Origins of Psychology and Research Methods Worksheet

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 31 July 2016

Origins of Psychology and Research Methods Worksheet

Part I: Origins of PsychologyThe seven major perspectives in modern psychology are psychoanalytic, behaviorist, humanist, cognitive, neuroscientific/biopsychological, evolutionary, and sociocultural.

Psychoanalytic: The founder of the psychoanalytic school of thought is Sigmund Freud. He believed that many psychological problems result from the conflicts that occur between “acceptable” behavior and “unacceptable” unconscious sexual or aggressive motives. His theory was called Psychoanalysis. Freud relied more on deductive reasoning rather than on rigorous research methods, hence making his approach non-scientific. Also, he laid emphasis on the importance of unconscious processes and unresolved past conflicts.

Behaviorist: The founder of the behaviorist school of thought is John B. Watson. Behaviorism perspective rejected the notion of the conscious and unconscious mind, but instead focused on the importance of observation and environmental influences on behavior. This school of thought first started with the Pavlov’s “classical conditioning”, which claimed that behaviors could be learned via conditioned associations Classical conditioning is a learning that occurs by which a neutral stimulus becomes associated with a meaningful stimulus and acquires the capacity to elicit a similar response (Feist, 2008, p. 449).

Another famous behaviorist, B.F Skinner, believed in the concept of “operant conditioning”, which demonstrated the effect of punishment and reinforcement on behavior. For instance, He claimed that if a behavior is reinforced, it increases the chances of that behavior to be repeated. Similarly, if a behavior is followed with punishment, the chances of that behavior to repeat itself diminish.

Humanist: The two major figures of the humanistic perspective are Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. They believed that all individuals have the natural capacity to move towards self actualization. Also, they emphasized on the notion of free will (voluntarily chosen behavior) and self-actualization (a state of self-fulfillment) (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2008).

Cognitive: Cognitive psychologists are interested in investigating the thought processes that occur in the brain. Also, they examine how the information is gathered, encoded and stored. Some of the concepts that are studied under cognitive psychology are perception, memory, imagery, concept formation, problem solving, reasoning, decision making, and language. Not only that, cognitive psychologists explain that a human mind works like a computer that sequentially takes in information(gathers), processes it( encodes), and then produces a response, hence called the information-processing approach.

Neuroscientific/Biopsychological: This school of thought emphasizes on the role of biological factors on behavior. Psychologists who follow this school of thought explain behavior through the use of genetics and biological processes that occur in the brain. These psychologists combine the biological and the psychological aspects to explain behavior.

Evolutionary: This school of thought examines concepts such as natural selection, adaptation, and evolution of behavior and mental processes. Evolutionary psychologists claim that an organism’s reproductive success is determined by the behavior that favors the process of natural selection (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2008).

Sociocultural: This school of thought emphasizes on the role of social interactions and cultural factors that influence behavior. Some factors include ethnicity, religion, occupation, and socioeconomic class and so on.

Part II: Research MethodsResearch Methods

MethodPurposeStrengthsWeaknessesProvide an exampleExperimentalIdentify cause and effectAllows precise control over variables and identifies cause and effectEthical concerns, practical limitations, artificiality of lab conditions, research and participant biases Manipulation and control of variablesDescriptiveObserve, collect and record data Minimizes artificiality, easier to collect data, allows description of behavior and mental processes as they occurLittle or no control over variables, cannot explain cause and effect, and researcher and participant biasesNaturalistic observation, survey, and case study.

CorrelationalIdentify relationships and how well one variable predicts another. Helps clarify relationships between variables that cannot be examined by other methods and allows prediction.Researchers cannot identify cause and effectStatistical analysis of relationship between variables.

Biological Identify causation as well as description and predictionShares many or all of the advantages of experimental, descriptive and correctional researchShares many or all of the disadvantages of experimental, descriptive and correctional researchStudies the brain and other parts of the nervous system.

Compare and contrast: Experimental and Correlational methods.

