Major Perspectives on Psychology

Instructions The five major perspectives of modern psychology are important to understand because they are central to other key concepts and theories throughout the course. For example, you will learn about them again in our discussion about personality and psychological disorders. For this assignment, using the Psychological Perspectives Comparison template  (Links to an external site.) , fill in the table to identify the key people and main ideas, as well as what you find compelling and what you don’t about each of the five major perspectives in psychology. Your chart should: Include at least 2 bullet points in each box Bullet points do not have to be in complete sentences (but should have enough explanation for each point to be clear and understandable) Should be in your own words (don’t just copy/paste from the book or a website – break down the ideas in your own words to explain what these perspectives are all about) Should include a list of references used in APA format following the template (this list should include at minimum your lessons and your textbook). In-text citations are not required (remember, this will be in your own words so don’t copy/paste) Be informed by content from your readings, lessons, and research this week.  Lesson: Introduction, Research, and Biological Foundations Table of Contents Introduction Although psychologists may approach problems from different perspectives, they approach those problems in a similar matter, by using the scientific method. The scientific method is used to systematically obtain knowledge by understanding behavior and other areas of interest. It allows psychologists and scientists from other disciplines to appropriately test their questions about phenomena and communicate the findings to their respective scientific communities. The Scientific Method Psychologists use the scientific method when conducting research. It allows the field to follow the same standardized scientific procedures that have worked so well for other scientists. The steps of the scientific method are as follows: Identifying questions of interest Formulating an explanation or hypothesis Conducting research that is specifically designed to test the explanation (support or refute) Communicating the findings of the research The scientific method’s empirical (measurable) focus has helped science to determine what is measurably real, that is, empirical. The use of empirical methodology has allowed science, and its applied cousin technology, to achieve many great advances for humanity and avoid traveling too far down any dead ends. Still, while science (the pursuit of knowledge) is indeed valued in our culture, the scientific method has limitations. Psychologists need to be aware that they don’t slip completely into ignoring what they have trouble measuring. Critics of the overuse of the scientific method, argue that it is not the only way to prove a hypothesis. Research Methods Often considered the jewel in science’s crown, the controlled experiment is the only scientific method that can prove cause and effect. Experiments are time-consuming, difficult to do, and are subject to various problems, such as experimenter bias, confirmation bias, sample bias, and participant bias. A good experimental research study will account for all of these by using a variety of techniques like single or double-blind studies, control groups, placebos, representative and cross-cultural sampling, random assignment to groups, statistical comparisons, and peer review and replication. In any controlled experiment, there are three main variables to consider: the independent variable (IV), the dependent variable (DV), and extraneous variables (EVs). A concept that can be difficult is differentiating between the dependent variable and the independent variable. Let’s take a look at these variables in a scenario.   Ask yourself? In the experiment described above, what were the independent and dependent variables? Could you list different extraneous variables than it already mentioned? Let’s review some of the vocabulary from this week by completing the following drag and drop activity:Although the experimental process is very systematic and is reviewed by a scientist’s peers, mistakes can be made. Often, other scientists will replicate (duplicate exactly) the original experiment to see if they get the same results as the original researcher. They will publish their results and eventually all of the studies will be looked at to see if there is a consistent effect caused by the independent variable. The various theories explaining why the results have occurred will be reviewed and eventually a consensus will be reached. Often, at this point, textbook authors will review these studies and theories and summarize them for students to read and study in various courses. That’s where you are now. Although the experimental process is very systematic and is reviewed by a scientist’s peers, mistakes can be made. Often, other scientists will replicate (duplicate exactly) the original experiment to see if they get the same results as the original researcher. They will publish their results and eventually all of the studies will be looked at to see if there is a consistent effect caused by the independent variable. The various theories explaining why the results have occurred will be reviewed and eventually a consensus will be reached. Often, at this point, textbook authors will review these studies and theories and summarize them for students to read and study in various courses. That’s where you are now. Experiments are not always practical or ethical. There is an unfortunate history of unethical psychological experiments, such The Stanford Prison Experiment, Little Albert, the “Monster” Experiment and the Milgram Experiment. For example, the Milgram