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AP Psychology

Prologue: The study of Psychology

Psychology – The scientific study of mental processes and behavior.

- Behavior is anything which an organism does. Sensations dreams, feelings, emotions are known as mental process.

Prescientific Psychology

– In India, Buddha wondered how sensations and perceptions combined to form ideas.
– In China, Confucius stressed the power of ideas and of an educated mind.
– Hebrew scripture links mind and emotion to the body.
– Socrates and his student Plato believed the mind was separate from the body, the mind continued to exist
after death, and ideas were innate.
– Aristotle suggested that the soul is not separable from the body and that knowledge (ideas) grow from
– Rene Descartes, like Plato, believed in soul (mind) body separation, but wondered how the immaterial
mind and physical body communicated.
– Francis Bacon is one of the founders of modern science, particularly the experimental method.
– John Locke held that the mind was blank sheet, at birth, and experiences wrote on it.

Empiricism – the view that knowledge comes from experience via the senses and science flourishes through
observation and experiment.

Psychological science is born

Structuralism - An early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the elemental structure of the
human mind.
– Wilheim Wundt administrated the first psychology experiments by calculating individual time of response
to simple tasks, he also established the first psychology lab in Germany.
– Edward Bradford Titchner joined the Cornell University faculty and introduced structuralism which tried to
figure individual’s thoughts and elements by having the individual report how they feel about an object it
was very unreliable.
– Wundt and Titchner studied the elements (atoms) of the mind by conducting experiments at Leipzig,
Germany in 1879.

Functionalism – a school of psychology that focused on how mental and behavioral processes function – how they
enable the organism to adapt, survive and flourish.
– Influenced by Darwin, William James established the school of functionalism, which
opposed structuralism.
– James believed that “consciousness served as a function”.
– Revealed that memories would reveal our present actions.
– Mary Calkins became the president of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) first female
president in 1905.

Psychological science develops

– Wundt was both a philosopher and a physiologist.
– James was an American philosopher.
– Ivan Pavlov, who pioneered the study of learning, was a Russian physiologist.
– Sigmund Freud, who developed an influential theory of personality, was an Austrian physician.
– Jean Piaget, the last century’s most influential observer of children, was a Swiss biologist.
– This list of pioneering psychologists – “Magellans of the mind,” as Morton Hunt has called them –
illustrates psychology’s origins in many disciplines and countries.
– Until the 1920’s, psychology is defined as “the science of mental life”
– 1920s- John B. Watson and B.F Skinner labeled psychology “scientific study of observable behavior.
– 1960s- Care Rogers and Abraham Maslow emphasized the importance of current environmental influences
on our growth potential, and the importance of meeting our needs for love and acceptance.
– Cognitive revolution supported ideas developed by earlier psychologists, such as the importance of
considering internal thought processes, but it expanded upon those ideas to explore scientifically the way
we perceive, process, and remember information.

Humanistic psychology– Historical significant perspective that emphasized the growth potential of healthy people
used personalized methods to study personality in hopes of fostering personal growth.

Contemporary Psychology
– The American Psychological Association is the largest organization of psychology with
160,000 members world‐wide, followed by The British Psychological Society with
34,000 members.

Psychology’s big debate – Nurture V.S Nature

– Nature-Nurture issue – the longstanding controversy over the relative
contributions that genes and experience make to the development of psychological
traits and behaviors.
– Darwin stated that nature selects those that best enable the organism to survive and
reproduce in a particular environment.
– Plato – Assumed that character and intelligence are largely inherited and that certain
ideas are also unborn.
– Aristotle – countered that there is nothing in the mind that does not first come in
from the external world through the senses.
– Locke – Mind is blank sheet. Environmentally influenced.
– Descartes – Believe that some ideas are innate.
– Charles Darwin – Argued that natural selection shapes behaviors as well as bodies.

Natural Selection – The principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those
contributing to reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding

Psychology’s three main levels of analysis.

Levels of analysis– The differing complementary views, from biological to psychological to

social-cultural, for analyzing any giving phenomenon.
Biopsychosocial approach– An integrated perspective that incorporates biological,
psychological, and social-cultural levels of analysis.

Psychology’s Current Perspectives

Focus Sample Questions

Neuroscience How the body and brain How are messages
enables emotions? transmitted in the body? How
is blood chemistry linked
with moods and motives?
Evolutionary How the natural selection of How does evolution influence
traits promotes the behavior tendencies?
perpetuation of one’s genes?
Behavior genetics How much do our genes and To what extent are
our environments influence psychological traits such as

our individual differences? intelligence, personality,
sexual orientation, and
vulnerability to depression
attributable to our genes? To
our environment?
Psychodynamic How behavior springs from How can someone’s
unconscious drives and personality traits and
conflicts? disorders be explained in
terms of sexual and
aggressive drives or as
disguised effects of
unfulfilled wishes and
childhood traumas?
Behavioral How we learn observable How do we learn to fear
responses? particular objects or
situations? What is the most
effective way to alter our
behavior, say to lose weight
or quit smoking?
Cognitive How we encode, process, How do we use information
store and retrieve in remembering? Reasoning?
information? Problem solving?
Social‐cultural How behavior and thinking How are we — as Africans,
vary across situations and Asians, Australians or North
cultures? Americans – alike as
members of human family?
As products of different
environmental contexts, how
do we differ?

Different perspectives
– Neuroscience – body and brain enabling sensory experience and memories
– Evolutionary – Traits influence behavior through natural selection
– Behavior Genetics- Genes and environmental influences
– Psychodynamic – Unconscious conflicts spurs behavior
– Behavioral – Observe responses
– Cognitive – Process, store and retrieve information
– Social- Cultural – Behavior caries within different cultures

Psychology’s subfields
– Biological psychologist – links between brain and mind
– Developmental psychologist – abilities from birth to death
– Cognitive – How do we think? Solve problems?
– Personality – Traits
– Social – Viewing and affecting each other

Basic research – Pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base.
Applied research – Scientific study that aims to solve practical problems.

– Clinical psychology – a branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats
people with psychological disorders.
– Counseling psychology – a branch of psychology that assist people with problems
in living (often related to school, work or marriage) and in achieving greater well-
Psychiatry – A branch of medicine dealing with psychological disorders; practiced by
physicians who sometimes provide medical (for example, drug) treatments as well as
psychological therapy.

Psychologist What she does

Clinical Studies, assesses, and treats people with
psychological disorders
Counseling Helps people cope with academic,
vocational, and marital challenges.
Educational Studies and helps individuals in school and
educational settings
Industrial/ Studies and advises on behavior in the

Clinical Psychology vs. Psychiatry

A clinical psychologist (Ph.D.) studies, assesses, and treats troubled people with

Psychiatrists on the other hand are medical professionals (M.D.) who use treatments like
drugs and psychotherapy to treat psychologically diseased patients.

Close up – Your study of psychology

Survey, Question, Read, Review, and Reflect (SQ3R)
– Survey: What you are about to read, including chapter outlines and section heads.
– Question: Ask questions. Make notes.
– Read: Make sure you read outlines, sections and chapters in entirety.
– Review: Margin definitions. Study learning outcomes.
– Reflect: On what you learn. Test yourself with quizzes.

Additional study tips

– Distribute your time.
– Listen actively in class.
– Over learn.
– Be a smart test‐taker.