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Units and Objectives

This section provides previews and objectives for each unit covered in my AP Psychology class.

Prologue

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Psychology traces its roots back to early recorded history when scholars reflected on the relationship between mind and body. Psychologists’ initial focus on the mind’s structure was later replaced by the study of its functions. As the science of behavior and mental processes, psychology has its origins in many disciplines and countries. The discipline is growing and globalizing.

Psychology’s important issues include questions regarding stability versus change in personality, human rationality versus irrationality, and the relative contributions of biology and experience. Although the different perspectives on human nature have their own purposes and questions, they are complementary and together provide a fuller understanding of mind and behavior.

Some psychologists conduct basic or applied research; others provide professional services, including assessing and treating troubled people. With its perspectives ranging from the biological to the social, and settings from the clinic to the laboratory, psychology has become a meeting place for many disciplines.

Mastering psychology requires active study. A preview-read-think-review study method boosts students’ learning and performance.

general instructional objectives

1. To describe how psychology’s predecessors pondered and debated human nature.

2. To trace the history of psychology as a discipline.

3. To identify psychology’s most important issues.

4. To describe the different perspectives from which psychologists examine behavior and mental processes as well as its most important subfields.

5. To discuss effective learning strategies for mastering psychology.


from Myers, Psychology,7th edition
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Chapter one

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The scientific attitude reflects an eagerness to skeptically scrutinize competing ideas with an open-minded humility before nature. This attitude, coupled with scientific principles for sifting reality from illusion, prepares us to think critically. Two reliable phenomena—hindsight bias and judgmental overconfidence—illustrate the limits of everyday intuition and our need for scientific inquiry and critical thinking.

Psychologists construct theories that organize observations and imply testable hypotheses. Their research methods include case studies, surveys, and naturalistic observation to describe behavior; correlation to assess the relationship between variables; and experimentation to uncover cause-effect relationships. Researchers use statistics to describe their data, to assess relationships between variables, and to determine whether differences are significant.

This chapter concludes by briefly answering several questions that students commonly ask about psychology. These include concern over the laboratory’s artificiality, the generalizability of research in terms of culture and gender, the purpose of animal studies, the adequacy of research ethics, and the potential misuse of psychology’s knowledge.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To demonstrate the limits of everyday intuition and common sense.

       2.  To describe the important characteristics of the scientific approach and show how it promotes critical thinking.

       3.  To show how psychologists use three basic research methods: description, correlation, and experimentation.

       4.  To explain how psychologists use statistics in their research.

       5.  To answer some of the commonly asked questions about psychology.

from Myers, Psychology,7th edition

Chapter 2

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Our nervous system plays a vital role in how we think, feel, and act. Neurons, the basic building blocks of the body’s circuitry, receive signals through their branching dendrites and cell bodies and transmit electrical impulses down their axons. Chemical messengers called neurotransmitters traverse the tiny synaptic gap between neurons and pass on excitatory or inhibitory messages.

The central nervous system consists of the brain and spinal cord. The peripheral nervous system consists of the somatic nervous system, which directs voluntary movements and reflexes, and the autonomic nervous system, which controls the glands and muscles of our internal organs.

Evolution has elaborated new brain systems on top of old. Within the brainstem are the oldest regions, the medulla and the reticular formation. The thalamus sits atop the brainstem and the cerebellum extends from the rear. The limbic system includes the amygdala, the hippocampus, and the hypothalamus. The cerebral cortex, representing the highest level of brain development, is responsible for our most complex functions.

Each hemisphere of the cerebral cortex has four geographical areas: the frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal lobes. Although small, well-defined regions within these lobes control muscle movement and receive information from the body senses, most of the cortex—its association areas—are free to process other information. Experiments on split-brain patients suggest that, for most people, the left hemisphere is the more verbal and the right hemisphere excels in visual perception and the recognition of emotion. Studies of people with intact brains indicate that each hemisphere makes unique contributions to the integrated functions of the brain.

Hormones released by endocrine glands affect other tissues, including the brain. The most influential endocrine gland, the pituitary gland, releases hormones that influence growth, and its secretions also influence the release of hormones by other glands. The nervous system directs endocrine secretions, which then affect the nervous system.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To describe the structure of neurons and explain how they communicate.

