History & Approaches of Psychology
Ex: How do we learn to fear particular objects or situations?
Study: B.F. Skinner- Operant Conditioning
B.F. Skinner's study focused on how behavior can be changed or altered by the use of both positive and negative reinforcement. For example, Skinner would show positive reinforcement by placing a hungry rat in a box with a lever in it and as the rat would move around the box, it would accidentally hit the lever which would immediately release a food pellet into a container for the rat to eat. Once the rat was dropped the box a few times, it would soon learn to go straight to the lever. This strengthens behavior because it provides a consequence that the rat finds rewarding, so it learns to keep doing it. On the flip side, Skinner would conduct negative reinforcement by placing a rat in another box with a lever. This lever would send an unpleasant electrical current through the rat. When the rat would move around the box and accidentally hit the lever, it would get a minor electric shock. After being exposed to the shock multiple times, the rat would learn to stay away from the lever. Through negative reinforcement, behavior is able to be strengthened because it removes or stops unpleasant experiences.
Ex: To what extent are psychological traits such as intelligence, personality, sexual orientation, and vulnerability to depression products of our genes?
Study: Sibling Interaction and Behavior Study (SIBS)
The SIBS Study studies adoptive and biological siblings and parents. It is a longitudinal research study. It's main purpose is to understand how sibling interaction impacts behavior as well as how family environment influences the health of adolescents. This study also looks into the similarities and differences between adoptive and biological families.
Ex: How our interpretation of a situation affects our anger and how our anger affects our thinking
Study: Ulric Neisser (Perceptual)- Selective Looking (Inattentional Blindness)
Ulric Neisser created experiments to test selective looking. In these experiments he would have people look at "superimposed videos" of different things on a single screen. These people, while concentrating on one event, would miss "surprise novel events" happening at the same time on the screen.
Ex: If a boat was sinking and you had the choice to save a 20-year old or a 40-year old, most would choose the 20-year old because they are more likely to be able to reproduce.
Study: Charles Darwin- Natural Selection
Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection states that organisms with adaptations and traits best suitable for their environment will be more likely to survive and pass those traits on, than an organism of the same species that has less desirable traits.
Ex: How do pain messages travel from the hand to the brain?
Study: John Martyn Harlow- The Case of Phineas Gage
Phineas Gage was a railroad worker who suffered a severe brain injury when a tamping iron, over 3 feet long, that he was using to pack explosive powder into a hole blew up. The tamping iron was driven into the left side of his face, through his brain, and through the top of his skull. He lived, but a few months after the accident his family began to notice his personality had changed to where he would become impatient and more violent sometimes. Dr. John Martyn Harlow studied the case and examined the effect severe brain injury had on personality, specifically the frontal lobe. This case provided work for how damage to the frontal lobe can affect mood, behavior, and personality.
Drawing of Phineas Gage's skull after the tamping iron had been driven through.
The Just-World Phenomenon
Ex: How can someone's personality traits and disorders be explained by unfulfilled wishes and childhood traumas?
Study: Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer- Anna O
Anna O came to Josef Breuer for symptoms of hysteria. Her disorder lasted from 1880-1882. Breuer realized that having her talk about her life started relieving some of her symptoms. This cure became known as the talking cure. Freud never met Anna O, but her case was the basis of a book he co-wrote with Josef Breuer called Studies on Hysteria.
Ex: How expressions of anger vary across cultural contexts.
Study: The just-world phenomenon
The just-world phenomenon is where most people have a need to believe that the world is equal and fair. The believe that people generally get what they deserve as a result. It helps explain the tendency of people to blame the victim rather than look at the social causes.