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Science of Psychology


So, you're taking a psychology course. Your friends and family may begin to consider you a junior Freud. They (and you) might be surprised to learn that psychology include much more than Freudian therapy.

Psychology is the scientific study of the behavior of individuals as well as their mental processes. It is a science because psychologists use the scientific method to complete their studies. The scientific method means that we can have confidence about our results and we can use those results to predict behavior.

Psychology has its roots in philosophy and physics. William Wundt who established the first psychology lab in 1879 was a philosopher as well as a student of physics. It was only in the 20th century, with Freud and his coterie, that the public view of psychology shifted to the current view, that is psychology as therapy and the study of mental disorder.

In this course, we will explore the various sub-disciplines of psychology. Unfortunately, we cannot spend much time on any one of them. We will be doing a whirlwind tour of the discipline. You will find that you will spend some time reviewing biology and neuroanatomy. As our technology progresses, so does our ability to understand the underlying biological and chemical foundations of behavior.

We will look at perception and sensation as well as how we think. We will explore the parts of our memory and look at ways to improve memory. We will do a quick turn through development, from conception to death and dying. We will examine personality, disorders and therapy. Finally we will look at social psychology. How do we as individuals interact in groups?

You will learn the history of psychology and encounter the conceptual or theoretical approaches that dominate contemporary psychology. We will not spend much time on the statistical section in this chapter but you should look at the section on correlation. Correlational research is research that demonstrates a relationship between 2 variables. It cannot and will never show cause and effect. Because of ethical concerns, much of psychological research is correlational. This means that we must be cautious about how we apply the results.

These chapters set the foundation for what is to come and should serve as a reference point for future topics.