       2.  To discuss the nature of the nervous system.

       3.  To identify the structures of the brain and discuss their respective functions.

       4.  To describe the intimate connection of the nervous and endocrine systems.

chapter 3

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To what extent are we shaped by our heredity and to what degree by our life history? The conclusions—that nature is crucially important and that nurture is crucially important—are central to today’s psychology.

Genes provide the blueprints that design both our universal human attributes and our individual traits. Evolutionary psychology sheds light on what’s universal, and behavior genetics on our differences.

Evolutionary psychologists study how natural selection favored behavioral tendencies that contributed to the survival and spread of one’s genes. For example, in explaining gender differences in sexual behavior, they argue that women most often send their genes into the future by pairing wisely, men by pairing widely. Critics maintain that evolutionary psychologists make too many hindsight explanations and underestimate the role of culture.

Behavior geneticists explore individual differences. By using twin, adoption, and temperament studies, they assess the heritability of various traits and disorders. Their research indicates that both nature and nurture influence our life courses. We are products of interactions between our genetic predispositions and our surrounding environments. Molecular geneticists’ search for genes that put people at risk for genetically influenced disorders has potential benefits as well as risks.

Although genetic influences are pervasive, so are environmental influences. Nurture begins in the womb as embryos receive differing nutrition and varying levels of exposure to toxic agents. Sculpted by experience, neural connections multiply rapidly after birth. Peers powerfully socialize children and are important in learning cooperation, for finding the road to popularity, and for inventing styles of interaction among people of the same age. Cultural groups evolve norms or rules that govern members’ behaviors. They vary in their requirements for personal space, their expressiveness, their pace of life, and their child-rearing practices.

Differing sex chromosomes and differing concentrations of sex hormones lead to significant physiological sex differences. Yet, gender differences vary widely depending on cultural socialization. Cultural variations in gender roles demonstrate our capacity for learning and adapting. Both social and cultural factors contribute to gender identity and gender-typing.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To describe how evolutionary psychologists seek to explain our universal behaviors.

       2.  To explain how behavior geneticists weigh genetic and environmental contributions to our various traits.

       3.  To discuss the role of prenatal environments, early experiences, peer influences, and cultures.

       4.  To explore both the nature and nurture of gender.

chapter 4

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Developmental psychologists study the life cycle, from conception to death, examining how we develop physically, cognitively, and socially. Three issues pervade this study: (1) the relative impact of genes and experience on behavior, (2) whether development is best described as gradual and continuous or as a sequence of predetermined stages, and (3) whether the individual’s personality remains stable or changes over the life span.

The life cycle begins when one sperm unites with a mature egg to form a zygote. Attached to the uterine wall, the developing embryo begins to form body organs and by 9 weeks, the fetus becomes recognizably human. With the aid of new methods of studying babies, researchers have discovered that newborns are surprisingly competent. Infants develop skills of sitting, standing, and walking in a predictable sequence; their actual timing is a function of individual maturation rate.

Jean Piaget theorized that the mind develops by forming schemas that help us assimilate our experiences and that must occasionally be altered to accommodate new information. In this way, children progress from the simplicity of the sensorimotor stage through the increasingly complex preoperational and concrete operational stages to abstract formal operational thought.

Infants become attached to their parents largely because they are comfortable, familiar, and responsive. Denied such care, children may become withdrawn, anxious, and eventually abusive. Self-concept develops gradually, but by age 10, children’s self-images are quite stable and are linked with their independence, optimism, and sociability. Children who develop a positive self-image tend to have been reared by parents who are authoritative but at the same time allow their children a sense of control over their own lives.

Adolescence typically begins at puberty with the onset of rapid growth and sexual maturity. Jean Piaget theorized that adolescents develop the capacity to reason abstractly. Following Piaget’s lead, Lawrence Kohlberg contended that moral thinking likewise proceeds through stages, from a morality of self-interest to a morality of universal ethical principles. Erik Erikson theorized that a chief task of adolescence is to form one’s identity. This struggle may continue into the adult years as new relationships emerge and new roles are assumed.

The barely perceptible physical declines of early adulthood begin to accelerate during middle adulthood. For women, a significant change is menopause. After 65, declining perceptual acuity, strength, and stamina are evident but short-term ailments are fewer. Fluid intelligence declines in later life, whereas crystallized intelligence does not.

Research suggests that people are not as predictable as some stage theorists have argued. Life events and even chance occurrences influence adult life in unanticipated ways. Two basic aspects of our lives—love and work—dominate adulthood. Most people retain a sense of well-being throughout life.

