Gazzaniga • Heatherton • Halpern
Psychological Science
Chapter 1
The Science of Psychology
©2013 W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
1.1 Why Study Psychology?
Learning Objectives
• Identify the goals of psychological science
• Provide examples of psychology’s relevance to
real-life contexts
• Define critical thinking
Psychology is about You and about Us
• Psychology is the most popular major at many
colleges and universities
• Psychology is personally relevant
• Psychology is relevant to us all
Psychologists Explain Human Behaviors
in Real Life Contexts
• Most people are interested in figuring out
others’ behavior
• Psychological science: The study of mind,
brain, and behavior
• Goals of psychology: Understand mental
activity, social interactions, and how people
acquire behavior
“Joy of Giving”
Is it really more rewarding to give than to receive? As this
ScienCentral News video reports, brain imaging research is
unwrapping what’s behind the joy of giving.
Featuring: Michele Rogers, East Islip, NY; Lenox Holligan,
Riverdale, GA; Jordan Grafman, National Institutes of
Surprising Results
• Question:
Isn’t psychology just common sense?
• Participants who held a cup of hot coffee
rated another person as “warmer” and less
selfish than did those who held a cup of iced
coffee (Williams & Bargh, 2008)
• Our psychological processes can surprise us
Psychological Knowledge is Used
In Many Professions
• Some students devote their lives to studying
mind, brain, and behavior
• Many professions require a knowledge of
• Opportunities for people with graduate
degrees in psychology are expected to grow
approximately 12 percent between now and
2018 (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2009)
Psychological Science
Teaches Critical Thinking
• Humans are intuitive psychologists
• Can people intuitively know if claims related
to psychology are fact or fiction?
• Critical thinking: Systematically evaluating
information to reach reasonable conclusions
How Critical Thinking Works
• Researchers found listening to Mozart led
research participants to score higher on a test
related to intelligence (Rauscher, Shaw, & Ky,
• Subsequent research largely failed to get the
same results
• A review of studies testing the Mozart effect
showed that listening to Mozart is unlikely to
increase intelligence (Chabris, 1999)
1.2 What Are the Scientific
Foundations of Psychology?
Learning Objectives
• Trace the development of psychology since its
formal inception in 1879
• Define the nature/nurture debate and the
mind/body problem
• Identify the major schools of thought that
have characterized the history of
experimental psychology
What Are the
Scientific Foundations of Psychology?
• Psychology originated in philosophy
• Chinese/Muslim philosophers and scientists
speculated about human behavior
• In nineteenth-century Europe, psychology
emerged as a scientific discipline
• Development of schools of thought
The Nature/Nurture Debate
Has a Long History
• Ancient Greek philosophers Aristotle and
Plato debated the source of human
• Nature/nurture debate: Is individual
psychology innate or is it a cultural
• Received view today: Nature and nurture
influence each other and are inseparable
“Snakes on the Brain”
New research by psychologists suggests we’re born ready
to look for snakes. As this ScienCentral News video
reports, a series of experiments showed that people—
even toddlers—tend to recognize and locate a snake faster
than they recognize and locate other plants and animals.
Featuring: Judy DeLoache, University of Virginia
“Risky Brain”
Animals often sense danger in advance, and instinct that
scientists say humans lack. But one researcher says he’s
identified a region in the human brain that may serve as our
own version of an early warning system. This ScienCentral
News video has more.
Featuring: Joshua Brown, Washington University
The Mind/Body Problem
Also Has Ancient Roots
• Mind/body problem: Are the mind and body
separate and distinct?
• Early scholars: The mind is entirely separate from
and in control of the body
• 1500s: Leonardo da Vinci challenged this doctrine
• 1600s: Cartesian dualism suggested body and
mind were indeed separate but that some mental
functions resulted from bodily functions
Experimental Psychology
Began With Introspection
• Early 1800s: John Stuart Mill argued Psychology
should be a science of observation and of
• 1879: Wilhelm Wundt established the first
psychology laboratory
• Laboratories were established throughout Europe,
Canada, and the United States
• Developed the method of introspection
Introspection and Other Methods
Led to Structuralism
• Edward Titchener: Pioneered a school of thought
that became known as structuralism
• Conscious experience can be broken down into its
basic underlying components
• Used introspection to study consciousness
• Problems with introspection: Experience is
subjective; reporting of the experience changes
the experience
Functionalism Addressed
the Purpose of Behavior
• William James: physiologist, philosopher
• Argued the mind consisted of a stream of consciousness
that could not be frozen in time, broken down and
• Functionalism: Psychologists ought to examine the
functions served by the mind
• The mind developed over the course of human evolution
because it is useful for preserving life
• The mind helps humans adapt to environmental demands
Evolution, Adaptation And Behavior
• James was influenced by Charles Darwin’s evolutionary
• Adaptation: As randomly mutated genes are passed
along from generation to generation, species change
over time
• Natural selection: Mutations that facilitate survival and
reproduction are passed along
• Survival of the fittest: Species that are better adapted
to their environments will survive and reproduce
• Functionalists argued that behavior serves a purpose
(has a function)
Gestalt Psychology Emphasized
Patterns and Context In Learning
• Founded by Max Wertheimer in 1912
• Gestalt theory: The whole of conscious
experience is different from the sum of its
• The perception of objects is subjective and
dependent on context
• Influenced the study of vision and human
Women Have Helped Shape the Field
• Mary Whiton Calkins
– Studied with William James at Harvard
– Harvard denied her the Ph.D.
