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The Science of Psychology

Prepared by:

Kendal May D. Baco Adrian Monterola Anna Dominique O. Quines


Psychology is a fascinating field that contains some of the most interesting inquiries you will encounter in any area you study in college. As we go along the study of psychology, you will discover that psychologists do have varied activities for it is a diverse field. This chapter basically explores the nature of psychology, explains what makes it a science, discovers the development and evolution of the field, and finds out what are the different methodologies used by psychologists.

The Nature of Psychology

The word psychology comes from the two following Greek words: PSYCHE soul or mind LOGOS to study Literally, psychology means the study of the soul or mind

Presently, psychology is defined as the scientific study of behaviour and mental processes. (Santrock, 2000) There are three important aspects given in the definition: science, behaviour and mental processes.

Psychology is recognized as a scientific discipline because it does not exercise untailored methods. Its study is carefully and precisely planned and conducted, and is often verified. Hence, psychology uses systematic methods to observe, describe, predict and control behaviour.

Whenever we see two people hugging, a baby crawling, a student eating in the cafeteria and a group of ladies giggling, these are all examples of behaviour. Thus, behaviour is defined as everything we do that can be directly observed.

Mental Processes
These are thoughts, feelings and motives that each of us experiences privately but that cannot be observed directly. Though there are a number of times we can see people in deep thought and those who are feeling deeply in love, we cannot directly see their thoughts and feelings. They include thinking about hugging someone, a babys feelings when he crawls towards his mother and the memory of a certain incident.

The Historical Beginnings of Psychology

History of Psychology
the history of thought about consciousness and conduct has its roots in ancient Greek Philosophy
Epistemology Metaphysics Religion Oriental Philosophy

the ancient Greek philosopher and scientist who surveyed the whole of human knowledge also known as the father of Psychology

Two Conceptions of Psychology

Aside from philosophy, psychologys seeds were sown from natural sciences such as biology and physiology. However, over the centuries, psychology and physiology became increasingly separated. The split developed two conceptions: phenomenological (experiential) and mechanistic (physiological). At the end of 19th century, British and German traditions were phenomenological while Freud and American traditions were mechanistic.

Wilhelm Wundt
The philosopher-physician who joined the field of philosophy and natural science to create the academic discipline of psychology. Credited with developing the first scientific laboratory in psychology; he was also known as the father of modern psychology.

Major Theorists and Pioneers

Wilhelm Wundt (1879)

Considered as the founder of the discipline of psychology Discovered the 1st Psychological Laboratory in Leipzig, Germany Studied conscious experience by examining its structure and components parts using individuals who were trained in introspection This school of psychology became known as structuralism

William James (1890)

Instrumental in establishing psychology in the U.S. Published critical text entitled Principles of Psychology Stressed on the study of the adaptive functions of behaviour
His basis of a new school of thought called functionalism

John B. Watson (1924)

Argued that psychologists, as scientists, should stick to studying observable behaviour such as how behaviour changes This is the school of psychology known as behaviourism, which was also defended by B.F. Skinner
It dominated American psychology for nearly 50 years.

Sigmund Freud (1900)

Focused on the unconscious causes of behaviour known as the psychoanalytic approach Tried to reveal the hidden causes of behaviour, which became known as psychoanalysis
PSYCHOANALYSIS: a set of techniques for exploring underlying motives and a method of treating various mental disorders

Carl Rogers (1961)

Believed that either behaviourism or psychoanalysis took into account studying humans Mans free will and his abilities to make choices are considered best by him He and Abraham Maslow emphasized every persons potential for self-development as key representative of humanism or humanistic psychology

Early Approaches to Psychology

was the first theory of psychology developed by Wundt and Titchener emphasized the importance of conscious thought and classification of the minds structure employed the method of introspection to describe mental events

William James and John Deweys theory psychologys role is to study the functions of the mind and behaviour in adapting to the environment has served as a historic link in the philosophical evolution linking the structuralist's concern with the anatomy of the mind to the concentrations of the functions of the mind

