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Introduction to Psychology

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Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Lesson 3
Wilhelm Wundt, in Germany, established the foundations of modern psychology in 1879. He wanted to study, experimentally,
the conscious experience of individuals. As discussed earlier, the different schools of thought gradually emerged after psychology
took this scientific turn. These schools were basically different ways of observation, description, understanding, and prediction of
psychological phenomena; in the present context, mental processes and behavior
Earlier Schools Of Thought
The earlier schools that paved the way for further developments in modern psychology were
Structuralism: focused on studying the conscious experience by looking into its individual parts or
Functionalism: focused on what the mind does and how it does.
Gestalt psychology: focused on studying the whole experience of a person rather than breaking it
into individual components.
Psychodynamic School: focuses on the unconscious forces that drive/ motivate human behavior.
Behaviorist / Behavioral School: focuses on studying the behavior that is observable and overt.
Prevalent Approaches / Models / Perspectives
At present some of the earlier approaches still exist. Psychologists belonging to these sets of theories have
contributed a lot to the body of psychological knowledge and practice.
Today, we can see at least six approaches or models of dealing with the psychological phenomena.
Biological Approach
The psychological model that views behavior from the perspective of biological functioning. The role of
brain, genes, neurotransmitters, endocrine glands etc. How the individual nerve cells are joined together,
how the inheritance of certain characteristics from parents and other ancestors influences behavior, how the
functioning of the body affects hopes and fears, what behaviors are due to instincts, and so on.
Psychologists using the biological model view even more complex kinds of behaviors such as emotional
responses e.g. anxiety, as having critical biological components.
Psychodynamic Approach
The approach that concentrates on the belief that behavior is motivated by the inner forces, over which
individuals have little control. Founded by the Viennese physician Sigmund Freud in early 1900s,
proponents of psychodynamic perspective give importance to the inner unconscious experiences and the
forces that led that behavior. Freud believed that unconscious determinants of behavior had a revolutionary
effect on 20th century thinking, not just in psychology but also in related fields a well. Although many of the
basic principles of psychodynamic thinking have been highly criticized, the model grown out of Freud's
work has provided a way not only for treating mental disorders but also for understanding everyday
phenomena such a prejudice and aggression.
Behaviorist / Behavioral Approach
The psychological model that focuses on the overt observable behavior. The model emerged as a reaction
to the earlier approaches that emphasized the significance of hidden, underlying, predetermined forces. The
behaviorists suggest that observable behavior alone should be the main area of interest to psychology.
Humanistic Approach
The psychological model, that suggests that people are in control of their lives. It is considered as one of the
most recent approaches to psychology. This approach rejected the view, that predetermined, automatic,
biological forces, unconscious processes or the environment determines behavior. On the contrary, it
proposes that people themselves decide about their lives. A failure in being capable of doing so leads to
psychological problems. It also stresses the idea that people, by nature, tend to move towards higher levels
of maturity and maximum potential.
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Cognitive Approach
The psychological model that focuses on how people know, understands, and thinks about the world. Main
emphasis is on how people understand of the world, and their thinking, affects their responses; how it may
lead to positive or negative psychological consequences, and even health-related outcomes.
Earlier Schools of Thought
The school of thought that focused upon the study of mind and conscious experience: consciousness,
thinking, and emotions. They used introspection as their method of study.
Focused upon the structure and operations of the mind rather than studying whole things and
phenomenon. Hence named as Structuralism.
The first well formed system of psychology that laid the foundations for the scientific and
experimentally oriented study of mind and mental processes.
Emerged from the work of Wilhelm Wundt who set up the first psychology laboratory at
Leipzig, Germany, in 1879 to study the "building blocks of the mind", and is generally known
as the founder of "scientific psychology". He proposed materialism because he did not think a
science could be operated solely through physical investigations of the brain. He felt that the
study of mind must be a science of experience. He supported the existence of the science of
psychology quite independent of biology and physiology. He believed that psychology must
have an experimental side.
Subject matter of psychology
According to Wundt, the subject matter of psychology is to be immediate experience, as contrasted to
mediate experience. By mediate experience Wundt meant experiences used as a way to find out about
something other than the experience itself. This is the way in which we use experience in gaining knowledge
about the world.
