Scientific Study of Mind and Behavior

March 8, 2022
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Scientific Study of Mind and Behavior

Scientific Study of Mind and Behavior

This Assignment is designed to aid your progress in crafting the final Research Proposal (Signature Assignment). Here, our goal is the production of the Introduction, based on the sentence outline that was created in Assignment 1A

Using your outline from Unit 1, write the Introduction to your Research Proposal. The Introduction should be about 3 pages in length, and contain

1. a short review* of at least 5 original papers, including citations in APA format.

2. an explicit rationale for conducting the study

3. your conceptual hypothesis, stated explicitly**

4. your research hypothesis, stated explicitly**

5. your references, at the end, in APA format.

*For each source, you should have a couple of sentences about the background/hypothesis, a couple of sentences about the methods, a couple of sentences about the results, and a couple of sentences about how the source is related to the study that you are proposing.

** It is a good idea to write statements such as “The conceptual hypothesis of the proposed study is…” and “The proposed study will test the research hypothesis that…”

Psychology is the scientific study of mind and behavior. Psychology includes the study of conscious and unconscious phenomena, including feelings and thoughts. It is an academic discipline of immense scope, crossing the boundaries between the natural and social sciences. Psychologists seek an understanding of the emergent properties of brains, linking the discipline to neuroscience. As a social science, psychologists aim to understand the behavior of individuals and groups.[1][2] Ψ (or psi) is a Greek letter which is commonly associated with the science of psychology.

A professional practitioner or researcher involved in the discipline is called a psychologist. Some psychologists can also be classified as social, behavioral, or cognitive scientists. Some psychologists attempt to understand the role of mental functions in individual and social behavior. Others explore the physiological and biological processes that underlie cognitive functions and behaviors.

Psychologists are involved in research on perception, cognition, attention, emotion, intelligence, subjective experiences, motivation, brain functioning, and personality. Psychologists’ interests extend to interpersonal relationships, psychological resilience, family resilience, and other areas within social psychology. They also consider the unconscious mind.[3] Research psychologists employ empirical methods to infer causal and correlational relationships between psychosocial variables. Some, but not all, clinical and counseling psychologists rely on symbolic interpretation.

While psychological knowledge is often applied to the assessment and treatment of mental health problems, it is also directed towards understanding and solving problems in several spheres of human activity. By many accounts, psychology ultimately aims to benefit society.[4][5] Many psychologists are involved in some kind of therapeutic role, practicing in clinical, counseling, or school settings. Other psychologists conduct scientific research on a wide range of topics related to mental processes and behavior. Typically the latter group of psychologists work in academic settings (e.g., universities, medical schools, hospitals). Another group of psychologists is employed in industrial and organizational settings.[6] Yet others are involved in work on human development, aging, sports, health, forensics, and the media.

Biological
Main article: Cognitive neuroscience

False-color representations of cerebral fiber pathways affected, per Van Horn et al.[V]: 3
Psychologists generally consider biology the substrate of thought and feeling, and therefore an important area of study. Behaviorial neuroscience, also known as biological psychology, involves the application of biological principles to the study of physiological and genetic mechanisms underlying behavior in humans and other animals. The allied field of comparative psychology is the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of non-human animals.[64] A leading question in behavioral neuroscience has been whether and how mental functions are localized in the brain. From Phineas Gage to H.M. and Clive Wearing, individual people with mental deficits traceable to physical brain damage have inspired new discoveries in this area.[65] Modern behavioral neuroscience could be said to originate in the 1870s, when in France Paul Broca traced production of speech to the left frontal gyrus, thereby also demonstrating hemispheric lateralization of brain function. Soon after, Carl Wernicke identified a related area necessary for the understanding of speech.[66]: 20–2

The contemporary field of behavioral neuroscience focuses on the physical basis of behavior. Behaviorial neuroscientists use animal models, often relying on rats, to study the neural, genetic, and cellular mechanisms that underlie behaviors involved in learning, memory, and fear responses.[67] Cognitive neuroscientists, by using neural imaging tools, investigate the neural correlates of psychological processes in humans. Neuropsychologists conduct psychological assessments to determine how an individual’s behavior and cognition are related to the brain. The biopsychosocial model is a cross-disciplinary, holistic model that concerns the ways in which interrelationships of biological, psychological, and socio-environmental factors affect health and behavior.[68]

