Chapter 1 Psychology

Why Study Psychology?

  • On Board:
    • Today’s Goal:  To learn why we study psychology
    • Learning Targets:
      • I can identify the goals of psychology.
      • I can explain how psychology is a science.
    • Bell Work:  In your journal answer the following questions to the best of your ability:
      • What is psychology?
      • What type of work do psychologists do?
      • What kinds of things do psychologists study?
      • Why is the study of psychology important?
  • Class discussion:
    • Have students discuss which commonplace human activities indicate the same kind of curiosity about human behavior and mental processes that prompts some people to study psychology. (EXAMPLES:  Talk shows, human interest stories, quizzes in magazines, movies, etc.)  How does the formal study of human behavior and mental processes differ from casual or personal interest in them?
  • Hand out books
    • Turn to page 3
    • Have someone read “A Day in the Life”
    • Observe the questions on page 3
  • Notes:
    • Chapter 1 Notes:
    • Fun Fact:  Psychology comes from the Greek word psyche meaning “mind” or “soul” and the Latin word “logia” meaning the study of.  (Psychology = study of the mind/soul)
    • The study of psychology will give you new ways to look at and interpret the word and the people who inhabit it.
    • Definitions:
      • Psychology is the scientific study of behavior and mental processes.
  • EXAMPLE OF BEHAVIOR:  Have a student volunteer to walk around the room, turn in a circle, answer a question, etc.  (Then show definition of behavior)
    • Behavior is any action performed by an animal or human that people can observe or measure.
      • Behavior can be measured by observation or scientific instruments.
      • Examples:  walking, talking, sleeping, eating, heart rate, blood pressure.
    • Cognitive activities:
      • Private, unobservable mental processes such as sensation, perception, thought, and problem solving
      • Example:  brainwaves can indicate dreaming, but the dreams are private
    • Psychological constructs
      • Theoretical concepts that enable one to discuss something that cannot be seen touched or measured directly.
  • Page 4 – 5 Goals of psychology with sports example
    • Read together
  • Notes continued:
    • GRAPHIC ORGANIER – Goals of psychology.
      • Observe
      • Describe
      • Explain
      • Predict
      • Control
    • How is psychology different from natural science (which are concerned with the nature of the physical world)?
      • Psychology is a social science meaning it deals with the structure of human society and the nature and interactions of the individuals who make up society.  These individuals and their behavior and mental processes are the focus of psychology.
      • Like natural scientists, psychologists seek to answer questions by following the steps involved in scientific research.
        • Examples:  Conducting experiments, collecting and analyzing data, and drawing conclusions.
    • Research – Psychologists often perform surveys or experiments to test ideas.  They rely on this research to learn whether certain methods will work before they use them with patients.
    • Theory Vs. Principle
      • Theory:  A set of assumptions about why something is the way it is and happens the way it does.
        • A useful theory allows psychologists to predict behavior and mental processes, but is not always accurate and can be revised or replaced based on additional research.
      • Principle:  A rule or law
        • These have been proven to always be true.
        • Example:  You will probably get better grades if you study more.
  • Additional time?  Have students read page 7 and answer the critical thinking questions.

\ What do psychologists do?

  • On Board:
    • Today’s Goal:  What do psychologists do?
    • Learning Targets: I can describe the work done by psychologists according to their areas of specialization.
    • Bell Work:  (Journal) Discuss movies you have seen or books that you have read that have professional psychologists as characters.  What kind of work did they do?  In what kind of psychology did they specialize? If you cannot thinking of any please describe what you think psychologists do.


  • Notes:  Categorizing Psychologists – Chart
    • Using your text book please fill out the chart to the best of your abilities:
    • Focus of specialization:  Where they focus their attention? Types of work done by specialists in this area:  What exactly do they do?
    • Research Orientated or Client Orientated?  Do they generally focus on research (Research orientated) or do they work with people (Client Orientated)
    • Where do they work:  In general where do psychologists with this specialty work.  If it does not say please just put “Various”


Area of specialization

Focus of specialization

Types of work done by specialists in this area

Research or Client orientated?

Where do they work?

Clinical Psychologists

Help people with psychological problems

Help clients overcome problems and adjust to the demands of their lives.  May help people with drug, relationship, or weight problems

Client Orientated

They evaluate people through the use of interviews and psychological tests.  They help clients understand and resolve their problems by changing ineffective or harmful behavior.

Hospitals, prisons, college clinics, and private practices.

Counseling Psychologists

Help people to clarify their goals, overcome their adjustment problems, and meet challenges

Helps clients with adjustment problems.

Client Orientated

They used interviews and tests to identify their clients’ problems.

Employed in businesses and in college and university counseling and testing centers.

School Psychologists

Identify and help students who have problems that interfere with learning.

Help clients deal with peer group and family problems, psychological problems, and learning disorders. They advise teachers, school officials, and parents about how to help certain students reach their potential or overcome learning difficulties.

Both.  School psychologists sometimes administer tests to help identify students with special abilities, or those who need assistance.  They also observe students in their classrooms.


