UNIT I STUDY GUIDE
Introduction to Psychology
and Research Methods
Course Learning Outcomes for Unit I
Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
1. Outline the historical development of the psychology field.
1.1 Describe how psychology addresses topics from a scientific perspective.
1.2 Compare the three early psychologies of structuralism, functionalism, and psychoanalysis.
1.3 Identify the major thinkers who promoted each of these schools of thought.
2. Differentiate research methodologies used in the field of psychology.
2.1 Distinguish between a theory, a hypothesis, and an operational definition.
2.2 Identify the differences between case studies, naturalistic and laboratory observations,
tests, surveys, correlational studies, and experiments.
What is Psychology?
How Psychologists Do Research
Chapter 1: What is Psychology?
Psychology, Pseudoscience, and Popular Opinion: Most laypersons would argue that behavioral science
involves the embracement of common sense principles. Quite often, people gain their foundational knowledge
about psychology by grasping information they have gleaned from professionals on talk-shows. However, it is
important to go beyond common sense principles because these beliefs are not always supported by
In fact, psychology is a diverse field in which many theories are present. According to Wade and Tavris
(2017), psychology is a specific discipline that seeks to understand mental processing and human behaviors.
Psychologists study the internal and external processing of various stimuli and the effects on the organism’s
mental and physical state. Many forms of pseudoscience, including psychics and astrologers, seek to
compare with psychology. However, psychology is distinguished by its usage of empirical evidence. Although
many forms of psychobabble seem tempting due to the natural appeal to various beliefs and prejudices,
psychology often provides evidence to challenge assumptions and ideologies.
Thinking Critically and Creatively About Psychology: As you read Chapter 1, you will begin to gain
critical-thinking skills. By thinking critically, one can evaluate research findings on various psychological
issues. In order to think critically, an individual must seek to answer questions, examine the evidence,
carefully analyze biases, avoid reasoning grounded in emotions, bypass oversimplification, contemplate
various alternatives, and permit uncertainties that may exist (Wade & Tavris, 2017).
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Psychology’s Past: From the Armchair to the Laboratory: Chapter 1 discusses the various viewpoints
from forerunners of psychology, including Wilhelm Wundt, Edward
Titchener, William James, Wolfgang Kohler, and Sigmund Freud.
Many of the roots for psychology today can be traced back to the
work of Freud and his theory of psychoanalysis. Freud postulated
that many unconscious thoughts are grounded in various emotional
and mental problems experienced by the individual (Wade & Tavris,
Although much is widely known about the foundational men in
psychology, numerous female scholars have notable
accomplishments within this field as well. For instance, Mary
Whiton Calkins was a student at Harvard University, and she
collaborated with William James on many projects while enrolled
there. Unfortunately, she never received a Ph.D. from this
institution of higher learning because during this period, Harvard did
not give women official acceptance into their graduate school.
Calkins, did however, make great contributions to the field as her
lab produced prolific work in the area of short-term memory
(Madigan & O’Hara, 1992).
Another notable woman in psychology’s history was Mamie Phipps
Clark. This African American researcher received degrees from
Howard University and Columbia University. Clark was interested in
examining the impact of racial segregation on African American
youth. Within her studies, she used White and Black dolls to help
ascertain racial identity with White and Black children. Upon seeing
the two dolls, the children were instructed to choose the one that most resembled them. They were then
asked to pick which doll they wanted to play with during the experiment. The majority of both White and Black
children chose the White doll. Based on these observations, Clark concluded that both races of children
preferred being White (Clark & Clark, 1950). Her pivotal work within this area was detailed in the Supreme
Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, which determined that school segregation within
American public schools was unconstitutional.
Sigmund Freud is considered to be one of
the most influential people in the early
field of psychology.
Psychology’s Present: The Four Perspectives of Psychological Science: There are four dominant
perspectives in modern psychology today: biological, learning, cognitive, and sociocultural. Each approach
seeks to answer various questions about the behavior of humans. Other movements do not fall into the above
categories yet have affected the field as well.
These include feminist and humanist psychology
(Wade & Tavris, 2017). Each perspective seeks to
explain human behaviors in an unique way.
What Psychologists Do: Psychologists today hold
a variety of occupations. Some serve as professors
and mental-health providers while others conduct
research in either basic or applied psychology.