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Evolutionary psychology approaches thought and behavior from a modern evolutionary perspective. This perspective suggests that psychological adaptations evolved to solve recurrent problems in human ancestral environments. Evolutionary psychologists attempt to find out how human psychological traits are evolved adaptations, the results of natural selection or sexual selection over the course of human evolution.[69]

The history of the biological foundations of psychology includes evidence of racism. The idea of white supremacy and indeed the modern concept of race itself arose during the process of world conquest by Europeans.[70] Carl von Linnaeus’s four-fold classification of humans classifies Europeans as intelligent and severe, Americans as contented and free, Asians as ritualistic, and Africans as lazy and capricious. Race was also used to justify the construction of socially specific mental disorders such as drapetomania and dysaesthesia aethiopica—the behavior of uncooperative African slaves.[71] After the creation of experimental psychology, “ethnical psychology” emerged as a subdiscipline, based on the assumption that studying primitive races would provide an important link between animal behavior and the psychology of more evolved humans.[72]

Behavioral
Main articles: Behaviorism, Psychological behaviorism, and Radical behaviorism

Skinner’s teaching machine, a mechanical invention to automate the task of programmed instruction
A tenet of behavioral research is that a large part of both human and lower-animal behavior is learned. A principle associated with behavioral research is that the mechanisms involved in learning apply to humans and non-human animals. Behavioral researchers have developed a treatment known as behavior modification, which is used to help individuals replace undesirable behaviors with desirable ones.

File:Little Albert experiment (1920).webm
The film of the Little Albert experiment
Early behavioral researchers studied stimulus–response pairings, now known as classical conditioning. They demonstrated that when a biologically potent stimulus (e.g., food that elicits salivation) is paired with a previously neutral stimulus (e.g., a bell) over several learning trials, the neutral stimulus by itself can come to elicit the response the biologically potent stimulus elicits. Ivan Pavlov—known best for inducing dogs to salivate in the presence of a stimulus previously linked with food—became a leading figure in the Soviet Union and inspired followers to use his methods on humans.[33] In the United States, Edward Lee Thorndike initiated “connectionist” studies by trapping animals in “puzzle boxes” and rewarding them for escaping. Thorndike wrote in 1911, “There can be no moral warrant for studying man’s nature unless the study will enable us to control his acts.”[25]: 212–5  From 1910 to 1913 the American Psychological Association went through a sea change of opinion, away from mentalism and towards “behavioralism.” In 1913, John B. Watson coined the term behaviorism for this school of thought.[25]: 218–27  Watson’s famous Little Albert experiment in 1920 was at first thought to demonstrate that repeated use of upsetting loud noises could instill phobias (aversions to other stimuli) in an infant human,[11][73] although such a conclusion was likely an exaggeration.[74] Karl Lashley, a close collaborator with Watson, examined biological manifestations of learning in the brain.[65]

Clark L. Hull, Edwin Guthrie, and others did much to help behaviorism become a widely used paradigm.[31] A new method of “instrumental” or “operant” conditioning added the concepts of reinforcement and punishment to the model of behavior change. Radical behaviorists avoided discussing the inner workings of the mind, especially the unconscious mind, which they considered impossible to assess scientifically.[75] Operant conditioning was first described by Miller and Kanorski and popularized in the U.S. by B.F. Skinner, who emerged as a leading intellectual of the behaviorist movement.[76][77]

Noam Chomsky published an influential critique of radical behaviorism on the grounds that behaviorist principles could not adequately explain the complex mental process of language acquisition and language use.[78][79] The review, which was scathing, did much to reduce the status of behaviorism within psychology.[25]: 282–5  Martin Seligman and his colleagues discovered that they could condition “learned helplessness” in dogs, a state that was not predicted by the behaviorist approach to psychology.[80][81] Edward C. Tolman advanced a hybrid “cognitive behavioral” model, most notably with his 1948 publication discussing the cognitive maps used by rats to guess at the location of food at the end of a maze.[82] Skinner’s behaviorism did not die, in part because it generated successful practical applications.[79]

The Association for Behavior Analysis International was founded in 1974 and by 2003 had members from 42 countries. The field has gained a foothold in Latin America and Japan.[83] Applied behavior analysis is the term used for the application of the principles of operant conditioning to change socially significant behavior (it supersedes the term behavior modification).[84]

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