The normal range of reactions to a loved one’s death, or to our own impending death, is wider than most suppose. Those who face death with a sense of integrity, according to Erikson, feel that their lives have been meaningful and worthwhile.

Although the major stage theories have been modified in the light of later research, they continue to alert us to differences among people of different ages. Researchers who have followed lives through time have found evidence for both stability and change.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To trace the course of prenatal development.

       2.  To discuss the course of physical, cognitive, and social development in infancy, childhood, and adolescence.

       3.  To describe physical, cognitive, and social changes in adulthood.

       4.  To summarize current views regarding continuity or discrete stages and stability or change in personality across the life span.

chapter 5

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Sensation is concerned with how the outside world gets represented inside our heads, and we are exquisitely sensitive to some of the stimuli around us. Research reveals that we process some information from subliminal stimuli, but only under certain restricted conditions.

The task of each sense is to receive stimulus energy, transduce it into neural signals, and send those neural messages to the brain. In vision, light waves are converted into neural impulses by the retina; after being coded, these impulses travel up the optic nerve to the brain’s cortex, where they are interpreted. The Young-Helmholtz and opponent-process theories together help explain color vision.

In hearing, sound waves are transmitted to the fluid-filled cochlea, where they are converted to neural messages and sent to the brain. Together, the place and frequency theories explain how we hear both high-pitched and low-pitched sounds.

The sense of touch is actually four senses—pressure, warmth, cold, and pain—that combine to produce other sensations such as “hot.” Taste, a chemical sense, is a composite of sweet, sour, salty, bitter, and umami sensations, and of the aromas that interact with information from the taste buds. Smell, also a chemical sense, does not have basic sensations as there are for touch and taste. Our effective functioning also requires a kinesthetic sense and a vestibular sense, which together enable us to detect body position and movement.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To introduce some basic principles of sensation.

       2.  To discuss the visual process.

       3.  To discuss the auditory process.

       4.  To describe the other senses, including touch, taste, smell, and body position and movement.

chapter 6

chapter  6 preview

Perception involves the selection, organization, and interpretation of sensory information. It quickly became one of psychology’s primary concerns as early researchers attempted to explain illusions.

In organizing sensory data into whole perceptions, our first task is to discriminate figure from ground. We then organize the figure into meaningful form by following certain rules for grouping stimuli. We transform two-dimensional retinal images into three-dimensional perceptions by using binocular cues, such as retinal disparity, and monocular cues, such as the relative sizes of objects. Our brain computes motion as objects move across the retina. A quick succession of images can also create an illusion of movement.

The perceptual constancies enable us to perceive objects as enduring in shape, size, and lightness, regardless of viewing angle, distance, and illumination. The constancies explain several well-known illusions.

Studies of sensory deprivation reveal that, for many species, infancy is a critical period during which experience must activate the brain’s innate visual mechanisms. For example, when cataracts are removed from adults who have been blind from birth, they can distinguish figure and ground and they can perceive color, but they are unable to distinguish shapes and forms.

At the same time, human vision is remarkably adaptable. Given glasses that turn the world upside down, people manage to adapt and move about with ease. Clear evidence that perception is influenced by our experience comes from the many demonstrations of perceptual set and context effects. Because perceptions vary, they may not be what the designer of a machine assumes. Human factors psychologists study how people perceive and use machines and how machines and physical environments can be better suited to that use.

Although parapsychologists have tried to document ESP, most research psychologists remain skeptical, particularly because the results of experiments have not been reproducible.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To show how illusions help us understand perception.

       2.  To describe the basic principles of perceptual organization.

       3.  To discuss the factors that shape our perceptual interpretations.

       4.  To discuss the status of ESP research.

       5.  To identify the concerns of human factors psychologists.

chapter 7

chapter 7 preview

Consciousness is our awareness of ourselves and our environment. Conscious information processing enables us to exercise control and to communicate our mental states to others. Beneath the surface, subconscious processing occurs simultaneously on many parallel tracks.

Virtually everyone daydreams, especially fantasy-prone individuals. Like dreams at night, daydreaming can be adaptive; it can help prepare us for future events and may substitute for impulsive behavior.

