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Sinclair: General Psychology Essays

Updated on June 16, 2014
  1. 1. What year did psychology became a science? Identify the two disciplines from which psychology gets its foundation. Describe the contributions of Wilhelm Wundt and Stanley Hall to the field of psychology.
  2. 2. After completing the pioneers of psychology timeline, how many pioneers did you correctly match to their accomplishments’? Discuss the limitations of the process of introspection. Describe some of the 20th century contributions to the field of psychology that moved it from the process of introspection to a more objective approach.
  3. 3. Describe how after the 1960’s the field of psychology returned to the study of mental processes. After completing the twentieth century psychology timeline, how many individuals were you able to match with their contributions to the field of psychology?

Psychology first became recognized as a science in1879 when Wilhelm Wundt opened the first psychology research laboratory at the University of Leipzig in Germany. The two disciplines from which psychology obtains its foundation are Structuralism and Functionalism. Structuralism is the study of how conscious experiences can be broken down into elemental structures of sensations and feelings. Functionalism is the study of how behavior functions allow people and animals to adapt to their environments. Two major contributors to the field of psychology are Wilhelm Wundt and Stanley Hall. Wilhelm Wundt was the founder of psychology as an experimental science; he also created the first psychology research lab and, published Principles of Physiological Psychology. Stanley Hall’s biggest contribution to the field of psychology was his organization of psychology in America. He established the first psychology research laboratory in the United States and went on to create the American Psychology Association.

I was able to correctly match four scientists to their accomplishments in the pioneers of psychology timeline. The process of introspection has many limitations; the main limitation being that there is no way to verify what people actually think and feel. Another problem the process encountered was that “different subjects often provided very different introspective reports about the same stimulus” (Hockenbury 4). Introspection could only be used to study human adults not animals or children. The process of introspection could not be used to investigate complex topics like mental disorders and/or learning and development problems. The 20th century moved the field of psychology further away from the process of introspection and closer to Behaviorism. The field of Behaviorism first began when Ivan Pavlov succeeded in training dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell and continued when John Watson picked up the study in the United States. Behaviorism was further refined by B.F. Skinner to being the study of observable behaviors that could be measured and verified.

In the 1960’s the field of psychology began to return to the study of mental processes after Jean Piaget’s study of intellectual growth in children captured the interest of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers were both key figures in the development of the field known as Humanistic Psychology. Humanistic Psychology emphasizes the importance of free will, self-determination, and the importance of choice in human behavior. I was able to correctly match five individuals with their contributions to the field of psychology on the twentieth century psychology timeline.

  1. Discuss some of the most common design or interpretation flaws found in psychological research.

There are many different common design or interpretation flaws that can be found in psychological research. One major flaw is shown in study 1 of the PsychSim 5; in this study Professor Jones used a group of 20 faculty children to gather data on child vocabulary development. The major flaw with study 1 was that the sample group was too small to generate the norms for the study.

In the second study Professor Okamoto observes 50 children who watch neutral TV and 50 children who watch prosocial TV to determine if the type of TV affects the way that the children interact with each other. The flaw that Professor Okamoto’s study shows is experimental bias. Professors Okamoto knew which type of TV each child watched; knowing this may have influenced her observations of the children.

In Study 3 Dr. Rivera assigned a journaling assignment to 24 junior high school students. He asked that each student record the hours that they slept each night and their exam grades in order to observe if sleep affects a student’s ability to learn. The major interpretation flaw in this study was interpreting a correlation as indicating cause and effect. Dr. Rivera concluded that sleep influence one’s ability to learn, but Dr. Rivera only measured the two variables; he never actually manipulated one of them. This means that Dr. Rivera can only truthfully say that there is a correlation between less sleep and bad grades, not that one causes the other.

In study 4 Professor Knudsen tested a new method of instructing foreign language to young adults in her three German classes. The average of her classes came to a B so she concluded that her new method enhanced learning in young adults. Professor Knudsen’s major flaw was that she did not have a control group; she used her new teaching method on all of her students so she had no one to compare the results against to determine if the students grades’ were better with her new teaching method or not.

