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Week 1: What is psychology?

Psychology- the sciene of behavior and mental processes.

 NOT all about mental disorders and therapy
 NOT focused solely on diagnosing and treating mental problems
A. Three types of psychologists
1. Experimental psychologists- scientists to test theories and come up
with more theories
2. Teachers of psychology- people who teach psychology
3. Applied psychologists- (2/3 of working psychologists) people who
apply their knowledge of psychology that experimental psychologists
figure out to help people:
- Industrial/organizational- help businesses hire and keep
employees happy
- Sports- help athletes improve their performance (improve
focus, relaxing in high pressure situations, setting goals, get
over mental blocks)
- School- help students to learn, help students with learning
disabilities, give aptitude tests
- Clinical/counseling- help people with social and emotional
adjustments (including mental illnesses, but also marriage
problems, or homesick)
- Forensic- help law and court systems to diagnosis inmates or
someone on trial, can also help decide jury
- Environmental- help people who interact with different
environments (may help design a park or garden or classroom
to best suit the people who use it)
- Geropsychologists- work with older adults and help them
maintain their health and wellness
B. NOT psychiatry. Psychiatry is medical profession specializing in treating
mental & behavioral problems, typically with drugs.
1. Psychology:
- Broad field of study
- Holds a Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy) or Psy. D. (Doctor of
- Training emphasizes research methods
- Advanced study in specialization
2. Psychiatry
- Medical specialty
- Holds an MD (Doctor of Medicine)
- Training in treatment of mental and behavioral problems
- Licensed to prescribe medicines
C. NOT pseudo-psychology: erroneous assertions or practices set forth as
scientific psychology. Typically supported by anecdotal evidence. Often
subject to biases (e.g., confirmation bias)
How do psychologists develop new knowledge?
 Empirical investigation- An approach to research that relies on sensory
experience and observation as research data; relies on what we see, feel, hear.
 Scientific method (used in experiments)- five step process for empirical
investigation of a hypothesis under conditions designed to control biases and
subjective judgements
1. Develop hypothesis
2. Perform controlled test (an experiment)
3. Gather data (objectively as possible)
4. Analyzing results, accept/reject hypothesis
5. Publishing, criticizing, & replicating results

 Types of psychological research

1. Experiments (true experiments and quasi-experiments)
2. Correlational studies
3. Surveys
4. Naturalistic observation
5. Case studies
 Controlling biases in psychological research
6. Placebo
7. Double-blind control
 Ethical issues
8. Deception – only okay if participants will not undergo substantial
9. IRB judges the risks to participants