General Psychology – Chapter 1

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the scientific study of behavior and mental processes
inherited biological factors that shape behaviors, personality, and other characteristics
environmental factors that shape behaviors, personality, and other characteristics
scientists who study behavior and mental processes
goals of psychology
1) describe – describe/report what is observed
2) explain – make sense of whats been observed
3) predict – predict outcomes or behaviors
4) control – apply findings to benefit behaviors
the examination of one’s own conscious activities
study of behaviors that could be seen/measured
behavioral perspective
suggests that behaviors and personality are primarily determined by learning.
humanistic psychology
an approach suggesting that human nature is by and large positive, and the human direction is toward growth.
cognitive perspective
examines mental activities that direct behavior, focusing on processes such as thinking, memory, and language.
evolutionary perspective
an approach that uses knowledge about evolutionary forces such as natural selection to understand behavior
biological perspective
– uses knowledge about underlying physiology to explain behavior and mental processes.
– explore how biological factors such as hormones, genes, brain activities are involved in behavior and cognition.
sociocultural perspective
emphasizes the importance of social interactions and culture, including the roles we play
biopsychosocial perspective
examine biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors influencing behavior.
critical thinking
process of weighing various pieces of evidence, putting them together, and determining how each contributes to the bigger picture.
appears to be psychology but is not supported by objective evidence
scientific method
– goal is to provide empirical evidence

(5 steps)

1) develop a question
2)develop a hypothesis
3)design study and collect data
4) analyze the data
5) publish the findings

statement that can be used to test a prediction
operational definition
the precise manner in which a variable of interest is defined and measured
measurable characteristics that vary or change over time or across people.
random sample
a subset of the population where all members have an equal chance of being selected
representative sample
a subgroup of a population selected so that its members have characteristics similar to those of the population of interest
descriptive research
– primarily concerned with describing

-useful for studying new topics when researchers might not have specific expectations about outcomes

-provides clues about causes

– there are 4 descriptive research methods (naturalistic, survey, correlational, case study)

naturalistic observation
– studying participants in their natural environments without disturbance
– problems: unwanted variables, can’t alter variables, hard to control variables,
observer bias
errors in the recording of observations, the result of observer’s values, expectations, and attitudes
survey method
– one of the fastest wats to collect descriptive data
– questionnaires or interviews
– problems: honesty and bias, skims the surface of peoples beliefs or attitudes
correlational method
-examining the relationships among variables
-link between variables
case study
– closely examining an individual or small group
– in depth interviews

problems: cases studies are isolated examples, so be wary of them to make generalizations.

correlation coefficient
-symbol r
– measure that indicates the strength and direction of the relationship between two variables
-range from -1 to +1
– the closer r is to -1 or +1 the stronger the relationship
experimental method
-a type of research that manipulates a variable of interest to tell about cause and effect
random assignment
the process of appointing study participants to the experimental or control group , making sure everyone has an equal chance of being in either group
experimental group
members exposed to treatment
control group
members not exposed to treatment
independent variable
– what the researcher is manipulating
dependent variable
– what is being measured as a result of the manipulation
extraneous variable
something that could unexpectedly influence the outcome of a study
confounding variable
a type of extraneous variable that changes in sync with the independent variable
double-blind study
type of study in which neither the researchers nor the participants know the type of treatment given
informed consent
acknowledgement from study participants that they understand what their participation will entail.
sharing info with participants after their involvement, including the purpose of the research and any deception used
Categories: General Psychology