  1. Discuss how researchers can design studies to prevent the flaws you have identified in question one.

Researchers can design studies to avoid and prevent the major flaws for the studies 1 through 4 from the PsychSim 5 in many different ways. In study 1 Professor Jones should have designed his study to incorporate more children. In study 2 Professor Okamoto should have brought in a second doctor, an assistant, or professor. By having a second person involved in the study the experimental bias could have been avoided by having one person observe the results and one person splitting the children into two groups. In study 3 Dr. Rivera should have either changed the study to determine if there was a correlation between sleep and grades or changed his study so that he would manipulate one of the variables. Dr. Rivera could have specified what time each student should go to bed and wake up at and then observe the students’ grades to see if there was a cause and effect relationship between sleep and grades. In study 4 Professor Knudsen should have designed her study to have a control group; instead of implementing her new teaching method to all three of her German classes she should have only used her new method on one or two of the classes. This would have created a control group that could have been used to measure the outcomes of her new teaching technique.

  1. What is the benefit of conducting an experiment rather than using a different type of study?

It is often beneficial to conduct an experiment instead of a different type of study. An experiment allows the researcher to manipulate variables and study the outcome. Additionally, an experiment can identify cause and effect relationships whereas other studies are often only able to determine correlation.

Discuss how communication occurs within and between neurons.

Communication within the neuron starts when the cell body and the dendrites gather messages. The messages are “then transmitted along the axon in the form of a brief electrical impulse called an action potential” (Hockenbury & Hockenbury). Communication between two neurons can happen in two different ways, either chemically or electrically. Electrical communication is almost instantaneous, however, less than one percent of the synapses in the brain use this method of communication. The main method of communication between two neurons is chemical communication. Chemical communication takes place between two neurons when the presynaptic nerve is activated. The presynaptic nerve generates the action potential that then travels to the end of the axon and then onto the axon terminals. It is here that some of the synaptic vesicles attach to the axon terminal membrane and release their neurotransmitters into the synaptic gap. The chemical messengers then cross the synaptic gap and finally they attach to receptor sites on the dendrites.

Explain how each neurotransmitter molecule is like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

Each neurotransmitter and receptor site has its own distinctive shape, much like a puzzle piece. Only one neurotransmitter will fit in a certain receptor site. For instance the neurotransmitter norepinephrine will only fit in the receptor site that has an opening that matches its’ size, it would not fit into a receptor site meant for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Just like a jigsaw puzzle each neurotransmitter will only fit into the correct receptor site.

  1. 1. Describe how the results of Seligman’s study explain the relationship between learned helplessness and human depression.

Seligman’s study found that learned helplessness in animals have similarities to depression in humans. Learned helplessness is “the loss of a sense of personal control over one’s life; the hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events” (PsychSim 5). Depression is “a cluster of systems including lack of energy, poor appetite, feelings of sadness, deep disappointment, sleepiness, and a loss of self-worth, that are normal reaction to unpleasant life events. Only if these symptoms last two week or more is the person considered to have major depression” (PsychSim 5). Seligman suggested that depression is a learned reaction in response to inescapable stressful events. Depression can develop from learned helplessness if the people experiencing the helplessness blame themselves for the bad events that caused their learned helplessness.

  1. 2. Discuss how learned helplessness could impact a person's behavior and personal and professional success.

Learned helplessness greatly affects both mood and behavior. People who experience learned helplessness are less likely to have a successful personal and professional life because they often lose their sense of optimism that would help them strive to better themselves. Many people who experience learned helplessness also come to blame themselves for the event that led to their lack of control; which can lead to depression. A depressed person who is experiencing a lack of control is even less likely to have a successful personal and professional life. Learned helplessness often causes people to give up and stop striving for a better life; instead they fall in to stagnation and depression.

Discuss the role that primary affects and emotional blends have in the expression of emotions.

