Basic psychology

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Welcome to Basic Psychology, This unit aims to prepare you for an advanced psychology course, such as Introduction to Psychology or Advanced Psychology.

Objectives[edit]

By the end of this unit, the student will be able to:

  • Describe Psychology briefly, identify notable psychologists, and describe key experiments.
  • Appreciate the importance of psychological principles as they apply to everyday life.
  • Understand how ethics play an important role in many sciences, and briefly describe ethics.
  • Understand, evaluate and give detailed descriptions of social behaviors.
  • Understand how and why the brain, central and peripheral nervous systems, and human development works.
  • Understand how other animals differ from humans psychologically.

Course outline[edit]

  • Introduction to Psychology as a science

Lecture Quiz (Un-assessed)

  • Ethics in Psychology

Assessment Piece (Essay on Ethics)

  • Social Psychology
    1. Introduction to social behavior
    2. Behavior in groups

Assessment Piece (Empirical Research Activity)

  • Human Development
  • The Brain and Nervous System
    1. Central Nervous System
    2. Peripheral Nervous System

Assessment Piece (Essay on brain, or nervous systems)

  • Behavior of animals (other than humans)

Course completion[edit]

Requires a mark of 64% or higher, (determined by scores in assessment pieces, and the final test.)

Lecture One: a brief Introduction to Psychology[edit]

Why do people feel, think, and act the way they do? For over a century psychologists have been searching for an answer to this question. This lecture serves as a very general introduction to the field. For this lecture, we will use "Donna - an autistic lady", as an example.

Defining Psychology[edit]

Psychology (Ancient Greek, psyche = soul and logos = word) is the scientific study of human and animal behavior and mental processes. People with different approaches view Psychology in different ways; for example, a humanistic approach views Psychology in terms of helping others, whereas an objectivist approach views Psychology as discovering the laws that govern human behavior. Many people study Psychology to pursue a career as a Clinical or Counseling Psychologist and they might see psychology as helping those with mental problems (e.g. Donna's Autism), or helping a student overcome test anxiety. Though Psychology may be defined in many different ways, it is useful for understanding the profession of Psychology to agree on one standard definition: In this textbook, "Psychology is the systematic, scientific study of behavior and mental and physiological processes."

Goals of Psychology[edit]

If you were a psychologist, studying "Donna's" behavior, you would have four main goals in mind. You would want to, describe, explain, predict and control her behavior.

  1. Describe:
    1. The first goal of psychology is to describe the different ways that organisms or in this case Donna behave.
        1. As psychologists become able to describe behavior, it is easier for them to understand and explain the behavior. This brings us to the next goal;
  2. Explain:
      1. The second goal of psychology is to explain the causes of that behavior
        1. Being able to describe and explain behavior helps a psychologist to ultimately control the behavior.
  3. Predict:
    1. The third goal of psychology is to predict what behavior will come next in certain situations
      1. Predicting a behavior is hard, unless the behavior has already been studied
        1. A psychologist can attempt to predict a behavior simply using past instances of that behavior.
  4. Control:
      1. The fourth goal (though sometimes unnecessary) is to Control an organism's or in our example Donna's behavior but counseling and clinical psychologists try to do this with psychotherapy. Experimental and Behavioral oriented psychologists use reinforcement and punishment to control behavior.
      2. Controlling behavior of those with disorders can be very difficult but yet behavioral change is the work of clinical and counseling psychologists.
        1. for some situations, an experimental psychologists may use drugs on an animal, etc.
        2. for some situations, a recommendation from a psychologist for other forms of control may be necessary and carried out by other professionals (i.e. removal by school personnel of a child with behavioral disorders from a classroom; hospitalization by a psychiatrist to control for suicidal behavior, continued imprisonment by legal authorities for those apt to continue committing crimes, etc).