually in writing). People must be told about the research and they choose whether they want to participate or not.
4) Deception. May be used to mislead participants about the study as not to alter the experiment. If used, once the study is complete then the researchers must inform the participants of the study’s goals and explain why deception was necessary.
5) Risks. Researchers cannot ask participants to endure unreasonable pain/ discomfort. They can ask them to expose themselves to some risk to obtain important findings.

Psychologists gain accurate knowledge about behavior and mental processes only by observing the world and measuring various aspects of it. Psychologists use empiricism to investigate psychological topics by following scientific method

Scientific method
Systematic procedure of observing and measuring phenomena (observable things) to answer questions about what happens, when it happens, what causes it, and why. This process involves a dynamic interaction between theories, hypotheses and research methods.

Theory (first step in scientific method)
A model of interconnected ideas or concepts that explains what is observed and makes predictions about future events

Hypothesis (second step in scientific method)
A specific prediction of what should be observed if a theory is correct

Testing hypothesis (third step)
Descriptive, correlational, and experimental research methods can help test your research question.

Analyze data (fourth step)
Summarize the raw data using descriptive statistics. Then use inferential statistics to determine whether differences really exist between sets of numbers in descriptive statistics.

Report results (fifth step)
Submit results to research journals journals. Continue the process by refining your theory, making further predictions, and testing hypotheses.

Descriptive methods
A research method that provides a systematic and objective description of what is occurring. Used if the goal of your research is describing behavior.

Observational studies
Specific type of descriptive method which involves systematically assessing behavior by observing and classifying it, either with intervention by the observer or without intervention by the observer.

The presence of an observer may alter the behavior being observed, which may not reflect how people naturally behave. Hawthorne Effect is an example: being observed can lead participants to change their behavior, because people often act in particular ways to make positive impressions.

Different descriptive method obtained from research participants. Questionnaires, surveys, interviews can be used for self-reports which are easy to administer, cost effective, and quick to collect data. Common problem = self report bias & not recall accurate information

Case studies
Descriptive research method that involves intensive examination of one person or organization or a few individuals or organizations. Advantages: can provide a lot of data. Disadvantages: can be subjective, biased, results cannot be generalized from a single case study to the population

Correlational methods
Help us understand whether two factors are associated and what their relationship is. They examine how variables are related, without intervention by the observer. Advantages: rely on naturally occurring relationships, take place in real world setting. Disadvantages: correlation study cannot demonstrate the cause of a relationship, cannot show cause and effect, an unidentified variable may be involved

Experimental methods
A research method that tests causal hypotheses by manipulating independent variables and measuring the effects on dependent variables (to determine whether one factor causes the other). Advantages: provide control over independent variables to demonstrate that one thing causes another. Disadvantages: varying something other than the independent variable can affect the dependent variable & lead to inaccurate conclusions.

Independent variable
In an experiment, the variable that the experimenter manipulates to examine its impact on the dependent variable; in control of experimenter who manipulates what the participant does, sees, experiences, is exposed to

Dependent variable
In an experiment, the variable that is affected by the manipulation of the independent variable; depends on what the participant does, the experimenter measures only what the participant does

Control group
In an experiment, a comparison group of participants that receives no intervention or receives an intervention that is unrelated to the independent variable being investigated

Experimental group
In an experiment, one or more treatment groups of participants that receive the intervention of the independent variable being investigated

Anything that affects a dependent variable and that may unintentionally vary between the study’s different experimental conditions

Random assignments
Placing research participants into the conditions of an experiment in such a way (randomly) that each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any level of the independent variable. Removes confounds

Random sample
A sample that fairly represents the population because each member of the population had an equal chance of being included because they are randomly selected

This is the group you want to know about, ex: college students

Nervous system
Network of billions of cells in the brain and the body, responsible for all aspects of what we feel, think and do

Central nervous system
The part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and the spinal cord

Peripheral nervous system
The part of the nervous system that enables nerves to connect the central nervous system with the muscles, organs and glands

The basic units of the nervous system; cells that receive, integrate, and transmit information in the nervous system. Neurons operate through electrical impulses, communicate with other neurons through chemical signals and form neural networks. AKA human nerve cell

Neuron structure
Messages are received by dendrites, processed in the cell body, transmitted along the axon and sent to other neurons via chemical substances released from the terminal buttons to the dendrites of the receiving neuron.

Short, branchlike extensions that detect signals from neighboring neurons

Cell body
Part of the neuron where information from thousands of other neurons is collected and integrated

A long narrow outgrowth of a neuron that enables the neuron to transmit information to other neurons

The site where communication occurs between neurons through neurotransmitters

Action potential
The neural impulse that travels along the axon and then causes the release of neurotransmitters into the synapse

Starts with presynaptic neuron. Neural communication begins when there is enough stimulation in in the presynaptic neuron to create an action potential. The action potential travels quickly down he myelinated axon to the terminal buttons

The action potential causes chemicals called neurotransmitters to be released from the terminal buttons at the axon. The neurotransmitters cross the synapse and fit into receptors in the dendrites of the postsynaptic neuron.