– First woman president of the American
Psychological Association
• Margaret Floy Washburn
– Studied with Edward Titchener at Cornell
– First woman to be officially granted a Ph.D. (Cornell,
– Second woman president of the American
Psychological Association
Freud Emphasized the
Power of the Unconscious
• Sigmund Freud: Much of human behavior is
determined by mental processes operating
below the level of awareness
• Introduced the notion of the unconscious
• Unconscious mental forces can produce
psychological discomfort/disorders
• Developed psychoanalysis
Behaviorism Studied
Environmental Forces
• John B. Watson challenged psychology’s focus on conscious
and unconscious mental processes
– Developed behaviorism: focus on how observable
environmental stimuli affect behavioral responses
– Believed all behaviors are learned (nurture)
• B. F. Skinner took up the mantle of behaviorism
– Research emphasized how behavior is shaped by the
consequences that follow them
– Skinner argued that mental processes were of no scientific value
in explaining behavior
– Controversial book Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971)
• Behaviorism dominated Psychology into the 1960s
Cognitive Approaches
Emphasized Mental Activity
• Studies showed that the simple laws of behaviorism
could not explain all learning
• George A. Miller (1957) launches the cognitive
• Cognitive psychology: the study of how people think,
learn, and remember
• Computers led to information processing theories
• 1980s: Cognitive psychologists joined forces with
neuroscientists, computer scientists, and philosophers
• 1990s: emergence of cognitive neuroscience
Social Psychology Studies
How Situations Shape Behavior
• Mid-twentieth century: increased interest in
understanding how behavior is affected by the
presence of others
• Pioneering researchers: Floyd Allport, Solomon Asch,
Kurt Lewin
• Emphasized a scientific, experimental approach to
understanding how people are influenced by others
• Social psychology: focuses on the power of situation
and on the way people are shaped through their
interactions with others
Science Informs Psychological Therapy
• Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow pioneered a
humanistic approach to the treatment of psychological
• Behaviorism gave rise to therapies designed to modify
• Aaron T. Beck developed cognitive therapies to correct
faulty thoughts/beliefs
• Drugs treat conditions by altering brain physiology
• Advancements in understanding the biological and
environmental bases of psychological disorders are
leading to effective treatments
1.3 What Are the Latest
Developments in Psychology?
Learning Objectives
• Identify recent developments in psychological
• Distinguish between subfields of psychology
Biology Is Increasingly Important
• The last three decades have seen tremendous
growth in our understanding of the biological
bases of mental activities
• For the first time in the history of the
discipline, the full power of biology is being
used to explain psychological phenomena
Brain Chemistry
• Progress has been made in understanding brain
• We now know that hundreds of substances play
critical roles in mental activity and behavior, not
just a few
“Sweets for Stress”
Ever find yourself reaching for the candy drawer when things
get hectic? Now scientists say our instincts might be right.
Sweets may be a natural stress reducer. This ScienCentral
News video has more.
Featuring: Leanne Mercadente, candy shopper; Mika De
Young, candy shopper; Yvonne Ulrich-Lai, neurobiologist;
James Herman, University of Cincinnati
• Progress in understanding the neural basis of
mental life has been rapid and dramatic
• Localization of function: Some brain areas are
important for specific feelings, thoughts, and
• Many brain regions work together to produce
behavior and mental activity
The Human Genome
• Genetic researchers have mapped the human genome,
the basic genetic code, or blueprint, for the human
• For psychologists, this map represents the
foundational knowledge for studying how specific
genes affect thoughts, actions, feelings, and disorders
• By identifying the genes underpinning mental activity
and disorders, researchers may be able to develop
therapies based on genetic manipulation
Evolution is Increasingly Important
• The human mind has been shaped by
• Modern evolutionary theory has only recently
begun to inform psychology
• The brain adapts biologically
• The mind adapts to cultural influences
Solving Adaptive Problems
• Evolutionary theory is useful for considering whether
behaviors and physical mechanisms are adaptive
• Humans may have “cheater detectors” (Cosmides &
Tooby, 2000)
• Visual cliff: Infants won’t crawl over the cliff, even if their
mothers are standing on the other side encouraging them
to do so
• Adaptive mechanisms enhance our chances of survival
Our Evolutionary Heritage
• To understand our current behavior (adaptive and
maladaptive), we need to understand the challenges our
early ancestors faced
• Modern humans (Homo sapiens) can be traced back
100,000 years, to the Pleistocene era
• Many of our current behaviors reflect our evolutionary
heritage, some of which may now be maladaptive
(e.g., the preference for sweet, fatty foods, which can
lead to obesity)
• Some behaviors do not reflect our evolutionary
heritage (e.g., driving, reading books)
Culture Provides Adaptive Solutions
• Social interaction gives rise to culture, which is
transmitted from one generation to the next through
• Culture affects thought and behavior (e.g., music/food
preferences, ways of expressing emotion, tolerance of
body odors)
• Cultural “rules” reflect adaptive solutions worked out by
previous generations
• Cultural neuroscience studies the ways that cultural
variables affect the brain, the mind, genes, and behavior
Psychology Science
Now Crosses Levels of Analysis
• Researchers can explain behavior at many
levels of analysis
• Four common levels:
biological level of analysis
individual level of analysis
social level of analysis
cultural level of analysis
• Example: Listening to music can be studied at all
“Ear Ringing”
Researchers are closing in on a condition that has a familiar
ring for millions of people who have suffered inner ear
damage from exposure to loud noise. As this ScienCentral
News video reports, the trouble could be in their heads.
Featuring: David Sorensen, tinnitus sufferer; Steven
Potashner, University of Connecticut
Subfields In Psychology Focus On
Different Levels of Analysis
• A psychologist is someone whose career involves
predicting behavior or understanding mental life
• Psychologists work in many different settings
• Beyond the major settings, psychologists pursue
many more specialties and research areas:
– forensic psychologists
– sports psychologists
– health psychologists

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