Primary affects and emotional blends both play a role in the expression of emotions. Primary affects according to Paul Ekman are “the six basic emotions that are displayed on the face; surprise, fear, disgust, happiness, and sadness” (PsychSim 5). Emotional blends are “a combination of the facial codes associated with two different emotions displayed on the face at the same time” (PsychSim 5). Primary affects occur when a person can see one of the six basic emotions clearly on someone’s face; an emotional blend is when a person feels more that one of the six emotions and they are displayed on his or her face.

Discuss how people can mask emotions.

People can mask emotions that take a second or more to form. When an emotion takes longer than a second to form a different signal can interrupt and short-circuit the original emotion. It often takes time for a person to learn how to move their facial muscles to simulate a different emotion. For this reason it is often only older children and adults that can mask emotions.

b. Identify a situation in which a person might mask their emotions.

There are many different situations that would lead a person to mask their emotions. A person might want to mask their happiness during a card game so that the other players do not know that the person has a good hand. A person might also want to mask their fear if they were going through a haunted house with their friends.

In your own words, differentiate between a hallucination and a delusion.

Hallucinations are false experiences while delusions are false beliefs. For instance a hallucination could be a person believing that they have bugs crawling all over them when they do not. A delusion would be if a person believed that they were being spied on or watched constantly by someone.

In your own words, briefly describe the three types of schizophrenia.

The first type of schizophrenia is paranoid schizophrenia; this type of schizophrenia is most commonly diagnosed when people are experiencing delusions and hallucination. A person suffering from this type of schizophrenia would experience a common theme to their delusions and hallucination. An example of this would be if the person believed they were being religiously watched by the government.

The second type of schizophrenia is catatonic schizophrenia; this type is categorized by unusual posture and/or unusual patterns of movement. A person who has catatonic schizophrenia may display repetitive activity not related to any of the events or situations around them. The person might also not move at all; this type of person would remain completely still and unmoving from anywhere from a few hours to multiple days. People who suffer from catatonic schizophrenia can be described as zombie-like in how they move about.

The third type of schizophrenia is disorganized schizophrenia; this kind of schizophrenia includes a large range of disorganized behaviors. A person who suffers from this kind of schizophrenia can experience disorganized behavior, disorganized speech, flat or inapproriate emotions, hallucinations without themes, and/or delusions without themes. People with disorganized schizophrenia are the least likely to recover than those with other forms of schizophrenia.

  1. 1. On screen 5 of the activity, "Everybody's Doing It," you are asked what you thought happened when Sherif asked the individuals who had been previously tested alone to make judgments in the presence of others. Did you answer this question about the outcome correctly? Explain why you think the participants of this study changed their estimates when they had to call out their answers in the presence of other people.

I said that “The individual subjects eventually changed their estimates to be the estimates of the other subjects present in the room, and the estimates converged on a common standard” (PsychSim 5). This answer proved to be the correct one because the individuals wanted to conform with the group; I think that their answers also changed because none of them were one hundred percent sure that they were correct. This is called informational social influence; it is “influence resulting from a person’s willingness to accept other’s opinions about reality” (PsychSim 5).

  1. 2. Why do you think that in the Asch study, real participants denied the evidence of their eyes and reported the obviously incorrect answers chosen by the other group members?

The people denied the evidence of their eyes and reported the obviously incorrect answers chosen by the other group members because of normative social influence. Normative social influence is “influence resulting from a person’s desire to gain approval or avoid disapproval” (PsychSim 5). In the Asch study the participant conformed to the group so as to not stand out and gain the group’s disapproval.

  1. 3. The outcome of Sherif's study can be explained by informational social influence, and Asch's study can be explained by normative social influence.
  2. a. Which do you think accounts for more conformity behavior? Explain your answer.

I personally feel that informational social influence accounts for more conformity behavior than normative social influence does. I feel that people are more likely to conform when they are unsure of the correct behavior or answer than when they know that that by conforming they will be either behaving incorrectly or picking the wrong answer.


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