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What is psychology 2011 version

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Themes and Issues in Psychology

Themes and Issues in Psychology

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  • 1. What is ‘Psychology’? (What do you think psychology is? What do you want from psychology, or want it to be?)
  • 2. Overview: History of psychology Psychology as ‘science’? Internal & external causes of behaviour Traits and situations. Hereditary & environment? Attribution. Free-will vs. determinism. Attachment. Psychological research methods and perspectives Ideographic or nomothetic approaches to the study of experience. Concepts of normality or abnormality. Nature & characteristics of consciousness. Challenging existing theories and approaches Overview of primary theoretical approaches
  • 3. Objectives of this session?
    • ‘ Define’ psychology from multiple perspectives.
    • Illustrate to you ‘psychology’ can be described from multiple viewpoints.
    • Take ‘first steps’ in summarising the historical, social and cultural influences on the definition or concept of psychology.
  • 4. Why is this important?
    • You can describe psychology ‘formally’, ‘informally’ and ‘personally’.
    • Different perspectives or definitions can be the source of confusion. I want to help you form a disciplined view of psychology.
    • Support you in finding and relating to your own reasons for studying psychology .
  • 5. References:
    • British Psychological Society website.
    • Gross, R. (2003). Themes, Issues and Debates in Psychology.
    • Martin, G.N, Carlson, N.R., and Buskist, W. (2010) Psychology (Fourth Edition)
    • Passer, M., Smith, R., Holt, N., Bremner, A., Sutherland, E., Vliek, M. (2009). Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behaviour.
    • Sternberg, R.J. (1994). In Search of the Human Mind.
  • 6. Invitation (challenge) to ‘A’ level Psychology Students:
    • Be willing to push, extend the ways in which you define psychology.
      • E.g. Take multiple perspectives or definitions.
      • Consider: is ‘psychology’ something we are all drawn or motivated to ‘do’?
  • 7. Task for students new to psychology?
    • Focus on the British Psychological Society definition. Get that straight for yourself.
    • Understand it is a discipline, method, and occupation.
    • Describe / be clear on your own motivation for studying psychology.
  • 8. Key Point
    • Psychology is ‘social’, it is situated in context, time, history and the motives of the people within the discipline.
    • All of this affects how psychology can be defined.
    • Therefore we need to be aware / mindful of context, time, history, motives and more.
  • 9. What is ‘Psychology’?
  • 10. Exploring many aspects of being ‘human’?
  • 11. (Pictures? Books, films etc)
  • 12. Summary: Focus : Mind and behaviour Method: Scientific approach Way of thinking : Critically. Multi-disciplinary: Integrating different ways of exploring experience. Motivation: Experiences of being human. Your motivation?
  • 13. What is Psychology? (Formal definitions).
    • “ Science of Mind and Behaviour.”
    • Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour. It is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital professional practice.
      • (From the web site of the British Psychological Society.)
  • 14.
    • “ Behaviour refers to actions and responses that we can directly observe.”
    • “ Mind refers to internal states and processes – that cannot be seen directly and that must be inferred from observable measurable responses.”
    (Passer ‘et al’ 2009: p3)
  • 15. What is Psychology? (Formal definitions).
    • “ Psychology is a social science involving the study of how organisms – people – think, learn, perceive, feel, interact with others and understand themselves.”
      • (Sternberg 1994: p3).
    • “ Psychology is the study of human consciousness and its manifestations in behaviour”.
      • (Wilber 2000: p1 – 5.)
  • 16. What is Psychology: Critical thinking?
    • “ What exactly are you asking me to believe?”
    • “ How do you know? What is the evidence?”
    • “ Are there other possible conclusions?”
    • “ What is the most reasonable conclusion?”
    (Passer ‘et al’ 2009: p3)
  • 17. The Goals of Psychology?
    • To describe how people and other species behave.
    • To understand the causes of these behaviours.
    • To predict how people and animals will behave under certain conditions.
    • To influence behaviour through the control of its causes.
    • To apply psychological knowledge in ways that enhance human welfare.
    • Notice the move here between ‘psychology’ for the sake of knowledge, and psychology to achieve action.
    (Passer ‘et al’ 2009: p5)
  • 18. Psychology as a ‘hub’ of knowledge? Psychology as the science of mind and behaviour Sociology Computer Science (Information processing models.) Medicine Biology Anthropology (Passer ‘et al’ 2009: p6).
  • 19. Psychology as a ‘hub’ of knowledge ? Psychology as the science of mind and behaviour Humanistic (Self-actualisation and the positive in us all.) Cognitive (Thinking processes and the brain.) Socio-cultural (The human being embedded in the social context.) Psychodynamic: (Unconscious forces within) Behavioural: (Power or influence of the environment) (Passer ‘et al’ 2009: p11 - 19).