Many psychologists perform the role of practitioner.
They often counsel individuals seeking to solve
daily issues and conflicts.
Historically, psychologists have been under the
obligation to do no harm when working with
research participants; however, after the attacks on
September 11, 2001, the CIA and U.S. military
Constellation therapy is one method used by family psychologists
were accused of embracing controversial
in therapy sessions.
interrogation strategies while seeking to gather
information from suspected terrorists. These
questionable acts included numerous tactics such as water-boarding, sleep deprivation, and stress
positioning, just to name a few. It is important to note that psychologists participated in such interrogations,
which raised multiple ethical questions. Although the American Psychological Association (APA) determined
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that psychologists could assist with national security and military interrogations and consultations, this
decision has been met with much controversy. Many members of the APA purport that this position conflicts
with the foundational principles of this organization. In response to this controversy, some resolutions were
crafted that banned practitioners from controversial strategies such as forced nudity and exploitation of
phobias held by prisoners (Munsey, 2008; Vedantam, 2007). What are your thoughts? Should such
controversial interrogation strategies be used if they can potentially save American lives?
Biology, Culture, and Psychology: As you conclude your examination of Chapter 1, you will learn that most
psychologists today embrace more than one school of thought in regard to psychology. This is described as
crossing the border (Wade & Tavris, 2017). This trend is often reinforced by the growing interest in cultural
and biological influences. The overarching theme is to embrace the crucial element of empirical evidence that
makes psychology the science it is today.
Chapter 2: How Psychologists Do Research
What makes psychological research scientific? It is important to understand scientific methods within a
psychology context. It is important to embrace research methods that will sift foundational conclusions from
groundless beliefs. By examining diverse research methods, one can begin to improve his or her critical
thinking about psychological disputes. Scientists make a concerted effort to practice effective research
techniques (Wade & Tavris, 2017). They formulate hypotheses and draft concise predictions. They are not
gullible beings that believe all claims. These researchers rely on empirical evidence and avoid biases. The
research methods of these individuals are open to public scrutiny, and their findings can effectively be
replicated. Peer review is an integral portion of the process and provides a proper sense of balance.
Descriptive Studies: Establishing the Facts: In a perfect world, researchers would always utilize
representative samples when conducting studies so that the larger population could be properly studied;
however, due to various reasons, researchers are often forced to embrace convenience samples. When
doing so, the data must be interpreted with extreme caution. In descriptive studies, behaviors are predicted
and described. These can include case studies, observational studies, psychological testing, and surveys.
Correlational Studies: Looking for Relationships: Correlational studies are a type of descriptive study in
which the relationships between two variables are examined. It is important to remember that not all
correlations are based on supporting data. Although correlational studies are helpful in making predictions,
they do not necessarily determine causality.
An example of data from a correlational study
A study conducted by Christakis, Zimmerman,
DiGiuseppe, and McCarty (2004) reported that a
positive correlation exists between the amount of
time children 1-3 years of age spend watching
television and their propensity for hyperactive
behaviors like impulse control, inattention, and
concentration struggles by the time they reach 7
years of age. Do you think this means that
watching television can cause a child to later
become hyperactive? Could it be possible that
children who are already predisposed to
hyperactivity are more likely to enjoy watching
television than children who have calm
dispositions? Furthermore, could strained parents
of easily distracted children be more apt to
embrace the television as child monitor?
Experiments: Hunting for Causes: Experimental research seeks to identify cause and effect relationships
via controlled efforts. In these studies, independent variables are manipulated while measuring the effects on
dependent variables. Participants are assigned to either control or experimental groups. Placebos are often
given to the control group during treatment efforts. In an effort to keep the results from being influenced,
single-blind and double-blind procedures are often embraced to eliminate biases.
Evaluating the Findings: Descriptive statistics are utilized to summarize the data gathered. Such statistics
include the arithmetic mean and standard deviation. Inferential statistics are implemented as well. Both assist
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in making research findings significant and meaningful. It is imperative that one does not go beyond the facts
of the data when interpreting the results. Often times, hypotheses must be tested in various ways. This can
include cross-sectional and longitudinal studies.
Keeping the Enterprise Ethical: Researchers are bound by various codes of ethics to ensure respect and
dignity for participants. It is important to obtain informed consent from participants in a study. The researcher
must seek to protect these individuals from harm and make them aware of any potential dangers associated
with the experiment. Moral guidelines have been implemented to protect individuals as well.