Educational Psychologists

Concerned with helping students learn.  Focus on course planning and instructional methods for an entire school system.

Concerned with theoretical issues tat related to measurement of abilities, learning, and development.

Research Orientated. Look at how learning is affected by psychological factors, cultural factors, economic factors, and instructional methods.

School Districts

Area of specialization

Focus of specialization

Types of work done by specialists in this area

Research or Client orientated?

Where do they work?

Developmental Psychologist

Study the changes that occur throughout a person’s life span.

They focus on physical, emotional, cognitive, and social factors.  Some also attempt to sort out the influences of heredity and environment on development.

Research Orientated.

Various places.

Personality Psychologists

Identify characteristics or traits.

Look for the many different traits people have and they study the development of these traits. They are interested in the origins of psychological problems and disorders as well as the issues of anxiety, aggression, and gender roles.

Research Orientated.  Look within people for explanations for behavior.

Various places.

Social Psychologist

Concerned with people’s behavior in social situations.

Focus on external explanations for people’s behavior.

Research Orientated.  They study gender roles, attraction, group mentality, effects of discrimination, and aggression.

Various places.

Experimental Psychologists

Conduct research.

Conduct research on basic processes such as the nervous system sensation, perception, learning, memory, and thinking.

Research Orientated.

Various places.

  • Vocab:
    •  Basic Research:
      • Research that is conducted for its own sake, that is, without seeking a solution to a specific problem.


  • What is the difference between a psychologist and a psychiatrist?
    • A psychiatrist is a medical doctor who specializes in the treatment of psychological problems and who can prescribe medication to their clients.


  • Homework:  Advertisement OR Diary Entry
  • Advertisement:  Write a job advertisement for psychologists in one of the areas of specialization of psychology.  In your ad please specify the nature of the job, but do NOT specify which type of specialist is being sought.  We will try to guess what profession you chose based on the information provided.
  • Diary Entry:  Imagine you are a psychologist specializing in one of the areas of specialization.  Write a diary entry describing your typical day of work.  Please DO not specify which area you focused on as we will try to guess what area of specialization you have chosen.

 A brief history of psychology

  • On Board:
    • Today’s Goal:  Learn a brief history of psychology.
    • Learning Targets:  I can explain the historical background of the study of psychology.
    • Bell Work:  Get out your homework from yesterday. 
  • Sharing:  Have a few students share their advertisements or diary entries.  Collect these.
  • Notes:
    • Ancient Greece
      • Socrates taught Plato the phrase “Know thyself”
      • We can learn much about ourselves by examining our thoughts and feelings.
      • Introspection
        • An examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings.
      • Aristotle raised many questions about human behavior and including the concept of associationism.
        • Associationsim
          • A learned connection between two ideas or events.
      • Ancient Greeks theorized about various psychological problems.
        • They attributed them to supernatural forces such as the gods.
      • One physician, Hippocrates suggested problems were caused by abnormalities in the brain.
    • The Middle Ages
      • Most people believed that problems were caused by demon possession.
      • They believed that possession was punishment for sins or the results of deals made with the devil.
      • Water float test.
    • Modern science
      • The scientific approach led to the birth of modern psychology in the 1800s.
      • Psychologists argued that ideas of human behavior and mental processes should be supported by evidence.
  • Jigsaw:  Schools of thought.
    • Break students into even groups. (5 groups) (Combine Behaviorism and Reinforcement)
    • Give each group a school of thought to research.
    • They will need to identify the following:
      • Notable names:  Who do we usually associate with this school of thought?
      • Vocabulary:  What vocabulary is associated with this school of thought?  Please provide the definition as well.
      • Focus/Beliefs What does this school of thought focus on? What are the beliefs of those who follow this school of thought?


School of thought

Notable Names




William Wundt

Structuralism:  The school of psychology founded by Wilhelm Wundt, that maintains that conscious experience breaks down into objectives sensations and subjective feelings.

Consciousness broken down into two categories:  objective sensations (sight and taste, assumed to accurately reflect the outside world) and subjective feelings (include emotional  responses and mental images).

Structuralists believed that the human mind functioned by combining the basic elements of experience. Believed in introspection.


William James

Functionalism:  The school of psychology, founded by William James, which emphasizes the purposes of behavior and mental processes.

Experience is a “stream of consciousness”  Focused on the relationships between experience and behavior.

Concerned with how mental processes help organisms adapt to their environment. Used observation and introspection.

What are the purposes of behavior and mental processes.

Adaptive behavior patterns are learned and maintained because they are successful.


John B. Watson

Behaviorism:  The school of psychology, founded by John Watson, that defines psychology as the scientific study of observable behavior.

Consciousness is a private event that is known only to the individual and therefore not something that could be researched.  Psychology should be limited to observable and measurable events (behavior) 


B.F. Skinner

Reinforcement:  A stimulus or event that follows a response and increases the frequency to that response.

People learn to behave in certain ways because they have been reinforced for doing so.

