PSY 101 Psychology in General (2)
last updated January 25, 2018
What primary jobs do people hold with
different degrees in psychology?
from last class)
Consider the issue about
myths in Psychology raised in our last class and one particular
Students Learn Best When Teaching Styles Are Matched to Their
(Lilienfeld et al.,
There are many
many books published which promote the notion of
this myth will offer helpful advice like this:
will ask very probing questions about such claims
- What does the idea
(myth) claim specifically?
(2004): 72 different types of learning styles (LS)
et al (2014): Dichotomized LSs creates more different styles
than people living on earth
et al (2009): Models clash, e.g., VAK Model of sensory
modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) is different
from Honey-Mumford model (activists, reflectors,
theorists, pragmatists) which never deals with sensory
- No agreed
upon model of what LS is
- Another way of asking this question is,
"if the claim is true, what would you predict
would be the outcome or result of that claim?"
What is the evidence that teaching according to learning
styles is beneficial?
et al (2008): few studies ever use an experimental
method. Those that did sometimes found flatly
contradictory results to the popular myth. No evidence
base in research to support LS
- Are there any factors
which might bias the results of testing the claim?
After all, parents, teachers, and book publishers have
motives to support the claim.
absence of experimental research in most LS studies
et al (2009)" Among the 3,604 ERIC entries related to
LS, less than one quarter are peer-reviewed articles.
et al. (2004) compiled a database of thousands of books,
journal articles, theses, magazine articles, websites,
conference papers, and unpublished literature. Few were
published in peer-reviewed journals and fewer still were
- Does the idea/myth of
learning style as crucial for guiding teachers' approaches
ignore important weaknesses of students, that is, by
emphasizing one approach to learning do students fail to
develop other crucial ways of learning?
- So, even if
the claim is at least partially trues, as Jarrett (2015)
argues, learning style-based teaching addresses a
student's strength. Is that too limited? Might it be
better for the student to improve other forms of learning
than their strongest one?
(2015) points out that in the United Kingdom, 96% of
teachers believe in the notion of learning styles and
teaching styles. In the United States, there are probably
just as many who do so, too. Psychology as both a science
and a profession claims that popular ideas are not
necessarily true ideas. Rather, as we will look at below,
they need to be grounded in good research and be proven to
Seven Unifying Themes in our Psychology Textbook
Psychology as a Field of Study
Psychology is empirical ("empirical" = knowledge
gained from observation of the real world)
- Is there such a thing as
Extrasensory Perception (ESP)?
- Why don't psychologists believe
that ESP exists?
- Psychologists are skeptical and
want to see evidence
- Extraordinary claims
require extraordinary evidence
- If you were to believe in
alien abduction by UFOs or our lives are controlled by
the position of the planets and stars (astrology), you
should be able to provide overwhelming evidence to
Two: Psychology is theoretically
- Color vision: Trichromatic vs.
Opponent-Process theories are BOTH correct
- Multiple theories in psychology ("theory"
= system of interrelated ideas to explain a set of
- The need for multiple theories
probably rests on the extraordinary complexity of what
psychology seeks to explain
- Biology, chemistry, and
physics generally deal with either non-life forms or
life forms which have far less complex nervous systems
- Human beings as the single
most complex reality in the universe other than
the universe itself
- Brain contains almost 1010
neurons (ca. 86,000,000,000, i.e., 86 billion) and 1014
(100 trillion) connections.
- 55 cubic millimeters (3.8 mm
on a side) of brain tissue contains about 5.5 million
neurons, 22 to 55 billion synapses, 22 kilometers of
dendrites and 220 kilometers of axons (Logothetis,
2008, p. 875)
Three: Psychology evolves in a social-historical context
- Are women inferior to
men in their thinking?
- Are Europeans more
intelligent than Africans?
- Are Asians more
intelligent than Europeans?
- Psychology both
reflects its own cultural background and shapes that
- Reflects: Freud's
ideas on sexuality stemming from sexual repression
of Victorian Era
- Shapes: Scientific
testing of intelligence, abilities, achievement
& personality fill schools, businesses, &
- Our own desire to
improve educational progress of children will prompt
us to seek ways of helping them.
Matter of Psychology
Four: Behavior is determined by multiple causes
- Why did you get the
score you got on the SAT?
- For most human
behaviors, there are multiple causes that together
contribute to a person acting (= multifactorial causation)
Five: Behavior is shaped by cultural heritage
- What is the best way
to raise your kids?
- What does it mean to
be a success in life?
- Culture = widely
shared customs, beliefs, values, norms, institutions,
and other elements that a community transmits across
- What is believed and
- In a certain group
- Over a period of
Six: Heredity and environment jointly influence behavior
- Why is the average
Japanese man taller today than his
- Note: there is extremely limited
genetic exchange between people of Japanese
ancestry and others, i.e., very few Japanese in
Japan historically marry non-Japanese partners
- Mid 19th Century = 155 cm (5'
1") vs. early
21st century = 171 cm (5' 7.3") =
that is 6 inches taller
- Why is the average
Southwestern American Indian child today significantly
heavier than his great grandparents were at the same
- Why do infant boys and
girls tend to behave in different ways in the months
immediately after birth?
- While genetics &
culture may individually affect a behavior, more
usually it is an inseparable combination of both that
causes humans to do what they do.
Seven: Our experience of the world is highly subjective
- We are always looking at a
situation from where we are, in our own setting, with our
- We often focus on one aspect of a
situation while ignoring other aspects.
- Psychology functions to help
correct this subjectivity and supply accurate and valid