Experimental research method helps to explain cause and effect whereas the correlational method does not. An experiment comprises of an independent variable (manipulating variable), dependent variable (the variable on which the effect is examined), and experimental and control groups. Also, while conducting an experiment, the researcher must make sure that all the extraneous variables in experimental and control conditions are held constant so that it does not influence the results.

Furthermore, the researcher must take into consideration errors (biases) such as experimenter bias, participant bias amongst others that could also influence the results. Also, one of the most important features of an experimental method is making sure that the sample is representative. In other words, representative sample comprises of assigning participants randomly to an experimental and control groups. This procedure of random assignment ensures that each participant has an equal chance of being assigned to any particular group.

Correlation method, on the other hand, does not explain cause and effect. For instance, Correlation method gives us information on whether the variables being studied are related, but it does not provide any information on which variable influence which. For example, If A and B are two variables being studied, correlation method will give us information on whether A and B are related, but it would not tell us whether A causes B or B causes A. This method is used when researchers want to examine the relationship (Correlation) between variables. This method is analyzed using a correlation coefficient, a numerical value that specifies the degree and direction of the relationship between the two variables. Correlation coefficients range from +1.00 to -1.00, where the sign (positive or negative) denotes the direction of the correlation, and the numerical value (from 0 to +1.00 or -1.00) indicates the strength of the relationship. Both Experimental and correlation are research methods which are used to conduct research in psychology.

Part III: The Brain

Psychologists are interested in studying twins because they want to examine whether traits such as aggression, intelligence, sociability are inherited or are influenced by environment factors. To investigate such issues, the researchers conduct twin studies, as they have a high proportion of shared genes. There are two types of twins: identical and fraternal. Identical twins (monozygotic- one egg) are twins that share 100 percent of the same genes. On the other hand, fraternal twins (dizygotic- two egg) are twins that share approximately 50 percent of their genes, just like any other pair of siblings. Therefore, twin studies provide researchers with a lot of valuable information on the effects of heredity on behavior. For instance, both identical and fraternal twins share the same parents, hence the same environment. So, if heredity does influence a trait or a behavior then identical twins should be more similar than fraternal twins.

Also, Researchers are interested in studying families with children who have been adopted because it also gives them valuable information on whether genetic factors play a role in behavior. For instance, if the adopted children are more similar to their biological parents then it can be inferred that heredity does play a role in influencing a trait or a behavior. If on the other hand, the adopted children does not resemble the biological family and instead is more like the adopted family then it can be inferred that environmental factors and not genetics play a role.

1.What are the functions of neurotransmitters and hormones? How do they influence the brain and behavior?Neurotransmitters help to understand some common medical problems. For instance, some of the neurotransmitters and their functions are listed below:Serotonin has effects on mod, sleep, appetite, sensory perception, temperature regulation, pain suppression, and impulsivity.

Acetylcholine (ACh) has effects on muscle action, cognitive functioning, memory, rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, emotion.

Dopamine (DA) has effects on movement, attention, memory, learning, and emotion. Norepinephrine (NE) (or noradrenaline) has effects on earning, memory, dreaming, emotion, waking from sleep, eating, alertness, wakefulness, and reactions to stress.

Epinephrine (or adrenaline) has effects on motional arousal, memory storage, and metabolism of glucose necessary for energy release.

Hormones are used by endocrine system. Hormones help to control the body’s response to emergencies. For instance, “in times of crisis, the hypothalamus sends messages through two pathways- the neural system and the endocrine system (primarily the pituitary). The pituitary sends hormonal messages to the adrenal glands, which release release cortisol. Cortisol is a “stress hormone” that boosts energy and blood sugar levels, epinephrine (commonly called adrenaline), and norepinephrine (John Wiley & Sons Inc., 2008).”2.What is neuroplasticity?Neuroplasticity is at the ability of the human brain to change its structure and function as a result of usage and experience. The human brain is adaptive hence neuroplastic. For example, the neuroplasticity in brain helps us learn a foreign language.


Feist, J., & Feist, G. J. (2008) Theories of Personality (7th ed). New York: McGraw- HillJohn Wiley & Sons Inc.. (2008). Visualizing Psychology (1st ed.). NJ: Author.


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