For many years, debate has continued over the use of animals for psychological studies. Regulations have
been established to govern treatment practices and care of this population as well. What are your thoughts?
Do you think it is ethical to expose animals to painful experiences if the learning outcomes improve conditions
Taking Psychology With You: As you conclude your reading for this unit, it is important to remember that
although statistics assist scientists in evaluating human behaviors, statistics often can be misrepresented,
misused, and misconstrued. Wade and Tavris (2017) argue that certain efforts must be embraced to avoid
these errors. Critical and scientific thinking must be embraced when examining psychological findings.
á. (2012, May 29). Correlation coefficient of intelligence quotients compared with genetic similarity [Image].
Christakis, D. A., Zimmerman, F. J., DiGiuseppe, D. L., & McCarty, C. A. (2004). Early television exposure
and subsequent attentional problems in children. Pediatrics, 113, 708-713.
Clark, K. B., & Clark, M. P. (1950). Emotional factors in racial identification and preference in Negro children.
Journal of Negro Education, 19, 341-350.
Grillich, L. (n.d.). Sigmund Freud um 1905 [Image]. Retrieved from
Madigan, S., & O’Hara, R. (1992). Short-term memory at the turn of the century. American Psychologist, 47,
Munsey, C. (2008). The debate continues: Psychologists continue to discuss the field’s involvement in
interrogations. Monitor on Psychology, 39(9), 16.
Vedantam, S. (2007, August 20). APA rules on interrogation abuse: Psychologists’ group bars member
participation in certain techniques. Washington Post.
Wade, C., & Tavris, C. (2017). Psychology (12th ed.)[VitalSource Bookshelf version]. Retrieved from
Wong, A. (2012, January 15). Family constellation [Image]. Retrieved from
The links below will direct you to both a PowerPoint and PDF view of the Chapter 1 and 2 Presentations,
which will summarize and reinforce the information from these chapters in your textbook.
Click here to access the Chapter 1 PowerPoint Presentation. (Click here to access a PDF version of the
PSY 1010, General Psychology
Click here to access the Chapter 2 PowerPoint Presentation. (Click here to access a PDF version of the
In order to access the following resources, click the links below:
The following are three psychology articles found within the Academic OneFile database located in the CSU
Online Library. The articles discuss the topics of phrenology, psychoanalysis, and social psychology. These
three topics are vitally important to the history of psychology as they helped to form the basis of psychological
research. While research has changed drastically and we understand more than we did 100 years ago,
psychological research may not exist had not pioneering individuals stepped forward and began researching
the human psyche.
Soreff, S. M., & Bazemore, P. H. (2007). Examining phrenology: This pseudoscience did have some influence
on modern understanding of the brain. Behavioral Healthcare, 27(1), 14-17. Retrieved from
Nansen, J. T. (2010). Counseling and psychoanalysis: Advancing the value of diversity. Journal of
Multicultural Counseling and Development, 38(1), 16-27. Retrieved from
Collett, J., & Lizardo, O. (2010). Occupational status and the experience of anger. Social Forces, 88(5), 20793005. Retrieved from
Learning Activities (Non-Graded)
Non-graded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to
submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information.
The short quizzes below are a great way to self-test your knowledge of the concepts learned in this unit. Take
a few minutes to complete these quizzes to check your understanding. They are located in the textbook on
the page(s) given. The answers are provided in the document below the quizzes, but try to answer the
questions before checking the answers.
Quiz for Module 1.1 (page 6)
Quiz for Module 1.2 (pages 13-14)
Quiz for Module 1.3 (page 18)
Quiz for Module 1.4 (page 21)
Quiz for Module 1.5 (page 27)
Chapter 1 Quiz (pages 31-33)
Quiz for Module 2.1 (page 40)
Quiz for Module 2.2 (page 47)
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Quiz for Module 2.3 (page 50)
Quiz for Module 2.4 (page 56)
Quiz for Module 2.5 (page 62)
Quiz for Module 2.6 (page 64)
Chapter 2 Quiz (pages 68-70)
Click here for the Chapter 1 answer keys.
Click here for the Chapter 2 answer keys.
PSY 1010, General Psychology
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