Our daily schedule of waking and sleeping is governed by a biological clock known as circadian rhythm. Our sleep also follows a repeating cycle. Awakening people during REM sleep yields predictable “dreamlike” reports that are mostly of ordinary events. Freud’s view that dreams can be traced back to erotic wishes is giving way to newer theories, for example, that dreams help us process information and fix it in memory or that dreams erupt from neural activity.

Studies of hypnosis indicate that, although hypnotic procedures may facilitate recall, the hypnotist’s beliefs frequently work their way into subjects’ recollections. Hypnosis can be at least temporarily therapeutic and has the potential of bringing significant pain relief. Hypnosis may be both an extension of normal principles of social influence and of everyday splits in consciousness.

Psychoactive drugs also alter consciousness. Depressants act by depressing neural functioning. Although their effects are pleasurable, they impair memory and self-awareness and may have other physical consequences. Stimulants act at the synapses by influencing the brain’s neurotransmitters. Their effects depend on dosage and the user’s personality and expectations. Hallucinogens can distort judgment of time and can alter sensations and perceptions.

About one-third of those who survive a brush with death later recall visionary experiences. Some scientists point out that such near-death experiences closely parallel reports of hallucinations.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To identify levels of information processing and the content and functions of daydreams.

       2.  To discuss the nature of biological rhythms, including the sleep cycle, and to describe the nature and functions of dreams.

       3.  To discuss the nature of hypnosis.

       4.  To identify the effects of various drugs.

       5.  To describe the near-death experience.

chapter 8

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Learning helps us adapt to our environment. For example, through classical conditioning, we learn to anticipate events, such as being fed or experiencing pain. In his famous studies, Pavlov presented a neutral stimulus just before an unconditioned stimulus, which normally triggered an unconditioned response. After several repetitions, the neutral stimulus alone began triggering a conditioned response resembling the unconditioned response. Pavlov’s work laid a foundation for John Watson’s emerging belief that psychology should study only overt behavior, a position he called behaviorism. The behaviorists’ optimism that learning principles would generalize from one response to another and from one species to another has been tempered. We now know that conditioning principles are cognitively and biologically constrained.

While in classical conditioning we learn to associate two stimuli, in operant conditioning we learn to associate a response and its consequence. Skinner showed that rats and pigeons could be shaped through reinforcement to display successively closer approximations of a desired behavior. Researchers have also studied the effects of positive and negative reinforcers, primary and conditioned reinforcers, and immediate and delayed reinforcers. Critics point to research on latent learning and overjustification to support their claim that Skinner underestimated the importance of cognitive constraints. Although Skinner’s emphasis on external control also stimulated much debate regarding human freedom and the ethics of managing people, his operant principles are being applied in schools, businesses, and homes.

A third type of learning important among higher animals is what Albert Bandura calls observational learning. Children tend to imitate what a model does and says, whether the behavior is prosocial or antisocial. Research suggests that violence on television leads to aggressive behavior by children and teenagers who watch the programs.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To present the principles and processes involved in classical conditioning.

       2.  To present the principles and processes involved in operant conditioning.

       3.  To describe the nature of observational learning and the impact of both positive and negative
models.

chapter 9

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Memory is the persistence of learning over time. One helpful model of human memory is the Atkinson-Shiffrin three-stage processing model, which describes how information is encoded, stored, and retrieved.

Although some types of information are encoded automatically, other types, including information involving meaning, imagery, and organization, require effort. Mnemonic devices that use imagery and that organize information into chunks aid memory. Organizing into hierarchies also helps.

Information first enters the memory through the senses. We register visual images via iconic memory and sound via echoic memory.

Although our memory for information just presented is limited to about seven items, our capacity for storing information permanently is essentially unlimited. The search for the physical basis of memory has focused on the synapses and their neurotransmitters and on brain circuits. The hippocampus processes explicit (declarative) memories; even more ancient brain regions—for example, the cerebellum—process implicit (nondeclarative) memories.

To be remembered, information that is “in there” must be retrieved with the aid of associations that serve as primers. Returning to the original context sometimes aids retrieval. While in a good or bad mood we often retrieve memories congruent with that mood. Forgetting sometimes reflects encoding failure. Without effortful processing, much of what we sense we never notice or process. Memories may also fade after storage—often rapidly at first and then leveling off. Retrieval failures may be caused by proactive or retroactive interference or even by motivated forgetting.