Experiment, which we will discuss later in the course, is now considered unethical because of the severe emotional distress of participants who were told to give “electric shocks” to other test subjects. The participants giving the “electric shocks” did not know that these shocks were fake and the people they were giving the “shocks” to were actually a part of the experiment. The severe deception by the experimenters was a contributing factor in the emotional distress experienced by some of the participants. In an effort to answer this question, and others that can’t be addressed in an experiment, psychologists turn to other ways of conducting their research. Some examples include naturalistic observation (for example, the research done by Dian Fossey, whom the movie Gorillas In The Mist was about, was naturalistic observation), surveys (we hear A LOT about them during election time—exit polls are an example of a survey), case studies (such as studies of why Rudolph Giuliani was such a successful leader in the aftermath of 9/11), and correlation studies (these are the studies that you hear about noting things like how long someone lives and how many fruits and vegetables they eat).   Research in Psychology  (Links to an external site.) Research in Psychology  (Links to an external site.) Psychology attempts to use research to guide its theories and assumptions about human behavior. Without research, theories and assumptions are just guesses. Click through the slides to learn more!     Psychological Perspectives This course will cover the following psychological perspectives: psychoanalytic/psychodynamic, behavioral, humanistic, cognitive, and neuroscientific/biopsychological. If each of these approaches had a client suffering from depression, a psychodynamic therapist would seek to learn of the ways the ego has been dealing with the id and superego. The behavioral psychologist would be most interested in what ways the client had been conditioned to feel that way. A humanistic psychologist would endeavor to set a proper atmosphere for the client to discover his or her blocked personal growth. A cognitive psychologist would be examining the client’s thought patterns and seeking out maladaptive ones that lead to depression. The neuroscientific/biopsychological therapist would study the person’s genetics and biological processes in both the brain and central nervous system. While these are all very different approaches, they all may indeed have valid points as to why the person is depressed and what needs to be done to help him or her. Genetics Genetics is proving to be an area that is shedding a great deal of light on psychology. Genetics is indeed important. As children, how many of us were told we looked or acted just like our father or mother? Identical twins have shed even more light on the role of genetics. Consider the famous case of the “Jim twins.” James Lewis and James Springer were born identical twins and then adopted out to different families 37 days after birth. They had no contact until they were reunited 38 years later. As boys, they both had dogs with the same name (Toy), and named their sons James Allan (one actually spelled the name Alan with one l). This may indeed be chalked up to coincidence, but what happens when it is noted that they both had first wives named Linda and second wives named Betty, had part-time sheriff positions, had pale blue Chevrolets that they drove to Pas Grille beach in Florida for family vacations, were fingernail biters, and left love notes for their wives around the house? (Segal, 2012) Clearly, the role of genetics is not to be dismissed. Neurotransmitters How many of us have actually seen a neurotransmitter? Probably not many, yet their importance can hardly be overstated. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that the body manufactures in the neurons, and when released, alter activity in other neurons. Dopamine, serotonin, norepinephrine, and acetylcholine are all neurotransmitters. Dopamine problems play a role in schizophrenia, Parkinson’s disease, and possibly attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Problems with serotonin levels are often found in people with depression. Norepinephrine-level problems are indicated in sleep disorders and also perhaps, in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder too (particularly the inattentive type, as this neurotransmitter seems to impact attention). Acetylcholine problems are a possible cause of Alzheimer’s disease. It would seem that most people in our society are relatively unconcerned with neurotransmitters, but if they knew how vital they were, neurotransmitters might receive more attention. Neurotransmitter levels are undoubtedly influenced greatly by genetics, but this is not to say that they are “cast in stone.” Can continuous negative thinking adversely impact neurotransmitter levels? What impact do diet and exercise have? What damage do illegal drugs do? Can giving, receiving, or even observing acts of kindness raise serotonin levels? (Some Internet sites claim such). These are all areas that are ripe for future research as we seek to unravel the connection among drugs, brains, and behaviors. We have learned things, such as dopamine levels can be impacted by insufficient intake of vitamin B6. We don’t know how much though, or how long one has to be deficient in vitamin B6 to produce a noticeable effect; or if some people’s genetic make-up makes them more susceptible to such issues. As we accumulate more research on neurotransmitters, you should expect to hear more about the role of a diet. But most researchers in the field would probably assert that it would be a bit of a stretch to conclude that serious mental problems are going to be resolved by taking a vitamin.

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