Immediate experience is the experience as such, and the task of psychology is to study this immediate
experience. The physicists are, on the other hand, interested in studying only the mediate experience, but
the Wundtian psychologists study immediate experience.
Main Presumption
All human mental experience could be understood as the combination of simple events or
elements. By analyzing the basic elements of sensations and other mental experiences, the
underlying structure of the mind could be unveiled
Task of psychology is to identify the basic elements of consciousness just like physicists could
break down the basic particles of matter
At Wundt's Laboratory
Studies and experiments were conducted on the fundamental elements that form the
foundation of thinking, consciousness, emotions and other mental states
Systematic, organized and objective procedures were used so that replication was possible
The procedure used for studying the "structure of mind" was called "Introspection"; a method
used to study the structure of the mind, in which subjects were asked to describe in detail what they
were experiencing when exposed to a stimulus.
o  The subjects gave detailed reports of what they experienced when they were exposed to a stimulus
The Impact of Wundt's Lab
Attracted leading scientists and students from Europe and U.S.A.
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
James Mckeen Cattell
Known for his work on individual differences and "Mental Tests".
Emil Kraeplin
Postulated a physical cause of mental illness
In 1883, he gave the first classification system of mental disorders
Hugo Munsterberg
First to apply psychology to industry and law
Edward B. Tichener
Known as the formal founder of Structuralism
Edward Bradford Tichener
American psychologist, who was English by birth, but German in professional and
personal temperament, who spent his most productive years in Cornell University, New
He was solely concerned with studying the brain, and the unconscious, and for this he
believed, we should break it down into basic elements. After that, we can construct the
separate elements into a whole and understand what it does.
He believed that we can study perception, emotions and ideas through introspection, by
reducing them to their elementary parts
There are four elements in the sensation of taste: sweet, sour, salty and bitter
Ideas and images are related: ideas were always accompanied by images
The underlying process in emotions was affection
This school of thought has been criticized on various grounds i.e.
It was Reductionist
It reduced all complex human experience to simple sensations
It was Elementalistic
The structuraralists sought to look at individual elements first, and then combine parts into a whole, rather
than study the variety of behavior directly.
It was Mentalistic
Structuralism studied only verbal reports of human conscious experience and awareness, ignoring the study
of subjects who could not report their introspection.
An approach that concentrated on what the mind does, in other words the functions of mental
activity, and the role of behavior in allowing people to adapt to their environments. The
functionalist psychologists start with the fact that objects are perceived and "how" they are
perceived. They asked "why" as well. This school became prominent in the1900s. It emerged as a
reaction to Structuralism.
Founded by William James, also known as the founder of American Psychology.
Emphasized "function" rather than "Structure" of human consciousness i.e., what the mind
Focused upon the way humans adapt to their environment; what roles behavior played in
allowing people to better adapt to their environment
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Examined the ways in which behavior allows people to satisfy their needs
Functionalists were especially interested in education and applied psychology
Method of Investigation
Longitudinal Research
Observation, interviews, and testing of a person over a long period of time: made possible to observe and
record the subject's development and his reaction to different circumstance.
William James
He was the leading precursor of functionalist psychology. James was a Harvard University
professor, primarily trained in physiology and medicine. Psychology and philosophy fascinated
him, and he treated psychology as a natural science. In 1875 he offered his first course in
psychology. In 1890 he published "Principles of Psychology", a two-volume book, which became a
leading psychology text in the U.S.
James wrote about the stream of consciousness, emotions, the self, habit formation, mind-body link and
much more. He was also interested in will, values, religious and mystical experiences. James said: "We
should study consciousness but should not reduce it into elements, content and structure". Acts and
functions of mental processes need to be focused upon, rather than contents of the mind. Consciousness
was an ongoing stream, and was in continual interaction with the environment. Careful observation is
important; Wundt's rigorous laboratory methods are of little value. James believed that each individual has a
uniqueness that could not be reduced to formulas or numbers
John Dewey
Famous American educator
One of the key founders of "Functionalism"
Stimulus­ Response phenomenon is not an automatic behavior, the goal of the person
performing it has the main role in it; the stimulus and the response determine each other
·  It is the function, or the goal, of the whole action that elicits response
·  Dewey developed the field of `School Psychology' and recommended ways for meeting
student's needs
·  Teachers are strongly influenced by their psychological assumptions about children and the
educational process
Teachers need to understand two issues:
Children and adults are different; teaching/education should be in accordance with
children's developmental readiness
Children are similar to adults in the sense that they perform better when they have
some control over what they are to accomplish; the curriculum should be designed
Applied psychology flourished following the emergence of functionalism
James Mckeen Cattell began studying ways to measure intelligence
Psychology entered the world of business; Frederick Taylor developed `scientific
Other functionalists: James Rowland Angell, Harvey A.Carr
James Rowland Angell
·  Founded the psychology department in Chicago, the most influential of its time.