Memories are not stored as exact copies. Rather, they are constructed, using both stored and new information. Thus, when eyewitnesses are subtly exposed to misinformation after an event, they often believe they saw the misleading details as part of the event. Memory researchers are especially suspicious of long-repressed memories of sexual abuse, UFO abduction, or other traumas that are “recovered” with the aid of a therapist or suggestive book.

Among strategies for improving memory are spaced practice; active rehearsal; encoding of well-organized, vivid, meaningful associations; mnemonic devices; the return to contexts and moods that are rich with associations; self-testing and rehearsal; and minimizing interference.

General Instructional Objectives

       1.  To introduce memory as an information-processing system, and to describe how we encode information.

       2.  To discuss the nature of storage and retrieval.

       3.  To describe forgetting and memory construction.

       4.  To present some strategies for improving memory.

chapter 10

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Concepts, the building blocks of thinking, simplify the world by organizing it into a hierarchy of categories. Concepts are often formed around prototypes, or the best examples of a category.

When faced with a novel situation for which no well-learned response will do, we may use problem-solving strategies such as trial and error, algorithms, heuristics, and insight. Obstacles to successful problem solving include the confirmation bias, mental set, and functional fixedness. Heuristics provide efficient, but occasionally misleading, guides for making quick decisions. Overconfidence, framing, belief bias, and belief perseverance further reveal our capacity for error.

Still, human cognition is remarkably efficient and adaptive. With experience, we grow adept at making quick, shrewd judgments. Studies of artificial intelligence reveal the strengths of the human mind. Although the computer shines on certain memory tasks and in making decisions using specified rules, it is dwarfed by the brain’s wide range of abilities and capacity for processing unrelated information simultaneously—although computer systems have been designed to mimic the brain’s interconnected neural units.

Language facilitates and expresses our thoughts. Spoken language is built of phonemes,
morphemes, words, and the semantics and syntax that make up grammar. The ease with which children master language has sparked a lively debate over whether children acquire language through association and imitation or are biologically prepared to learn words and use grammar.

Thinking and language are difficult to separate. Although the linguistic determinism
hypothesis states that language determines thought, we know that thinking can occur without
language, and so we might better say that thinking affects our language, which then affects our thoughts.

Another debate concerns whether language is uniquely human; it has been fueled by studies of animals, particularly chimpanzees, who have developed considerable vocabularies and who can string words together to express meaning. Although apes have considerable cognitive ability, skeptics point out important differences between apes’ and humans’ abilities to order words using proper syntax.

General Instructional Objectives

       1.  To explore how we construct concepts, solve problems, make decisions, and form judgments.

       2.  To describe language structure and development.

       3.  To discuss the relationship between thought and language.

       4.  To introduce the research on animal thinking and language.

chapter 11

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Modern intelligence testing began more than a century ago in France when Alfred Binet developed questions that helped predict children’s future progress in the Paris school system. Lewis Terman of Stanford University used Binet’s ideas to develop the Stanford-Binet intelligence test. German psychologist William Stern derived the formula for the famous intelligence quotient, or IQ.

Today, intelligence is generally considered to be the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use knowledge to adapt to new situations. Psychologists debate whether intelligence is one general ability or several specific abilities. While a certain level of intelligence is necessary for creativity, beyond that level, the correlation is weak. Psychologists have linked people’s intelligence to brain anatomy and functioning as well as to cognitive processing speed.

Modern aptitude and achievement tests are widely accepted only if they are standardized, reliable, and valid. Aptitude tests tend to be highly reliable but they are weak predictors of success in life. One way to test the validity of a test is to compare people who score at the two extremes of the normal curve: the challenged and the gifted.

Studies of twins, family members, and adopted children point to significant genetic determinants of intelligence scores. These and other studies also indicate that environment significantly influences intelligence test scores. Environmental differences are perhaps entirely responsible for racial gaps in intelligence. Psychologists debate evolutionary and cultural explanations of gender differences in aptitudes and abilities.

Aptitude tests, which predict performance in a given situation, are necessarily “biased” in the sense that they are sensitive to performance differences caused by cultural experiences. However, the major tests are not biased in that they predict as accurately for one group as for another.

