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            Homepage]  PSY 101 Psychology in General (Outline)

How well do you know psychology already?
Take 10-item True/False "Conceptions of Psychology" quiz which has questions taken from many different areas of psychology.

Score Quiz (Fr. Hevern will provide the right answers)

Discuss results and implications of quiz

Psychology's History (pp. 3-15)

Read this on your own
Note some general notions in the history of psychology
  • Modern psychology was born in the second half of the 19th century
  • For the first half of the 20th century, there were a set of major competing "schools of thought"
  • Between 1900 and 1939, Sigmund Freud argued that our unconscious is primarily responsible for what we do. And, so, he questioned whether we even have "free will".
  • But, J. B. Watson, B. F. Skinner, and other "behaviorists" denied Freud's claim and said we should only look at external behaviors (not at the mind)
  • After the 2nd World War, beginning in the 1950, the "Humanists" emerged to champion free will and the unique qualities of each human person
  • As we moved to the last part of the 20th century, psychologists became more interested in biological influences on behavior and on "evolutionary" forces that emerge from our genetic make-up as we interact with the environment.

So, what does our textbook author propose is the current meaning or definition of psychology?

Psychology is

the science that studies behavior and
the physical and cognitive processes that underlie behavior

it is the profession that applies the accumulated knowledge of this science to practical problems.

Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Handbook: Psychologists

What do psychologists do?
"Psychologists study cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and their environments."

Types of Psychologists
  • Clinical Psychologists
  • Counseling Psychologists
  • Developmental Psychologists
  • Forensic Psychologists
  • Industrial-Organizational Psychologists [Organizational Behavior Psychologists]
  • School Psychologists
  • Social Psychologists
  • Psychologists also become university, college, and high school teachers
Median Pay (2020) median = half higher, half lower
  • $82.180 per year (in 2019 = $80,370)
  • $39.51 per hour (in 2019 = $38.64 per hour)

Number of Jobs in U.S. 2019 = 192,300

Job Outlook for 2019 to 2029 = 3% growth (about average) = 5,700 jobs

Work Environments

Some psychologists work independently, conducting research, consulting with clients, or working with patients. Others work as part of a healthcare team, collaborating with physicians and social workers or in school settings, working with students, teachers, parents, and other educators. Those in private practice often work evenings and weekends to accommodate clients.      

How to Become A Psychologist

Although psychologists typically need a doctoral degree in psychology, a master’s degree is sufficient for some positions. Psychologists in independent practice also need a license.

What primary jobs do people hold with different degrees in psychology?

  Areas of Work at different levels of
                            degrees in Psychology

Seven Unifying Themes in our Psychology Textbook (pp. 18-22)

Psychology as a Field of Study

One: 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
Two: Psychology is theoretically diverse
  • Multiple theories in psychology ("theory" = system of interrelated ideas to explain a set of observations)
  • 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 than humans.
  • 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.
Relative Sizes     Voxel
    • 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
Three: Psychology evolves in a social-historical context
  • Psychology both reflects its own cultural background and shapes that background
    • Reflects: Freud's ideas on sexuality stemming from sexual repression of Victorian Era
    • Shapes: Scientific testing of intelligence, abilities, achievement & personality fill schools, businesses, & health care
    • Our own desire to improve educational progress of children will prompt us to seek ways of helping them.
The Subject 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
Six: Heredity and environment jointly influence behavior
  • Why is the average Japanese man taller today than his great-great-grandfather was?
    • Mid 19th Century = 155 cm (5' 1") vs. early 21st century = 171 cm (5' 7.3") = that is 6 inches taller
  • 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
Visual illusions (Michael Bach, Universitäts-Augenklinik Freiburg)