Contemporary Approaches

Behavioural Theory
Emphasizes the scientific study of behaviour and its environmental determinants. We dont do things because of an inborn motivation to be a competent person or because reward makes us feel better about ourselves, instead, we do them because of the environmental conditions we have experienced and are continuing to experience. Early proponents: Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner

Gestalt Approach
States that the people naturally organize their perceptions according to certain patterns. Gestalt (German): configuration or form The whole is not equal to the sum of the parts. Early proponents: Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler

Social Cognitive Theory

Proposed by Albert Bandura Stresses that behaviour is determined not only by its controlling environmental condition but also by how thoughts modify the impact of environment on behaviour Bandura believes that imitation is one of the main ways we learn about the world. In order to reproduce a models behaviour, we must code and store information in memory, which is a social and cognitive process.

Psychoanalytic Theory
Emphasizes the conscious aspects of the mind, conflict between biological instincts and societys demands, and early family experiences Sigmund Freud believed that unlearned biological instincts influence the way individuals think, feel and behave. These instincts, especially sexual and aggressive impulses, often conflict with the demands of society. Erik Erikson revised Freuds views; he believed that we develop through a series of personality states of human life span.

Humanistic Approach
Stresses a persons capacity for human growth, freedom to choose his/her destiny, and positive qualities Humanists: against the behaviourists point of view; believed that individuals have the ability to control their lives rather than be manipulated by the environment Personal perception of ourselves is more important than behaviour itself. Main proponents: Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow

Cognitive Approach
Emphasizes the mental process involved in knowing:
how we direct our attention, how we perceive, how we remember, and how we think and solve problems

Information Processing: a widely adopted cognitive approach; proposed by Herbert Simon; studies how individuals process information
how they attend to information, how they perceive, how they store it, how they think about it, and how they retrieve it for further use

Behavioural Neuroscience Approach

The brain and the nervous system are central to understanding behaviour, thought and emotion. Studies human brains and nerve cells in relation to the behaviour of an individual. Roger Sperry: revealed that some aspects of human behaviour are controlled more by one side of the brain than by the other.

Evolutionary Psychology Approach

Psychologys newest approach that emphasizes the importance of adaptation, reproduction, and survival of the fittest in explaining behaviour David Buss and Steven Pinker: popularized this theory; based their views on the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin

Socio-cultural Approach
Emphasizes that culture, ethnicity and gender are essential to understanding behaviour, thought and emotion One of psychologys newest lenses for examining behaviour and mental processes As the future brings increasing contact between people from quite different backgrounds, the socio-cultural approach will help expand psychologys role as a relevant discipline in the 21st century.

Psychologys Areas of Specialization

Clinical and Counselling Psychology

Most widely practiced specialization in psychology; both psychologists diagnose and treat people with psychological problems. Clinical psychologists are different from Psychiatrists. Psychiatrists have a doctor of medicine degree while Clinical Psychologists typically have a doctoral degree in psychology. Psychiatrists can prescribe drugs whereas Clinical Psychologists cannot.

Community Psychology and Experimental Psychology

Community Psychology: focuses on providing accessible care for people with psychological problems Experimental Psychology: involves areas in which psychologists often conduct basic research and use an experimental strategy

Behavioural Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology; and Developmental Psychology

Behavioural Neuroscience and Comparative Psychology: focuses on biological process, especially the brains role in behaviour
Developmental Psychology: concerned with how we become who we are, from conception to death

Social Psychology and Personality Psychology

Social Psychology: deals with peoples social interactions, relationships and social perceptions, and attitudes Personality Psychology: focuses on the relatively enduring traits and characteristics of individuals

School and Educational Psychology

Concerned with childrens learning and adjustment in school School psychologists work in elementary and secondary schools while educational psychologists work at colleges and universities.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology
Deals with the workplace, focusing on both the workers and the organizations that employ them Concerned with training employees, improving working conditions, and developing criteria for selecting employees