  • 20. ‘ Pause’ to reflect?
    • These definitions have changed over time.
      • E.g. First it was ‘science of the mind’; then ‘... Mind and behaviour’; and then ‘...people mind and behaviour’.
      • This is historically and socially influenced.
    • Definitions ‘include’ and ‘exclude’ topics. Consider whether your areas of interests would be included or excluded?
    • These definitions have a quality of ‘in a moment of time’ rather than ‘over time’?
  • 21. What is Psychology? (Informal definitions?)
    • Psyche-ology: Study of the Psyche. (“Soul” or “spirit” in Latin. Also translates as ‘essence’.)
    • Explaining the experience of being human.
    • “ What makes people tick”. (Gross 2003: p226).
    • “ Exploring the Universe Within”. (Hunt 2007: p7).
  • 22. The Everyday Psychologist?
    • Fritz Heider (1958)
      • Picture: cogweb.ucla.edu
    • We all ‘do psychology’ everyday.
    • We make sense of the world, we ‘attribute’ cause and effect.
  • 23. What is Psychology? (Personal? Your motivation for studying?)
    • “ The more we know about our common psychological roots, the more we feel connected, not only to the rest of humanity, but to ourselves and the mystery source of all life.”
      • Joseph Campbell (1987: Mythos DVD).
    • What would your definition be?
  • 24. ‘ Psychology’ is our attempt to understand ourselves?
    • “ All knowledge is fundamentally cosmology inasmuch that it is an attempt by man to explain the universe in which he finds himself, and thereby his own existence and nature. In the sense that personality, intellect, will, emotions comprise the human self, essence or soul, man’s attempts to understand himself constitute the soul, or literally psychology.”
      • (Graham 1986: p11).
  • 25. Psychology can also be defined as:
    • A ‘discipline’ (What we study):
      • E.g. cognitive, psychodynamic, behaviourism, social constructivist, biological.
    • A ‘method’ (How we study):
      • E.g. Scientific method; research cycle; comparative; evolutionary.
    • An occupation:
      • Clinical; counselling; educational, organisational; sport; health etc.
    • (See Gross (2005) CD diagrams?)
  • 26. Psychology can also be defined as:
    • A way of thinking. (Scientific. Provable. Or disprovable. Can be justified.)
    • Motivation. Exploring aspects of being human, and the experience of being human.
  • 27. Psychology is ‘social’ and cultural:
    • A ‘specialism’:
      • Grown over time, and divided into schools or disciplines.
    • ‘ Specialism’ creates a social need to be ‘right’?
      • ‘ Us’ and ‘them’. ‘Tribal’. ‘Factions’.
    • Deeply rooted in ‘western’ (male?) viewpoints.
  • 28. Psychology is ‘social’ and cultural:
    • It is crucial to remember that psychology is located in history or time, and culture.
    • What has been discovered in psychology as ‘laws’ has changed as science, society and culture have changed.
    • Psychology has changed in the last 10 / 15 years and is still changing.
  • 29. What would ‘integral’ psychology be?
    • (There is a) “human tendency to divide and separate, rather than to see things in the round …”
      • Graham 1986: p21.
    • “ A truly integral psychology would embrace the enduring insights of pre-modern, modern and post-modern sources”.
      • Wilber 2000: p5
    • We would routinely look at multiple causes or influences.
  • 30. ‘ I ‘ Interior individual ‘ IT ’ Exterior Individual ‘ We ’ Collective Cultural ‘ ITS ’ Social system Environment (Adapted and developed from different writing of Ken Wilber.)
  • 31. ‘ I ‘ Interior individual ‘ IT ’ Exterior Individual ‘ We ’ Collective Cultural ‘ ITS ’ Social system Environment (Adapted and developed from different writing of Ken Wilber.) Psychodynamics. Instincts. Ego. Id. Intrapersonal. Phenomenology. Self-actualization. Experimental psychology. Cognitive psychology. ‘ Brain’. ‘Organism’. Behaviourism. Interpersonal. Relationships. ‘ Object relations’ theory Group psychology? Family ‘system’. ‘Super ego’? Humanistic psychology. Cross-cultural psychology. ‘ Generalized’ psychology. Organisational psychology. Source of the ‘super ego’?
  • 32. Summary:
    • Psychology is the scientific study of people, the mind and behaviour . It is both a thriving academic discipline and a vital professional practice . (B.P.S.)
    • A ‘discipline’ (what we study), a ‘method’ (how we study) and an ‘occupation’.
    • N.B. Link the contents of this lecture with ‘what is science’.
  • 33. Summary: Focus : Mind and behaviour Method: Scientific approach Way of thinking : Critically. Multi-disciplinary: Integrating different ways of exploring experience. Motivation: Experiences of being human. Your motivation?
  • 34. Reminder: Care for ‘self’ and others
    • Starting university is a major transition for any of you.
    • Feeling uncertain might be ‘normal’.
    • International students have an even bigger challenge (location, language, culture).
    • Support for each other?
    • Student Services are available to you.