General Instructional Objectives

       1.  To trace the history of intelligence testing, and to introduce contemporary views on the nature of intelligence.

       2.  To describe the principles of test construction.

       3.  To describe the stability of intelligence across the life span and to present extremes of intelligence.

       4.  To discuss genetic and environmental determinants of intelligence.

chapter 12

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Motivation is a need or desire that energizes and directs behavior. The early view that instincts control behavior was replaced by drive-reduction theory, which maintains that physiological needs create psychological drives that seek to restore internal stability, or homeostasis. In addition, some motivated behaviors increase arousal, and we are pulled by external incentives. According to Maslow, some motives are more compelling than others.

Hunger seems to originate from changes in glucose and insulin levels that are monitored by the hypothalamus, as well as changes in the levels of leptin, orexin, and PYY. To maintain a set-point weight, the body also adjusts its basal metabolic rate. Body chemistry and environmental factors together influence our taste preferences. Psychological influences on eating behavior are most evident in those who are motivated to be abnormally thin.

Like hunger, sexual motivation depends on the interplay of internal and external stimuli. In nonhuman animals, hormones help stimulate sexual activity. In humans, they influence sexual behavior more loosely. One’s sexual orientation seems neither willfully chosen nor willfully changed; new research links sexual orientation to biological factors.

The need to belong, is a major influence in motivating human behavior. Social bonds boosted our ancestors’ survival rates. We experience our need to belong when feeling the gloom of loneliness or joy of love, and when seeking social acceptance.

Work meets several human needs. The growing field of industrial-organizational psychology attempts to match people to work, enhance employee satisfaction and productivity, and explore strategies for effective workplace management.

People who excel are often self-disciplined individuals with strong achievement motivation. Effective leaders build on people’s strengths, work with them to set specific and challenging goals, and adapt their leadership style to the situation.

General Instructional Objectives

       1.  To present basic concepts of motivation.

       2.  To discuss the basis of hunger and to describe the major eating disorders.

       3.  To discuss sexual motivation, including the dynamics of sexual orientation.

       4.  To explain the strong human need to belong.

       5.  To describe how industrial/organizational psychology applies psychology’s principles to the workplace.

chapter 13

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Emotions are psychological responses that involve an interplay among (1) physiological arousal, (2) expressive behavior, and (3) conscious experience.

James and Lange argued that we feel emotion after we notice our bodily responses. Cannon and Bard contended that we feel emotion when our body responds. Stanley Schachter’s two-factor theory states that to experience emotion, we must be aroused and cognitively label the emotion. Although some psychologists agree that emotions arise from our interpretations and inferences, others maintain that some simple emotional responses occur without any conscious processing. Many emotions can be placed along two basic dimensions: arousal and valence.

Although the physical arousal that occurs with the different emotions is for the most part indistinguishable, researchers have discovered subtle differences in brain circuits, finger temperatures, and hormones. In using physiological indicators to detect lies, the polygraph does better than chance but not nearly well enough to justify its widespread use.

We decipher people’s emotions by “reading” their bodies, voices, and faces. Although some gestures are culturally determined, facial expressions, such as those of happiness and fear, are universal. Facial expressions not only communicate emotion but also amplify the felt emotion.

This chapter examines three human emotions in detail: fear, anger, and happiness. Although we seem biologically predisposed to acquire some fears, what we learn through experience best explains the variety of human fears. Anger is most often aroused by frustrating or insulting acts that seem willful and unjustified. Expressing anger may be temporarily calming, but in the long run, it can actually arouse more anger. Happiness boosts people’s perceptions of the world and their willingness to help others. However, even significant good events seldom increase happiness for long, a fact explained by the adaptation-level and relative deprivation principles.

general Instructional Objectives

       1.  To present the major theories and dimensions of emotion.

       2.  To describe the physiology of emotion, and to examine the effectiveness of the polygraph.

       3.  To present research on emotional expression.

       4.  To discuss our experiences of fear, anger, and happiness.

Chapter Guide

chapter 14

chapter preview

Health psychology provides psychology’s contribution to behavioral medicine. Among its concerns are the effects of stress and how to control stress, how our emotions and personality influence our risk of disease, and the promotion of healthier living.

Walter Cannon viewed our response to stress as a “fight or flight” system. Hans Selye saw it as a three-stage, general adaptation syndrome. Modern research assesses the health consequences of various life experiences. Events are particularly stressful when perceived as both negative and uncontrollable. Coronary heart disease has been linked with the anger-prone Type A personality. Stress also makes a person more vulnerable to infections and malignancy.