·  Believed that the function of consciousness is to improve the adaptive abilities of the
organism and that psychology must study how mind did these kinds of adjustments with
respect to the environment.
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Harvey A.Carr
·  Defined the subject matter of psychology as mental activity, whose function is to acquire, fixate,
retain, organize and evaluate experiences and use these experiences in some kind of action.
·  Carr believed that the study of cultural products such as literature, art, language or social and
political institutions could provide information on the kind of activities that produced the actions
and behaviors.
Gestalt Psychology
·  An approach that focuses on the organization of perception and thinking in a ``whole" sense
rather than on the individual elements of perception. Instead of considering the individual parts
that make up thinking, gestalt psychologists concentrated on how people consider individual
elements as units or wholes. They made great contributions to the understanding of the
perceptual phenomena.
·  This school developed as a reaction to structuralism in the early 1900s
·  In contrast to the structuralist approach of breaking down conscious experience into elements,
or focusing upon the structure, the Gestalt school emphasized the significance of studying any
phenomenon in its overall form.
The word gestalt means "Configuration"
The main concept that the Gestaltists posed was that the "WHOLE" is more than the sum of
its parts, and it is different from it too.
They concentrated on how people consider individual elements together as units or wholes
The concept of Gestalt applies to everything, objects, ideas, thinking processes and human
Any phenomenon in its entirety may be much greater than when it is seen in a disintegrated
Three German psychologists Max Wertheimer, Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Kohler were
regarded as the founders of gestalt school as each one of them had done significant work in his
respective field.
Max Wertheimer
The founder of Gestalt Psychology, born in Prague in 1880
Studying at the University of Frankfurt he became aware of a form of apparent motion that
was called "Phi phenomenon"
Phi phenomenon = when two lights are in close proximity to each other, flashing alternately
they appear to be one light moving back and forth; therefore the whole was different from the
separate parts; movement perceived whereas it never occurred
We perceive experiences in a way that calls for the simplest explanation, even though reality
may be entirely different; this is Gestalt Law of Minimum Principle. We tend to organize our
experience so that it is as simple as possible.
Explanation of phi phenomenon led to a separate school of thought i.e., Gestalt school, that
had deep rooted impact on learning, ethics, and social psychology
Gestalt Laws of Organization
We organize our experiences according to certain rules, in a simple way:
Proximity: Close or nearer objects are perceived as coherent and related.
Similarity: Tendency to perceive objects, patterns or stimuli as groups, which are similar in appearance__
parts of the visual field that are similar in color, lightness, texture, shape, or any other quality
Good Continuation: Tendency to group the stimuli into smooth and continuous patterns or parts
Closure: It is the perceptual tendency to fill in the gaps and completing the contours; enables us to perceive
the disconnected parts as the whole object.
Figure and Ground: Our perceptual tendency to see objects with the foreground as well as the
background___ the object is being recognized with respect to its background. e.g. black board and chalk.
(These will be discussed in detail in the section of perception).
Introduction to Psychology ­PSY101
Kurt Koffka
Wrote the famous "Principles of Gestalt Psychology" (1935)
Talked about geographical versus behavioral environment: people's behavior is determined by
how they perceive the environment rather than by the nature of the environment.
Wolfgang Kohler
Gave the concept of "insight" and "transposition", as a result of his observations of a caged
chimpanzee and experiments with chickens
Insight = spontaneous restructuring of the situation
Transposition = generalization of knowledge from one situation to another
Kohler also talked about Isomorphism; changes in the brain structure yield changes in experiences
Other major contributions
Gestalt approach to ethics: Truth is truth when it is complete and corresponds fully to the
facts of the situation
Zeigarnik's Effect: Bluma Zeigarnik's experiments; we remember interrupted tasks better.
