Summary chapter 1: introduction to the science of psychology.
To discuss the different aspects about psychology, it is necessary to know what it means: it’s the SCIENTIFIC study of mental processes and behavior. Psychology has four main goals such as describe, which is reporting what is observed; research, that is to organize and understand observations of behaviors; predict, which is about outcomes; and control, that uses research to shape, Professionals (psychologists) can work in several fields such as: clinical/counseling, educational, developmental, scholar, industrial/organizational.
Psychology has many major perspectives, all of them try to explain the human nature of behavior, and these include:
· Psychoanalytic: its main developer was Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), who focused his attention on abnormal aspects. Furthermore, he believed that personality and behavior are influenced by the expectations of society and inner desires (sexual and aggressive impulses).
· Behavioral: mainly developed by Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936). He made a really famous experiment with a dog, which salivated in response to a stimulus or events in the environment; this was known as classical conditioning. Later on, B. F skinner studied the relationship between behaviors and their consequences, this is called operant conditioning, where a certain behavior is either rewarded or punished.
· Humanistic: Developed by Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. It’s practically opposed to psychoanalysis and behaviorism; it states that human nature is positive and that people is inclined to change for the better.
· Cognitive: this perspective, examines mental processes and direct behavior focusing on concepts like language, memory and thinking
· Evolutionary: according to this theory, behavior and mental processes are affected by the forces of evolution and it is based in Charles Darwin’s natural selection theory.
· Biological: this theory states that biological factors like hormones, genes, and the brain affect cognition and behavior.
· Sociocultural: proposed by Lev Vygotsky, who states that when it comes to behavior and cognitive development, social and cultural features (prejudice, segregation, discrimination) have a huge influence on these.
We call scientific method to the process the scientists use to conduct research; it has five main steps called: develop a question, step that comes from observing an interesting feature in the environment that makes the researcher ask questions about it; the second step is to develop hypothesis or statement that will be confirmed or refuted by the collected data; the third step is design study and collect data and consists in testing the developed hypothesis; the step four is analyzing the data, in this step, all the information is organized, usually with statistical methods, and finally, the step five is simply publishing the results that are going to be used by other researchers to build on it or even improve it by making recommendations.
When collecting the most useful information it is important to choose the correct research design and the type of study, which is why there are some concepts we need to know in order to understand all types of scientific research. For example, variables are all those characteristics that might change with time or across people, having said that, some good examples of variables are temperature, mass, shyness, friendliness, number of people in a family etc. Now, variables can be dependent or independent. When a variable is independent, it means it can be manipulated by the researchers while a dependent variable is what is being measured from the manipulation mentioned above.
The population and sample are two other important concepts, the first one is defined as the “overall group” that the researcher wants to study, then comes the sample, which is a “sub-group”, but there are two ways of choosing a sample; if the researcher chooses a RANDOM SAMPLE, it basically means any member of the population that has the same chance to participate. However, there is the REPRESENTATIVE SAMPLE and its members have specific characteristics that reflect the population of interest.