Stress management programs include training in aerobic exercise, biofeedback, and relaxation. Although biofeedback can sometimes help people control tension headaches and high blood
pressure, simple relaxation exercises offer some of the same benefits. Social support also buffers the impact of stress. Researchers seek to identify “intervening variables” that may link spirituality and health.

In attempting to reduce cigarette smoking, psychologists have studied the social influences that motivate adolescents to start smoking and the reinforcers that maintain the habit.

Other researchers are exploring how foods affect mood and behavior. In studying obesity,
psychologists have found that a number of physiological factors make it difficult to lose weight permanently. Those who wish to diet should minimize exposure to food cues, boost energy expenditure through exercise, make a lifelong change in eating patterns, and set realistic goals.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To introduce health psychology and identify some of its key concerns.

       2.  To discuss the nature of stress and explain its relationship to illness.

       3.  To present effective health-maintenance strategies.

chapter 15

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Personality is one’s characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.

Historic views of personality are grounded in Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalytic perspective and the humanistic perspective advanced by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers.

For Sigmund Freud, the father of the psychoanalytic perspective, conflict between pleasure-seeking biological impulses and social restraints centered on three interacting systems: id, ego, and superego. Freud believed that children develop through psychosexual stages and that people’s later problems are rooted in how they resolve conflicts associated with these stages.

The neo-Freudians agreed with Freud’s basic ideas but placed more emphasis on the conscious mind and on social influences. Today, psychodynamic theorists agree with many of Freud’s views but not his idea that sex is the basis of personality.

The humanistic perspective emphasizes the growth potential of healthy people. Abraham Maslow believed that if basic human needs are met, people will strive to actualize their highest potential. Carl Rogers suggested that being genuine, accepting, and empathic helps others to develop a positive self-concept.

Much of contemporary research focuses on the existence and consistency of personality traits and on the reciprocal effects of personal, cognitive, and environmental factors on personality.

The trait perspective attempts to describe the predispositions that underlie our actions. Through factor analysis, researchers have isolated five distinct dimensions of personality.

The social-cognitive perspective emphasizes how personal-cognitive factors combine with the environment to influence behavior. Researchers assess how people’s behaviors and beliefs both affect and are affected by their situations.

Most currently, the self is one of Western psychology’s more vigorously researched topics. Studies confirm the benefits of positive self-esteem but also point to the possible hazards of pride. Individuals and cultures vary in whether they prioritize “me” or “we.” Cognitive science indicates that, more than most of us realize, our lives are guided by nonconscious information processing.

General Instructional Objectives

       1.  To describe the psychoanalytic perspective on personality, and to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of Freud’s ideas.

       2.  To introduce and evaluate the humanistic perspective.

       3.  To present the trait perspective, and to discuss the consistency of behavior over time and across situations.

       4.  To describe the social-cognitive perspective, including recent research on personal control, learned helplessness, and optimism.

       5.  To discuss psychology’s study of the self, and to describe evidence for nonconscious information processing.

chapter 16

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Mental health workers label behavior psychologically disordered when it is atypical, disturbing, maladaptive, and unjustifiable. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
(DSM-IV) provides an authoritative classification scheme. Although diagnostic labels may facilitate communication and research, they can also bias our perception of people’s past and present behavior and unfairly stigmatize these individuals.

Those who suffer an anxiety disorder may for no reason feel uncontrollably tense (generalized anxiety disorder), may have a persistent irrational fear (phobia), or may be troubled by repetitive thoughts and actions (obsessive-compulsive disorder).

Mood disorders include major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Current research on depression is exploring (1) genetic and biochemical influences and (2) cyclic self-defeating beliefs, learned helplessness, negative attributions, and aversive experiences.

Under extreme stress, conscious awareness becomes separated from previous memories, thoughts, and feelings. Those afflicted with a dissociative disorder may even have two or more distinct personalities.

The symptoms of schizophrenia include disorganized thinking, disturbed perceptions, and inappropriate emotions. Researchers have linked certain forms of schizophrenia to brain abnormalities. Studies also point to a genetic predisposition that may work in conjunction with environmental factors.

Personality disorders are characterized by inflexible and enduring behavior patterns that impair social functioning. The most common is the remorseless and fearless antisocial personality.

Survey results indicate that 1 in 6 U.S. and British adults suffers clinically significant mental disorders. Most show the first symptoms by early adulthood.