Gestalt School

Max Werheimer, Kurt Koffka, and Wolfgang Köhler

Gestalt psychology:  The school of psychology that emphasizes the tendency to organize perceptions into meaningful wholes.

Believe that perception is more than a sum of its parts, and that they are wholes that give shape or meaning to the parts. Reject the idea that experience can be broken down into individual parts or elements.  Believe learning is active and purposeful.  Demonstrated that much learning is accomplished by insight not mechanical repetition.  Insight is the reorganization of perception that enables an individual to solve a problem.

School of Psychoanalysis

Sigmund Freud

Psychoanalysis:  the school of psychology, founded by Sigmund Freud, that emphasizes the importance of unconsciousness motives and conflicts as determinates of human behavior.

Psychodynamic thinking:  the theory that most of what fills an individual’s mind is unconscious and consists of conflicting impulses, urges, and wishes.

People are driven by hidden impulses and verbal slips/dreams represent unconscious wishes.

Freud gained insight through consultations with patients.

Unconscious processes are more important than conscious experience in governing people’s behaviors and feelings. Human behavior is aimed at satisfying desires while still trying to see themselves as decent human beings.

Contemporary Perspectives

  • Materials Needed:
    • Books
    • Overhead notes
  • On Board:
    • Today’s Goal:  Contemporary Perspectives
    • Learning Targets:  I can describe the seven main contemporary perspectives in psychology.
    • Bell Work:  (Journal)  Observations:  Observe the teacher’s behavior for the first 3 – 5 minutes of class. Write down everything you observe.  Be objective and possible and try not to make any inferences about what the teacher may be thinking. 
  • Bell work activity: 
  • Ask volunteers to read their lists out loud. 
  • Discuss limitations involved in explaining behavior only on the basis of observable behavior. 
  • Notes:  Contemporary Perspectives
  • Biological Perspective:  the psychological perspective that emphasizes the influence of biology on behavior.
    • Subject Matter:  nervous system, glands and hormones, genetic factors.
    • Key Assumption:  biological processes influences behavior and mental processes.
    • Belief that our mental processes (thoughts, fantasies, dreams, etc.) are made possible by the nervous system and the brain.
    • Look for connections between events in the brain such as the activity of brain cells, and behavior and mental processes.
    • They use CAT and PET scans to show which parts of the brain are involved in mental processes.
  • Evolutionary Perspective:  the theory focusing on the evolution of behavior and mental processes.
    • Subject Matter:  physical traits, social behavior
    • Key Assumption:  adaptive organisms survive and transmit their genes to future generations.
    • Charles Darwin theorized that in the struggle for survival, the most-adaptive organism have a greater chance of surviving to maturity, when they can reproduce.
    • These psychologists believe that inherited tendencies influence people to act certain ways.
  • Cognitive Perspective:  the viewpoint that emphasizes the role of thought processes in determining behavior.
    • Subject Matter:  interpretation of mental images, thinking, and language.
    • Key Assumptions:  Perceptions and thoughts influence behavior.
    • Study metal processes to understand human nature.
    • Investigate ways in which people perceive information and make mental images of the world, solve problems, daydream, and dream.
    • Compare thought processes to a computer system.
    • Cognitive psychologists believe that people’s behavior is influenced by their values, their perceptions, and their choices.
  • Humanistic Perspective:  the psychological view that assumes the existence of the self and emphasizes the importance of self-awareness and the freedom to make choices.
    • Subject Matter:  Self-Concept
    • Key Assumption:  People make free and conscious choices based on their unique experiences.
    • Consider people’s personal experiences to be the most important aspect of psychology.
    • Believe we are free to choose our own behavior.
    • View people as basically good and helpful.
    • This perspective focuses on inner perspectives and has received criticism for disregarding observable events.
  • Psychoanalytic Perspective:  the perspective that stresses the influences of unconscious forces on human behavior.
    • Subject Matter:  Unconscious processes, early childhood experiences.
    • Key Assumptions:  conscious motives influence behavior.
    • In the past focused on the roles of the unconscious sexual and aggressive influences, but today focuses more on conscious choice and self-direction.

Aggressive impulses

  • Learning Perspective:  the psychological point of view that emphasizes the effects of experience on behavior.
    • Subject Matter:  Environmental influences, learning, observational learning.
    • Key Assumptions:  Personal experience and reinforcement guide individual development.
    • Social Learning Theory:  the theory that suggests that people have the ability to change their environments to create new ones.
      • we can learn by observing others
    • Believe that behavior is learned through direct experience or by observing other people.
  • Sociocultural Perspective:  in psychology, the perspective that focuses on the roles of ethnicity, gender, culture, and socioeconomic status in personality formation, behavior, and mental processes.
    • Subject Matter:  Ethnicity, gender, culture, socioeconomic status
    • Key Assumption:  Sociocultural, biological, and psychological factors create individual differences.
    • By taking various factors into account, psychologists can better understand how people act and think.
    • Psychology is enriched by awareness of these factors and by taking them into account when they conduct research.
    • Ethnic group:  a group united by cultural heritage, race, language, or common history.
    • Gender studies are common.