Psychology of Women
Emphasizes the importance of the following: promoting the research and study of women integrating information about women with current psychological knowledge and beliefs applying the information to society and its institutions

Cross-cultural Psychology and Health Psychology

Cross-cultural Psychology: examines the role of culture in understanding behaviour, thought and emotion Health Psychology: a multidimensional approach to health that emphasizes psychological factors, lifestyles, and the nature of the health care delivery system

Forensic Psychology and Sport Psychology

Forensic Psychology: applies psychological concepts to the legal system; hired by legal teams to provide input about many aspects of court trial Sport Psychology: applies psychologys principles in improving sport performance and enjoying sport participation

Scientific Research and Method used in Psychology

It is undeniable that humans and animals learn a lot from experience. However, the question of validity may be raised at this point as we often misinterpret what we see and hear. Therefore, scientific research should not be based on personal beliefs, opinions and emotions. It must be objective, systematic and testable.
The following steps involved in the scientific method approach used in discovering accurate information will be discussed in the succeeding slides.

1. Conceptualization of a Problem
This stage involves defining and studying a problem. It is important to avoid stating the problem in a vague and general term.

2. Data Collection

In collecting data, investigators choose a variety of research methods such as:

a. Observation
An important psychology research method in

To be effective, systematic and objective, observation method must be made.

May be done in a laboratory or naturalistic setting

b. Interview and Questionnaire

These involve asking individuals experiences questions about

May be done verbally or in writing

c. Case Study
An in-depth look at a single individual A method used mainly by clinical psychologists when, for either reasons, the unique aspects of an individuals life cannot be duplicated

d. Standardized Test
Requires people to answer a series of written and/or oral questions They may have two distinct features: (1) an individuals score is totalled to yield a single score, or set of scores [e.g. aptitude tests, intelligence tests and the like]; (2) the individuals score is compared with the scores of a large group of similar people to determine how the individual responded relative to others [e.g. personality tests]

e. Physiological Research
Provides insights about biological dimensions of mind and behaviour Psychologists often study animals in conducting this type of research because physiological research mostly cannot carry out and control humans genetic background, diet, experiences during infancy and countless other factors.

f. Co-relational Research
Aims to describe the strength of the relation between two or more events or characteristics, for example
Can Dating Affect Teenage Pregnancies? Is there a Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Job Performance? and many others

g. Experimental Research
Allows psychologists to determine behaviours causes Involves at least one independent variable and dependent variable Involves one or more experimental group and one or more control group(s) Another important aspect of this research is random assignment.
An example of this research will be shown in a diagram.

Example Diagram
A diagram of an Experimental Research Study about The Effects of Classroom Environment and School Performance among 1st year College Students will be presented in the following slide:

Participants 1st year College Students (Randomly assigned to experimental and control groups)
Experimental Group Disordered and noisy classroom Control Group Well managed and quiet classroom



h. Multiple Research Methods

A combination of more than one research method For instance, an experimental or corelational method and observation or physiological methods

3. Draw Conclusions
After data gathering has been done, psychologists analyze them using statistical procedures in order to understand their meaning.

4. Revise Research Conclusion and Theory

This occurs only when a number of studies produce similar results. This scientific method involves examining whether existing theories still apply.

It is always important that psychologists draw conclusions that will apply to a larger group of people (or animals) called the population than the participants they actually study. The population of 1st year nursing students is the total number of students enrolled in the 1st year level, so that would be roughly 600 students. If a researcher is studying these 600 students, it would be impractical to consider the total number of enrolees. Hence, a researcher has to extract only a sample that is a representative of an entire population. Furthermore, in choosing the right participants in the study, the researcher has to employ objectivity. Therefore, he/she has to utilize a system known as random sampling where every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected.

Thank you for listening!