General Instructional Objectives

       1.  To introduce the different perspectives on psychological disorders, and to discuss the controversy surrounding the use of diagnostic labels.

       2.  To describe the most prevalent disorders, and to examine their possible causes.

       3.  To describe the prevalence of the different psychological disorders.

chapter 17

chapter preview

The major psychotherapies derive from the psychoanalytic, humanistic, behavioral, and cognitive perspectives. Half of all therapists take an eclectic approach, using a blend of therapies.

Psychoanalysts use free association and the interpretation of dreams, resistances, and transference to help their patients gain insight into the unconscious origins of their disorders and to work through the accompanying feelings.

Humanistic therapy focuses on clients’ conscious feelings and on their taking responsibility
for their own growth. Client-centered therapists use active listening to express genuineness, acceptance, and empathy.

Behavior therapists emphasize the direct modification of problem behaviors. They use
exposure therapies such as systematic desensitization and aversive conditioning, and they may also apply operant conditioning principles with techniques such as token economies.

Cognitive therapies aim to change self-defeating thinking by training people to view themselves in new, more positive ways.

Except for traditional psychoanalysis, these various types of therapies may also occur in therapist-led small groups. One special type of group therapy, family therapy, assumes that no person is an island.

Research on the effectiveness of therapy indicates that people who receive therapy are more likely to improve than the untreated. However, the friendly counsel of paraprofessionals also tends to produce more improvement than occurs with untreated people.

Administration of antipsychotic, antianxiety, and antidepressant drugs constitutes the most widely used biomedical therapy. Electroconvulsive therapy, although controversial, continues to be an effective treatment for many severely depressed people who do not respond to drug therapy. Psychosurgery is rarely used to alleviate specific problems largely because the effects are irreversible and potentially drastic.

Preventive mental health experts aim to change oppressive, esteem-destroying environments into more benevolent, nurturing environments that foster individual growth and self-confidence.

general instructional objectives

       1.  To present the major psychotherapies and to evaluate their effectiveness.

       2.  To describe the biomedical therapies.

       3.  To introduce the rationale and strategy of preventative mental health.

chapter 18

chapter preview

Social psychology is the scientific study of how people think about, influence, and relate to one another.

In thinking about others’ behavior and its possible causes, we tend to underestimate the influence of the situation, thus committing the fundamental attribution error. Our attitudes predict behavior when other influences are minimized, when the attitude is specifically relevant to the behavior, and when we are aware of our attitudes. Our actions can also modify our attitudes, especially when we feel responsible for those actions.

Research on social influence indicates that when we are unsure about our judgments, we are likely to adjust them toward the group standard. Sometimes, social influences are even strong enough to make people conform to falsehoods or capitulate to cruelty.

The presence of others can arouse individuals, boosting their performance on easy tasks but hindering it on difficult ones. When people pool their efforts toward a group goal, individuals may free-ride on others’ efforts. Sometimes, group experiences arouse people and make them anonymous, and thus less self-aware and self-restrained. Within groups, discussions can enhance
members’ prevailing attitudes and produce groupthink. A minority committed to a position can, however, influence a majority.

Prejudice still often arises from social inequalities, social divisions, and emotional scapegoating. Research shows that stereotypes are a by-product of our natural ways of simplifying the world.

Aggression is a product of nature and nurture. In addition to genetic, neural, and biochemical influences, aversive events heighten people’s hostility. Aggressive behavior is also learned through rewards and by observing role models and media violence. Conflicts are fueled by social traps and mirror-image perceptions.

Geographical proximity, physical attractiveness, and similarity of attitudes and interests
influence our liking for one another. Passionate love is an aroused state we cognitively label as love. Companionate love often emerges as a relationship matures and is enhanced by equity and self-disclosure.

The presence of others at an emergency can inhibit helping. Many factors also influence our willingness to aid someone in distress, including cost-benefit analysis and social expectations.

Enemies become friends when they work toward superordinate goals, communicate clearly, and reciprocate conciliatory gestures.



general instructional objectives

       1.  To introduce attribution theory and research on the relationship between attitudes and action.

       2.  To present the literature on social influence as well as on the power of the person.

       3.  To describe the major findings on prejudice, aggression, and social conflict.

       4.  To explore factors that contribute to attraction, altruism, and peacemaking.

copywrite Worth Publishers

Author: Timothy Griffin
Last modified: 12/6/2019 5:23 PM (EDT)