The tension caused by unfinished tasks helps us in remembering
Group Dynamics: Instead of focusing on people's individual attributes we should see them as
whole persons
Table of Contents:
  1. WHAT IS PSYCHOLOGY?:Theoretical perspectives of psychology
  3. SCHOOLS OF THOUGHT:Biological Approach, Psychodynamic Approach
  4. PERSPECTIVE/MODEL/APPROACH:Narcosis, Chemotherapy
  5. THE PSYCHODYNAMIC APPROACH/ MODEL:Psychic Determinism, Preconscious
  6. BEHAVIORAL APPROACH:Behaviorist Analysis, Basic Terminology, Basic Terminology
  8. RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY (I):Scientific Nature of Psychology
  9. RESEARCH METHODS IN PSYCHOLOGY (II):Experimental Research
  11. COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT:Socio- Cultural Factor, The Individual and the Group
  12. NERVOUS SYSTEM (1):Biological Bases of Behavior, Terminal Buttons
  13. NERVOUS SYSTEM (2):Membranes of the Brain, Association Areas, Spinal Cord
  14. ENDOCRINE SYSTEM:Pineal Gland, Pituitary Gland, Dwarfism
  15. SENSATION:The Human Eye, Cornea, Sclera, Pupil, Iris, Lens
  16. HEARING (AUDITION) AND BALANCE:The Outer Ear, Auditory Canal
  17. PERCEPTION I:Max Wertheimer, Figure and Ground, Law of Closure
  18. PERCEPTION II:Depth Perception, Relative Height, Linear Perspective
  19. ALTERED STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS:Electroencephalogram, Hypnosis
  20. LEARNING:Motor Learning, Problem Solving, Basic Terminology, Conditioning
  21. OPERANT CONDITIONING:Negative Rein forcer, Punishment, No reinforcement
  22. COGNITIVE APPROACH:Approach to Learning, Observational Learning
  23. MEMORY I:Functions of Memory, Encoding and Recoding, Retrieval
  24. MEMORY II:Long-Term Memory, Declarative Memory, Procedural Memory
  25. MEMORY III:Memory Disorders/Dysfunctions, Amnesia, Dementia
  26. SECONDARY/ LEARNT/ PSYCHOLOGICAL MOTIVES:Curiosity, Need for affiliation
  27. EMOTIONS I:Defining Emotions, Behavioral component, Cognitive component
  28. EMOTIONS II:Respiratory Changes, Pupillometrics, Glandular Responses
  29. COGNITION AND THINKING:Cognitive Psychology, Mental Images, Concepts
  31. PERSONALITY I:Definition of Personality, Theories of Personality
  32. PERSONALITY II:Surface traits, Source Traits, For learning theorists, Albert Bandura
  33. PERSONALITY III:Assessment of Personality, Interview, Behavioral Assessment
  34. INTELLIGENCE:The History of Measurement of Intelligence, Later Revisions
  35. PSYCHOPATHOLOGY:Plato, Aristotle, Asclepiades, In The Middle Ages
  36. ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR I:Medical Perspective, Psychodynamic Perspective
  37. ABNORMAL BEHAVIOR II:Hypochondriasis, Conversion Disorders, Causes include
  38. PSYCHOTHERAPY I:Psychotherapeutic Orientations, Clinical Psychologists
  39. PSYCHOTHERAPY II:Behavior Modification, Shaping, Humanistic Therapies
  40. POPULAR AREAS OF PSYCHOLOGY:ABC MODEL, Factors affecting attitude change
  41. HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY:Understanding Health, Observational Learning
  42. INDUSTRIAL/ORGANIZATIONAL PSYCHOLOGY:‘Hard’ Criteria and ‘Soft’ Criteria
  43. CONSUMER PSYCHOLOGY:Focus of Interest, Consumer Psychologist
  44. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Some Research Findings, Arousal level
  45. FORENSIC PSYCHOLOGY:Origin and History of Forensic Psychology