Each neurotransmitter has either excitatory or inhibitory effects on the postsynaptic neuron. These effects are summed together in the cell body. If there’s enough activation, it will lead to another action potential. At that point, the process will begin again with Step 1 in a new neuron.

Chemical substances that carry signals from one neuron to another.

Specialized molecules that specifically respond to certain types of neurotransmitters

Excitatory signal
Excite the neuron, increasing the likelihood that it will fire

Inhibitory signal
Inhibit the neuron, decreasing the likelihood that it will fire

Drugs that enhance the actions of neurotransmitters

Drugs that inhibit the actions of neurotransmitters

Functions: motor control over muscles, attention, memory, learning, and sleeping

Function: energy

Function: arousal and alertness

Function: emotional states and impulse control, dreaming

Function: reward and motivation, motor control over voluntary movement

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)
Function: inhibition of action potential, anxiety reduction, intoxication (through alcohol)

Function: enhancement of action potentials, learning and memory

Function: pain reliever, reward

Each region of the skull is associated with a different feature of personality to reflect processes; practice of assessing personality traits and mental abilities by measuring bumps on the human skull

Sold to the public and claimed to do the work of a psychoanalyst by showing your talents, abilities, strong and weak traits, without prejudice or flattery.

Broca’s area
A small portion of the left frontal region of the brain; this area is crucial for producing speech

Electroencephalograph (EEG)
Measurement of electrical activity in different parts of the brain and the recording of such activity as a visual trace

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Technique measures changes in the blood’s oxygen level. These changes enable the researchers to assess the brain’s blood flow. They can then map the working brain.

Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
Technique uses a very fast and powerful magnetic field to disrupt activity in a specific brain region

Controls breathing, heart rate, other survival mechanisms (found in hindbrain)

Controls motor learning, movement, coordination, balance (found in hindbrain)

Substantia nigra
Controls initiation of voluntary motor activity (found in midbrain)

Controls sensory information, except smell (found in forebrain/ subcortical structures)

Controls formation of new memories (found in forebrain/ subcortical structures)

Controls association of emotions with experiences (found in forebrain/ subcortical structures)

Basal ganglia
Controls motor planning and movement, reward (found in forebrain/ subcortical structures)

Occipital lobes
Controls vision (found in forebrain, cortical structures)

Parietal lobes
Controls touch, spatial information (found in forebrain, cortical structures); labor is divided between left and right cerebral hemispheres where the information received by the hemispheres is reversed: the left hemisphere receives touch info from the right side of the body, the right hemisphere receives touch info from the left side of the body. Sensory info is directed to the primary somatosensory cortex

Primary somatosensory cortex
Strip of brain matter in the front part of the lobe, running from the top of the brain down the sides; touch info from one body part registers in the cortex near regions where touch info is registered from nearby body parts; classic representation of this area is like a distorted version of the entire body

Temporal lobes
Controls hearing, memory (found in forebrain, cortical structures)

Frontal lobes
Controls planning, movement, complex thought (found in forebrain, cortical structures)

Spinal cord
Brain-body communication; lower part of the brain contains structures that are essential for survival which control breathing, heartbeat, swallowing and moving

Corpus callosum
The fibrous structure connects the two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex

Prefrontal cortex
Takes up about 30% of brain; critical for rational thought and for many aspects of human social life; provides sense of self and our capacity to empathize with others

Phineas Gage (1848)
Dropped a tool that was over a yard long and an inch in diameter. Iron rod hit a rock, igniting some blasting power. The explosion drove the rod into his cheek, through his frontal lobes, and out through the top of his head. He was still conscious and was able to walk. Physically, he recovered but caused major personality changes.

Somatic nervous system
Part of the peripheral nervous system; this part transmits sensory signals and motor signals between the central nervous system and the skin, muscles and joints

Autonomic nervous system
Part of the peripheral nervous system; this part transmits sensory signals and motor signals between the central nervous system and the body’s glands and internal organs

Sympathetic nervous system
Part of autonomic nervous system; prepares body for action. Pupils dilate, respiration increases, heart rate increases, digestion decreases

Parasympathetic nervous system
Part of autonomic nervous system; returns the body to a resting state. Pupils contract, respiration decreases, heart rate decreases, digestion increases

Endocrine system
Communication system that uses hormones to influence thoughts and actions

Chemical substances, released from endocrine glands, that travel through the bloodstream to targeted tissues; the tissues are later influenced by hormones

Major endocrine glands
The glands in the endocrine system work with the nervous system by releasing chemicals that influence thinking and behavior

Governs bodily rhythms

Governs release of hormones

Controls how body burns energy

Governs immune system

Ovaries and testes
Influence sexual development and sexual behavior

Units of heredity which partially determine an organism’s characteristics

Genetic makeup. Genotype is set at the moment of conception and never changes

Observable physical and psychological characteristics. These factors are influenced in part by genotype and also the environment (phenotype can change)

Monozygotic twins
IDENTICAL twins. These siblings result from one zygote splitting in two, so they share the same genes

Dizygotic twins
FRATERNAL twins. These siblings result from two separately fertilized eggs, so they are no more similar genetically than non-twin siblings are

Property of the brain that causes it to change through experience, drugs or injury

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